The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA)
Part 1: The SDA & homosexuality: 1976 - 1999
SDA background information:
The SDA church has always taken a special interest in
health concerns: diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc. They are strong
supporters of the principle of separation of church and state. They are also
strong promoters of religious liberty.
The Church has about 16 million members worldwide, with a growth rate of
about 7% per year. 1 They have over a million members in the
U.S. The 2001 Canadian census reported about 63 thousand members in Canada.
2 Theologically, they are very conservative. One obvious
difference between the SDA church and a typical
Evangelical church is that the SDA's hold religious services on the Sabbath (Saturday).
The church's stand is that the Bible consistently condemns all homosexuality
behavior as a sin, regardless of the nature of the relationship. They have stated that gay and
lesbian relationships are "obvious perversions of God's original plan."
The church expects homosexuals to not enter sexual relationships, but to remain
celibate for life.
Sexually active gay candidates are not permitted to be
ordained as pastors.
The language that they have used to refer to homosexuality has changed over
time. Two decades ago they used terms like "depravity" and "perversion." They
grouped homosexual behavior together with child rape and human-animal sex. More
recently, they have mellowed. They describe homosexuality as simply a "sin;"
they have emphasized that marriage and the associated sexual activity is to be
restricted to opposite-sex married couples; they discuss how the grace and love
of God helps homosexuals remain celibate.
Some developments from 1976 to 1999:
- 1999-OCT: SDA statement about homosexuality: The Annual Council of the General Conference Executive
Committee approved a resolution on 1999-OCT-03 about homosexuality.
Some of the points raised in the document are:
- All humans (presumably including homosexuals) are valuable in
the sight of God.
- Sexual intimacy is intended by God to be only between a man and a woman who
"Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden."
- The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or
- They cite three biblical passages as proof that sexual activity
must be confined to opposite-sex marriages (Leviticus 20:7-21;
Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
- Homosexual activity is sinful, regardless of the nature of the
- Jesus differentiated "His love for sinners from His
clear teaching about sinful practices." The SDA church
attempts to follow this example. This appears to mean that one should love the
sinner even as they hate the sin. 3
In common with other conservative Christian denominations, the SDA does not
stress the concept of homosexual orientation. They generally refer
to homosexuality as a behavior -- perhaps an
addiction. It is what homosexuals do. Most religious liberals,
therapists, human sexuality researchers, gays and lesbians consider sexual
orientation to be a basic of a person's nature; it is part of what a person is.
the time that the resolution was passed, some members of the church's
Executive Committee commented:
- Laurie Evans, president of the Church's South Pacific Division in
Sydney, Australia, said that the statement.
"...not only endorses clearly the biblical position in respect to this matter, but also
acknowledges our pastoral responsibility to all groups of people. It
is so easy to concentrate on the sinfulness of such a practice and
forget that there are people who struggle with such temptations, whom
God loves dearly, and who need our support and encouragement."
Laurie may not be aware that there are a range of interpretations on the six or so
"clobber" passages in the Bible that have been interpreted by
conservatives as condemning homosexual behavior.
- Ardis Stenbakken, director of Women's Ministries at the Church's
World Headquarters, said:
While we strive to follow what the Bible
says, we are also to demonstrate our love to others as Jesus teaches.
In the words of the Bible, we are 'to act justly and love mercy'."
- Ted Ramirez, a lay member of the Executive Committee from
Kettering, OH, noted that the resolution stresses the duty of believers:
"... to treat all persons with dignity and respect, regardless of their
personal situations...Christ died for all of us, and every one of us
has a personal role to play in revealing His love and redemption to all."
- William G. Johnsson, is the editor of Adventist Review, and
helped draft the statement. He said:
"such a statement was needed
for our Church community and society in general. We are being asked
where Adventists stand on this issue."
- Ray Dabrowski, the SDA's communication director said that:
"The Church should not remain silent on issues prominent in society,
especially when they also touch the Adventist faith community. A
Christian church is expected to uphold biblical standards. But it is
equally important that as Christians we are always full of grace and
compassionate towards everyone." 4
This discussion is continued in Part 2
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "1999 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches,"
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA,
- Statistics Canada, 1991 census.
- Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Homosexuality," 1999-OCT-03, at:
- "Adventist Church Statement Affirms Biblical View on
Homosexuality," This Week's News, 1999-OCT-5, at:
Copyright © 1998 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2008-SEP-21
Author: B.A. Robinson