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'In God’s Image' summit on sexuality opens in Cape Town

'In God’s Image' summit on sexuality opens in Cape Town

The "In God's Image: Scripture. Sexuality. Society." summit meets this week in Cape Town, South Africa, to address homosexuality.

Conference to address LGBT issues

March 17, 2014 | Cape Town, South Africa | Adventist Review/ANN staff

Nearly 350 Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders, pastors, academics, and human services experts have gathered in Cape Town, South Africa, for a four-day summit intended to help the worldwide Church better address the experiences of homosexuality and alternative sexualities.  

Titled “In God’s Image: Scripture. Sexuality. Society.,” the conference is intended to be “a conversation with key people in the global leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding alternative sexualities, and to counsel together regarding the challenges the church is facing in this area,” organizers said.

Each of the denomination’s 13 world divisions has sent a delegation of at least 20 persons composed of senior administrators, theological and social science scholars, and “frontline personnel”—pastors, chaplains, and human resources directors—to the intensive event that begins March 17. Monday evening’s keynote address by world Church President Ted N. C. Wilson is titled “The Truth as It Is in Jesus.”

Pardon Mwansa, a Zambian who is a general vice president of the Church and chair of the headquarters committee that organized the summit, believes that the event is a watershed for Adventist discussion of difficult social and religious issues.

“We are dealing with an issue about which the world around us has already formed a perception,” Mwansa said. “We can’t avoid dealing with this matter because those perceptions affect how we express ourselves. The Church needs to clarify its light: we must say where we are on this matter, so that people will understand us and how we view this subject.”

“We are a moral group—a church—and we have to shine and say just what the light is on this issue.“

Mwansa additionally underscored the importance of the Cape Town conference by pointing to the persons attending. “This is a meeting to which all Church leadership has been invited—and all will attend,” he noted. “The quality of meetings is generally judged by who attends, and here you have all world division officers attending, along with pastors, teachers and human services personnel. The goal is to make sure that what is done here reflects the corporate thinking of the Church.”

The summit organizers are clear that they intend no redefinition of the Church’s historic opposition to all sexual expression other than heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman. Listed first among the summit’s “learning objectives” is the goal to “describe the Bible’s teaching on alternative sexualities.” Two of the conference’s first three plenary sessions focus on how to read and understand the Bible’s teachings about human sexuality, as well as specific passages of both Old and New Testaments that address homosexual behavior.

On Tuesday evening, three Adventists who spent major portions of their adult lives in gay or lesbian relationships will relate their experiences in a plenary session panel. Wayne Blakely, Ron Woolsey and Virna Santos each describe themselves as “redeemed” out of homosexual behaviors, and now lead ministries designed to help others organize their lives according to Biblical norms. Woolsey, now for many years in a heterosexual marriage, is also an ordained Adventist minister.

The denomination’s legal and employment concerns with legislation about homosexuality in various nations will be in focus at a Wednesday morning plenary panel moderated by General Conference general Vice President Lowell Cooper.  

Two additional plenary sessions on Wednesday afternoon and evening seek to update the international delegation on latest understandings of homosexuality and alternative sexualities from the perspectives of medicine and psychology. Dr. Peter Landless, Health Ministries director for the world Church, and Dr. Peter Swanson, assistant professor of pastoral care and a licensed psychologist at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan, USA, will address research findings regarding the possible roles played by genetics and social influences in the formation of alternative sexualities.

On Thursday, the summit will focus on ministry to homosexuals and those practicing alternative sexualities, and discuss how the denomination will relate to church membership for those not following Scriptural teaching about human sexuality. Dr. Miroslav Kis, professor of ethics at Andrews University, will offer an overview of the ethical issues the Church must wrestle with at both global and congregational levels as it seeks to be both clear about its loyalty to Bible teaching and compassionate to individuals in various life experiences.

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At sexuality summit, Adventist Church president reflects on ‘human brokenness’

At sexuality summit, Adventist Church president reflects on ‘human brokenness’

Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson reflects on “human brokenness” during his keynote at the church’s summit on sexuality. The summit, “In God’s Name: Scripture. Sexuality. Society.,” meets March 17 to 20 in Cape Town, South Africa. [photo: Ansel Oliver]

Approach sin with ‘clarity and tact’ and faithfulness to biblical truth, Wilson says

March 18, 2014 | Cape Town, South Africa | Adventist Review/ANN staff

Speaking to nearly 350 church leaders at the Cape Town International Convention Centre yesterday, Seventh-day Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson urged them to recognize that “human brokenness” is ubiquitous, dependent on the healing that comes only through the restorative power of Christ.

All facets of that brokenness, Wilson said, should be approached with the “clarity and tact” and faithfulness to biblical truth that Jesus demonstrated in his ministry on earth. 

“Let us make it our personal goal, and the goal of this summit, to speak the truth as Jesus spoke the truth—to remember that every word by his disciples should be a word that helps someone else become a disciple of Christ,” Wilson said. “There is a way to speak the truth that leads to life, so let us talk and share and learn from each other in that way,” he said. 

Wilson’s keynote—“The Truth as it is in Jesus”—came during the opening day of the Adventist Church’s summit on sexuality, where nearly Adventist pastors, chaplains, academics, health professionals, legal experts and human resource directors are meeting this week in Cape Town, South Africa.

The world church leader went on to define the parameters of the summit. Its goals, he said, do not include revising the Adventist Church’s perspective or statements on human brokenness to match “the changeable spirit” of current social trends and values. “Nor have we come to describe that brokenness in any greater way than the Word of God defines every human sin,” Wilson said.

Sin is not a hierarchy of human failings, he said—with some shortcomings “less dangerous or damaging” than others—but an expression of living life out of harmony with God.

“We are more accustomed to other sins: we wink at pride, ignore gossip, tolerate hypocrisy and sometimes avoid dealing with lust, adultery and the often-hidden sin of sexual abuse,” Wilson said, adding that “the uncomfortable but undeniable truth [is] that we are all sinners.” 

He called it both “inconsistent and morally wrong” for the Adventist Church to isolate practicing members of the LGBT community for discipline “while it ignores those engaged in heterosexual pre-marital sex or adultery. God’s standard for sexual behavior requires that only in the union of one man and one woman in heterosexual marriage can the gift of sexuality appropriately and Biblically be enjoyed.  Any departure from that standard must be addressed with similar seriousness and a similar attempt to bring about correction, repentance and restoration.”

“It is the first step toward a new life in Christ when each of us comes to the place where we admit that what God’s Word says is absolutely true about us:  We are all sinners; we are all broken,” he said.

A major goal of the summit, Wilson said, is to develop an awareness of how to compassionately steer those living lives out of harmony with God toward “salvation and recovery.”

“We have come here because we are committed as a people to speaking the truth to each other and to the world around us, and because we are committed to learning how to speak that truth as Jesus did,” he said. 

Wilson’s keynote relied significantly on Scripture and the writings of church co-founder Ellen G. White to describe Jesus’ approach to sharing truth. “‘[Christ] was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love,’” Wilson said, reading a passage from “Steps to Christ,” White’s classic volume about conversion and spiritual rebirth.   

This week’s summit will include testimonies from former members of the LGBT community who have wrestled with brokenness and now describe themselves as “redeemed” from that lifestyle.   

“The honest stories that we will hear will undoubtedly report those times when we as members of God’s remnant church have failed to communicate the love and thoughtfulness of Jesus,” Wilson said.

“We must listen as they tell us about their struggle and their pain; and we must not let our pride pretend that their mistakes are any worse in the sight of heaven than the ones we ourselves have made,” he said. 

a summit on "sexuality"? a "summit"? what's happening to our church?

Yes Jim it is sad to see but it is perhaps another sign of our times.

Is it wrong for the church to discuss pressing matters and how the church should deal with them?

That homosexuality became a pressing matter in societies around the globe in recent years is an undeniable fact.

The church needs an answer how to adress these matters so why shouldnt there be a summit?

Nobody is changing doctrines its a question how to go out to the world.

The approach "...its an abomination and you cant be safed unless..." clearly does not work and hurts people.

God approached this with the term "abomination." Until we see this as just what it is there will be little desire to seek help. 

It needs to be taught in schools that the homosexual lifestyle is aberrant and unacceptable. 

"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19)

"Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight." (Proverbs 12:22)

"Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord." (Proverbs 20:10)

Need more examples what else is called an abomination in scripture?

Please stop declaring this or that sin is more "bad" cause the wording used in the Bible.

BTW KJV version i quoted.

Double standards are not the way to go.

 So lets call it all sin and deal with it accordingly. 

Some sin is more difficult to identify and therefore more difficult to address, like pride or what someone might imagine. Therefore ought the church to gloss over that which is obvious and most flagrant sin ?

"Therefore ought the church to gloss over that which is obvious and most flagrant sin ?"

I did not say that.

However do you call for expelling your brother who drives a new car every few months and shows the wealth?

Do you call for expelling your sister who lied?

etc?

If we decide to judge morally we ought to judge every sin which is called an abomination equally. 

Yet we oversee sins which are comited and an abomination as part of human nature and some others we declare as the worst from them all.

 Again you are trying to make all things equal. What was the lie ? One can lie by saying nothing or by a glance. Did the sister repent  from a one time sin or is she continuing and seeking excuse for her ongoing lying ? Is she pressing everywhere she goes that it is ok and even commendable to lie ?

 You said " I did not say that."  But you imply that by what you are not saying.

Do you agree with Scripture that for a man to lie with a man and woman with woman is an abomination ? I do not think I have heard that from you.

I really don't see the difference between this and the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, except this is being done under the auspice of the SDA banner. 

“We are more accustomed to other sins: we wink at pride, ignore gossip, tolerate hypocrisy and sometimes avoid dealing with lust, adultery and the often-hidden sin of sexual abuse,” Wilson said, adding that “the uncomfortable but undeniable truth [is] that we are all sinners.” 

The above statement is technically incorrect and incomplete 

 Which part don't  you like ?

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