Adventist Doctrine and Homosexuality
Seventh-day Adventists often ask in a review of this type for a consultation of the voluminous writings of Ellen White, our early church founder. Ellen White never addressed homosexuality in any of her presently catalogued writings. Despite the norms of Victorian times, Ellen White wrote extensively on other sexual concerns including lengthy prose on masturbation. Ellen White lived during a time when homosexuality was openly discussed sympathetically in "parlor circles" as an illness (previously known as one of a variety of "sexual inversions"), but she chose to remain silent on the issue. However, contemporaries like Sigmund Freud did write about homosexuality, as in his now famous letter to the American mother of a gay son in which Freud suggests parental acceptance (far ahead of its time).25
The Bible devotes a few passing references to homosexual behavior in a context which did not consider homosexual orientation and committed long-term homosexual relationships. Jesus does not explicitly mention the issue and neither does Ellen White. With such sparse counsel, it is not surprising that homosexuality continues to elicit controversy and misconceptions among Christians in general--and Adventists in particular. However, if the issue is to be thoughtfully studied by Adventists, there must be a continued commitment to "Christian pioneering" as we honor our heritage of investigation, scholarship, review, and discernment. Such an understanding will be a process rather than proclamation--for there is no exclusive human claim to the ownership of truth or an exclusive right to judgment.
Despite these concerns and caveats, the Seventh-day Adventist church approved a new policy on homosexuality in October 1999 (see Appendix A). This policy was insensitively presented to Adventists on the first anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder (Matthew Shepard was a 21 year-old Episcopal college student at the University of Wyoming brutally murdered in part, because he was gay).26,27 Whether intentional or coincidental, the symbolism of this voting act by the Executive Committee was noted by both gay (homosexual) and straight (heterosexual) Adventists alike.28
The new Adventist policy specifically states that the church will make “no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships.” There is no mention or regard for the term “sexual orientation” — though the concept was specifically debated in committee and deleted.29 Furthermore, there is no explicit exception made for the celibate homosexual—a group that some liberal-minded Adventists had lobbied for church inclusion.30 There was a fear voiced by some pastors—particularly those with an academy or college in their area—that they only wanted “heterosexual relationships” modeled in their churches (specifically, these pastors did not want to model celibate homosexual relationships on the same par as married heterosexuals).29
Former Adventist church policies (previously revised in 1987) had left some room for discussion and interpretation, but the 1999 policy statement phrase “no accommodation” has sent a chilling message to gay/lesbian Seventh-day Adventists. Worse still, an Adventist academician noted that the new “statement may unintentionally promote attacks on homosexuals.”28 This analysis has been rather prophetic. Based on this new policy, the Adventist church has directed church members in California to vote against gay/lesbian civil rights, and has broadly condemned recent gay/lesbian civil rights legislative action in the United States and Europe.31-34 At the same time, emboldened by the new policy, an Adventist church member openly suggested homosexual castration -- “a simple bit of surgery (which) can be done quickly by any surgeon...once all the testosterone is flushed out of the system, there will be no more sexual desire.”35 That this “letter to the editor” was published in an Adventist-affiliated publication in the year 2000 is telling. And regarding homosexuals, the President of Loma Linda University, Lynn Behrens, was recently quoted in a Riverside, California newspaper saying that “if someone makes (another) lifestyle choice, we would invite them to pursue their careers elsewhere.”36 Thus, while Ellen White and Jesus were silent on this issue, the Seventh-day Adventist church has issued a 277-word policy statement that summarily excludes thousands from the body of Christ. It is the daily prayer of gay and lesbian Adventists worldwide that this policy will be reconsidered — soon.
|Mise à jour le Vendredi, 14 Septembre 2012 21:58|