In July 2018, the North American Division published a 71 page booklet titled, “Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones.” We wish we could report that this book upholds the truth, but sadly, this is not the case. The first concern is that the author who wrote the majority of the book is not a Seventh-day Adventist. It was written by Bill Henson, founder of Lead Them Home—a ministry which is dedicated to re-educating churches to accept practicing homosexual and transgender people into the home, church, and school life.
The booklet constantly reinforces the idea that LGBT+ people need our love and acceptance because they have suffered so much in their lives—both mentally and physically. This suffering has led some to take their own lives. Because of this, we are counseled to say only positive things to them, and avoid quoting the Bible when it speaks against their choice, because this may negatively affect their lives and even cause them to take their lives. We will look at these quotes later in this article.
As you can see from the above picture, this book is a special edition just for Seventh-day Adventists. But don’t let that fool you. Although it lists on the last page the Adventists’ belief on marriage and the family, this book has little to do with Seventh-day Adventism.
According to this publication, the author of the book has “trained over 50,000 Christian leaders and has guided 4,000 families over the last decade.” 1Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones - Adventist Edition, back cover. (from hereon we will reference it as Guiding Families). He was even invited to teach our teachers at the August 2018 teachers’ convention in Chicago, where it was estimated 7,000 educators and attendees from all over the country gathered.2https://www.leadthemhome.org/2018/08/posture-shift-featured-at-teachers-convention-august-6-8.html
Out of the estimated 7,000 attending the convention, “Approximately 500 teachers, principals, guidance counselors, administrators, and other school faculty attended Lead Them Home’s breakout session, entitled “Loving LGBT+ Youth in Our Christian Schools.” 3https://www.leadthemhome.org/2018/08/sda-teachers-convention-god-freed-me-to-listen-learn-passionately.html What is alarming is that many of those 500 individuals were influenced to support the growing trend of accepting LGBT+ persons in their sin, instead of pointing out their sin. Henson notes, "the workshop was received positively, and many educators began to change their posture toward LGBT+ young people.” 4Ibid.
Posture shift is his way of mixing truth with error. It is a keyword that defines his ministry. According to Henson, “Posture Shift is a biblically sound, missiological model for LGBT+ care and inclusion in any ministry environment. Posture Shift releases educators, ministry leaders, and more to love well, replacing fear with confidence as they honor God in their beliefs while radically loving LGBT+ people.” 5Ibid. As you can see, his definition of posture shift is a wordy way of saying we need to love, accommodate and accept LGBT+ people into the church even if we don’t agree with their lifestyle.
Henson’s idea of posture shift is the foundation on which “Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones” is based upon. Ultimately, it leads us to water down our beliefs in favor of being so-called loving and inclusive towards LGBT+ people.
Notice what the North American Division considers posture shift to mean on the second-to-the-last page of the booklet. “At the North American Division, we believe the time has come for Seventh-day Adventists to write a new chapter in our relationship with LGBT+ persons. … This does not call for a change in our biblical position on marriage and sexuality, but it does require posture shift. Shifting our posture means adjusting our actions, attitudes, and words to more accurately reflect Jesus to those around us.” 6Guiding Families, p. 70
This is doublespeak. We are being falsely assured that this ‘new chapter’ in our relationship with LGBT+ persons will not require us to change our biblical position, while at the same time we are required to change our posture towards LGBT+ persons. As we will see shortly, this posture shift requires us to accept LGBT+ people as they are and accept them into church fellowship without any expectation that they will repent of their sin.
Mark these words: this posture shift will eventually lead to a new biblical position on marriage and sexuality to complement this ‘new chapter.’ It is only a matter of time. The way it will happen is similar to how the women’s ordination issue has progressed. Only this time, it will be much faster, because much of the groundwork has been established. Women were first ordained as elders, then commissioned as pastors, and now the North American Division wants them ordained. None of this would of happened if culture had not been elevated to a position above the Bible.
How times have changed
Back in 2014, we published the Apostasy in Our Midst video series. In episode 6, we documented the rising influence in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the acceptance of homosexuality. Sadly, it is much worse five years later, but this should not surprise us given both the external and internal influences that have been steadily growing. This is clearly reflected in the comparison of statistics from a survey conducted in 1985 compared with one in 2011-2013.
Back in 1985, Ministry Magazine reported on a survey that asked Adventist youth, mothers and fathers 22 questions related to standards. One of those question was, "Homosexual behavior is a sin.” Mothers responded with the highest score with 95% agreeing it was a sin. Fathers trailed with 90% agreeing, and youth, not surprisingly, were still lower with 83% agreeing that homosexual behavior was a sin. 7Ministry Magazine, April 1985, p. 7
Thirty-one years later, Ministry Magazine again reported on statistics from 2011-2013 that demonstrate times have changed. In the article titled, “Personal happiness, self-fulfillment, and homosexuality in the church” David Penno notes:
“Research by the Archives, Statistics, and Research Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists indicates that a growing number of church members in North America agree that a practicing homosexual could be a member in good standing and might even serve as a leader in the congregation. The research found that 49 percent of those in their 20s who were current or recent graduates from college or university would accept persons who practiced a homosexual lifestyle as members of the Adventist Church; 21 percent would approve of such persons serving as leaders in the church.” 8Ministry Magazine, June, 2016, p. 25
Clearly there has been a huge shift in thought from 1985 to 2011-2013. Almost half of our youth no longer consider homosexual behavior a sin and are happy to accept into church membership those who are practicing homosexuals. No doubt influences from society have helped in this shift, but the blame does not rest entirely with society. As pointed out in the Apostasy in Our Midst series, Seventh-day Adventists are also being influenced by pastors, administrators and professors in our institutions, as well as in our publications. Some individuals identified in that series who are lending their support to this agenda include:
- David Potter, coordinator of General Studies at Avondale College, Cooranbong, New South Wales.
- Nathan Brown, (former) editor of RECORD, South Pacific Division.
- Fritz Guy, a Research Professor of Philosophical Theology at La Sierra University
- David Larson, Professor of Ethical studies at Loma Linda University. One of his specialties is sexual ethics.
- David Ferguson, Director of Undergraduate Leadership Development at Andrews University.
- William Johnsson, retired editor of The Adventist Review.
- Jared Wright, (former) pastor of Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- Tim Mitchell, senior pastor of Pacific Union College Church.
- Aubyn Fulton, professor of psychology, Pacific Union College.
- Ray Dabrowski, General Conference Communication Director, 1994-2010.
The startling figures that we saw from 2011-2013 are only going to get worse with publications such as “Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones” from the North American Division. Before we delve into what it teaches, it is important to note what the Seventh-day Adventist church taught in the past on this issue. Only then can we see how far the Church has departed from the truth.
Homosexuality is a sin
In August 1966, D. A. Delafield, who was associate secretary of the White Estate, wrote in Ministry Magazine, “In the Signs of the Times of April 21, 1890, Ellen G. White forecast with amazing accuracy the trend in public morals and the causes of the decline in the old virtues. ‘Society is now in a state of demoralization,’ she wrote, describing conditions of things in her own day. But she predicted, ‘This will ripen until the nations become as lawless, as corrupt, as were the inhabitants of the world before the flood.’
“So the expression ‘Society is now in a state of demoralization, and this will ripen until the nations become as lawless and corrupt as were the inhabitants of the world before the flood,’ must have sounded to the gay and reckless spirit of the 1890's like the pessimistic voice of a prophet of doom.
“What are the facts? Has this statement anticipating the ripening or rottening of public morals, made seventy-five years ago, been fulfilled in American society? If it hasn't, how then can we explain the gross homosexuality which has become such a major problem to be coped with only by skillful psychiatrists and preachers of religion?” 9Ministry Magazine, August 1966, p. 42
How times have changed! Fifty-three years ago, homosexuality was considered gross, but now not only is it considered acceptable and natural by society, but many in our church also see nothing wrong with it. Isn’t it interesting that back in 1966, homosexuality was considered a major problem that could only be treated by psychiatrists and ministers of religion. Today, psychiatrists no longer see it as a problem that needs fixing, and as we will see shortly, our church in the North American Division is teaching its ministers that homosexuals cannot be helped, because they are born that way.
One more example from Ministry Magazine is sufficient to show what we as a church once taught in regards to homosexuality. In 1978, R. R. Bietz, a former vice-president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists wrote: “It is common knowledge that homosexuals or lesbians teach in our public schools or even function as Congressmen. They have their own churches and their own pastors who have the same problems. Certain denominations no longer consider this a sickness and sin but accept it as normal or near normal. This certainly indicates, to say the least, that there is a complete misunderstanding of God's purpose in creating male and female. Such trends as this challenge the Christian leader to emphasize the true Biblical concept of the origin and nature of marriage.” 10Ministry Magazine, February 1978, p. 12
The world’s view
As the world becomes less Christian, its view of homosexuality has become more acceptable. In 1978, certain denominations no longer considered it a sickness and sinful. That trend has only intensified to this day. Speaking against LGBT+ persons will lead to persecution, including job loss and even prosecution in some countries. In a recent example, Pastor Justin Hoke of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, lost his job for putting on the church sign, “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still sin. Culture may change, the Bible does not.” 11https://www.dailywire.com/news/42112/pastor-loses-job-after-church-sign-stating-frank-camp
In 1985, J. Robert Spangler, editor of Ministry Magazine wrote a review of the book “The Healing of the Homosexual” by Leanne Payne. Notice what this author had to say about how the world views homosexuality compared with the church at that time.
“The title of this book indicates the author's attitude toward homosexuality. She deals first with the world's current view as she perceives it, namely, (1) one's sexual preference is determined genetically, and there is essentially nothing one can do about it; one must simply accept it; or (2) homosexuality is an alternative life style that ought to be explored and enjoyed—there is nothing wrong with it; we have simply been prejudiced against it. Payne then examines the church's attitude typified as (1) the homosexual sufferer must grin and bear his problem—just live with it while remaining chaste and celibate; or (2) the homosexual lifestyle should be lovingly accepted and perhaps even blessed by the church. The author finds that scripture views homosexuality as something to be repented of and healed.” 12Ministry Magazine, April, 1985, p. 32
The world views one’s sexual preference as being determined genetically, and therefore nothing can be done about it. Even though there is no evidence to support this, it has not stopped the media and those in support of LGBT+ repeating this argument as a basis for their agenda. How can one repent of something they were born with?
On the opening page of Guiding Families, under the heading “care-not compromise” we are assured that nothing in this booklet will dishonor God’s Word. “Teaching others to love and care for LGBT+ people can trigger concerns about biblical compromise. Nothing in this resource will dishonor God’s Word. We encourage you to maintain the biblical position of the Adventist Church (see page 71), while adjusting your posture to love others like God has loved you.” 13Guiding Families, p. 3
Well, let us put this statement to the test, shall we? In the Apostasy in our Midst series, we revealed in episode 2 that since the 1950’s, the church has become very divided over the nature of sin. Most Seventh-day Adventists now believe sin is a state that we are born in, and from this state sins are committed. Ultimately, it forces us to believe that we can never fully overcome all our sins, because we are always in a continual state of sin. But this is not what the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy teach.
“What is sin? The only definition that is given to you in the word of God, is, ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ The apostle says, ‘Where no law is, there is no transgression.’ ” The Review and Herald, June 10, 1890.
“ ‘Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.’ This is the only definition of sin given in the Holy Scriptures, and we should seek to understand what sin is, lest any of us be found in opposition to the God of heaven.” The Review and Herald, July 15, 1890.
“Sin is a definite act of transgression against God’s law. Satan was created perfect. He sinned, not because he was in a state of sin, but because he chose to transgress God’s law. Many mistakenly think that because we are born with a fallen or sinful nature, we are born in sin. But this is not true and destroys the truth that Jesus, like us, was born with a sinful nature.
“The example He has left must be followed. He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, that He might know how to succor those that are tempted.” Medical Ministry, p. 181.
“Clad in the vestments of humanity, the Son of God came down to the level of those he wished to save. In him was no guile or sinfulness; he was ever pure and undefiled; yet he took upon him our sinful nature. Clothing his divinity with humanity, that he might associate with fallen humanity, he sought to regain for man that which, by disobedience, Adam had lost for himself and for the world.” The Review and Herald, December 15, 1896.
Jesus lived a perfect life after He took upon Himself our sinful nature. He proved that Satan’s accusations were false. Fallen man, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is able to keep God’s law. In the judgment, no one will have an excuse for why they did not live a righteous life, because Jesus Himself stands as a witness that it can be done, and He had no advantage over us. He relied upon the Holy Spirit to live His life, just as we need to.
Because the Seventh-day Adventist Church no longer teaches this fundamental truth about sin, we now see bold and erroneous arguments misleading our people, such as the following in Guiding Families:
- “The origins of sexual orientation and gender identity are highly complex, multi-factorial, and likely rooted in both nature and nurture.” 14Guiding Families, p. 9
- “Please understand, your LGBT+ family and friends are not sinners because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but for the same reason we are all sinners—we were born into sin.” 15Guiding Families, p. 44
- “People usually experience a same-gender orientation and/or gender dysphoria through no choice of their own. Many have sensed from an early age that something is different about them. If you had never made a choice to be gay or transgender, and if you knew nothing but an orientation to persons of the same gender or a deep sense of belonging to another gender, wouldn’t you conclude you were born that way? ”16Guiding Families, p. 42
- “Avoid asking questions that convey you are trying to find a cause or a cure.” 17Guiding Families, p. 21
Right here is proof that within the pages of Guiding Families there is content that dishonors God’s Word. This booklet upholds erroneous ideas about the nature of sin and because of this, it teaches that LGBT+ people cannot help the way they are because they were born that way. The consequences of this erroneous doctrine means:
- God does not condemn them.
- We cannot warn them to repent of their sin.
- It is impossible for them to overcome their sin.
- We cannot forbid them church membership.
These consequences are serious, and will continue to have devastating effects on the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Let us look in more detail at these four points.
1. Does God condemn LGBT+ people?
Sin is very offensive to God and separates us from him. (Isaiah 59:2). We are told that, “To sin, wherever found, ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ (Hebrews 12:29). In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them.” The Desire of Ages, p. 107.
To cling to sin is to become identified with it, and will result in eternal death. And yet within the pages of Guiding Families, you will find absolutely no warning whatsoever to LGBT+ people that the lifestyle they are living is sure to end in eternal death. That is a complete betrayal of our mission as a Church to loudly proclaim the three angel’s messages, which encompasses the forsaking of sin and living a holy life. The North American Division has departed from the truth and is affirming LGBT+ people in their sin. Notice the following statements:
- “Avoid positioning God against anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Remember, many LGBT+ young people anticipate condemnation due to past emotional and sometimes physical trauma.” 18Guiding Families, p. 44
- “The LGBT+ population has been misunderstood and mistreated for decades, resulting in a great deal of emotional and spiritual harm.” 19Guiding Families, p. 3
- “It is essential to communicate to LGBT+ young people that God loves them unconditionally as you come to terms with their orientation and/or identity in the context of your own religious beliefs.” 20Guiding Families, p. 5
- “It is important to understand that your LGBT+ family member or friend may be a deeply religious person and that they can have a happy future.” 21Guiding Families, p. 5
- “What parents may need to grieve are some of the heterosexual or gender-conforming hopes and dreams they had for their child.” 22Guiding Families, p. 19
- “Ask LGBT+ children what they envision for their future and support them in pursing that. Parents who adjust their expectations and trust in God’s ongoing plan may be better able to reimagine the future and reorient their feelings of loss.” 23Guiding Families, p. 19
- “Even parents who respond in a loving manner may be grieving. This shock or sadness can result in a growing silence that lowers family connections. Silence can convey to your child that you are not happy with them. … In moments like this, take a big breath, be open to listening, show your unconditional love, and begin this journey together. Many families have shared that things get better and less confusing, to all, with time.” 24Guiding Families, p. 27
- “Although God’s design for human beings was perfect, sin now results in every person being born into a condition that is not what God originally intended. However, this does not change the fact that each person is made in the image of God—with dignity, value, and purpose. Nor does it lessen the immense love God has for each of His children, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Even though we all suffer from the results of sin and struggle with its inclinations, we can say with the psalmist, “You created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” 25Guiding Families, p. 42
Guiding Families confuses its reader with the idea that because God loves the sinner, He will accept practicing LGBT+ people. But what does the Bible say in regard to this? “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” (Psalm 5:5).
The position that Guiding Families takes will eventually lead to universalism, which teaches that because God loves us so much, He will not suffer anyone to lose eternal life. But the Bible is clear, God hates sin, and it separates us from Him. He who clings to sin will be identified with it, and God will have no choice but to destroy those who are identified with sin.
The Spirit of Prophecy is filled with statements that tell us God hates sin, but loves the sinner. “The Lord hates sin; but He loves and forgives the repentant, believing sinner, and takes everyone under His guardianship and control.” Christ Triumphant, p. 186. This is a fundamental truth about God’s character. It is because He hates sin but loves the sinner that He sent Jesus to give His life for us. But notice what Guiding Families says about this truth.
- “Using unhelpful clichés like, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” 26Guiding Families, p. 31
- “No sin comparisons. Comparisons with stealing, alcoholism, etc. ultimately break down and become unfair. Don’t use them.” 27Guiding Families, p. 66
- Don’t use terms like “love the sinner, hate the sin.” “What you may refer to as ‘the sin ’ is what many LGBT+ family members and friends think of as ‘my identity.’ Consequently they will hear, ‘Although God loves me, He hates who I am.’ Try saying, ‘God loves you, and I love you, too.’ ” 28Guiding Families, p. 32
The counsel given in Guiding Families is a blatant departure from the truth. The reason why it is so successful in deceiving many is the same reason why society has been influenced to accept LGBT+ people. It pretends to be based on love, and who wants to be seen as unloving? Who can object when we are talking about how loving and compassionate our God is? The problem with this is that by focusing on love only, God’s justice is denied. It is unbalanced and misleading.
Whenever Jesus demonstrated His love by forgiving sinners, He also warned them to go and sin no more (John 8:11). It would seem LGBT+ people are so fragile they cannot bear this truth. But the Bible is not like that. God knows what we as sinners need, even if it hurts us. Jesus says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19).
Regarding LGBT+ issues, the Bible clearly warns without apology, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22). “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13). “A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Clearly God does condemn LGBT+ people. He says it is an abomination to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. The Bible does not mess around when it comes to these issues. How completely different is the Word of God to the wisdom of man! We need to call sin by its right name, but this is not what Guiding Families is doing.
“The greatest want of this age is the want of men,—men who will not be bought or sold; men who are true and honest in their inmost souls; men who will not fear to call sin by its right name, and to condemn it, in themselves or in others; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right, though the heavens fall.” The Signs of the Times, May 4, 1882, Art. B.
The Bible points out that anyone who is a practicing LGBT+ is committing abominable and detestable acts. The Hebrew word for abomination means something that is morally disgusting, an abhorrence, and is likened to idolatry. Those who commit such acts are gross and mentally sick. You will remember, this is what our publications called it over 30 years ago. But today, you will not find our publications calling it by its right name. The counsel that Guiding Families gives on this point is:
- “Surrender disgust. If differences in sexuality or gender identity disgust you, you will not be effective in offering relation care.” 29Guiding Families, p. 66
- On the page that points out common mistakes made when dealing with LGBT+ people, it claims we make a mistake by saying “Being gay/transgender is a mental illness.” 30Guiding Families, p. 30
The Bible calls it disgusting, but the North American Division is now calling us to surrender our disgust of this sin so we can be effective in caring for those who identify as LGBT+. How is this not dishonoring God’s Word?
Where will it end?
By upholding the idea that LGBT+ people are born that way, the North American Division has put themselves into a position that will lead them still further from God. On the heels of the LGBT+ movement, there is already a push in society to accept other gross and sick conditions that people are ‘born’ with, like Pedophilia.
Dr. James Cantor, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, was quoted by the BBC saying, “ ‘Paedophilia is a sexual orientation,’ he says. ‘Paedophilia is something that we are essentially born with, does not appear to change over time and it's as core to our being as any other sexual orientation is.’ ” 31https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34858350
Dr. Cantor is not the only person advocating this idea. In 2018, Mirjam Heine, a medical student gave a presentation in a TEDx talk on the subject of “Why our perception of pedophilia has to change.” 32https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmUxnAkO054 In that talk, she said, "According to current research, pedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation, just like for example heterosexuality. No one chooses to be a pedophile. No one can cease being one. The difference between pedophilia and other sexual orientations is that living out this sexual orientation will end in a disaster.”
This has always been a concern for Christians that are opposed to LGBT+. We have seen from the very beginning of the debate where the arguments that were used by the LGBT+ movement would tend. It is only a matter of time before we see society become even more corrupt. What will the church do then? Will they then produce a book advocating we need to change our posture towards pedophiles, because they are born that way and are suffering?
We do not want to leave you with the impression that practicing LGBT+ people are worse sinners than an adulterer, a murderer or someone that dishonors their parents. All of us are sinners condemned by the law of God and in need of God’s forgiveness. All of us need to repent of our sins and allow God to change us, so we can become like Him. By stating LGBT+ people are born that way, Guiding Families gives those struggling with this sin a false sense of security. How does this not dishonor God’s Word?
2. Is it wrong to call LGBT+ to repentance?
Repentance is a core principle of what it means to be a Christian. “Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.” Steps to Christ, p. 23.
The above message is absent from Guiding Families. The book gives counsel to families, ministers and educators on how to care for those who identify as LGBT+. But it does not contain any information about how to lead an LGBT+ person to repentance. Why is that? There are multiple reasons, but they all stem back to the understanding that they are born that way and cannot change.
Instead of calling LGBT+ people to repentance, much is mentioned in Guiding Families about the so called “faith identity” of the believing LGBT+ person. For example:
- “It is important to understand that your LGBT+ family member or friend may be a deeply religious person and that they can have a happy future.” 33Guiding Families, p. 5
- “Unintentionally, many Christians have so strongly judged LGBT+ young people that it has actually dismantled their faith identity.” 34Guiding Families, p. 44
- “Finally, don’t let outward appearances detract from the legitimacy of a transgender person’s faith experience.” 35Guiding Families, p. 53
- “Remind your family member or friend from Scripture of God’s love and constant care. Nourish a faith identity that encompasses their questions and doubts and seeks to uphold or rebuild their trust in God.” 36Guiding Families, p. 44
How can one uphold one’s trust in God while living in open rebellion to Him? Clearly, something is missing here. Just because LGBT+ can be deeply religious and have a ‘faith experience’ does not mean they are right with God. We could say the same about a Buddhist or Hindu, but clearly they need to be taught that their faith is based on a lie.
Notice in the above quotes that it is ok to quote scripture to one who identifies as LGBT+, but only if what you are quoting reinforces the unbalanced and biased agenda that God loves and accepts them as they are. When it comes to pointing out that the Bible does not support their lifestyle, Guiding Families gives the following advice:
- “We caution against focusing on theology. While there is a place for biblical discussion, when youth and young adults are hurting, safety and social connection must be the top priorities.” 37Guiding Families, p. 44
- On the page dealing with common mistakes, we are told to avoid, “Quoting Scripture when a child is suicidal.” 38Guiding Families, p. 30
- “Communicating more about doctrine than expressing love for your child.” 39Guiding Families, p. 30
- “No hammers. Do not use doctrine to position God against others or their relationships.” 40Guiding Families, p. 66
Now we understand that the Bible must be used appropriately. We also understand LGBT+ persons are sensitive to anything that they feel is judging them. We also do not condone bashing people over the head with the Bible. If we have the love of Christ in our heart, we will not be insensitive and treat their sin differently from any other sin. Our desire will be to see these people come to true repentance. But Guiding Families does not present any of this. It is so concerned with offending those who identify as LGBT+ that it cautions against focusing on any theology that positions God against them.
Not only is quoting the Bible off limits when trying to present the truth to those who identify as LGBT+, but parents are counseled to avoid making their child feel like they are not a Christian or a Seventh-day Adventist.
- “Telling your child they are not an Adventist — or a bad Adventist.” 41Guiding Families, p. 30
- “Refusing to recognize Christ’s presence in your child’s life.” 42Guiding Families, p. 31
We realize it is not for us to judge others, but where do we draw the line between someone who, for example, is a practicing pedophile and one who identifies as LGBT+? Both claim to be born that way, and both claim it is impossible to change. Both also claim that love is love. Can we refuse to recognize Christ’s presence in a practicing pedophile whose only intention is to enjoy a so-called loving relationship with a child, and at the same time accept that Christ’s presence is in the life of a homosexual or transgender?
The Bible contains the standard of righteousness that we will be judged by. If we follow the advice of the North American Division and put away our Bibles when talking with LGBT+ people, how can they ever learn what God requires of them? Guiding Families spends a lot of time emphasizing the love of Jesus, but we need to ask ourselves, what would Jesus have said to a practicing LGBT+? There is no doubt He would have expressed His love to them, but He would never have left them in their sin without kindly counseling them to go and sin no more.
If we are going to be faithful to God and His Word, we need to call LGBT+ people to repentance in a loving and compassionate way, just as Jesus would have. If they feel offended or hurt by this, it is because they want to cling to their sin.
“While those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves, those who cling to sin war against the truth and its representatives.” The Desire of Ages, p. 306.
3. Can a LGBT+ overcome their sin?
Another fundamental principle of Christianity is the good news that Jesus promises us a new heart and will help us overcome all our sins. There is no temptation that cannot be overcome. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape , that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
The third consequence to teaching LGBT+ are born that way is to deny that through faith in God, the gender confused person can overcome any desire or feelings they might have that do not align with the way God created us. Notice the following from Guiding Families:
- “Sexual orientation change efforts, including ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy, have been shown to be largely unsuccessful and psychologically damaging. Adults making an informed and voluntary decision to pursue change efforts should not be ridiculed. Parents, however, should never encourage or force their child to be involved in such therapy. In several states, conversion therapy on minors is illegal. While some adults who have participated in these efforts report varying levels of desired change, the results are often less than hoped for or prove to be unsustainable. Others report no change and, at times, harmful effects.” 43Guiding Families, p. 42
- Your responsibility is to express your constant love and care for a struggling young person, not to contest or try to change their orientation and/or identity.” 44Guiding Families, p. 5
- “If you choose to recommend the services of a Christian counselor, it should not be for the purpose of changing a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Such ‘change ministry’ approaches carry the risk of harm and may be illegal for minors in some states.” 45Guiding Families, p. 28
- “In mentioning prayer, there is a risk that some LGBT+ readers may interpret us as encouraging parents to ‘pray away’ a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. If you have read the first four parts of Guiding Families, it is our prayer that you know this is not our intention.” 46Guiding Families, p. 58
- “Prayer is not about an attempt to fix or change or judge or dismiss any reader of Guiding Families. To the contrary: you are a prized possession.” 47Guiding Families, p. 59
- Under the heading ‘Falsely assuring’ we read, “Telling your child that God will make them straight. Telling your child they can change with enough prayer or faith in God.” 48Guiding Families, p. 30
- “Getting overly excited about your child’s attempt at a heterosexual relationship (especially when it’s unhealthy or harmful).” 49Guiding Families, p. 30
- “Taking your family member or friend to a counselor with the intent to ‘fix’ them.” 50Guiding Families, p. 31
The only reason why the North American Division does not believe the power of prayer can change a person’s sexual orientation is because they believe they are born that way. Once again, we see more evidence that Guiding Families dishonors God’s Word. A gospel that has no power over sin is a false gospel. It is a gospel that offers no real peace. This is not the gospel we have been called to proclaim with a loud voice.
If we take the position that LGBT+ people cannot change, are we not supporting Satan’s claim that God’s law is unfair and needs changing?
“Satan in his rebellion in heaven sought to find some flaw in the law of God, in order to support his argument that the law of God must be changed; but his efforts were in vain.” The Signs of the Times, November 14, 1895.
"He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings,—laws that he declared were arbitrary, detrimental to the interests of the heavenly universe, and in need of change.” The Signs of the Times, July 23, 1902.
4. Welcoming LGBT+ into our churches
Church membership requires one to submit to the teachings of the Word of God. If someone is openly sinning, such as stealing, and does not feel the need to repent, they should not be accepted or retained in church fellowship.
“There is one thing that we have no right to do, and that is to judge another man's heart or impugn his motives. But when a person presents himself as a candidate for church membership, we are to examine the fruit of his life, and leave the responsibility of his motive with himself. But great care should be exercised in accepting members into the church; for Satan has his specious devices through which he purposes to crowd false brethren into the church, through whom he can work more successfully to weaken the cause of God.” The Review and Herald, January 10, 1893.
Becoming a Seventh-day Adventist is not just joining a club. Every Seventh-day Adventist is called to be an example to the world of how God has changed their life. If a practicing LGBT+ person is not willing to change, how can accepting them into fellowship benefit the church? The case of Achan’s sin stands as a testimony on this issue. Sin should not be accepted or allowed to remain in the church.
“The names of those who sin and refuse to repent should not be retained on the church books, lest the saints be held accountable for their evil deeds. Those who pursue a course of transgression should be visited and labored with, and if they then refuse to repent, they should be separated from church fellowship, in accordance with the rules laid down in the Word of God…
“Those who refuse to hear the admonitions and warnings given by God's faithful messengers are not to be retained in the church. They are to be disfellowshiped; for they will be as Achan in the camp of Israel—deceived and deceiving.
“Who, after reading the record of Achan's sin and punishment, can think it according to the will of God that those who do wickedly, refusing to repent, are to be retained in the church? To retain them would be an insult to the God of heaven (Letter 215, 1902).” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1096.
Although Guiding Families does not call for our churches to accept into membership practicing LGBT+ people, it certainly comes close. In answer to the question, “Should my LGBT+ family member or friend be included in church youth groups?”, notice the advice given:
“Absolutely. Why exclude youth when we should be nourishing their faith identity? All young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, need an opportunity to grow in Christ. Acts of exclusion on the part of the faith community can have a devastating effect on a young person’s spiritual life. We should include LGBT+ youth, reduce their vulnerability to bullying, and recognize their gifts and calling. We should also be careful not to worry anymore about these youth acting in sexually inappropriate ways than we might with heterosexual youth.” 51Guiding Families, p. 43
Once again, Guiding Families dishonors God’s Word. How can we recognize the gifts and calling of a practicing LGBT+ person when clearly God is not leading them? Could we say the same for a practicing adulterer? To accept anyone into fellowship, even if they are not members, when they are refusing to repent is an insult to God and will deceive others into thinking they, too, can get away with cherishing sin.
We need to keep in mind that the growth in Christ that Guiding Families refers to here does not include repenting from their sin. The book is clear: LGBT+ people cannot change. What they are referring to here is encouraging LGBT+ people to think that God accepts them even when they are not living in accordance with His will. On the page dealing with guidelines for pastors and teachers, advice is given which includes:
- “Include. Many Adventist youth and young adults who identify as LGBT+ love God and want to be part of His church. Never try to convince a young person that they are not really an Adventist because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Be open to their spiritual interests and nurture their faith identity. Intentionally include them in church and school activities.” 52Guiding Families, p. 67
- “Protect. No bulling. Teasing, name calling, anti-gay statements …” 53Guiding Families, p. 67
- “Invest. For LGBT+ young adults 18 years of age or older, allow them the opportunity to share their stories and educate others (if they wish to do so). … Identify the God-given gifts and talents of LGBT+ young people and utilize them in the church and community (mission trips, worship teams, service projects, etc.). Help them to connect these experiences to God’s calling and purpose for their lives. ” 54Guiding Families, p. 67
Once again, the advice that Guiding Families gives dishonors God’s Word. How can we utilize someone in mission trips or worship teams when they are living in open sin? Here we see that the posture shift, which the North American Division assures us will not lead us to dishonor God’s Word, does just that.
“Moses represents a class who will call sin by its right name; a class that will give no place to sin and wrong, but will purge it from among them. Our abhorrence of sin cannot be too strong, if we are controlled by no personal, selfish feelings, if we labor disinterestedly for the salvation of souls, pleading in behalf of the erring, and those blinded by their own transgressions.” The Signs of the Times, May 27, 1880, par. 5
With the advice we have seen in Guiding Families being implemented in our churches, it won’t be long before there is a united call for practicing LGBT+ people to be accepted into church membership. This is already happening in some of our churches. La Sierra University Church recently published on their About Us page:
“We are also seeking reconciliation with those we have left out. Though we have said, ‘You are welcome here,’ we realize that many in the LGBT+ community, in particular, do not feel included. We confess that we have fallen short. Aspiring to follow Christ’s command to love one another, we resolve to work for change in our church community to be fully welcoming and affirming for all LGBT+ people. As we work to make concrete changes and open new conversations, please hear us when we say, “ALL are welcome here.” 55https://lasierra.church/about-us/
How far will La Sierra University Church take such a statement? Will they welcome practicing adulterers, thieves, idolaters and every other form of sin into their midst as well? How far does ‘ALL’ include?
In an attempt to supposedly reveal the love of God, the North American Division is asking us to compromise with evil. But we have been warned, "While we are to love the souls for whom Christ died, we are to make no compromise with evil. We are not to unite with the rebellious and call this charity. God requires His people in this age of the world to stand for the right as unflinchingly as did John in opposition to soul-destroying errors." Conflict and Courage, p. 358.
The only way we can really show LGBT+ people the love of God is to show them in a loving way what God says about their condition, and emphasize the promises in the Bible that they can overcome their sin. Anything less than this is not showing true love.
“Toward those who fall into sin, the church has a duty, to warn, to instruct, and if possible to restore. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort,’ the Lord says, ‘with all long-suffering and doctrine.’ 2 Timothy 4:2. Deal faithfully with wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other evil. ‘They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’ Galatians 5:21. If they persist in sin, the judgment you have declared from God’s word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven.” Desire of Ages, p. 805.
God is waiting for a pure church to fulfil its mission to proclaim the everlasting gospel to the world. But the North American Division is promoting a false gospel in Guiding Families, a gospel that is inclusive no matter how people live their lives. We cannot allow such a gospel to influence our lives. Where possible, we must stand up against such a gospel, for we are told:
"We must as a people arouse and cleanse the camp of Israel. Licentiousness, unlawful intimacy, and unholy practices are coming in among us in a large degree; and ministers who are handling sacred things are guilty of sin in this respect. They are coveting their neighbors’ wives, and the seventh commandment is broken. We are in danger of becoming a sister to fallen Babylon, of allowing our churches to become corrupted, and filled with every foul spirit, a cage for every unclean and hateful bird; and will we be clear unless we make decided movements to cure the existing evil?" Manuscript Releases, vol. 21 [Nos. 1501-1598], p. 380.
|1.||↑||Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones - Adventist Edition, back cover. (from hereon we will reference it as Guiding Families).|
|6.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 70|
|7.||↑||Ministry Magazine, April 1985, p. 7|
|8.||↑||Ministry Magazine, June, 2016, p. 25|
|9.||↑||Ministry Magazine, August 1966, p. 42|
|10.||↑||Ministry Magazine, February 1978, p. 12|
|12.||↑||Ministry Magazine, April, 1985, p. 32|
|13.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 3|
|14.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 9|
|15.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 44|
|16.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 42|
|17.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 21|
|18.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 44|
|19.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 3|
|20.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 5|
|22.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 19|
|24.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 27|
|25.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 42|
|26.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 31|
|27.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 66|
|28.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 32|
|29.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 66|
|30.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 30|
|33.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 5|
|34.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 44|
|35.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 53|
|36.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 44|
|38.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 30|
|40.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 66|
|41.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 30|
|42.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 31|
|43.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 42|
|44.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 5|
|45.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 28|
|46.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 58|
|47.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 59|
|48.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 30|
|50.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 31|
|51.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 43|
|52.||↑||Guiding Families, p. 67|