A Consensus Statement from the General Conference, Division, and Attached Union Officers
Published on: 04-04-2023
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide body of believers who accept the Bible as their only authority and share common biblical beliefs, practices, and a worldwide structure. The Adventist Church issues ministerial credentials to its pastors based on biblical criteria.
Recently, a Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor in Germany presented himself as bisexual and has promoted this lifestyle. After meeting with him, the Hanseatic Conference voted on March 19, 2023 to retain his ministerial credentials. The Hanseatic Conference is part of the North German Union within the Inter-European Division (EUD) of the General Conference.
Following this action, the EUD administration prayerfully analyzed the pastor’s sermon and subsequent public statements and concluded that his open rejection of the official position of the worldwide church disqualifies him for pastoral ministry. The recent statement of the EUD administration upholds the integrity of Adventist pastoral ministry in support of Bible truth, as well as the Adventist Church’s voted statements on Human Sexuality, Homosexuality, and Transgenderism.
As world church leaders, we support the current efforts of the EUD administration to work with the Hanseatic Conference, in close consultation with the North German Union, to address the issue of a pastor continuing to hold ministerial credentials while presenting himself to be bisexual and promoting this lifestyle. We also see that this challenging situation carries ramifications for the world church, as the actions of the pastor and the Hanseatic Conference are inconsistent with the biblical beliefs accepted by the worldwide body of believers.
Pastors are leaders in supporting and nurturing biblical belief and instruction. In this special calling, they have a duty to be exemplary in their public ministry and personal lives including the demonstration of the highest integrity and faithfulness to the Word of God. The role of the pastor must be one that influences others towards accepting the plain Word of God rather than being influenced by cultural, humanistic, or societal ideas that seek to undermine its timeless authority.
While all of us, including pastors, are afflicted by sinful propensities, the Bible teaches that our identity should be found in Christ alone. The current situation of having a pastor holding ministerial credentials issued by the Adventist Church who identifies as bisexual presents a great challenge to the biblical principles and fundamental beliefs we uphold. Further, it lessens the integrity of the ministerial credential policies as voted by the world church representatives at the Annual Council.
The Adventist Church adheres without reservation to biblically grounded beliefs that include the divine ideal of pure, honorable, and loving sexual relations within a monogamous heterosexual marriage, and believes that lowering this high view is detrimental to humanity. We see the struggle, pain, and fear of rejection of those who wrestle with their sexual orientation. Many have chosen, through God’s strength and a personal relationship with Him, not to practice their unbiblical sexual orientation. Our pastors are called to walk alongside them in what is often a very difficult journey.
The responsibility of the pastor to our members who are on this difficult journey is to point to the Word of God as providing the best counsel in this struggle. In Romans 1:18–32, we read a long list of sinful practices which can only be overcome through the direct power of Christ. The integrity of the Word of God and His instructions for daily living give us the opportunity as human beings to maintain a direct connection with the Source of all power. We are called to overcome sin in every form through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. When we submit completely to God and accept the grace and merits of Jesus Christ to change our lives in conformity with His plan, we receive of His justifying and sanctifying righteousness to save us. We become “new creatures” in Christ Jesus — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).
Above all, the responsibility of the pastor is to proclaim to all persons the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:6–12), which has at its core the power to transform lives through His grace and righteousness. Therefore, rejecting the ability of God to transform the life of any person, even in seemingly impossible areas, is also rejecting the very doctrine of salvation. The ability of God to transform our lives is indisputable and those who are called by Him to be ministers must be seen in word and deed to uphold this truth. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37, NKJV).
Without restating the above-mentioned fundamental beliefs, we remind ourselves of the biblical view of human sexuality summarized in the Statement on Transgenderism voted at the 2017 Spring Meeting. In keeping with a high view of Scripture, the statement cautions us that when addressing the challenging issues of alternative sexualities, we must do so grounded on the absolute truth of God’s Word, as clearly expressed in the following paragraphs:
“God created humanity as two persons who are respectively identified as male and female in terms of gender. The Bible inextricably ties gender to biological sex (Gen 1:27; 2:22-24) and does not make a distinction between the two. The Word of God affirms complementarity as well as clear distinctions between male and female in creation. The Genesis creation account is foundational to all questions of human sexuality.
“From a biblical perspective, the human being is a psychosomatic unity. For example, Scripture repeatedly calls the entire human being a soul (Gen 2:7; Jer 13:17; 52:28-30; Ezek 18:4; Acts 2:41; 1 Cor 15:45), a body (Eph 5:28; Rom 12:1-2; Rev 18:13), flesh (1 Pet 1:24), and spirit (2 Tim 4:22; 1 John 4:1-3). Thus, the Bible does not endorse dualism in the sense of a separation between one’s body and one’s sense of sexuality. In addition, an immortal part of humans is not envisioned in Scripture because God alone possesses immortality (1 Tim 6:14-16) and will bestow it on those who believe in Him at the first resurrection (1 Cor 15:51-54). Thus, a human being is also meant to be an undivided sexual entity, and sexual identity cannot be independent from one’s body. According to Scripture, our gender identity, as designed by God, is determined by our biological sex at birth (Gen 1:27; 5:1-2; Ps 139:13-14; Mark 10:6).
“Scripture acknowledges, however, that due to the Fall (Gen 3:6-19) the whole human being — that is, our mental, physical, and spiritual faculties — are affected by sin (Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9; 7:14-23; 8:20-23; Gal 5:17) and need to be renewed by God (Rom 12:2). Our emotions, feelings, and perceptions are not fully reliable indicators of God’s designs, ideals, and truth (Prov 14:12; 16:25). We need guidance from God through Scripture to determine what is in our best interest and live according to His will (2 Tim 3:16).
“The Bible commands followers of Christ to love everyone. Created in the image of God, they must be treated with dignity and respect… Acts of ridicule, abuse, or bullying towards [all] people are incompatible with the biblical commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:31).
“The Church as the community of Jesus Christ is meant to be a refuge and place of hope, care, and understanding to all who are perplexed, suffering, struggling, and lonely, for “a bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench” (Matt 12:20). All people are invited to attend the Seventh-day Adventist Church and enjoy the fellowship of its believers. Those who are members can fully participate in church life as long as they embrace the message, mission, and values of the Church.
“The Bible proclaims the good news that sexual sins committed by heterosexuals, homosexuals, transgender people, or others can be forgiven, and lives can be transformed through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11).
“Those who experience incongruity between their biological sex and gender identity are encouraged to follow biblical principles in dealing with their distress. They are invited to reflect on God’s original plan of purity and sexual fidelity. Belonging to God, all are called to honor Him with their bodies and their lifestyle choices (1 Cor 6:19). [All] are encouraged to wait on God and are offered the fullness of divine compassion, peace, and grace in anticipation of Christ’s soon return when all true followers of Christ will be completely restored to God’s ideal.”
As church members and leaders, let us by God’s grace embrace biblical truth and scriptural instructions and turn away from social movements that are contrary to the Word of God. We call on Seventh-day Adventist members worldwide to continue praying for God’s leading in His Church and that we be united as believers and messengers of His Word, recognizing the nearness of Christ’s second coming.