Recently released film depicts personal journeys of faith
August 25, 2017
Sandra Blackmer, assistant editor, Adventist Review
AR-AUG-JourneyInterrupted-PicA: (From left) ‘Coming Out’ Ministries codirectors Wayne Blakely and Ron Woolsey, associate director Danielle Harrison, and codirector Michael Carducci [Courtesy of ‘Coming Out’ Ministries]
More than 10 million adults in the United States, or 4.1 percent of the population, identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)—an increase from 3.5 percent in 2012—according to a January 2017 Gallup report. The growing LGBT community has gained social prominence in recent years, and the community’s issues are discussed widely in secular media, on college campuses, and in the workplace. Responding to the needs of both individual members and requests from congregations, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is now making strides to dialogue on this issue and to offer counsel and guidance based on biblical principles to Adventist members, particularly youth and young adults.
Representatives from the church’s 13 divisions attended a four-day summit in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2014 to address “homosexuality and alternative sexualities” and to “gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding” them. Then in May 2017 more than 400 church delegates from some 60 countries participated in a milestone global conference held in Budapest, Hungary to study, explore, and discuss LGBT-related issues, among other topics.
Committees focusing on LGBT matters have been established not only at the General Conference level but also at divisions worldwide. A statement on transgender issues was voted at the world church Spring Meeting in April 2017, emphasizing the belief that “Scripture provides principles for guidance and counsel to transgender people and the Church, transcending human conventions and culture.” It also focused on the need for understanding and compassion for all people.
Findings from a landmark study by Adventist researchers were recently published in the Journal of Social Work and Christianity. The study addressed the concern that “coming to terms with one’s sexual identity is a particularly complex process for Christian LGBT + youth, many of whom are at high risk for negative outcomes.” Seventh-day Adventists believe that “sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman” as this was “the design established by God at creation.” Researchers found that Adventist youth and young adults are not insulated from the challenges and “may have greater difficulty navigating these issues because of ‘the very high behavioral standards of our church.’”