Nothing in the world is quite like growing up Adventist and then... discovering you are "different."
Many of us grew up hearing our parents and teachers tell us how unique and different we Adventists are. But growing up, did you have the feeling that you may be different in a way that the church does not accept? Did you grow up feeling or gradually realizing that you might be attracted sexually to others of the same sex, or that your gender didn’t match your anatomical assignment? The first good news is that you are not alone!
Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTI), or you are not sure if you are, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship (SDA Kinship) exists to help. We are here to share solutions others have found, to ease pain, to save lives. It is not necessary for anyone to struggle alone.
We have always been taught that Christianity and anything other than traditional heterosexuality cannot co-exist. That dilemma can be devastating to Adventist LGBTIs who find themselves in the torment of reconciling their sexual orientation or gender identity with their religious identity.
The message of SDA Kinship is different from traditional church’s views. Together with a growing number of Adventist pastors, scholars, teachers, and church members, we believe LGBTI individuals are wholly loved and accepted as they are by our Creator. This is not a message of mere convenience; it is a message well-studied and consistent with scripture. (See “What Does the Bible say?” later in this brochure.)
We are primarily Seventh-day Adventist lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people, including many who were asked to leave the church or left because they felt condemned and unwelcome. Our membership also includes heterosexual Adventists, parents of LGBTIs, and others who are sympathetic to our concerns. No one who supports the mission of Kinship is excluded. We are naturally a diverse group with a wide range of spiritual experiences and stages of self-acceptance and reconciliation and expression.
What Does the Bible Say?
Most of the anguish imposed upon God’s children who grow up gay or lesbian has its roots in a misunderstanding of what the Bible says. Since Adventists claim they are traditionally well-studied in the Bible, shouldn’t they be among the first to clarify this issue for the world?
Many Seventh-day Adventist Christians, from lay persons to seminary professors, have studied the Bible texts relating to homosexual acts and have concluded that what the Bible doesn't say is as important as what it does say. The Bible clearly speaks against lust in any form. But above all it does not condemn, or even mention, homosexuality as a sexual orientation, nor does it address transgender identity.
For most heterosexuals, the teaching that homosexuality is a sin presents no problem, so they often see little reason to give the subject much thought. Many of them, victims of widespread ignorance on the subject, believe that homosexuality is merely a difficult habit to be overcome. They fail to comprehend the extreme consequences and implications such a teaching has for the lives of Christians who discover they have a homosexual orientation.
For the homosexual, there is a compelling reason to give the subject a great deal of study. Eternal damnation is too serious a consequence to merely rely on “what we’ve always been taught.” One could hold the view that being homosexual is not a sin so long as homosexual acts are not performed. But the result—a life of celibacy—is also too serious simply to rely on what we have always heard.
A detailed and comprehensive discussion of the moral and ethical issues and the Bible texts relating to this subject is beyond the scope of this brochure. Below are a few resources that you will find helpful:
Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives, edited by David Ferguson, Fritz Guy, and David Larson
The Children are Free,by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley
Eden’s Gifts,by Catherine Taylor
What the Bible Says about Homosexuality, by Eloise May
Homosexuality and the Bible,by Walter Wink
What the Bible Says—And Doesn't Say—About Homosexuality,by Mel White
The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality,by Justin Cannon
Fish out of Water,directed by Ky Dickens
For the Bible Tells Me So,produced by Daniel Karslake
Seventh-Gay Adventists, produced and directed by Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer
What Does Church Leader Ellen G. White Say?
Most people are aware that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, but many Adventists erroneously assume that Ellen White did. Using the Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White, we have carefully studied every published reference she makes to each of the Bible texts that people often use to condemn homosexuality. Nowhere does she relate any text to homosexuality.
The most obvious place for Mrs. White to have condemned homosexuality would have been in her chapter, “The Destruction of Sodom,” in Patriarchs and Prophets. Still, she is silent on the subject. While it remains popular today to claim that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality, there is no Biblical basis for it; and Ellen White’s published writings do not support it. Her mention of the vile passions of the infamous crowd in the story does not receive superlative emphasis over the numerous other sins she specifically names.
What Does the Adventist Church Say?
Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Homosexuality
This statement was voted during the Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee on Sunday, October 3, 1999 in Silver Spring, Maryland. It reads in part:
“Seventh-day Adventists believe that sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman…. The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships. Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden….”
An Affirmation of Marriage
This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM) on April 23, 1996. It reads in part:
“Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus Christ to be both monogamous and heterosexual, a lifelong union of loving companionship between a man and a woman…. The monogamous union in marriage of a man and a woman is affirmed as the divinely ordained foundation of the family and social life and the only morally appropriate locus of genital or related intimate sexual expression…. To this biblical view of marriage the Seventh-day Adventist Church adheres without reservation, believing that any lowering of this high view is to that extent a lowering of the heavenly ideal….”
Marriage, Homosexuality, and the Church Conference at Andrews University
In response to Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives, a book published in 2008 following a workshop on homosexuality sponsored by Adventist Forum, a conference on Marriage, Homosexuality, and the Church was organized on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Papers reflecting the official church position were presented. One of the main emphases, presented by several denominational religious liberty leaders, purported to show why legal opposition to same-sex marriage is not a violation of the separation of church and state. Two non-Adventist presenters spoke on the efficacy of so-called “change ministries,” and the theological arguments against homosexual practice. Two “formerly” gay men who, after a lifetime of promiscuity and deviant sexual practices, had returned to the church, had renounced their homosexuality, and either had married heterosexually or had become celibate, and a woman who ran a support group for gays and lesbians attempting to do the same, told their stories. A book resulting from this conference was published in 2012.
Increasing Attacks on Homosexuality
Seventh-Gay Adventists: A film about faith on the margins,a documentary telling the story of three Adventist couples who struggled to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality, was produced by young filmmakers Stephen Eyer and Daneen Akers in 2011 and began being privately screened in a number of locations around the country. The favorable impression made by this film alerted the church to the need to present its position more forcefully. In July 2012, a column about the film in the Adventist Review which included a story about one of the alleged “ex-gay” men featured at the Andrews University conference, tried to cast the film as biased and one-sided.
In the current debate over the ordination of women, fears have been spread that if women are ordained, gays and lesbians will be next in wanting acceptance and inclusion in Adventist church life.
After Someone to Talk to, a ministry for families of gays and lesbians, made arrangements to have a booth focusing on bullying of gay/lesbian students in Adventist schools at the August 2012 North American Division (NAD) K-12 Teachers’ Convention in Nashville, the NAD canceled it at the last minute, although there were no other exhibitors at the convention that specifically addressed this issue.
Membership and Activities
SDA Kinship is a support group that offers its members education, advocacy, and a safe spiritual andsocial community. SDA Kinship is not a church, though many members attend churches around the world. We encourage anyone who supports the vision and people of SDA Kinship to join the Kinship family by completing and submitting the membership form. Membership is open to LGBTI individuals and those who support them.
SDA Kinship is divided into regions, including Regions 1 through 9 in the United States, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America, South America, including Brazil. In addition there are local chapters where concentrations of Kinship members reside. There are also groups that serve smaller populations within Kinship: Young Adults (members under 30 years of age), KinWomen (females), KinMen (males), Family and Friends (parents, siblings, and supportive friends), Older Adults, Transgender, and Intersex groups. Contact information for region, chapter, and group coordinators is located on the website (http://www.sdakinship.org).
Kinship hosts many activities worldwide, and how active local regions or chapters are depends on the members living in them. Activities may include weekend retreats, picnics, potlucks, region meetings, group worship, and attending welcoming churches or concerts together. Some regions also hold annual mini-Kampmeeting retreats in their areas. These retreats have ranged from beach-side events in Delaware and North Carolina to communal house or hotel gatherings in California and Europe. Events are posted on the Kinship website calendar.
The highlight of the year is our annual Kinship Kampmeeting, where members from across the United States and around the world renew friendships and enjoy worshipping, socializing, and dining together. Guest speakers and workshops cover topics on health, relationships, current affairs, and social and religious issues. Kinship encourages as many members as possible to attend Kampmeeting every year. Discounts are available for students, first-time attendees, and others who have had significant life events through the year. These discounts are supported by donors.
Kinship offers members a range of resources. Our newsletter, the Connection, is published 10 times a year and contains editorials, letters, articles, personal stories, book reviews, news, and other announcements. Members may choose to receive the Connection online or in print. Kinship hosts a members-only web community called Kinship Online (KOL), which provides a platform for connecting with other members, as well as KinNet, a moderated forum where members can raise and discuss any topic within their interest. Kinship also has live chat rooms that are regularly used by special interest groups, as well as social groups on Facebook and Twitter.
One of SDA Kinship’s primary objectives is to support people as they learn to accept their gender identity or sexuality and decide whether or how to come out. People seeking information about gender and sexuality can access resources through our website. We also dialogue with people and can refer them to licensed counselors or chaplains when appropriate. Parents and families of Adventist LGBTI people receive focused support through the Family and Friends group and the website, www.Someone-to-talk-to.net. In addition, we provide members with information about welcoming Adventist congregations and safe spaces on Adventist university campuses.
As an organization, SDA Kinship lovingly encourages our churches to develop an educated, accurate understanding of homosexuality and the needs and feelings of LGBTI Adventists. Through its local, national, and international activities, SDA Kinship works to support the wellbeing of its members and the health of their relationships with the Adventist church.
How Can SDA Kinship Help You?
If you are feeling lonely, depressed, suicidal, or if you need a professional counselor who is supportive of LGBTI concerns, chances are we know someone in your area who can help. Be assured that we are sensitive to your need for confidentiality; we are very proud of our record in that regard. If you wish, our counselors can also refer you to trusted Seventh-day Adventist pastors, teachers, or other professionals we know to be sensitive and understanding of LGBTI concerns.
Above all, please know we care that you may need to think through what your sexuality means, what to do about it, what all this may mean to your loved ones, whether to try to change, and whether it is possible to be LGBTI and at the same time a Seventh-day Adventist. We will not try to determine your conclusions if you reach out to us. We will endeavor to be understanding and helpful while you make those all-important decisions about who you are and what God’s plan is for your life.
If you call or write, you may want to suggest the kind of person you would like to be put in touch with. Tell us whether you could talk more easily to a woman or a man, or if you want the view of someone who has been, or perhaps still is, married. We are people of diverse ages and backgrounds.
If you are a pastor, teacher, or counselor, please know we welcome all inquiries, and that we will respect any need for confidentiality that you may have as well. In addition to our publications, we provide speakers and offer our AIDS memorial quilt for display in churches in the interest of raising awareness.
How to Contact SDA Kinship
You may send email to us at the email addresses below, or you may contact us online at www.sdakinship.org. You may also contact us by postal mail at:
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, Inc.
P.O. Box 69
Tillamook OR 97141-0069
If you receive postal mail from SDA Kinship, all mailings are sent in plain envelopes which reflect only our post office box address. Your confidentiality is very important to us and we will never share your information with anyone else.
Copyright 2012, by Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International. All rights reserved.
Brief History of Kinship
In the early 1970s several Adventist gay people independently began to look for other Adventists with whom they could discuss their feelings. One placed a single, small notice in the classified section of The Advocate, a national gay news magazine. It resulted in 37 responses from all areas of the United States and Canada; all were current or former Adventists.
1976– SDA Kinship was founded with a meeting in Palm Desert, California, as a result of an ad placed by two gay Adventist men. Within four months Kinship had 75 members, a temporary chairperson, and four committees: membership, educational, social, and spiritual; and the new group met twice a month. Kinship soon joined forces with an individual in northern California who had established a gay SDA pen-pal list throughout the United States, and another group that had been meeting informally in New York City since 1974.
1978– SDA Kinship publishes an official newsletter, later to become known as the Connection. In 1985, the Connection was first produced on a computer.
1980– The first annual Kampmeeting was held in Arizona. At SDA Kinship’s request, two Adventist pastors and three seminary professors attended as official delegates of the General Conference. Thirty-five courageous members attended this historic meeting, breaking ground for the larger numbers that now attend with less apprehension.
1981 – Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International was incorporated.
1987 – The Seventh-day Adventist Church filed legal action in a federal district court in California against SDA Kinship for trademark infringement.
1990 – SDA Kinship participated in the first church-sponsored AIDS conference. As the organization became impacted by the AIDS epidemic we developed a quilt to memorialize members who were lost to AIDS. The Kinship AIDS quilt has been displayed in several Adventist churches.
1991 – SDA Kinship won a lawsuit brought against it by the General Conference, which sought to bar Kinship from using “Seventh-day Adventist” as part of its name. A California judge ruled in favor of Kinship, stating that there was no trademark infringement and allowed Kinship to continue use of its official name.
1992 – Kinship online service was developed, first as an email listserv, and later as an online discussion and chat group called KinNet.
1997- Carrol Grady, author of My Son, Beloved Stranger (1995), started a support group for parents and families of gays and lesbians, which included a monthly newsletter and later an email group and the website, Someone-to-Talk-To.org.
2000– First IMRU? group for gay Adventists ages 18-29, in 2001 became official SDA Kinship chapter
2000– SDA Kinship’s first website developed
2001– Beginning of “Women & Children First” weekend preceding SDA Kinship Kampmeeting as a social time for Kinship women and their children.
2002- First European Kinship Meeting in Tunhem, Sweden
2003– Kinship’s new logo created
2008 – SDA Kinship coordinated the publication of the book, Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives. The book has been sold and distributed to numerous pastors, educators, and libraries; and it triggered a one-sided conference on homosexuality at Andrews University in October 2009, to which no Kinship members or book editors were invited or asked to participate.
2009-2012– Straight allies Stephen Eyer and Daneen Akers, professional filmmakers, produced the documentary Seventh-Gay Adventists: A film about faith on the margins, and began screenings in strategic locations across the United States and in other countries.
2012– Groups of students on Adventist college and university campuses formed a network of official and unofficial gay-straight alliances from different Adventist campuses to provide resources, programs, and support for LGBTIQ students, and organized the Intercollegiate Adventist Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition (IAGC) to bridge the gap between our Seventh-day Adventist faith-based institutions and the LGBTIQ students who are in attendance.
Present – SDA Kinship has a board of directors, regional coordinators, and chapter leaders in the United States and in other countries. At the time of this writing (2012) SDA Kinship has 2270 registered members, including both LGBTI and straight allies, plus thousands more individuals who benefit from our website and its resources.
SDA Kinship’s goals for the future are reflected in its stated mission: to [provide] a safe spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists around the world. This means reaching them, including those rejected and sent away by the organized church, with the news that a different view exists, a biblically sound view of love and acceptance.
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