Questions on sexual standards
Recently, a number of people have asked me about the position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. These are good questions, and ones to which our Church has dedicated substantial prayer and thought. This has resulted in four interrelated principles that guide us:
First and foremost, as Christians, we live by the law of love. Hence, everything we do, say, think or feel about these complex issues must occur within the context of love and respect.
Second, God intended that we as human beings should live together and express our sexuality in a lifelong, loving, monogamous union of one man and one woman. That was the way He set marriage up in Eden and that is the model we should follow today. Marriage is something sacred and unique; God-ordained, God-planned, God-blessed.
Third, we do not therefore condone efforts to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships.
Fourth, we love and respect people irrespective of their sexual orientation but we uphold, and endeavour under the Holy Spirit to follow, the clear biblical teachings that limit sexual behaviour to married heterosexual couples.
We recognise how difficult this teaching can be for members who struggle with a wide range of sexual impulses that fall outside of marriage. We do not condemn them or ostracise them. Rather, we love and cherish them. We are all sinners and it is not our role to throw stones at others. But our love and respect should never be misconstrued as compromise on God’s standards for sexual behaviour.
The policies that guide our Church as we handle these complex issues are outlined in our Church Manual. I recommend you pick up a copy as we work together as a church family to do what is loving and what is right.
Dr Barry Oliver is president of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.