Living Eden's Gifts

© 2013 by Catherine Taylor

In 1935 a bookseller stopped by my grandmother’s home in the tiny, agricultural community of McFarland, California. A staunch member of her family’s Indiana Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, she was a student of the Bible. Not caring much for the seller’s other offerings, her eyes fell on Bible Readings for the Home. My grandmother went through that book, text by text, to see how it compared with her Scriptural research. She did not then, or ever in her life, agree with the “odd” notion of going to church on Saturday. She did find the other studies on Bible texts to be accurate and helpful.

Twenty-three years later, her daughter called for an opinion. Had she ever heard of Seventh-day Adventists? What did she think of them? Would one of their schools be a good place to send a six-year-old? What did she think of investing a rather large chunk of money into a set of children’s Bible storybooks written by an author named Maxwell? My grandmother remembered the decades-earlier visit by an unknown bookseller and told my mother she thought this group’s ideas were generally accurate and thoughtful. As a nurse, my mother had been working with Seventh-day Adventist doctors trained at Loma Linda University. She found them notably more compassionate and dedicated to excellence than other medical personnel in her experience. My mother’s decisions, based on this mix of positive interactions, opened a door for me that changed our lives.

Fascinated by The Bible Story books, I read through them several times. I listened in open-mouthed awe to my teacher, Mrs. Kizziar, as she explained the great controversy between God and Satan to our third-grade class. Revolted by meat from the cradle, I was delighted to be in a school where I never had to eat it—although the analogs of the time were not particularly appetizing. Growing older, I learned how to study and compare texts, falling in love with the way a concordance and Bible dictionary opened up new levels and worlds of meaning. Later, as an adult, I found in the Old Testament metaphors and archetypes, pictures of the grace of God that illumine the New Testament. Being a lay preacher, Sabbath School facilitator, prayer meeting leader, and camp meeting speaker compelled me to research ways of sharing biblical object lessons that could bring clarity and beauty to Heaven’s truths. This lifelong journey has only increased my curiosity about, and desire to search more deeply, the treasures of the Bible.

A few years ago I began to consider several changes that have happened as a result of the sin of our first parents. I realized that some of these changes are condemned in the Bible; some are not, even though they do not meet the original ideal or God’s intent.

In the biblical text there are clear descriptions of what will destroy our relationship with God. Eve’s desire to “be like God,” to have power, knowledge, and immortality, without understanding that “the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love”[i]replicated the fall of Lucifer. She was deceived by the evil one to desire his aspirations of selfish power and honor. Adam’s inability to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) led him to mistrust the character of God and God’s plan for what would happen to fallen Eve. He ate the forbidden fruit because he chose not to trust the way God’s love could intervene in the Edenic disaster.

One of the first relational results of their sin was a conversation of blame and refusal to take responsibility for personal choices. These defensive reactions have caused rifts in human interactions with each other and, indeed, with all of creation for millennia. The entire Bible story provides detailed results of this destructive shift in our nature.

There are, however, some results of sin—changes in our enzymes, brain structure, and neurons—for which no condemnation is mentioned. The amygdala, now the part of our brain in charge of the fight, flight, or freeze response, did not need that function in Eden. Our digestive enzymes changed. The Edenic plan was for us to eat food (seeds, grains, nuts, legumes, and fruit) for which no plants would die. After their fall, Adam and Eve were given “the plants of the field” to eat. Green leafy vegetables were added to our diet. The synapses and neurons of our brain began to grapple with the emotional and physiological effects of grief, something for which we were not originally programmed. Psychological trauma causes a change in the structure of the brain and is responsible for an inability to manage emotionally intimate relationships.

Human beings in the Bible and post-biblical writings have never been condemned because we need to eat green leafy vegetables. Nor have we been condemned for grieving or for being traumatized. We are not condemned when we have a need to use our “fight, flight, or freeze mechanism.” Other questions might arise: What were the skin tones of the original pair? Are other skin colors the result of our fall? Perhaps the need to adapt to different climates or intensity of sunlight might not have been present if we had stayed in Eden. Why weren’t these changes condemned? What about the differences in brain function that have some people right- or left-handed? Which brain dominance would have been God’s original intent? Why were these variations not condemned? What was God’s original intent for the time when the earth became fully populated? Would our reproductive systems have retired? Were there other options in the mind of the Omniscient One?

Becoming Berea: Bible Study Methods

As we study the complicated issues faced by fallen humanity, I believe it is important to struggle for an understanding of which effects of sin will keep us from the Heavenly kingdom and which are non-condemned results of sin or loss of God’s original intent. One of the qualities of the Bible that has confused many of its students for centuries is apparent inconsistency in a variety of contexts. Sometimes one behavior is allowed. Sometimes it is condemned. As a Bible-believing Christian, I believe it is imperative to find those answers inside the Sacred Text. I also believe that the supposed inconsistencies can become clear if we utilize the following foundational methods of Bible study:

1. Have an understanding of the difference between:

a)Biblical principles, which are never changing and eternal.

b)Biblical policies that have shifted depending on the time in history and context in which the policies were developed.

c)Biblical practices that are the ways followers of God have lived their lives. Some of these are condemned. Some are not, even though they did not appear to follow God’s original intent.

d)Biblical present truth. Each age seems to have a specific testing focus, lesson, or truth that challenges believers.

2.Understand the context in which a message, policy, or story was written and the people to whom it was written.

3.Consider the meaning of a word or phrase in the original language and in the context of the Biblical passage in which it is found.

4.Study the object lesson or story illustrating the principle. The Bible uses people, events, places, and rituals to represent spiritual principles. Hebrew is a language that uses concrete words to represent philosophical concepts. Judaism was a culture that clearly understood the meaning of metaphor. One of the great gifts the Hebrew Scriptures give us is the opportunity to gather many levels of truth from structures, events, lives, stories, ceremonies, and holidays.

Biblical Principles

Many, if not all, of the primary biblical principles were delineated in the Garden of Eden. When God gave humanity dominion over creation, we were bestowed opportunities to experience the way heavenly beings utilize power: to protect, to nurture, and to serve the vulnerable. This principle has been reiterated in such proclamations as the Isaiah 58 sermon; some aspects of the Sabbath commandment; and, most notably, the life and teachings of Jesus. Relationships were given as a way to understand the love, caring, and intimacy shared by the members of the Deity. We were also to use this particular object lesson to learn to understand the way the Deity uses relationship to sustain all parts of creation. Our relationship with God was predicated in our trust in One who had clearly demonstrated infinite care for us. Even in Eden we were to make a distinction between the values of Heaven and the selfish power-mongering of the evil ones. For our protection, no other being was to supersede Yahweh. Diet was meant to nurture our bodies so we could be physically, mentally, and spiritually strong. We were to learn the ways that these three aspects of our being are intertwined. The Sabbath rest was given as a blessing for us, to appreciate the power and care of God’s creation and as a time to particularly enjoy the relationships given to us at Creation.

Biblical Policies

While there were some policies put in place before our fall in Eden, it is easier to track policy shifts once the plan of salvation was activated. Immediately upon leaving Eden, our diet was changed to include the plants of the field, green vegetables. After Noah’s exit from the ark, humanity’s diet was expanded to include clean animals killed in a humane fashion. During the time of Paul, the discussion expanded to consider whether or not to eat food offered to idols.

In Eden the most intimate relationship between mortals was one between two recently created human beings and was designed to last throughout eternity. Immediately after the Fall it was permissible, and indeed imperative, to marry siblings; and the relationship was to last until death. At the time of Abraham it was permissible to marry a half sibling. In Levitical times policy was shifted to forbid intermarriage between siblings. Then it became an abomination to marry a half sibling. In Levitical times divorce was permitted. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reiterated principles of lifelong marital relationships and later noted that in Heaven there would be no marriages at all. While the principle of relational importance has remained sacred, the policies around it have shifted, depending on context.

Throughout Biblical history there have been various policies put into place regarding the Sabbath: harvest manna in the previous six days, pick up firewood in the previous six days, care for animals and the vulnerable was encouraged, close and the gates of the city were to be closed. Among Seventh-day Adventists today the principle of the Sabbath observance is sacred, but the policies and practices around that principle are culturally based. In some places children are allowed to go swimming. In some places believers are not allowed to ride bicycles. In some places it is permissible take a bath or shower during the sacred hours. In some places it is not.

Biblical policies about how the children of God exercised their dominion have included the killing of animals for clothing and for food, the taking of slaves, the expectation that approximately 25% of one’s profit was to be used to alleviate the suffering of the poor, the encouragement of hospitality to the stranger and foreigner, rest for animals on the Sabbath, rest of the land in the seventh year, usury forbidden, and freedom from debt in the year of Jubilee.

There were, of course, other policy changes. Ellen White describes our Edenic garments as made of light “such as the angels wear.”[ii]  After the Fall, God made coverings of animal skins. Later, textiles were developed. In Levitical times it was forbidden to use clothing made of two different materials.

After the Exodus a policy was put into place in which a non-Israelite could not be part of the Hebrew congregation for several generations. After the idolatrous debacle on the borders of Canaan, Moabites (heretofore seen as extended family) were proscribed and made an abomination. During Paul’s ministry, Christian women in Corinth were told to cover their heads to differentiate them from pagan priestesses.

God met people and nations where they were in their spiritual development. The Deity instituted policies that would help fragile mortals in each era in Biblical history to learn eternal principles at a pace they could bear.

Biblical Practices

For many students of the Bible, some of the most confusing situations or stories described in its pages portray practices or behaviors of God’s followers that do not seem to conform to God’s policies but are not condemned in the text. Here are just a very few examples.

In Genesis 25, Abraham is described as being married to Keturah but still having concubines. I have not found a text where his choice of relationships, at this time in his life, was condemned.

Genesis 38 shares the story of Tamar and Judah.  Despite policies that would have condemned her behavior, Tamar sets up a situation in which she has sex with her father-in-law and conceives twins. Judah acknowledges, “She is more righteous than I;” and, instead of being stoned, she becomes an honored ancestor of David and of Jesus.

In Deuteronomy 23:3 Moses says, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.”

Despite this policy, Ruth, a Moabite woman, marries an Israelite (twice) and becomes a member of the community of Israel. Boaz’s choice to marry her is lauded, not condemned. His redemptive transaction with his sandal at the city gates has often been used as an example of Christ’s redemptive transactions.  Within three generations, one of her descendants becomes Israel’s most beloved king. Following biblical policies, at a point in Jewish history when he was honored and loved as an heroic son of the people, David should not have even been a member of “the assembly.”

Despite the fact that Hebrew scriptures never approved polygamy or idolatry, Esther chose to enter a polygamous harem relationship with an idolatrous king. Despite her marital choices, and because of her protective ones, Esther and her story are extolled in sacred text. She is lifted up as a deliverer of her people, risking her life to protect their very existence.

In the case of Tamar, the principle of justice for a vulnerable childless widow appears to have trumped the sexual-conduct policies of that day. In the cases of both Ruth and Esther, the courageous, loving, and selfless actions of these women, while not following Biblical policies, leaves them not just “uncondemned” but described in language that could make them object lessons of the Messiah. In the biblical narrative, the principles of trusting Yahweh (in direct contrast to the lack of trust in God that caused the fall of humanity in Eden), demanding justice (in the case of Tamar and Esther), and allowing God to lead their lives as they changed history was more important than even the important policies of the times from which the stories are told. These particular policy-breaking journeyers through biblical history are lifted up in sacred text as heroes.

Present Truth

Despite the fact that God’s character and love, the great controversy between good and evil, and the plan of salvation have remained consistent, there appear to be decision points at various junctures of biblical history that are tests of faith upon which the future religious experience of God’s people are predicated.

  • Do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The principle involved was trust in God and an understanding of our place in dominion. The test was unique for that time period because it upon it laid the decision of who would rule the earth.
  • Enter Noah’s ark. Was God’s creation willing to accept the object lesson of the plan of salvation for that time?
  • Leave Ur and follow Me where I lead you. Are you willing to be the object lesson of following God on the way back to Eden?
  • Have faith that the promised child (to Abraham and Sarah) will be a miracle child conceived only by the intervention of God. Are you willing to trust in God’s word so you can be the object lesson, based on the needs of this time period, of the miraculous birth of the promised One?
  • Separate yourselves from the practices of the heathen people around you. Israel’s incorporation was the intended object lesson of a heavenly people whose trust in God’s method of sacrifice and power; understanding of God’s dominion and care for others; diet that protected physical, mental, and spiritual health; and observance of the principles of the Sabbath would make them an enticement to the people around them to follow a loving God.
  • Christ is the divine Son of God. Are you willing to accept Jesus as the Master of the universe, One who will not free you from the politics of Rome or the tyranny of the rich? Do you want the god of power, or will you understand that God’s power is the power that will serve by washing the feet of others and will focus on protecting the vulnerable?
  • Jesus will come again soon. Are we willing to accept that we are mortal? To accept that our future life rests on Another? Are we willing to worship Him on the same day as Heaven does, in preparation for living there? Are we willing to trust His word? Are we willing to acknowledge His form of dominion and to understand that our place in it is not to use our power against others but to show such nurturing love that they will be drawn to being ready for heaven?

Along with these basic principles of study, it is important to add one more consideration. We who search sacred pages and form our beliefs and our actions around them often do so with a fervor that criticizes or condemns those whose studies have found meanings other than ours. Yet the Bible clearly says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1,2).

Ellen White elaborated,The people partook largely of the same Spirit, intruding upon the province of conscience and judging one another in matters that lay between the soul and God. In reference to this Spirit and practice, Jesus said, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ That is, do not set yourself up as a standard. Do not make your opinions, your views of duty, your interpretations of the Scripture, a criterion for others and in your mind condemn them if they do not come up to your ideal. Do not criticize others, conjecturing as to their motives and passing judgment upon them.”[iii] “Self-exaltation is behind the practice of noting the shortcomings in others.”[iv]

When we pass judgment on someone else’s understanding of the Bible, we are entering a province designated only for our Creator and Redeemer.

I believe that the concepts of working with biblical principles, policies, practices, and lessons of present truth, while refraining from criticism of other students of the Bible, are vital to the study of any spiritual issue. They help us understand God’s priorities. In this paper, I have taken your time and your thought to lay a foundation for discussion of how Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists  might look at four of the biblical texts used to condemn people who are in same-sex, monogamous relationships. In what ways do our policies reflect the primary principles given to us in Eden? In what ways do they differ? What are the ways we can institute practices that carefully follow Eden’s principles? What is God’s bigger picture?

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

Leviticus 17:26, 27 describes the purpose of a set of policies designed to insure that the Hebrew people would be distinctly different from pagan cultures around them. In dress, in understanding the meaning of the temple and the sacrificial system, in ceremonial observances such as Yom Kippur and the year of Jubilee, in diet, in relationships with each other and with non-Israelites, in the way Israel expressed their trust in God as they observed Sabbath, and in the way they learned about dominion as they cared for the earth, animals, and each other, Israel was to stand apart from the violent, self-absorbed, child-sacrificing, power-hungry nations at their borders. Israel was to be an object lesson of separateness: nothing co-mingled, no reminders of pagan practices. To strengthen understanding of this goal, prohibitions included: no mingling of seed in the field, no mingling of materials in the cloth, and no practices connected with fertility rites. Israelites were to grow from a people inoculated with the superstitions and values of Egypt and Canaan to citizens of their own nation, living Heaven’s principles.

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are part of this Holiness Code, given when Israel was inaugurated into nationhood.

Sexual intercourse between assumedly heterosexual men was forbidden on several counts:


In this particular policy it is interesting to note that there is no mention of long-term committed sexual relationships between men whose sexual/emotional desires were for each other and nothing at all about same-sex relationships between women.

Seventh-day Adventists are called to be a people who live out Heaven’s principles. We are a people who want to follow the teaching of the Bible seriously. However, in our studies of the sacred texts we have come to understand that some policies given to Israel in the time of Moses are not applicable to us today. Meat-eating Adventists are not commanded to eat only meat killed in the Levitical fashion. Adventist men do not leave the sides of their head unshaven. Adventists are not told to wear clothing made of only one fiber. We have not been commanded to avoid companion planting crops. We do not make slaves of neighboring nations (as far as I know). We do not physically stone those who either do not keep Sabbath or keep it differently than we deem appropriate.

Today, the criteria by which followers of Yahweh are “set apart” are based on non-Levitical standards. Ellen White has written “not until you feel that you could sacrifice your own self-dignity, and even lay down your life in order to save an erring one…are you prepared to help your brother.”[v] When encouraging us to be separate from the world she writes. “That which distinguishes the people of God from worldlings is their sympathy for others, their tenderness, their meekness and lowliness of heart: they reveal they wear Christ’s yoke and are recipients of the gift of the Holy Spirit.”[vi]

We have been commanded to follow the practices described in Isaiah 58: “Lift the heavy burdens,… “avoid the pointing finger and malicious talk.” We have been instructed to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 and make its detailed description of love a part of our life. We are counseled to learn and follow the meaning of Sabbath rest, trust in God, eat a diet healthy for us, understand that only God is immortal, and know that it is Jesus who, by returning, will rescue the world from the misery, destruction, violence, illness, and death with which we are surrounded. While Ellen White repeatedly mentions the sanctity of marriage, nowhere in her writings does she condemn long-term committed same-sex relationships.

Ellen White does condemn the “strange sin of Sodom” that led to its destruction in Genesis 19. If we follow her practice and see how the Bible describes the nature of that strange sin, we will find in Ezekiel 16:49: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things.” This text, along with an understanding of how God feels about rape, certainly fits with God’s focus on our mandates of protective and nurturing dominion.

Ellen White wrote extensively on sexual mores, but she did not specifically address homosexual behavior or orientation. What is interesting about her choice not to address the issue is that the concept was well-known in her lifetime. The first papers on sexual orientation came out of Europe in the 1840s and the term was in common usage in America by the 1890s. For many years, some writings of Ellen White were used to justify the church position against homosexuality, but these references had to be withdrawn when further review showed that Ellen White was addressing inhospitality rather than condemning gays and lesbians. In the Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Homosexuality voted during the Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee on Sunday, October 3, 1999, you will find no reference to Ellen White as a footnote or supporting comment.

Like the children of Israel, Adventists are to be a people set apart, a people noted for their love of and compassion for others, for belief in the mortality of humankind, a healthy diet, keeping the Sabbath holy, and an expectation of the soon return of Christ. Do our policies and our practices demonstrate the principles that have been set before us?

Romans 1

…is a holy diatribe, a remarkable and riveting denunciation of those who have refused to follow Yahweh. Paul begins his epistle by sharing his eagerness to “preach the gospel…. I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God” (vs. 15, 16). With that statement he proclaims his focus and intent to compel his listeners to understand the import of his message. The good news or “present truth” of his day was that the creating, covenant-keeping, selfless, redeeming Deity had appeared in the flesh as Jesus. Paul’s proclamation of this gospel underlined the love of God for all created beings and delineated the methods he had used to reach mortals. “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. Men are without excuse” (vs. 20). The rocks have cried out. The lessons of creation have been available to anyone who would listen. The loving Master of the universe used that very universe to give, even to those who did not have access to the Hebrew Scriptures, lessons of salvation. The falling rain and mist rising to the clouds have been lessons of unselfishness. The care animals have for their young have demonstrated the way their Creator cares for us. They are a call to trust the teachings of that Creator, to partake of the character of the Yahweh.

Paul spoke to a Christian congregation surrounded by a city where the cult of Aphrodite was one of the primary sources of worship. Like the Canaanite fertility practices, this cult used sexual intercourse as a way to gain power from the pagan gods in order to influence various aspects of their lives. Despite examples in nature that nurturing and care were the best ways to exercise dominion and, despite evidences that the God of nature could be trusted, those lusting after power or wealth or position would exchange “natural” relationships that would be normative in their lives, for cult prostitutes (either male or female). Sexual practices had become a way to manipulate the gods. These practices hearkened back to the original Edenic sin of mistrusting the honesty and love of the God who created us. This focus on power was a perversion of the way Yahweh has always wanted to show God’s love to fragile humanity.

If we follow the Bible study practice of looking at the context, understanding the principles, and being aware of the present truth for that time, we can understand Paul’s concern and frustration with those who have had the gospel before them in nature and have refused to learn its lessons. The sexual acts Paul mentions are in the context of stubborn and condemned idolatry. It is a condemnation of an inappropriate use of power to “sway” the gods. In a rare tipping of the hat to a stereotype that women are pictured as being loving tenders of home and hearth, Paul notes that even women in Rome participated in idolatrous acts as part of their lust for power. The results are a clear description that is the antithesis of a loving God—indeed, a portrait of the evil ones. “They have become full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are slanderers, insolent, arrogant, boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless” (vs. 29, 30).

Paul is not describing loving, long-term monogamous same-sex relationships. He is describing selfish, greedy, idolatrous worship practices performed with the goal of power reminiscent of fallen angels. No wonder he is concerned, forceful, and vocal.

When we attempt, in order to meet our own agendas, to convince believers that Paul had another focus, we are diminishing the power of his call to follow Yahweh, the covenant-keeping God. We are diminishing Paul’s plea to turn away from all that is a lust for power and to begin to follow a God who chose to be dulos (the lowest strata of house slaves) in order to reach all of us (Philippians 2:6). We are distracting others from the prime message of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:9

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor male prostitutes nor malakoi nor arsenokoitai nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Malakoicarries the connotation of softness, those who live luxuriously in palaces where soft living was the mark of the oppressor. Arsenokoitaiis composed of two words, arsen (male) and koite (the term for bed or, euphemistically, sexual behavior). The use of the term seems to indicate sexual behavior that was self-centered or used to exploit others, much like the Greek male tradition of having young boys as sexual objects. Today we would call that behavior sexual abuse or rape.

The New American Bible offers a footnote that might shed some light on the historical context of the time: “The Greek word, arsenokoitai, translated as boy prostitutes may refer to catamites, i.e., boys or young men who were kept for purposes of prostitution, a practice not uncommon in the Greco-Roman world. In Greek mythology this was the function of Ganymede, the “cupbearer of the gods,” whose Latin name was Catamitus. Arsenokoitai refers to adult males who indulged in sexual practices with such boys” (New American Bible). It was a common practice in that men of Paul’s time would have slave “pet” boys whom they sexually exploited.

These terms, along with the other descriptors of those who are selfish, who take advantage of the vulnerable, who cause harm, parallel Old Testament texts describing why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters were overfed and unconcerned. They did not help the poor and the needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). This focus is reflected in Isaiah 58: “Is this not the fast I have chosen: to lose the chains of injustice…to set the oppressed free…to share your food with the hungry, to provide the poor wanderer with shelter” (vs. 6, 7); and in the teachings of Jesus who quoted it. The people described in 1 Corinthians 6:9 are violating God’s principle of dominion. They are living for self. They offer a cup of cold water to no one. Indeed, they cause harm to the vulnerable.

The soft-living motif of the malakoi is in direct contrast to the spiritual goals of Paul. He famously compares the practice of the Christian walk to athletic training and warfare preparation. Living a loving, selfless life calls for a well-honed spiritual constitution. Given the marked contrast between God’s principle of dominion—care for the vulnerable (human, animal, or planet)—and the selfishness listed here in this text, it would make sense that the people who insisted on opportunistic behaviors would not have a place in the kingdom of God.

Again, the textual discussion and condemnation is not about an orientation that leads to lifelong, monogamous relationships. It is a call to return to the principles of Eden: Heaven-like dominion, selfless interactions between humanity, worship of the true God, and acknowledgement of His creatorship. The policies we have read over today are denunciations of idolatry or of the denigration of human beings, in several of its forms.

For Us Today

Ironically, the principles expressed in the verses often referred to as “the clobber texts” are focused on the imperative to trust God, to understand that dominion means service, and to follow a belief that sanctification includes growing into the compassionate, unselfish nature of our loving Re-creator. When we use these texts to denigrate or marginalize those with whom we disagree, we are ignoring the intention of their writers and of the One who inspired those writers. When we use them to judge others, we are entering on ground that is God’s alone. When we use these texts to dismiss heart-filled yearnings to have emotionally intimate and honest same-sex relationships, are we not twisting the meaning of the Bible authors, and thereby, I believe, “bearing false witness” against them? Are we not misrepresenting the character of God?

Some use these verses to insist that gay and lesbian people do not have the same choice offered to heterosexual Seventh-day Adventists: that of making a lifelong commitment to someone with whom they experience deep relational bonding. Some say that lesbian and gay people should seek their salvation by marrying heterosexuals or by being celibate. Imagine the harm to the self-esteem of a heterosexual mate wondering why he or she is not found sexually desirable. Imagine the effect of being forced to live a celibate life when longitudinal research studies demonstrate that people in loving relationships live longer, more contented, and fulfilled lives. Would a God who created a desire for intimacy promote these options? How can people grow to understand the relational object lesson given to us in Eden—the intimacy between members of the Deity—unless we can grow in a relationship with someone with whom we can share the deepest levels of emotional/sexual intimacy? Can we in good conscience deny the opportunity to learn one of the fundamental gifts of Eden?

One of the great gifts of our Seventh-day Adventist heritage is our history of corporate spiritual self-examination. We continuously compare our policies and practices to Biblical principles and have made changes through time. At one point Ellen White told her son not to focus on the work with black African-Americans in the American South. At one point in time we had pork at potlucks. When Ellen White sat for a portrait, now hung in the Review and Herald office, she was wearing a pearl necklace. We have ordained women pastors, not ordained them, and are now considering ordaining them again. We have been saddened by divorces. Contrary to Ellen White’s counsel, after her death we made a policy to disfellowship people who remarried after a divorce. Today, in practice, many congregations ignore that policy, understanding the complicated possibilities for the breakup of a relationship. We are not a church of creeds. Ellen White wrote: “There is no excuse for anyone taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close examination.”[vii]  We have a history and an encouragement to improve our policies, our corporate practices, and our personal behaviors as we come to better understand God’s priorities.

In a time when the children of Israel believed that all illness or human variations from God’s original intent was caused by sin, a blind man came before Jesus. One of the disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus replied, “Neither this man sinned or his parents. This happened so that the work of God can be manifested in his life” (John 9:1-3).

Could it be, in the issue of dealing with our lesbian, gay, transgender, and intersex Adventist “siblings,” that no one sinned? Could it be that “this happened so that the work of God can be made manifest”? Could it be that in following the counsel of Isaiah to lift the heavy burdens, we will develop new ways of interacting with and embracing our church family?

While I clearly have conclusions and opinions, I do not want to ignore the counsel mentioned earlier: “…do not set yourself up as a standard. Do not make your opinions, your views of duty, your interpretations of the Scripture, a criterion for others and in your mind condemn them if they do not come up to your ideal. Do not criticize others, conjecturing as to their motives and passing judgment upon them.”

I am interested in hearing your thoughts. They are invaluable. And if you would like extra copies of this publication, you can contact the author at I look forward to hearing from you.

Special appreciation to Ben Kemena, Mike Lewis, Janis Walworth, Dave Coltheart, Karen Wetherell, Carrol Grady, Jacquie Hegarty, Ruud Keiboom, and Betty O’ Leary who continued to make me think deeper and write more clearly about this issue.

Special thanks to Hyveth Williams whose sermon at the Southern New England Camp Meeting helped me to understand more clearly the concepts of principle, policy and practice.

[i] White, Ellen G. Desire of Ages, p. 19

[ii] White, Ellen G. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45

[iii] White, Ellen G. Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 123, 124

[iv] White, Ellen G. Review and Herald, May 12, 1896

[v] White, Ellen G. Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 128

[vi] White, Ellen G. The Youth’s Instructor, December 6, 1900

[vii]White, Ellen G., “Christ our Hope,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 20, 1892

«« Frequently Asked Questions »»

Most of the anguish imposed upon God’s children who grow up LGBTIQ is rooted in a misunderstanding of what the Bible says. Since Adventists claim they are traditionally well-studied in the Bible, shouldn’t they be among the first to clarify this issue for the world?

Many Seventh-day Adventist Christians, from laypeople to seminary professors, have studied the biblical texts related to homosexual acts and have concluded that what the Bible doesn't say is as important as what it does say. The Bible clearly speaks against lust in any form. But above all it does not condemn, or even mention, homosexuality as a sexual orientation, nor does it address transgender identity.

For most heterosexuals, the teaching that homosexuality is a sin presents no problem, so they often see little reason to give the subject much thought. Many of them, due to widespread ignorance on the subject, believe that homosexuality is merely a difficult habit or temptation to be overcome. They fail to comprehend the extreme consequences and implications such a teaching has for the lives of Christians who discover they are LGBTIQ.

For the LGBTIQ person, there is a compelling reason to give the subject a great deal of study. Eternal damnation is too serious a consequence to merely rely on “what we’ve always been taught.” One could hold the view that being homosexual is not a sin so long as “homosexual acts” are not performed. But the result—a life of celibacy—is also too serious simply to rely on what we have always heard.

Below are a few resources that you will find helpful.

Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives edited by David Ferguson, Fritz Guy, and David Larson
The Children are Free by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley

Eden’s Gifts” by Catherine Taylor
What the Bible Says about Homosexuality” by Eloise May
Homosexuality and the Bible” by Walter Wink
What the Bible Says—And Doesn't Say—About Homosexuality” by Mel White
The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality” by Justin Cannon

Fish out of Water directed by Ky Dickens
For the Bible Tells Me So produced by Daniel Karslake
Seventh-Gay Adventists produced and directed by Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer
Enough Room at the Table produced and directed by Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer


Most people are unaware that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, but many Adventists erroneously assume that Ellen White did. Using the Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White, we have carefully studied every published reference she makes to each of the biblical texts that people often use to condemn homosexuality. Nowhere does she relate any text to homosexuality.

The most obvious place for Mrs. White to have condemned homosexuality would have been in her chapter, “The Destruction of Sodom,” in Patriarchs and Prophets. Still, she is silent on the subject. While it remains popular today to claim that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality, there is no biblical basis for it, and Ellen White’s writings do not support it. Her mention of the vile passions of the infamous crowd in the story does not receive superlative emphasis over the numerous other sins she specifically names.


If you are feeling lonely, depressed, or suicidal, or if you need a professional counselor who is supportive of LGBTIQ concerns, chances are we know someone in your area who can help. Be assured that we are sensitive to your need for confidentiality. If you wish, our recommended counselors can also refer you to trusted Seventh-day Adventist pastors, teachers, or other professionals we know to be sensitive and understanding of LGBTIQ concerns.

Above all, please know we care that you may need to think through what your sexuality means, what to do about it, what all this may mean to your loved ones, whether to try to change, and whether it is possible to be LGBTIQ and at the same time a Seventh-day Adventist. We will not try to determine your conclusions if you reach out to us. We will endeavor to be understanding and helpful while you make those all-important decisions about who you are and what God’s plan is for your life.

If you call or write, you may want to suggest the kind of person you would like to be put in touch with. For instance, tell us whether you could talk more easily to a woman or a man, or if you want the view of someone who has been, or perhaps still is, married. We are people of diverse ages and backgrounds.

If you are a pastor, teacher, or counselor, please know we welcome all inquiries and we will respect any need for confidentiality you may have. In addition to our publications, we provide speakers and offer our AIDS memorial quilt for display in churches to raise awareness.


You may email us here.
You may also contact us by postal mail at:

Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, Inc.
PO Box 244
Orinda, CA 94563

If you receive postal mail from Kinship, all mailings are sent in plain envelopes which reflect only our post office box address. Your confidentiality is very important to us and we will never share your information with anyone else.

«« More Resources »»
The goal of is to be the definitive online biographical reference source for the international LGBTQ community. Its database lists over 9,000 contemporary and historical figures who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, and includes artists, sports figures, politicians, entertainers, business leaders, academics, activists, and more. The database is widely international in scope and is an ideal source for research and analysis with full search and sort functionality.

Level Ground uses art to create safe space for dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality, Level Ground hopes to cultivate a better way of speaking with one another across our differences and disagreements.

A La Familia is a bilingual project that promotes inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people within communidades Latinas.

The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office promotes the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all, as reflected in the United Nations Charter. Through targeted education, advocacy, and outreach, we engage Unitarian Universalists in support of international cooperation and the work of the United Nations.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading international organization dedicated to human rights advocacy on behalf of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

The GLOBAL INTERFAITH NETWORK on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity builds solidarity amongst individuals of faith regardless of SOGI, promote dialogue, respect and affirm diversity within various contexts and achieve common goals of equality, spirituality, and justice.


Another Adventist Point of View by L Ben Kemena, MD

Biblical Texts and Homosexual Practices by Ivan T. Blazen

Living Edens Gifts by Catherine Taylor

Homosexuality: Can we talk about it? 
To view the PDF version, open the e-magazine and click on the download icon.

Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives

Edited by David Ferguson, Fritz Guy and David Larson

BOOK REVIEW - Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives

Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives 
David Ferguson, Fritz Guy and David Larson, editors, Adventist Forums, Roseville, CA (USA): 2008--370 pages; price $ 19.95

Review by Reinder Bruinsma, Netherlands

Homosexuality is one of the most difficult problems the SDA church struggles with today. It's a subject that has many aspects. First the theological aspect: what does the bible say about it? How can one explain the parts in the bible that deal with homosexuality? But besides these questions, there are many other aspects. How does the church deal with its members who are homosexual? Can the church offer them employment/keep them in employment? Public opinion also plays a constant role. What does the outside world think of a church who apparently has great difficulties with homosexuals among it's membership? It is a fact that there are many homosexual Seventh-day Adventists and it is also a fact that they face much misunderstanding and even hostility, also (even) within the church.

The official point of view of the church is to be found in four declarations that have been published in the last couple of years. In short, they say that it is clear that the church welcomes all those who have a different orientation from the majority, but at the same time, it declares that they are not allowed to practice that other orientation. Sexuality, so it states, should be within a formalized, monogamous, permanent relationship of one man and one woman, and those who do not live in a matrimonial relationship can only live in celibacy.

Recently the independent Adventist organisation Adventist Forum (who also publishes Spectrum magazine) released a number of essays about many important aspects of homosexuality within the Adventist Church. Several people who are Adventist and homosexual or are related to them, have contributed. Next to a biographical section, there is a section that deals with a number of bio-medical perspectives. In the next part of the book the contribution of Professor Ronald Lawson, an American lecturer of sociology, who is homosexual and Adventist, is of special importance. He offers ab outstanding documented summary about how the Adventist Church has dealt with homosexuality through the years.

Of course, many readers will be especially interested in studying the fourth part of the book. In this part, four adventist theologians speak. Their vision on what the bible says about homosexuality vary very much from each other. On the one hand, two of them put forward that the bible itself doesn't know of the existence of variation in sexual orientation, but just speaks about homosexual behavior of straight people. One of the other theologians is very clear in his judgement that the bible doesn't give any space for homosexual conduct. The decision seems to be how one interprets the bible texts that deal with homosexuality. In the fifth and last part of the book some social and practical aspects come up.

This book can serve those greatly who want to come to a clearer understanding about what homosexuality is all about and how a Christian should deal with it. In this aspect another book that recently was published may also be of help: Richard M. Davidson's "Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament" (Peabody MS (USA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 844 pages; price $ 29.95. This book can be ordered on More information about Adventists and homosexuality is to be obtained from the website of the Kinship organisation, an international organisation of Adventist homosexuals that has more than 1000 members. See The official documents of the Adventist Church are to be found on the website of the General Conference (click on Adventist Beliefs).

Translation: Ruud Kieboom
Reinder Bruinsma was president of the Dutch SDA-Union Conference. He retired in 2007.

David Ferguson, Fritz Guy and David Larson, editors, Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives. Roseville, CA (USA): Adventist Forums, 2008--370 pages; price $ 19.95

Review by David Potter, Australia

Are same-sex relationships natural? Do homosexuals and heterosexuals deserve equal treatment in the church? Is sexual preference chosen, or is it biologically determined? Are the Leviticus 18 and 20 edicts timeless moral laws that apply equally to Christians as to Israel? Do Paul’s comments on “unnatural” relations (Romans 1) cover all same-sex relations, or only the perverse practices of the godless Gentiles? These questions and many more are addressed in this book.

Most of the 18 papers in the book were presented at a 2006 conference organised by Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, an organisation set up in the 1970s to nurture gay and lesbian Adventists. Eight were written by current church academics. Most question aspects of the traditional church position on same-sex relations. The reader faces two challenges: firstly, to properly assess the growing body of literature that suggests homosexuality is a predisposition, not a choice; and secondly, to re-examine what Paul is really saying in Romans 1.

Part one is biographical, presenting the stories of Sherri Babcock, the great-great-granddaughter of one of the founders of Atlantic Union College; Leif Lind, former SDA pastor and missionary; and Paul Grady, son of a church pastor, missionary and administrator. All three are gay. According to Lind, coming out of the closet was “the hardest thing I have ever done.” Lind lost his marriage, his career, and his respect and acceptance in the church – a terrible price. But he had to be honest about who he was. “Who would choose to pit themselves against all odds and make life as difficult as possible if it were really a matter of choice or sexual ‘preference’? Not too many people I know,” writes Lind.

Part two examines biomedical perspectives. Research continues to suggest that homosexuality has a genetic predisposition and is biologically determined, a conclusion that was widely resisted. One of the last impediments was removed in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association unexpectedly declared that homosexuality was not an illness. As Fulton asks, if homosexuality is neither a choice nor an illness, how is the church going to deal with its anti-gay bias?

Part three presents insights from behavioural science. Change ministries have failed repeatedly. The church that has called itself “the caring church” and a “welcoming church” has not given evidence of these claims in its treatment of gay members and workers, most of whom have been forced to live deeply closeted, lonely lives. To come out risks ostracism and dismissal. To express sympathy is to be treated with hostility.

The church attempted to distance itself from Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International when in 1987 the General Conference filed suit for “breach of trademark.” The church lost. Later, in 1994, the GC administration committee voted that GC personnel were not to speak to gatherings of homosexuals. As Lawson notes, the official church position was becoming more polarising at a time when law courts were recognising the equality of homosexual and heterosexual persons.

Part four examines scriptural and theological perspectives. Jones writes, “Romans 1:24-27 contains the Bible’s only substantive consideration of homosexual conduct.” But it is not a complete discussion. It is a preliminary comment that serves to introduce Paul’s thesis that Jews and Gentiles are equally lost in sin and in need of salvation. Those that read Leviticus 18 and 20 literally, bring a preformed perspective that distorts Paul’s message. Homosexuality is not the central issue in Romans 1. Furthermore, in discussing homosexuality, it is not clear that Paul’s conceptual horizon and ours coincide. Indeed, there has been a serious confusion of categories.

For Guy, “It is Scripture as a whole that is properly the ‘rule of faith and practice.’” Applying this principle leads him to conclude that “Scripture does not condemn all same-sex love.” Gane’s literal interpretation of Leviticus does not let him entertain pro-gay views. Nevertheless, he concludes that the church has some work to do to restore itself as “the trusted friend rather than the enemy of sinners.” Rice notes with approval that in recent years the church has “become more open to the complexity of human sexuality and willing to consider more helpful responses.”

Part five contains four papers on Christian social perspectives, in which the writers press the church towards greater fairness and compassion, towards becoming the “just, open, caring” community it should be. “God puts a tremendous value on human freedom.” We must do no less.

We all have our responses. Perhaps these are well-informed; on the other hand, they could be tainted by prejudice or by misuse of Scripture. Whatever your current view, this book will inform and challenge your understanding.

Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives is a collection of essays dealing with the increasingly significant issues related to people who have a homosexual orientation and the way Christian churches relate to them.

The book is edited by David Ferguson, Fritz Guy, and David Larson and is the product of a collaboration between SDA Kinship, International (a support organisation for gay Adventists) and the Kinship Advisory Board [Kinship Advisory Council] (a group straight Adventist leaders formed to advise and lead SDA Kinship).

The subtitle of the book is important. The writers all come from a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) perspective. That does not mean they write from any official SDA position. In fact, much of the book may make the officials of SDAism somewhat uncomfortable. It is published by Adventist Forum -- an independent SDA organisation which fosters open communication and thinking amongst its members. 

Review by Steve Parker, South Australia

Christianity and Homosexuality has an interesting structure (see the diagram).I’d like to make a couple of comments about this structure because I think it is highly significant. Notice the location of the scriptural and theological perspectives. Most conservative Christians would want to place the Bible and theology at the beginning of the book and filter all other perspectives through its lense. However, the editors of this book perhaps recognise that placing the Bible at the beginning of the discussion would destroy any chance of an open inquiry into the subject of homosexuality.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the majority of Christians would make the assumption that the Bible condemns homosexuality outright. Beginning from this premise, a great deal of what this book discusses would be dismissed from the outset. However, by taking the approach they have, the editors lead us to the text after considering a whole range of extra-biblical material that makes us realise that the text needs, perhaps, to be read afresh and our traditional understandings rigorously critiqued. Let me lay out the journey the editors take us on -- at least as I read it.

1. Autobiographical perspective. At the very beginning of the book, we are introduced to real people who have had direct experience living with a homosexual orientation or who are related to someone who has. This first section of the book brings home the degree of pain and suffering experienced by an individual with a homosexual orientation. Whatever one may think about homosexuality, the reality is that the issue is not some abstract theological one that doesn’t affect real  people. The person living with a homosexual orientation either has to keep their experience to themselves, struggling to come to terms with what the church generally labels as sin while suffering intense guilt for being different or not being able to "overcome" their "sin".l

2. Alternatively the person with a homosexual orientation may "come out" and share their struggle with others. Often this results in isolation, exclusion, emotional (and often physical) abuse, or unsuccessful "reprogramming" by those who claim it can be cured. The person’s friends and family are also affected in various painful ways as they struggle to come to terms with what they often see as an abnormality, perversion, or sinful behaviour. 

3. By situating the entire discussion within the context of personal experience, the reader is forced to personalise the issue. Theological debate is, in this case, about real people. Whatever we may believe about homosexuality, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Jesus commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves. 

4. We are then led on to the biomedical perspective. For those who are well informed, there are no surprises here. There is mounting evidence that there is a biological predisposition toward a homosexual orientation that has nothing to do with choice. Many Christians want to avoid this fact but it cannot be avoided.

5. Many people make a lot of the fact that homosexuality was removed from the DSM (the psychiatric diagnostic manual) in response to political action. What they don’t realise is that homosexuality was originally included in the DSM without any scientific basis in the first place. There is a chapter in this section that tells this story and is a very interesting read. 

6. Part Three of the book surveys behavioural science perspectives. The chapters that make up this section discuss the psychological and social experiences of gay and lesbian Seventh-day Adventists as well as asking whether the SDA denomination lives up to the ideals it holds as a caring, welcoming church. The assessment is not good, to say the least.

7. Only after dealing with the realities of experience and science does the book turn to scripture and theology. By now it is difficult not to be convinced that much of what we thought we knew about the homosexual experience has to go. But what does the Bible have to say on the subject and how should it be read? This section, in my view, is the most controversial of the book and is likely to provoke the most scrutiny. 

8. The most significant alternative understanding of the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality offered in this section is that the biblical writers knew nothing of what we know, in our time, about sexual orientation. Every reference to homosexual behaviour in Scripture occurs in a context where immoral actions are performed and the relationships are distorted. (One author rather unconvincingly suggests that there are actually positive examples of homosexual relationships in the Bible. This author himself admits that his view is highly conjectural.)

9. The argument is that homosexual acts in mutually beneficial, monogamous, long-term committed relationships are just not addressed in the Bible. Instead, we need to follow similar trajectories of interpretation as has occurred with slavery and the treatment of women. We need to accept that for a percentage of the population, homosexual orientation is normal. Rather than trying to "cure" them of that orientation, we need to accept it and focus on developing the moral foundations and parameters on which healthy partnerships can be formed between same-sex partners.

10. Of all the responses at the end of each section, Richard Rice’s response in this section is probably the most critical. It is as if the other sections of the book present ideas that are basically indisputable - it is hard to argue with personal experience or science. But it is obvious that, when it comes to Scripture an enormous amount of work needs to be done to develop better, deeper, and broader understandings of the text than we have so far. 

11. The final section of the book turns to Christian social perspectives. Coming from the SDA perspective that underlies the whole book, this section asks how SDAs should relate to the development of public policy in relation to homosexuality. What does it mean to pastor a gay person in the church? How do we evaluate public policy? What does a biblical sexuality look like? How does the biblical teaching on love imply what=2 0a same-sex marriage might look like? These are just a few of the tough questions dealt with in this part of the book.

Reading through Christianity and Homosexuality is an enlightening, provocative journey. I learned a great deal by reading this book. And the responses at the end of each chapter provided sensitive counterpoints to the material in the previous chapters.

This book probably raises more questions than it answers. But it is urgent that the questions be asked and discussed. So many Christian gay men and women are hurting deeply as a result of misunderstanding, prejudice, and demoralising treatment.

Although Christianity and Homosexuality is clearly written from an SDA perspective there is much of enormous value for any Christian considering this important issue. The best books bring greater understanding by challenging our thinking, pushing us beyond our present limited perspectives, generate discussion, and remind us that the freedom and grace of the gospel are the central tenets of our faith that should inform all that we do. If these are the criteria for a good book then Christianity and Homosexuality is a good book. But it is not just a good book - it is an urgent call to leave the pages and look out to our brothers and sisters who struggle to work out how to live out their faith while experiencing a sexual orientation they did not choose but defines much of who they are. It is up to all of us to love our gay brothers and sisters as Christ has l oved us.

Steve Parker, Morphett Vale Church, Adelaide, South Australia
Check out -Thinking Christian Blog-

BOOK REVIEW - Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay

Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay, edited by Mitchell Gold with Mindy Drucker Gold. New York, Magnus Books, paperback edition, 2008. 369 pages. Reviewed by Dave Ferguson.

I found it fascinating to learn the background stories of friends, acquaintances, well-known personalities, and others I had never heard about. I wanted to find a favorite story to highlight, but it was impossible; they were all so special in their own way. I have known for years that it is stories that change hearts and minds; so it was not surprising to find myself moved sometimes to laughter, sometimes to tears, and often to be deeply moved by the lives of the forty individuals who were willing to share their personal lives and struggles based on their sexual orientation. The personal introduction of each story by Mitchell Gold shows his intense involvement not only with the struggle faced by those growing up gay in our society, but also the depth of his involvement in the project of writing the book by actually spending time with each author and their story. It is difficult for me to imagine anyone being able to read all of these stories and still be able to say these people all “chose” to experience this pain, but some religious folks still cling to the belief that sexual orientation is a choice despite the evidence from so many sources that says it is not.

The book is a must read for every teenager in America whether they are coming to terms with their own sexual orientation or that of a family member, friend, classmate, or fellow congregant. I’m encouraging those in gay-straight alliances to include it in discussions. After reading it themselves, teens should share with their parents, so they can understand both the struggles of teens and learn from the stories of other parents how to first deal with having a gay child (I’m including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) and then what it means to love and support them. The book’s sections can be read sequentially or in any order that meets a teen’s current circumstances. The various sections reflect the areas of greatest challenge: Religious Discrimination; Family and Community Rejection; School and Social Discrimination; In the Workplace; What I Know Now: On Losing A Child; The Sin Question; and an Exposé on the Silent Epidemic of Depression, Isolation, and Fear. Of all of these categories, it is still hardest to grasp that people who claim a religious faith and experience can, at the same time, inflict so much pain on the lives of others through their words, their actions, and their inaction.

The book is a gold mine of resources. It moves from understanding texts in the Bible to sources for school statistics, to organizations that can provide support to those to be avoided, and the myth of reparative therapy. The Expose’ provides rich resources and ideas for teachers, principals, school administrators, parents, politicians, the media, pastors, rabbis, priests, and imams.

This book makes a wonderful gift to youth in crisis. It provides the answers for moving from crisis to a life that is filled with joy and fulfillment. Hopefully, as a society, we will make the constitutional guarantees of equality for all a reality for these teens who are currently bullied in school and denied housing, workplace security, and a partner because of their orientation.


Am I Gay? A Guide for People Who Question Their Sexual Orientation

Coming Out to Your Parents

Letters to a Young Gay Christian
While this book has a focused mission to provide support and encouragement for young gay Christians, I hope that everyone, including straight cisgender people of all religions, can find in its pages wisdom, truth, and the warmth of a fellow human being trying to write a little love into the world. At the end of the day, I want all of us to live in peaceful community with the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts. — Aaron Walsh



Renewed Heart Ministries is a not-for-profit, teaching ministry, passionate about putting on display the enemy-embracing, radically-forgiving, self-giving, others-focused, co-suffering, nonviolent love of God as seen in Jesus of Nazareth, as the way to renew and heal this world, till the only world that remains is a world where love reigns.

Out In Scripture is a collection of over 175 conversations about the Bible. With the skilled help of 100 diverse scholars and pastors, from over 11 different denominations, you will discover a fresh approach to Scripture. Here you can be honest, question and go deeper.

The Marin Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that works to build bridges between the LGBTQ community and the Church through scientific research, biblical and social education, and diverse community gatherings.

Believe Out Loud is an online network that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Reaching nearly one million individuals a week, we elevate the people and places where Christianity and LGBT justice intersect. 

The National LGBTQ Task Force organizes, convenes and staffs the National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), a network of leaders from pro-LGBT faith, spiritual and religious organizations, and runs the Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), which works with the welcoming church movement in eight mainline Protestant denominations.

The Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program’smission is to change the conversation about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and faith.

Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities:  A Congregational Guide for Transgender Advocacy

GLAAD's Religion, Faith & Values program works to amplify the voices of LGBT-affirming communities of faith and LGBT people of faith.

Q Christian Fellowship (QCF) We are a diverse community with varied backgrounds, cultures, theologies, and denominations, drawn together through our love of Christ and our belief that every person is a beloved child of God.


Our hope and prayer making Seventh-Gay Adventists: A Film About Faith on the Margins has always been to spark authentic dialogue with (and not just “at” or “about”) LGBTI members of the Adventist church (and beyond). The listening spaces that have opened up at screenings and home viewings have been profound. People have realized that it’s not about a theological debate; it’s about listening, really listening, to the stories and perspectives of those most marginalized and least allowed to share their experiences in our pulpits and publications. Because of the importance of these conversations, we are offering the film for free to any Adventist pastor or teacher who requests a copy. The digital copy is entirely free, and the DVD version will only cost the shipping fees while supplies last. If you’d like to watch this film for yourself or share it with a Sabbath school class, home discussion group or class, please contact Daneen Akers at

The digital and DVD versions include English closed captioning and subtitles in English, French, and Portuguese, as well a great deal of special features (such as an intro and Q&A and over 30 minutes of additional footage).

Here are a few of the endorsements the film has garnered:

“The movie, which simply tells stories rather than taking an advocacy stance, is powerful. It can, I believe, do much to make Adventists more compassionate.” —Dr. William Johnsson, retired editor, The Adventist Review

“Whatever one’s position regarding homosexuals and the church may be, this film is worth seeing because it candidly probes issues with real human faces and stories.” —Dr. Roy Gane, author and Andrews seminary professor

“No matter one’s views going into the film, one comes out better understanding the human responsibility, let alone the church’s responsibility, in dealing with its LGBT children and members. I defy anyone to see this film dry-eyed. It will change you. You’ll leave with Christ’s words ringing in your ears, ‘I tell you the truth, whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.’” —Dr. Lawrence T. Geraty, president emeritus, La Sierra University

“This film is—hands down—the best bridge-building film in this genre that I’ve seen.” —Andrew Marin, author of Love Is an Orientation

“A must-see documentary film about the crossroads between faith and sexual identity. Thank you for being gracious and generous and for putting a spotlight on grace.” —Pastor Ray Dabrowski, communication director for the General Conference from 1994 to 2010

“The film is superb, a poignant and profound experience beyond any I've seen on the subject.” —Chris Blake, author and professor of English at Union College

“If you are processing how a ‘follower of Jesus’ should respond to someone whom society has labelled as LGBT, you owe it to yourself to add this documentary to the list of resources you are considering. I was unexpectedly blown away…. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.” —Herb Montgomery, author of Finding the Father and director of Renewed Heart Ministries

Enough Room At The Table: A Conversation about Faith, Sexuality, and Gender
ENOUGH ROOM AT THE TABLE is a dialogue film set at the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality. It’s meant to model the sacred space that opens up when we gather to genuinely listen to each other and participate in each other’s lives. Our differences in beliefs, theological paradigms, and practice don’t disappear; but we stop seeing each other as position statements or labels and instead see each other as fellow beloved children of God. We start looking like the sort of people who are known by their love. 

For the Bible Tells Me So
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity. Find it online here...

Trembling Before G-d —
A cinematic portrait of various gay Orthodox Jews who struggle to reconcile their faith and their sexual orientation. Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbids homosexuality.

Before God: We are All Family 
Our new short film, Before God: We Are All Family is a film that explores the experiences of LGBT people of deep faith -- who have been told there is no place for them in their church of origin -- and the experiences of their parents and siblings -- who have been cruelly asked to choose between su familia y su relgión.

Before God, We Are All Family
A La Familia: A Conversation About Our Families, the Bible, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Request a screening of Before God, We Are All Family
Contact Us: Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, Director of Latino and Catholic Initiatives -



Outspoken - A new documentary short film series from the producers of Seventh-Gay Adventists.

Yo soy JhonnyPublished on May 1, 2017 -
Como dijera Braulio Peralta al citar a Carlos Monsivais en su libro "El closet de cristal": "de que puede enorgullecerse una persona si no esta orgullosa de su comunidad"; pues bien, me enorgullece representar a ambas comunidades, conflictuadas entre si durante mucho tiempo y quizá sea tiempo de desmitificar las razones por las que no debiéramos pertenecer a una u otra comunidad. A través de los vídeos que estaré subiendo procuraré dar una perspectiva diferente a la diversidad sexual tocando el punto desde el ángulo cristiano.

Dejo los links de algunas comunidades incluyentes en la república mexicana:

Católicos cristianos incluyentes:

Adventistas incluyentes:

Mormones incluyentes:

Evangélicos incluyentes:

Judíos incluyentes:

Mi blog personal:

Here I Am -
"Here I Am" interviews 28 individuals and discusses the importance of telling our stories at the intersection of faith and sexuality. It was produced largely due to the efforts of our friend and Kinship member, Dr. John Wallace.

Matthew Vines at the Together In This event, February 21, 2015 - 
Watch Matthew Vines ( and his session from the Together In This event on February 21st, 2015.

The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality -
by Matthew Vines

Matthew Vines is an advocate for the acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people within Christian communities and in society at large. He lives in Wichita, Kansas. Matthew attended Harvard University from 2008 to 2010. He then took a leave of absence in order to research the Bible and homosexuality and work toward LGBT inclusion in the church.

In March 2012, Matthew delivered a speech at a church in his hometown about the Bible and homosexuality, calling for acceptance of gay Christians and their marriage relationships. Since then, the video of the speech has been seen more than 500,000 times on YouTube, and it was featured in The New York Times and The Christian Post. You can access transcriptions of this speech in Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano, Portugués, русский, 日本人 , 中国(简体 ) , 中國(傳統), 한국의 ,

Teaching Empathy  -

Children Full of Life
Mr. Kanamori, a teacher of a 4th grade class, teaches his students not only how to be students, but how to live. He gives them lessons on teamwork, community, the importance of openness, how to cope, and the harm caused by bullying.

In the award-winning documentary Children Full of Life, a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo, learn lessons about compassion from their homeroom teacher, Toshiro Kanamori.

He instructs each to write their true inner feelings in a letter, and read it aloud in front of the class. By sharing their lives, the children begin to realize the importance of caring for their classmates.

Toshiro is an amazing example of what all teachers across the world should be like. He truly understands what teaching children is all about and certainly made a positive difference in the lives of these 10-year-olds. 

It Gets Better
The It Gets Better Project is an Internet-based project founded in the United States. Its goal is to prevent suicide among LGBTIQ youth by having gay adults convey the message through social media videos that these teens’ lives will improve. The project has grown rapidly: over 200 videos were uploaded in the first week, and the project’s YouTube channel reached the 650-video limit in the next week. - cite_note-Savage_sfgate_1010-29 The project is now organized on its own website, the It Gets Better Project ( and includes more than 30,000 entries, with more than 40 million views, from people of all sexual orientations, including many celebrities. A book of essays from the project, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, was released in March 2011. The link above is the one made by and for Seventh-day Adventists.

Norman Spack: How I Help Transgender Teens Become Who They Want To Be

TEDxBeaconStreet 2013 · 16:53 · Filmed Nov 2013
Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need.   Interactive Transcript

The purpose of this ministry for Adventist families and friends of gays and lesbians is:
•   to provide a listening ear for parents who desperately need a "safe" person to talk to,
•   to help parents work through their initial emotions of shock, anger, shame, grief, and pain,
•   to enable parents to get past focusing on their own suffering so they can begin to understand their children's situations and the confusion and rejection they have experienced much of their lives,
•   to encourage parents to demonstrate God's unconditional love to their children, and
•   to provide information and resources in the hope that they will help our church to move beyond ignorance and prejudice and to reach out with true compassion and understanding to those who so often have not been treated the way Jesus modeled.

Fact Sheet: Overview of Lesbian and Gay Parenting, Adoption and Foster Care

Lori Duron is the author of Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son (Random House, September 2013). The first parenting memoir to chronicle the journey of raising a gender nonconforming child, the book is based on her blog of the same name.

Letters to a Young Gay Christian
While this book has a focused mission to provide support and encouragement for young gay Christians, I hope that everyone, including straight cisgender people of all religions, can find in its pages wisdom, truth, and the warmth of a fellow human being trying to write a little love into the world. At the end of the day, I want all of us to live in peaceful community with the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts. — Aaron Walsh


Conversion therapy - Consensus statement

At the request of the Department of Health this public information was prepared by the UK Council for Psychotherapy with the support and assistance of the British Psychoanalytic Council, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychological Society, The National Counselling Society, Pink Therapy and Stonewall. February 2014. Read the Statement by clicking here.

What Do Health Care Professional Organizations Say About "Reparative Therapy" Efforts to Eliminate Homosexual Desire?


Resources for LGBTQ Students

LGBTQ Students and College Affordability

The Intercollegiate Adventist GSA Coalition (IAGC) exists to support Gay and /Straight Alliance (GSA) groups at Adventist colleges across North America.

LifeWorks is the youth development and mentoring program of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. We offer one on one, peer, and group mentoring opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth ages 12-24.

HeartStrong is a nonsectarian organization established to provide outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and other persons adversely affected by the influence of all denominations of religious educational institutions.

Letters to a Young Gay Christian
While this book has a focused mission to provide support and encouragement for young gay Christians, I hope that everyone, including straight cisgender people of all religions, can find in its pages wisdom, truth, and the warmth of a fellow human being trying to write a little love into the world. At the end of the day, I want all of us to live in peaceful community with the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts. — Aaron Walsh

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) was founded in 2001 with two distinct goals: creating public acceptance and discussion of asexuality and facilitating the growth of an asexual community. They have grown to host the world’s largest asexual community, serving as an informational resource for people who are asexual and questioning, their friends and families, academic researchers and the press.

The Bisexual Resource Center is the oldest national bi organization in the U.S. that advocates for bisexual visibility and raises awareness about bisexuality throughout the LGBT and straight communities.


REFUGE is a web application that seeks to provide safe restroom access for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals.

Terminology within the transgender community varies and has changed over time so we recognize the need to be sensitive to usage within particular communities.

Glossary of Terms - Transgender


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