Gay Adventists boldly take landmark book to conservative evangelical communities
A new book published by gay Adventists and those who support their full inclusion within the church is making an impact on this conservative evangelical community and is opening doors.
SAN FRANCISCO, December 2008—Gays and lesbians in the 15-million-member Seventh-day Adventist Church have attempted to share their experiences and opinions with the church for more than 30 years, often with little response in return. This year they received a collection of voices to help tell their personal stories and viewpoint to an even larger audience.
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, the unsanctioned support organization for LGBTI members of the Adventist Church, collaborated with Adventist Forum to publish “Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives.” The new book boldly shares the experiences of this particular group of people within a Christian faith community.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church denomination-- known for its educational system, health care and health lifestyle message--has traditionally been firmly opposed to “homosexual practices and relationships” as stated in its Church Position Statements. Recently, the church’s Religious Liberty Association of North America was actively involved in promoting passage of California’s Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage.
“Christianity and Homosexuality” features a collection of scholarly writings and human interest stories by 18 prominent Adventist theologians, sociologists, health care professionals and researchers, pastoral care specialists, and experts in ethics and public policy. Its publication is a landmark accomplishment and is the first of its kind by Adventists.
“The effect of Adventist theologians and opinion leaders speaking on behalf of the GLBT community marks a milestone in the church’s history and in mainstream evangelical circles,” said Harry Knox, director of Human Rights Campaign’sReligion and Faith Program, who is helping announce the book.
The book has been distributed in over 16 countries to church leaders and members, particularly targeting the LGBTI Adventist church members, compassionate heterosexual church members, and other conservative Christian church members.
Dave Ferguson, Kinship’s church relations director, says, “The goal of the book is two-fold: to create dialogue and to provide education.”
According to Ferguson, the book accomplishes this by presenting a variety of perspectives on homosexuality and response chapters from others who have read those viewpoints. In addition, each chapter concludes with a list of suggested discussion questions to further stimulate thinking and engagement, both individually and in group settings.
Reception of the book by Adventists is mixed around the world, but some are expressing appreciation for it and the information provided on an often misunderstood subject. In the Netherlands, the Adventist Church allowed the book to be available at its conference-wide Open Day on June 8, 2008. Adventist leaders in Europe and Australia published positive reviews of the book in publications sent to its constituents.
As a result of the book’s distribution, several Adventist colleges and universities plan to use the book as a supplementary text next school year. Many Adventist parents of gays and lesbians have sent copies of the book to their pastors and other leaders in the church.
“Christianity and Homosexuality” may be purchased at www.sdagayperspectives.com.
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International is a volunteer support organization that seeks through education, advocacy, and reconciliation, to facilitate and promote the understanding and affirmation of LGBTI Adventists among themselves and within the Seventh-day Adventist community. Its mission is to provide a safe spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists. Kinship has been supporting and advocating for gay Adventists since 1976. More information is available at www.sdakinship.org.