April 10, 2024

Adventist Church Leaders Navigate Human Sexuality and Biblical Beliefs

Inter-European Division special report highlights challenges regarding human sexuality.

Adventist News Network
[Photo: Wirestock]

The Inter-European Division (EUD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church made a special presentation to the General Conference Executive Committee (EXCOM) members during the 2024 Spring Meeting on April 9.

Mario Brito, president of the EUD, addressed recent challenges the division has faced. He emphasized the need for patience and careful decision-making processes to maintain church unity and uphold its principles.

“As we address these challenging situations, we want to assure the worldwide church that the Inter-European Division’s leaders fully support the church’s theology, principles, and teachings,” Brito said.

The EUD has found itself at the forefront of an ongoing conversation around human sexuality within the denomination. The division, and the Adventist Church at large, have faced challenges related to those practicing same-sex intimacy and their relationship to the church, as well as how to work with pastors and leaders who are promoting viewpoints that are contrary to the church’s official statements related to human sexuality. In response, the EUD leadership reaffirmed its commitment to upholding biblical truth while demonstrating compassion and respect for all individuals.

Brito acknowledged that while the church should not reject anyone who has an orientation different from what the Bible presents as ideal, we must also respect those who think and act differently.

“Jesus said, ‘For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved,’ ” Brito reminded the audience. “As Christians, as Christ’s disciples, we are responsible for upholding the Bible principles and the power of Jesus Christ to overcome all our shortcomings.”

According to Brito, EUD officers have spent countless hours meeting and discussing the issues with union and conference leaders, as well as attending Executive Committee meetings, to address several challenges facing the church in the area of human sexuality.

One such issue Brito addressed was the September 2023 issue of Adventisten heute, the official publication of the Adventist Church in German. The issue focused on the topic of LGBTQ+ and made statements contrary to the officially voted statements of the Adventist Church. Brito reported that many meetings resulted in “the two union presidents [responsible for the publication] taking the initiative of dedicating the February 2024 issue of Adventisten heute to present the [official] position of our church on LGBTQ+ topics to compensate for the one-sided view of the September 2023 issue.”

Brito emphasized the importance of engaging in dialogue and education at all levels of the church. “We are deeply persuaded that we must continue to educate our church members, especially the younger generation, to better understand the biblical concept of sexuality and live according to the ideal established by God.”

Resources for Parents, Teachers, and Pastors on Human Sexuality

The experience many members across EUD are wrestling with highlights the challenges of addressing human sexuality within the church and the importance of balancing biblical truth with a compassionate approach, leaders said. In a report on the work of the Human Sexuality Task Force, Audrey Andersson, GC vice president, emphasized that the church must go beyond issuing official statements and instead provide opportunities for honest conversations about human sexuality within the church.

“Human sexuality is a conversation that belongs in the church,” Andersson said during her presentation. “We need to speak about it, share our experiences, and have sensitive, biblical conversations. If we don’t have the conversations, people will look to other sources, and they will not reflect biblical truths.”

To support church members and leaders in navigating these challenges, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been promoting the website God’s Gift: Human Sexuality, which the Human Sexuality Task Force launched in 2023. Gina Wahlen, the website’s editor, highlighted the importance of the website, stating, “We believe that the most compassionate approach we can take is to present God’s truth on this very important gift that God has given to us.” For this reason, the website provides a solid biblical foundation for understanding human sexuality and offers resources such as articles, stories, videos, and Q&A sections, she said.

Andersson also emphasized the importance of promoting the God’s Gift website to ensure that church members are aware of this valuable resource. “The website is the beginning of the conversation,” Andersson said. “We can turn ourselves inside out, putting information up on the website, but if people don’t know that it exists, we’re wasting our time.” Leaders were encouraged to partner with and promote the resource that was developed for pastors, parents, and teachers across their websites and newsletters. Andersson noted that “it’s worthless unless people use it.”

As the Adventist Church continues to face the challenges of human sexuality in an ever-changing world, the experiences and efforts of the Inter-European Division embody the challenges faced by the global church community, church leaders pointed out. The church’s approach to these issues has far-reaching implications for its unity, mission, and public witness, they said, and it must remain committed to providing accessible resources to its members and those searching for biblical guidance on this topic. 

The original version of this article was published by ANN.