Religion

Is the SDA Church changing position on Human Sexuality?

 

Don Livesay, president of the Lake Union Conference
Don Livesay, president of the Lake Union Conference

The North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church proposed a “Statement on Human Sexuality” at their Year-end Meeting on Oct. 29, 2015. After more than two hours of discussion, several revisions were incorporated into the statement, and the statement was approved on Nov. 2, 2015, by a vote of 74-17.

“Practical and compassionate theology,” was the description given by one executive committee member. The document states that the Adventist Church in North America seek to “follow the model of Jesus” and offer “unconditional love and compassion to everyone.”

The statement declares that the NAD stands in full support of the General Conference (GC) guidelines regarding human sexuality, marriage, family, homosexuality, and same-sex union. The GC guidelines, released in spring 2014, address how the church responds to “changing cultural attitudes regarding homosexual and other alternative sexual practices.”

The statement is “presented not as a theological document but as one drawing from biblical teachings, some practical understandings and guidelines for the Adventist Church in North America.”

During the late-morning presentation on Oct. 29, Kyoshin Ahn, NAD associate secretary and chair of the human sexuality committee, referenced the GC guidelines, introduced the committee and process, and presented the human sexuality statement. Ahn explained that the committee recognized that the church should “follow the model of Jesus Christ in the way we treat people. No way can we handle every situation; we wanted to set a direction.”

Committee members took turns reading sections of the four-page statement, which was read in its entirety. The statement, after final revision on Nov. 2, addresses 12 topics: biblical principles, orientation and practice, nature and nurture, church attendance and Christian fellowship, church membership, leadership roles, employment, educational institutions, facilities use, marriage ceremony, healthcare ministries, and transgenderism. Committee members, including Ahn, Larry Blackmer, Claudio Consuegra, Marcus Harris, Heather Knight, Grace Mackintosh, Alan Parker, Katia Reinert, and Gerald Winslow, answered questions and listened to concerns during the discussion periods.

While a few spoke on how the document was “a good start” but wondered “how much was based on real-life conversations with people who are in the categories listed,” comments from the NAD constituency were appreciative and generally favorable.

One executive committee delegate thanked the NAD for the statement, saying it was caring and biblical, and that “Jesus was crucified in the middle—where truth and love connect.”

Before NAD presented the statement, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, shared a 21-page position paper on “An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care.”

According to Jiri Moskala, Ph.D, dean of the Adventist Theological Seminary, “The [Andrews] document is very balanced . . . it combines love and grace together. In this, it is very Adventist.” The document uses Scripture to show the “Biblical teaching on sin and how our sinful inclinations can be controlled by the Holy Spirit, by God’s grace.” (To read the Andrews document, visit https://www.andrews.edu/sem/statements/seminary-statement-on-homosexuality-edited-10-8-15-jm-final.pdf.)

 

Source: NAD Newspoints

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