Jane Meets the Adventists

She awoke one morning with the sense that something was telling her to go to church. The problem was that it was Saturday; it seemed churches were all closed. She found one that answered and was told to call on a Seventh-day Adventist church. Never heard of them before. She went, was dearly loved and kept coming.

Eventually she asked to join. Should be no problem. Except one. Jane* was in a committed partnership with another woman and had been for years. Having been molested by older men in her childhood family and raped at age 16 with a corresponding pregnancy, Jane wanted nothing to do with men and found sexuality rather disgusting. That is, until one day when a loving woman reached out to her.

I remember meeting Jane. Sweet. Honest. Unpretentious. I still recall the group discussion when Jane, knowing some were tempted with a revisionist approach to Scripture on this topic, said, "Listen, the Good Book says what the Good Book says. You are not helping me by trying to make it say something it does not when I know better."

No subject is currently quite as divisive in American society, families and churches. And, for Adventists, this is not a discussion that will simply go away. Same-sex attractions do exist among us, and they will continue.

One thing is for sure: Misinformation can be very hurtful and offensive. It can also put unnecessary burdens of guilt upon parents and families. So, what have I learned while studying this for myself?

Researchers have not found a biological basis for homosexuality. There is no gay gene.

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation.

Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

People are not simply born homosexual. Instead, homosexual attractions are most likely a complex combination of factors, just as is the case with any other developmental issue.

Trying to force, shame or coerce someone to change same-sex attractions will always be counterproductive.

People do come out of same-sex attraction lifestyles. However, when they do, they come out on their own terms.

The political/religious divide here can be strident. But what too often gets lost in the debate are the people for whom Jesus died. So, let me now speak from my heart, and hopefully for other Adventists as well. I humbly apologize to every person with same-sex attractions whom I have derided, ignored, looked down upon, labeled, judged and burdened.

I have prayerfully pored over Scripture for guidance on this subject. I have pondered Christ's own interaction with those marginalized by society or the church. My view of what the Bible says on this subject has not changed — it still says what it has always said about human sexuality. But my experience with both Jesus and Jane has effected a change. And, what has changed ... is me.

Should you be a gay person who comes into my church, I will meet you with open arms. I have never walked in your shoes, but I will pledge to walk along side of you as your brother until Jesus comes and changes us all from our shared, fallen natures. And, I promise that between us the only shame will be the scandal of Christ's blood on the cross! It's there for me and Jane and you ... and anyone else who is seeking a Savior.

*"Jane" is a pseudonym. Her true story took place while LeMert served as the Oregon Conference special assistant to the president, 1997–2010.

September 01, 2012 / Editorial