25 July 2022  |  

Dear Editor,

Thanks to Adventist Today for addressing the LGBTQ+ question. It is a discussion which is much needed.

I wanted to comment upon Bryan Ness’s introduction to his ATSS class by, first, noting the use of the word “celibacy.” The word “abstinence” would have been better. Whilst the two words are related, abstinence is biblically required of all before marriage, while Ness’s introduction might give the impression that the author was referring to a lifelong pledge of celibacy somewhat resembling the Roman Catholic church’s.

But the word abstinence, as opposed to celibacy, allows for the hope that as our church grasps a greater sense of God’s love, that it can change its views and allow a more inclusive space for people like me. To try to impose celibacy on LGBTQ+ people robs us of the hope of integration. I believe that the leadership of our church has no authority to interfere in these kinds of topics other than to “suffer it to be so” (Matthew 3:15).

Interestingly, until about 15 or 20 years ago the church had a big issue with single people and discouraged celibacy in the sense of being unmarried—only eventually, and it seems to me a bit reluctantly, creating a department to deal with “single people.”

Second, it was difficult for me to read “the Bible gives little to no direct guidance about how LGBTQ+ individuals should be treated by believers.” Indeed, while the Bible might have no issues with people who identify as LGBTQ+, it has issues with what we do as LGBTQ+ people, and how we handle our sexuality. This difference is important, because the author gave the impression that all LGBTQ+ people are not welcome just because they are who they are, as opposed to what they do.

I really love that Adventist Today is supportive and affirming of LGBTQ+ people. I am a happily married gay male, and as the local church wouldn’t be able to recognize my partner or marriage, the answer is simple: I don’t go. My partner is disabled and therefore I am an abstinent gay man. But to be accepted only because I declare that I don’t have sex would rob me of my authenticity and spirituality, and would nullify the vows I took at marriage.

Thanks once again for for Bryan Ness’s affirmative words. But it still seems to me that our church should simply create a space for everyone without the need to categorize and label.

Yours,
Joseph McTaggart
Glasgow, Scotland


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