Wayne Blakely ... Readers Respond
A Choice of Surrender
What a powerful article you included in the September issue of the GLEANER. I was moved by Wayne's testimony ["A Question of Identity"] and the power of God to help each one of us in our temptations and weaknesses. Like he said, we all fight with temptation, and the path of self-denial, surrender and choosing to live each day as a new creation in Christ Jesus is our safety. Thank you, Wayne, for sharing your testimony as you claim Rev. 12:11 and allowing God to empower you daily. The choice you have made to surrender your feelings to the lover of our souls has encouraged me personally in my battles. A wholehearted amen to Scott Lemert's article ["Jane Meets the Adventists"]!
Risë Rafferty, Fall Creek, Ore.
Avoid Clobber Texts
I have gay friends. They are law-abiding, intelligent, loving, spiritual people. They in no way are like the sex-crazed mob that are wanting to forcible [sic] gang-rape Lot's guests. They are not like the people of Romans 1 who are building images of wood, rejecting God and being filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity, etc. (Romans 1:20+). I am amazed and disappointed when people use these two verses as some of their clobber texts.
Ellsworth Wellman, Yakima, Wash.
Gaining a Fresh Resolve
There are many sins, all grievous to God … One of the most alarming is the Laodecian plague. The Holy Spirit has spoken through Wayne in a most profound and encouraging way, and I walk away with a fresh resolve to keep my focus on Jesus.
Bobbie Vedvick, Concrete, Wash.
SGA Producer Responds
Thank you for opening the conversation in this past GLEANER about how the church should treat its gay and lesbian members. It is time for a new approach to this conversation, and I appreciated the tone of this piece, which wasn't strident. I appreciated the acknowledgement in your opening comments that not every gay or lesbian Adventist has found the path of celibacy that Wayne Blakely testifies for to be one that they are called to. Our film, which you mention, Seventh-Gay Adventists, follows the spiritual journeys of three gay and lesbian Adventists over two years as they wrestle with these big questions about what God requires, what room there is for them in their church, where they can take their children on Sabbath mornings, and how do they reconcile their deeply held faith with their sexual orientation. What I've found in these past four years of listening to dozens and dozens of stories is that what seems completely black and white becomes more complicated when you know real people and real stories, when you've shared a Sabbath with a gay couple and their children, when you get to really know someone who is gay/lesbian (and they've just prayed for your newborn daughter), when you've heard story after story of attempted suicide and despair after feeling rejected by God, and especially by God's people.
Daneen Akers, Seventh-Gay Adventists co-producer
Your articles on homosexuality are timely and judiciously written. Thanks for stepping up to the plate regarding this overwhelming social/political wave that is affecting Christians everywhere.
Tom Stafford, Vancouver, Wash.
Identity in Christ
Thank you to Wayne Blakely and the authors and editors of this edition of the GLEANER for a Christ-centered perspective of a "hot topic" in Adventism and our culture at large. It is important for me to remember, as Wayne points out, that "helpful instruction for our good isn't always pleasant to the ear. … But the Bible isn't all about our immediate pleasure. It's all about our eternal salvation." Oh that we each could keep our daily lives in the context of our Father's eternal perspective. Thank you for addressing this issue in the context of remembering the Christ from whom we gain our identity!
Lora Lucas, Ooltewah, Tenn.
God has clearly rescued Wayne Blakely … . But his story is by no means typical of all or even most Seventh-day Adventist gay and lesbian people. Many are faithful, contributing church members who struggle to integrate their spirituality with their sexuality, who believe they should remain chaste until they find a partner to whom they commit their life. It is people like this who are portrayed in Seventh-Gay Adventists. A number of church leaders have given positive reviews of the film and encouraged others to view it for a better understanding of the people involved. Wayne seems to suggest that the only biblically accepted response for a gay or lesbian person is either marriage to an opposite-sex partner or lifetime celibacy. … God made us to live in a close relationship with another person. He holds up the ideal of a committed, lifetime relationship. In the New Testament, Paul says that celibacy is a gift given to some people so that they can devote their lives entirely to working for God, but he never suggests that it is a requirement for anyone. That is why our church has always considered a celibate priesthood to be an unnatural lifestyle.
Carrol Grady, Snohomish, Wash.
Not Realistic for Most
For every Wayne Blakely there are hundreds of gay men who have prayed and begged God to change them. Wayne's story is exceptional, not the norm. It does not offer realistic hope! Wayne's story is convenient to bolster the church's teachings, but it is very discouraging to those who have sincerely prayed for years and done everything they could to be something other than who they are. Eventually most leave the church in despair and doubt that God loves them. It doesn't help them that the church regularly reinforces that message. Too many of these men take their lives in despair and agony. … I urge you to consider prayerfully that Wayne's story is not what can be expected for 99.9 percent of Adventist gay people. And to promote it only brings more despair and discouragement. It does little or nothing to help gay Adventists. It just sounds wonderful to straight Adventists who have no clue about the reality of our struggle.