Netherlands Union again places itself in opposition to the Seventh-day Adventist Church
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Pr. Larry Kirkpatrick
2014-04-27

Introduction

The Netherlands Union, a part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, acting unilaterally, recently voted a statement concerning homosexuality (http://www.adventist.nl/2014/04/24/homoseksualiteit-en-de-kerk/, accessed 2014-04-27). Their declaration, made public April 24, 2014, says that they want their churches to be safe places for LGBTQ persons (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer). The statement elaborates little about what it intends by “safe.” One of the few specifics that is presented in their document is their call that Dutch Adventist congregations not remove LGBTQ persons from membership. The main point of concern appears to be homosexuals who are already church members.

We are unaware of any physical safety issues for homosexual people in Adventist churches in the Netherlands. Because churches are full of people, they are full of persons who have sinned. But church members will have turned toward Jesus—the same Jesus who told another person caught in sexual sin to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Is the Netherlands issue safety or is it actually the membership of practicing homosexuals?

“Adventists in the Netherlands are accepting of LGBTI people in the church as members in regular standing if they are married in committed monogamous relationships or celibate.” Such remarks are being written online with reference to Netherlands Union. Have some forgotten that the Adventist Review reported on the 2010 General Conference session Church Manual floor debate over the addition of the phrase marriage is “between one man and one woman”?

“It was clear that an overwhelming majority of delegates favored the added wording, but some delegates voiced concerns that it would alienate homosexuals from the Adventist Church and might not protect children from forced marriages.

“Jeroen Tuinstra, a representative from the church’s Trans-European region, made the first amendment, calling for the following wording: ‘Marriage is a monogamous, loving relationship between two mutually consenting adults.’ He explained that the current text could be interpreted to allow forced marriages.

“‘Furthermore, I believe that our church is an open, not closed church . . . a gracious, not a condemning church,’ Tuinstra added, saying that the wording would further estrange gays and lesbians from the church” (“Church Manual Further Defines Marriage,” Elizabeth Lechleitner, ANN, http://archives.adventistreview.org/issue.php?issue=2010-1525&page=2, accessed 2014-04-26).

At the time Tuinstra sought to amend the motion he was Youth Director for the Netherlands Union.

Indeed, The Netherlands Union is on record as calling upon its members to neither exclude homosexuals nor judge their “relationships” (Response of the Dutch SDA Union to Ugandan anti-homosexual bill, http://www.buildingsafeplaces.org/index.php/resources/church-responses/response-of-the-dutch-sda-union-to-ugandan-anti-homosexual-bill.html, accessed 2014-04-27).

The Seventh-day Adventist position

Indeed, the current Netherlands Union statement presents itself as a response to the Guideline voted by the church Spring Council two weeks ago, which had stated,

“It is inconsistent with the Church’s understanding of scriptural teaching to admit into or maintain in membership persons practicing sexual behaviors incompatible with biblical teachings. Neither is it acceptable for Adventist pastors or churches to provide wedding services or facilities for same-sex couples” (http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/guidelines/article/go/0/guidelines-for-the-seventh-day-adventist-church-in-responding-to-changing-cultural-attitudes-regardi, accessed 2014-04-25).

Again, this Netherlands Union is the same which unilaterally voted to place itself in opposition to its world church on the question of woman’s ordination (see http://ordinationtruth.com/2013/07/07/netherlands-union-renews-rebellion-against-general-conference/ and http://ordinationtruth.com/2013/09/26/netherlands-union-secc-womens-ordination-unilateral-action/). Some have been urgent to maintain woman’s ordination and same-sex sexual intimacy as separate issues. But the correlation is undeniable. Netherlands Union has simply demonstrated this again.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has never condoned homosexual practice. Sexual intercourse—outside of a monogamous biblically-covenanted marriage between a male and a female—is sin. One reason I (and many others) are Seventh-day Adventists, is because the church teaches people to practice healthy, biblically appropriate relationships. In the case of marriage, that means a lifelong, monogamous union between one biblically eligible male and one biblically eligible female. We look to the Bible itself for this teaching. Practices outside the Bible standard are sin. The Adventist Church is non-negotiably committed to Scripture.

We are an unusual body, a church truly global in extent. There are tens of millions of members distributed across nearly all nations. The precious, Spirit-led, global unity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is placed at risk when organizational units in the west (Australia, North America, Western Europe) overwrite agreed global practices with values current in those locales. Culture in these areas has in the past century moved away from communitarian and family-centric ideals. The family unit has been mostly reduced to an affiliation of convenience. An extreme individuality has been made the supreme value. Sexual norms have been revised. Creation-designed role distinctions have been eliminated, even reversed.

In face of these trends the church has struggled to sustain its commitment to biblical values. In some places our churches are at risk of falling into captivity to the culture. Leadership has a difficult task, but lead it must, and that in harmony with the Bible. Those who lead the church must set an example of faithfulness to Jesus.

Here is a portion of the official position voted by the world church in 1999:

“Seventh-day Adventists believe that sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman. This was the design established by God at creation. The Scriptures declare: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (Gen 2:24, NIV). Throughout Scripture this heterosexual pattern is affirmed. The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships. Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden (Lev 18:5-23, 26; Lev 20:7-21; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9-11). Jesus Christ reaffirmed the divine creation intent: ‘”Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?” So they are no longer two, but one”‘ (Matt 19:4-6, NIV). For these reasons Seventh-day Adventists are opposed to homosexual practices and relationships” (http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/homosexuality/).

Netherlands opposition to Adventist position

The Netherlands Union, insofar as its statements are seen by its churches as directing them not to remove from membership persons involved in homosexual practice, is in opposition to the teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Members of the church intentionally practicing any kind of sin, including sexual, should not feel “safe”; they should feel convicted.

God loves all people and has gone to enormous lengths that all might be redeemed. But all have a choice. They may choose their own preferences, which will destroy them, or God’s revealed will, which will change them. Churches should not be “safe places” for sinners in the sense that they would find their sins downgraded to matters of mere preference. Jesus was very clear. The Christian response to sin is to repent, receive forgiveness, and be changed.

Seventh-day Adventist Churches, because they are Christian, can never become places where sexual sin is condoned.

Same-sex attracted, or acting-out?

But there is a distinction that should be clear. Not everyone who is same-sex attracted is acting-out as a homosexual. By definition, “gay” means you desire to have sex with the same gender. Sam Allberry makes the point:

“In western culture today the obvious term for someone with homosexual feelings is ‘gay.’ But in my experience this often refers to far more than someone’s sexual orientation. It has come to describe an identity and a lifestyle.

“When someone says they are gay, or for that matter, lesbian or bisexual, they normally mean that, as well as being attracted to someone of the same gender, their sexual preference is one of the fundamental ways in which they see themselves. And it’s for this reason that I tend to avoid using that term. It sounds clunky to describe myself as ‘someone who experiences same-sex attraction.’ But describing myself like this is a way for me to recognize that the kind of sexual attractions I experience are not fundamental to my identity. They are part of what I feel but are not who I am in a fundamental sense. I am far more than my sexuality….

“Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behavior here and there. It is saying ‘NO’ to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ. To take up a cross is to declare your life (as you have known it) forfeit. It is laying down your life for the very reason that your life, it turns out, is not yours at all. It belongs to Jesus. He made it. And through His death He has bought it” (Sam Allberry, Is God Anti-gay?, pp. 8, 9, emphasis in original).

Allberry experiences same-sex attraction (SSA) but denies himself. He is a Christian; he sees that as being the larger reality. The need for faithful Christian witness to a lost world is a higher value to Allberry than his need for personal sexual fulfillment.

In the power of God, persons experiencing SSA can resist that attraction. We want them to come into our churches. We want them to experience the help of the God’s love and be changed. But no Seventh-day Adventist Church can permit members to practice sexual sin. This prohibition includes homosexual sin. And no, thankfully, not everyone identifying oneself as “gay” is acting-out homosexual sin. But Allberry helps us understand an important reality: for many, that identification does stand for wholesale adoption of homosexual activity. No favors are done for anyone by blurring the points where lines do and do not intersect for male and female sexual relations and church membership. We are not called to please men but God (Galatians 1:10).

The western church is at risk of being overwashed by the culture. It is at risk of failing to give the trumpet a certain sound. We feel rich and self-satisfied. Easily we fall into a blinded conformity with the very culture to which we are sent in counter-cultural witness.

Local Unions insubordinate

Netherlands Union, Columbia Union, and Pacific Union are placing pastors and church members in an untenable situation. The local concerns of relatively small numbers of persons with opinions on homosexual practice and/or the ordination of women which are out of harmony with that of our world church body, are acting again and again in unilateral manner. They are compromising the biblical witness of the world church.

When we became members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we joined a worldwide body of believers. We did not sign up to participate in a loose confederation of regional churches, one teaching this and one practicing that in a swirl of contradiction.

Local union conferences have no right to overrule the practice of the world church. My allegiance as a pastor is to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a world body more than to my local union. If we are to hold together in unity globally this must be the commitment of every pastor worldwide. There is a basis for the authority upon which my local union issues me a credential as an ordained minister. That basis is the fact that the North Pacific Union Conference is granted the authority to issue such credentials in trust by the North American Division, which is part of the General Conference. If the North Pacific Union votes itself into opposition to the General Conference, in so doing it denies the basis of its own authority.

The church is in crisis at this time because in some cases local union leadership and even constituencies, are unilaterally voting policies they have convinced themselves they must have, yet which stand in contradiction to the world church. When they do this, they forfeit their trust. They fragment God’s church. They become free radicals damaging the body.

Conclusion

The divinely-appointed leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist world church are justified in requiring Netherlands Union to uphold agreed biblical practice. Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church may not practice sexual sin. Same-sex intimacy is sexual sin. If the Netherlands Union approach to membership and sexual sin cannot be corrected, it may be necessary for the church to start fresh in the Netherlands with a new organization. The church cannot permit its witness to Jesus’ biblical message to be compromised.

We are a world body. Compromise in Netherlands greatly damages our witness in every other place. We are not concerned that the church in Netherlands be comfortable with its culture; rather, the church worldwide must remain faithful to Jesus. When world church leadership votes one thing and a union immediately counteracts that, a line has been crossed and crossed hard. In this case, it has become a choice between homosexuality and Christianity.


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick has served churches in Nevada, Utah, California, and presently ministers in the forest fastness of Northern Idaho. Larry and wife Pamela live with their children Seamus (age 8) and Mikayla (age 7) in the shadow of Roman Nose mountain.

12 thoughts on “Homosexuality or Christianity?

  1. It is good to see that your are consistently out of step with God’s mission. Maybe your consistency will help you. You continue this charade of being a follower of Christ, but in no way does that mean neglecting LGBTI, women or any other God-created demographic.

    Reply
  2. “Adventists in the Netherlands are accepting of LGBTI people in the church as members in regular standing if they are married in committed monogamous relationships or celibate.”

    I guess churches in the Netherlands are permitted to disfellowship anyone who has sexual relations with another of the same gender: The Creator’s definition of marriage, which thus far no earthly government or church has been able to change, only permits two people of opposite genders to be united in marriage. Therefore, “married in committed monogamous relationships” cannot possibly refer to two men who pretend to be married, or two women who pretend to be married.

    I am curious as to why there hasn’t been more publicity about the 2001 Vanity Fair article at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2001/03/furries200103 about a Midwest conference of people who identify, at least in part, as animals. You know, some men identify as women, some women identify as men (they call it “gender identity”), and some people identify as animals (“species identity”? the next protected class?).

    Note in the article what Ostrich says about people he knows “who thought they were gay but decided otherwise.” Ostrich makes it sound like it’s all in their heads. Maybe that’s why there hasn’t been more publicity about this article.

    Reply
  3. Christians who follow Jesus and believe what they read in their Bibles know and understand that Felix Yong’s comment is unbiblical. He assumes incorrectly that any upholding of the Word is unloving and shows a neglect to our commission to preach the Gospel to a fallen, dying world. Jesus taught that we should love the sinner, but hate the sin. It is very clear that the actions of the Netherlands conference officials are an embrace of the sin and a neglect of the need to love sinners. Not upholding the biblical principles that Jesus teaches in His Word is to hate the sinner because we demonstrate false principles that can never lead anyone to salvation. Pastor Larry is on sound biblical foundations that will endure forever. Praise The Lord for witnesses to His Word!

    Reply
  4. Yes, things are very discouraging here. In the Netherlands “in good and general standing” is a qualification of a church member who is proved not to be under church discipline. Fact is that the NUC forbids disciplining members who are cohabitating. Now it is declared equally off limits to exclude practicing LGBTQ. Institutionalized fornication, AKA temple prostitution and sodomy (Deut 23:17; 2 Kings 23:7). When we allow these practices in the congregation, we are allowing what the lord condemns. Will there be salvation for us who allow and those who practice?
    When Jeroen Tuinstra proposed his amendment at GC2010 many were astonished. But that was a logical outcome of a process in the Dutch Disease of disobedience. I was present when a married gay member who was youth leader in one of the local churches, gave his testimony on a youth camp, on how he met his partner while being a SDA, married and remained an active member and how happy he is with his husband. We here knew that down voting the ambiguous proposal at GC 2010 would not be the end of it.
    But I’ve said it before on this forum, in 2002 the NUC stepped on the slippery slope of Ecumenism > cohabitation > WO > and the next mile stone is now clear in sight – accepting LGBTQ members and next will be pastors. The Church here is sliding down, and no one seems able to stop the downfall. And not A single word of reproof from TED and GC officials and not A single word of encouragement for the suffering sheep. We are left on our own making the picture of Ezek 34:7-11 complete.
    Good is called evil and evil good. Young men who want to become pastors in this field are selected on adherence to these NUC policies. Members who are critical are marginalized and every Sabbath the sermons are just “relevant” watery gestures of cheap grace. Where did we see this falling down happening in the past and what was the outcome? See: Isah 5:20; Jer 4:22; Seph 1;12; Mal 2:17.
    Let’s search our own hearts and compare it to the plain Thus saith the Lord. EGW said that whole Divisions will fall off. What is a small Union of mere 5,000 members. But even here there is a remnant. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Lord, have mercy!

    Reply
    • Ingrid, I have every confidence that the General Conference and our GC president will speak out regarding this travesty in the Netherlands. This bold apostasy only helps clarify the issues. The more the current drumbeat for women’s ordination is heard in concert with the drumbeat for acceptance of homosexual practice, the more likely both causes will go down in flames.

      Reply
      • Not a word so far, Kevin. Not ONE word! The Annual Council 2015 issued another teeth-less “appeal” . The Dutch Union’s EC is bragging – They could have called for a constituency meeting themselves, they didn’t. We know we are out of line, but hat’s how we do church here. We have send in a member’s request for a special constituency meeting to talk about all the policy abnormalities, with almost 800 signatures, gathered under severe opposition by the ministers, and the Union’s EC. We have also send the members request to the , to the TED and GC administration on 14th of October. We will see if that will make them think a little bit more that we are worthy members too that bring in tithes also. Meanwhile the Union is portraying the GC president as the kingly head of a Roman Catholic kind of organization. You know, we members here are hanging with a rope around our necks almost from 1997 and the higher administrations simply DO NOT CARE. Many many members have written their fingers sore, if you got a reply, it must have been your lucky day. The TED president is coming to talk with us about “our mission”, just like nothing is the matter here. As if we don’t know what our mission is. Talk about a kingly government. The kings here are the few men in the Union’s EC, and they seem invincible.

        Reply
  5. No wonder the wording of “without regard to gender” was put in place with Women Ordination…. this is just the beginning folks, no time to nap standing in the gap.

    Reply
    • Actually, I know exactly why it was put there and was there when it happened. The real reason, if you care to know, is that this is not about WO. It is about removing gender as a qualification. You can put your fear and conspiracy theory to bed and your disgusting attitude towards women to pasture.

      Reply
      • Dear Felix, when talking about “without regard to gender” let’s make God a hermaphrodite. That will settle the question. And let’s make Adam one too, for doesn’t the text says “male and female created He him”? O, what happy I am that quoting it this way PROVES to be wrong! “Male and female created He THEM”. And what happy I am that Scripture clearly reveals that He didn’t make them simultaneously, but man first and then woman, because man asked for a help meet – someone to meet him half way.
        That alone gives one a clue of difference in position BEFORE the Fall.
        When I read your posts I can’t help but wonder if you are just prodding the discussion.
        It is no token of higher intelligence and wisdom to kick against the pricks. If plain Scripture can’t settle the debate, then we’d better give it all up and live a life of lust, for tomorrow we will surely die.
        But Scripture clearly tells me that because of the same abominations His judgments fell on His people of old. Would we escape? The Lord will not be mocked by our half hearted commitments – He wants it all, because he gave HIS all.
        All through the Bible He gives us the object lesson of He, MAN and Master, having the Church , a woman as His bride. If with Him there is no regard to gender, don’t you think He would have given us that object lesson as well? Object lesson are to teach us aspects of morality. And His morality is that every sexual practice that differs from ONE man and ONE Woman, joined together in what is clearly understood to be marriage, is confusion (see Lev. 18:23; 20:12) and gruesome abomination, sodomy and whoredom. I’d rather die without having sex, than live in sexual misconduct. And I’d rather die, than teach the people it doesn’t matter, for the end for me will be unbearable. Think about that Felix. What messages are you sending out?

        Reply
  6. I agree with the many sentiments expressed in this forum. I find it very disconcerting that our leading lights cannot “see the forest for the trees” This is is the tip of the iceberg to quote Pastor C. Raymond Holmes. The enemy of the soul is speaking to hearts of our theologians and encouraging them to use “higher criticism” to arrive at these spurious conclusions. They are relying on their own wisdom….. That is very sad, butbwhats even more disconcerting is that they are unaware. Despite the warnings from the Spirit of Prophecy (which no longer regard as relevant) they continue to press ahead.. Let’s continue to keep us all in prayer

    Reply

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