Updated, November 3, 2015: Two papers centered on the topic of homosexuality were discussed at the annual meeting of the North American Division (NAD) of the Adventist denomination. Dr. Jiří Moskala, dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, summarized a paper submitted by the seminary faculty entitled “An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care” [BVHPPC].
Following that, the committee began discussion of a proposed “Statement on Human Sexuality” [NADSHS]. This paper echoes the themes and recommendations of the seminary study. The NAD paper was drafted by Pastor Kyoshin Ahn, Dr. Larry Blackmer, Pastor Claudio Consuegra, Pastor Marcus Harris, Dr. Heather Knight, Grace Mackintosh, Pastor Alan Parker, Katia Reinert and Dr. Gerald Winslow. On Tuesday, November 3, after some changes had been made and considerable discussion, the statement was voted.
Both papers condemn homosexual activity and endorse sexual relationships only in the context of marriage. However, for a church that has long struggled about how to deal with homosexual people, the insights and recommendations are significant.
First, both make a clear distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual practice. “Given the complexities of the fallen human condition, we recognize that individuals may experience same-sex orientation through no choice of their own.” The documents avoid the question of why people are homosexual—we do “not presume to have settled the scientific and social questions regarding the cause of non-heterosexual orientation” [NADSHS].
Second, both clearly affirm a place in the church for people of homosexual orientation. “Those with same-sex orientation who conform to biblical teachings about sexual behavior may fully participate in the life of the Adventist Church” [NADSHS].
Third, both counsel churches and pastors that they must provide a church home and pastoral care for people who are homosexuals. “All persons, including practicing homosexuals, should be made to feel welcome to attend our churches while non-practicing gay persons should be welcomed into membership and church office. All should receive spiritual care from the Church (Gal. 6:1)” [BVHPPC]. “The church must provide freedom and protection from social marginalization” [NADSHS].
The titles of the two papers were somewhat out of sync with their contents. The seminary paper’s [BVHPPC] title says it addresses homosexual practice; however, it covers a much broader discussion of sexual sins, including heterosexual ones. Conversely, the “Statement on Human Sexuality” focuses almost exclusively on homosexuality, referencing other sexual sins only in passing.
Click the titles below to access each of the documents referenced in this article:
- NAD Statement on Human Sexuality (Nov. 2, 2015) [NADSHS, PDF]
- An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care (Oct. 9, 2015) [BVHPPC, PDF]