, writing for the North American Divison
The North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church proposed a “Statement on Human Sexuality” at its year-end meeting on Oct. 29. After more than two hours of discussion, several revisions were incorporated into the statement, and the statement was approved on Nov. 2 by a vote of 74-17.
“Practical and compassionate theology,” one executive committee member said in describing the statement.
The document says the Adventist Church in North America seeks to “follow the model of Jesus” and offer “unconditional love and compassion to everyone.”
The statement declares that the North American Division stands in full support of the General Conference guidelines regarding human sexuality, marriage, family, homosexuality, and same-sex union. The General Conference guidelines, released in spring 2014, address how the church responds to “changing cultural attitudes regarding homosexual and other alternative sexual practices.”
The statement is “presented not as a theological document but as one drawing from biblical teachings, some practical understandings and guidelines for the Adventist Church in North America.”
During the late-morning presentation on Oct. 29, Kyoshin Ahn, the division’s associate secretary and chair of the human sexuality committee, referenced the General Conference guidelines, introduced the committee and process, and presented the human sexuality statement. Ahn explained that the committee recognized that the church should “follow the model of Jesus Christ in the way we treat people. No way can we handle every situation; we wanted to set a direction.”
Committee members took turns reading sections of the four-page statement, which was read in its entirety.
The statement, after final revision on Nov. 2, addresses 12 topics: biblical principles, orientation and practice, nature and nurture, church attendance and Christian fellowship, church membership, leadership roles, employment, educational institutions, facilities use, marriage ceremony, healthcare ministries, and transgenderism. Committee members, including Ahn, Larry Blackmer, Claudio Consuegra, Marcus Harris, Heather Knight, Grace Mackintosh, Alan Parker, Katia Reinert, and Gerald Winslow, answered questions and listened to concerns during the discussion periods.
A few attendees spoke on how the document was “a good start” but wondered “how much was based on real-life conversations with people who are in the categories listed.” But comments were appreciative and generally favorable.
One executive committee delegate thanked the North American Division for the statement, saying it was caring and biblical, and that “Jesus was crucified in the middle — where truth and love connect.”
Before the division presented the statement, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, shared a 21-page position paper on “An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care.”
“The [Andrews] document is very balanced,” said seminary dean Jiri Moskala. “It combines love and grace together. In this, it is very Adventist.”
The document uses Scripture to show the “biblical teaching on sin and how our sinful inclinations can be controlled by the Holy Spirit, by God’s grace.”