BY ADVENTIST REVIEW/ANN
Speaking to nearly 350
church leaders at the Cape Town International Convention Centre yesterday,
Seventh-day Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson urged them to
recognize that “human brokenness” is ubiquitous, dependent on the healing that
comes only through the restorative power of Christ.
All facets of that
brokenness, Wilson said, should be approached with the “clarity and tact” and
faithfulness to biblical truth that Jesus demonstrated in his ministry on
“Let us make it our
personal goal, and the goal of this summit, to speak the truth as Jesus spoke
the truth—to remember that every word by his disciples should be a word that
helps someone else become a disciple of Christ,” Wilson said. “There is a way
to speak the truth that leads to life, so let us talk and share and learn from
each other in that way,” he said.
Truth as it is in Jesus”—came during the opening day of the Adventist Church’s
summit on sexuality, where nearly 350 Adventist pastors, chaplains, academics, health
professionals, legal experts and human resource directors are meeting this week
in Cape Town, South Africa.
The world church leader
went on to define the parameters of the summit. Its goals, he said, do not
include revising the Adventist Church’s perspective or statements on human
brokenness to match “the changeable spirit” of current social trends and values.
“Nor have we come to describe that brokenness in any greater way than the Word
of God defines every human sin,” Wilson said.
Sin is not a hierarchy
of human failings, he said—with some shortcomings “less dangerous or damaging”
than others—but an expression of living life out of harmony with God.
“We are more accustomed
to other sins: we wink at pride, ignore gossip, tolerate hypocrisy and sometimes
avoid dealing with lust, adultery and the often-hidden sin of sexual abuse,”
Wilson said, adding that “the uncomfortable but undeniable truth [is] that we
are all sinners.”
He called it both “inconsistent
and morally wrong” for the Adventist Church to isolate practicing members of
the LGBT community for discipline “while it ignores those engaged in
heterosexual pre-marital sex or adultery. God’s
standard for sexual behavior requires that only in the union of one man and one
woman in heterosexual marriage can the gift of sexuality appropriately and
Biblically be enjoyed. Any departure
from that standard must be addressed with similar seriousness and a similar
attempt to bring about correction, repentance and restoration.”
“It is the first step
toward a new life in Christ when each of us comes to the place where we admit
that what God’s Word says is absolutely true about us: We are all sinners; we are all broken,” he
A major goal of the
summit, Wilson said, is to develop an awareness of how to compassionately steer
those living lives out of harmony with God toward “salvation and recovery.”
“We have come here
because we are committed as a people to speaking the truth to each other and to
the world around us, and because we are committed to learning how to speak that
truth as Jesus did,” he said.
Wilson’s keynote relied
significantly on Scripture and the writings of church co-founder Ellen G. White
to describe Jesus’ approach to sharing truth. “‘[Christ] was never rude, never
needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul.
He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love,’”
Wilson said, reading a passage from “Steps to Christ,” White’s classic volume
about conversion and spiritual rebirth.
This week’s summit will
include testimonies from former members of the LGBT community who have wrestled
with brokenness and now describe themselves as “redeemed” from that lifestyle.
“The honest stories
that we will hear will undoubtedly report those times when we as members of
God’s remnant church have failed to communicate the love and thoughtfulness of
Jesus,” Wilson said.
“We must listen as they
tell us about their struggle and their pain; and we must not let our pride
pretend that their mistakes are any worse in the sight of heaven than the ones
we ourselves have made,” he said.