The Swedish Union executive committee has issued a position paper entitled, “Room for Everyone: The Values of the Swedish Union . . . of Seventh-day Adventists in Relation to LGBTQ” The paper is available in both Swedish and English on the union’s website.
Under the heading, “What is the challenge?” the Swedes write:
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sweden has failed in its relationship to LGBTQs and has neither promoted confidence nor created conditions for constructive dialogue. For a long time, the Church has had a hard time recognizing and managing the complexity of the LGBTQ issue. Although the Church has clear theological explanations concerning sexuality and marriage, these often lack guidance for pastoral and spiritual care in congregations. This lack of knowledge and insight means that members and employees often fail in their response to LGBTQs. There is a lack of clarity about concepts and phenomena, and often the definitions of terms such as sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual practice are confused, which can lead to condemnation of LGBTQs solely for their sexual orientation.”
The problem with trying to manage the complexity of the LGBTQ issue (which once was just the LGB issue, and then the LGBT issue, and then the LGBTQ++ issue), is that just when you think you’ve got it managed, it gets more complex. One reason why there might be a lack of clarity about concepts and phenomena is that the concepts and phenomena are constantly changing, now almost daily. No one can possibly keep up; all must live continually in fear of accidental political incorrectness.
Under the heading, “What do we want to achieve?” they write:
“We want to overcome as many obstacles as possible so that the Church can become a safe place where everyone –regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity –can get to know God and grow as His disciples. Seventh-day Adventists’ global promise to the public–We can help you understand the Bible to find freedom, healing and hope in Jesus–applies to everyone regardless of where you come from or who you are.”
Church should not be a “safe space” for the consciences of sinners. Churchgoers should be constantly in danger of hearing a sermon that says, “You are sinning; stop what you’re doing and repent, trust yourself to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and walk in newness of life in Him.” Otherwise, what is church? A social club? A political rally?
“We want to affirm the biblical teaching that God created humanity in His own image, as male and female, and that He instituted marriage between a man and a woman as His original will and ideal for sexual relations. At the same time, we want to affirm the needs of all persons for closeness, meaningful fellowship and loving relationships.”
This sounds like it is saying that male/female marriage is the ideal, but if you’re not cut out for that, we understand that you need closeness and a loving relationship, so just do whatever achieves that for you.
“We want to affirm that the sexual orientation of a person is not a sin in and of itself or a cause for condemnation or guilt. Sexual orientation describes whom a person is attracted to and should not be confused with having an immoral desire. Jesus Christ gives us power and grace to live to His glory regardless of our sexual orientation.”
This is interesting for several reasons, one of which is that it rejects the doctrine of original sin and adopts a “Last Generation Theology” view of human nature and sin, which is that no one is born a guilty, condemned sinner, and that sin is only a conscious, intentional breaking of the law.
“We want to affirm that sexual orientation and gender identity per se are not an obstacle to becoming a member and serving. The local church has the authority and responsibility to make decisions, in each individual case and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on who will become a member, serve, and represent the church according to the biblical principles we share.”
But what decisions should the local church make? Where does one draw the line on membership and holding church offices? What does it mean that “sexual orientation and gender identity per se are not an obstacle” to becoming a member and a church officer? All the crucial details have been omitted from this statement.
What about a man who acknowledges same-sex attraction, and watches gay porn, but does not actually have sex with another man? Can he be a member? What about a same-sex attracted man who lives with another man, but says they no longer have sexual relations? What about a man who is “married” to another man, but says it is just for companionship and to be in a loving friendship, but that they do not have sex?
What about a man who identifies as a woman, but does not wear feminine clothes in church? What about a man who identifies as a woman, wears female clothes, but doesn’t want to use the women’s restroom? Can he be an elder and a Sabbath School teacher? What if he does want to use the women’s restroom?
This statement seems little other than virtue signaling, an opportunity to communicate the approved and accepted attitudes and feelings of love and acceptance, without really committing to anything that would be either controversial or helpful to a local pastor or congregation.