Leaders of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists today issued the following statement in response to the baptism at the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church of a woman in a same-sex marriage. The baptism received attention as the result of an article in a far-right website. The Church in North America issued its response in a special edition of the NAD NewsPoints bulletin via email and the NAD website. The statement follows in its entirety.
'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life' (John 8:12, KJV).
The North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that all people, no matter their sex, race, or gender identity, or orientation are called into a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ. As imitators of Jesus we welcome all people, inviting them into our faith communities and sacrificially serving them. Followers of Jesus, regardless of their views on human sexuality, treat people with dignity and respect, and extend hospitality and grace to all.
The North American Division affirms the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, which explains the criteria for becoming a member. “Individuals desiring membership are expected to affirm and commit to the Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs and the responsibilities and practices of membership. This includes holding to a biblical view on human sexuality. Principles and criteria relative to membership are to be applied with fairness, consistency, and an attitude of love” (North American Division Statement on Human Sexuality, November 2, 2015, by the North American Division Executive Committee).
In the summer of 2016, a baptism was performed by a retired denominational employee, and the baptized person was voted into membership at the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church. This person was part of a same-sex couple who had been married in a ceremony elsewhere two years earlier. Northern California Conference administrators did not learn of the baptism until afterward, and the conference administration has met with the pastor to work through the situation. The North American Division has full confidence in the leadership of the Northern California Conference in addressing this issue.
While defining the requirements for church membership, the North American Division Statement on Human Sexuality also affirms the role that the church must play in reaching out to today’s rapidly changing society: “In today’s world where there are divergent perspectives regarding human sexuality, God uses His church to work out His divine purpose of bringing salvation to all people. Therefore, the church must provide freedom and protection from social marginalization (Gal. 6:1) and must point people to Christ (Matt. 22:36-40) for forgiveness, redemption, and a new life (Rom. 8:4-14; Eph. 4:13)."
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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