6 April 2023 |
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, an LGBTQIA+-affirming and inclusive community for current and former Seventh-day Adventists, has released a statement regarding Pastor Saša Gunjević from the Hanseatic Conference in North Germany. As controversy around his credentialing has increased exponentially, statements have been released from both the Union and the General Conference concerning his position as pastor, and he has been the target of much recent hatred within social media commentary. Kinship’s response is as follows:
Recently, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the Hanseatic Conference in Germany, Saša Gunjević, publicly identified as bisexual. In an act of bravery, the conference, on March 19, 2023, voted to retain his ministerial credentials.
Predictably, the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church organization has strongly responded, citing its voted statements about “Human Sexuality,” “Homosexuality,” and “Transgenderism,” and several Bible texts as “proof” that only heterosexual marriage is God’s ideal. The General Conference is pressuring the North German Union Conference and the Inter-European Division of the Adventist Church to discipline both the Hanseatic Conference and its pastor.
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International (SDAKinship.org) stands with Seventh-day Adventist LBGTQA+ individuals and their right to live in committed relationships that they find valuable and rewarding. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the plain teaching of Scripture: “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). We call on local Adventist congregations to provide sanctuary and welcome to gay, lesbian, and transgendered people, their friends and families. The presence of LGBTQA+ local church leaders is not a liability: it is a benefit. In a society increasingly segmented, not uniformity but unity is essential.
The Adventist Church affirms the Bible as its rule of faith and practice, yet frequently ignores the slavery, polygamy, genocide, capital and corporal punishment practiced in the Bible. Modern values rightly dismiss those practices. Adventists and other people of faith must be committed to one thing: the dignity and value of each human being created in the image of God to live and practice their religion as they see fit. We reject the authoritarian attitude that those far removed from local congregations can dictate in matters that are essentially the rights of individuals. To unilaterally impose a set of values on all its members based on its own narrow interpretation of Scripture is to ignore the example of Jesus. Imposing its dogma on every member of the church, and expecting uniformity in belief and practice, is to deny one of the key tenets of Christianity: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12).
We acknowledge that the institutional Adventist Church is frequently more loyal to its tradition than it is to Jesus and His gospel. But we hope that local Adventist congregations will open their doors and their arms to the LBGTQA+ people in their communities. We commend the Hanseatic Conference for its willingness to do so.
We recommend the book The Bible and LBGTQ Adventists by Alicia Johnston to those interested in reading a balanced, in-depth treatment about how homosexuality was regarded in the Bible.