The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide body of believers who accept the Bible as their only authority and share common biblical beliefs, practices, and a worldwide structure. The Adventist Church issues ministerial credentials to its pastors based on biblical criteria.
Recently, a Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor in Germany presented himself as bisexual and has promoted this lifestyle. After meeting with him, the Hanseatic Conference voted on March 19, 2023, to retain his ministerial credentials. The Hanseatic Conference is part of the North German Union within the Inter-European Division (EUD) of the General Conference.
Following this action, the EUD administration prayerfully analyzed the pastor’s sermon and subsequent public statements and concluded that his open rejection of the official position of the worldwide church disqualifies him from pastoral ministry. The recent statement of the EUD administration upholds the integrity of Adventist pastoral ministry in support of Bible truth, as well as the Adventist Church’s voted statements on Human Sexuality, Homosexuality, and Transgenderism.
As world church leaders, we support the current efforts of the EUD administration to work with the Hanseatic Conference, in close consultation with the North German Union, to address the issue of a pastor continuing to hold ministerial credentials while presenting himself to be bisexual and promoting this lifestyle. We also see that this challenging situation carries ramifications for the world church, as the actions of the pastor and the Hanseatic Conference are inconsistent with the biblical beliefs accepted by the worldwide body of believers.
Pastors are leaders in supporting and nurturing biblical belief and instruction. In this special calling, they have a duty to be exemplary in their public ministry and personal lives including the demonstration of the highest integrity and faithfulness to the Word of God. The role of the pastor must be one that influences others towards accepting the plain Word of God rather than being influenced by cultural, humanistic, or societal ideas that seek to undermine its timeless authority.
While all of us, including pastors, are afflicted by sinful propensities, the Bible teaches that our identity should be found in Christ alone. The current situation of having a pastor holding ministerial credentials issued by the Adventist Church who identifies as bisexual presents a great challenge to the biblical principles and fundamental beliefs we uphold. Further, it lessens the integrity of the ministerial credential policies as voted by the world church representatives at the Annual Council.
The Adventist Church adheres without reservation to biblically grounded beliefs that include the divine ideal of pure, honorable, and loving sexual relations within a monogamous heterosexual marriage, and believes that lowering this high view is detrimental to humanity. We see the struggle, pain, and fear of rejection of those who wrestle with their sexual orientation. Many have chosen, through God’s strength and a personal relationship with Him, not to practice their unbiblical sexual orientation. Our pastors are called to walk alongside them in what is often a very difficult journey.
The responsibility of the pastor to our members who are on this difficult journey is to point to the Word of God as providing the best counsel in this struggle. In Romans 1:18–32, we read a long list of sinful practices which can only be overcome through the direct power of Christ. The integrity of the Word of God and His instructions for daily living give us the opportunity as human beings to maintain a direct connection with the Source of all power. We are called to overcome sin in every form through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. When we submit completely to God and accept the grace and merits of Jesus Christ to change our lives in conformity with His plan, we receive of His justifying and sanctifying righteousness to save us. We become “new creatures” in Christ Jesus — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).
Above all, the responsibility of the pastor is to proclaim to all persons the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:6–12), which has at its core the power to transform lives through His grace and righteousness. Therefore, rejecting the ability of God to transform the life of any person, even in seemingly impossible areas, is also rejecting the very doctrine of salvation. The ability of God to transform our lives is indisputable and those who are called by Him to be ministers must be seen in word and deed to uphold this truth. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37, NKJV).
Biblical View of Human Sexuality
The 28 Fundamental Beliefs are based on the Word of God and the collective understanding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide. Many beliefs relate very closely to the subject of human sexuality and should be carefully studied by all, including: #1 The Holy Scriptures; #6 Creation; #7 Nature of Humanity; #10 The Experience of Salvation; #11 Growing in Christ; #12 The Church; #13 The Remnant and Its Mission; #22 Christian Behavior; and #23 Marriage and the Family.
Without restating the above-mentioned fundamental beliefs, we remind ourselves of the biblical view of human sexuality summarized in the Statement on Transgenderism voted at the 2017 Spring Meeting. In keeping with a high view of Scripture, the statement cautions us that when addressing the challenging issues of alternative sexualities, we must do so grounded on the absolute truth of God’s Word, as clearly expressed in the following paragraphs:
As church members and leaders, let us by God’s grace embrace biblical truth and scriptural instructions and turn away from social movements that are contrary to the Word of God. We call on Seventh-day Adventist members worldwide to continue praying for God’s leading in His Church and that we be united as believers and messengers of His Word, recognizing the nearness of Christ’s second coming.