Pastor Kris Widmer is a fourth generation Adventist and has been a pastor for the past 32 years. His wife, Debbie, was also born and raised in Adventism. Pastor Widmer has been ministering at his current church in Antioch, California, for seven years.
But a letter from their child turned everything that the Widmers thought they knew upside down. "Timothy sat down with us on a Friday night and read us a 10-page letter," Pastor Widmer said in a video. "And that was the way Timothy came out to us as being transgender."
The video is one in a series called "Outspoken" from producer Daneen Aker and director Stephen Eyer that focuses on LGBTQ Seventh-day Adventists. The series is meant to shine a light on people of faith in the margins and to spark dialogue about theological opinions on LGBTQ people.
Timothy now demands to be thought of as a woman and his/her new name is Teagan. On Facebook he refers to himself as "Teagan Bootblack."
Kris Widmer laments that being an Adventist pastor prevents him from being able to "respond in loving ways to other people's transgender kids." The Widmers are struggling to reconcile their faith with LGBTQ identities. They believe there is hope for a more inclusive, affirming future.
"We would like the church to continue to grow and change and to become the community of Christ, where love is more important than law and people are more important than policy," Pastor Widmer said.
This is called "compassion." But the greatest expression of compassion is when Jesus came to the earth and suffered and died for our sins. And Jesus' sacrifice was a saving mission. He didn't come to our planet and say "It's all good bro! You guys are perfect just the way you are. I'll be back later!" Jesus did something about our lostness, and gave us the Holy Spirit to bring truth and change into our lives. He came to save us FROM our sins, and that always involves positive change.
It's not the kind of change where liberal-thinking folks say "You need to change to accommodate my deviancy." No, the change that God brings is the mighty power to overcome sin, confusion and dark temptations. "If the Son of man sets you free, you are free indeed" (John 8:36). That's real compassion! You are free to rejoice in the wife of your youth, free to say "No" to baptised narcissism, and free from the mind-numbing confusions of the enemy in WO, LGBTQ, SIN and SAD.
Liberal (or sentimental) Adventism has become the ecclesiastical vehicle for an uprising of feminism, homosexuality and spiritualism. In progressive Adventism, the church needs to change to accommodate sexual and gender deviation. Stories of victory over sin, and triumph over inner turmoil aren't cool. You're fine just the way you are. Unless you happen to be a conservative believer in Jesus. That's intolerable.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).