Comment on Ricardo Graham clarifies LSU Board releases by Sean Pitman M.D..
Ron: â€œWhy then is LSU so clearly opposed to this legitimate request of its employer?â€
Because it is not a legitimate request. It is not consistent which the our Adventist commitment intelectual honesty and Present Truth.
I didn’t say “correct” request, but “legitimate” or “legal” request. In other words, this request isn’t against the law. Therefore, there seems to be no moral ground for an employee to take money from an employer who has specifically asked the employee to do something which the employee isn’t about to do. Yet, the employee still expects to get paid by the employer in this case? How is this not outright theft on the part of the employee?
It doesn’t matter if you, as the employee, think that you are correct in your views and that your employer is wrong. Even if you are right, you are morally wrong in taking money from your employer while doing exactly the opposite of what your employer lawfully asked you to do…
Sean Pitman M.D. Also Commented
Bravus: My point may not have been clearly made. I did not mean that the church leaders are infallible, or cannot make mistakes. I simply meant that correcting their mistakes and challenging them ought to be done with respect rather than abuse. Someone may be dead wrong, but calling an ordained minister of the Lord â€œA do-nothing, know-nothing, head-in-the-sand pseudoleaderâ€ reflects on the abuser rather than the abused, IMO.
I agree with this comment. It is fine to take the position that an ordained church leader is wrong or mistaken, or even needs to be removed from office, but this should be done with the greatest respect for his/her office and for the individual directly as a servant answerable to God as well as to the church.
Remember David when he showed the greatest respect even for Saul both during and after Saul’s life because King Saul, though clearly evil, was God’s anointed.
Ron: Sean, you said, â€œTherefore, there seems to be no moral ground for an employee to take money from an employer who has specifically asked the employee to do something which the employee isnâ€™t about to do.â€
If the employer is asking for something that is legitimate, I would agree with you, but when an administrator is asking a science teacher to lie and teach, false, or incomplete data because it happens to be theologically inconvenient, then that is an illegitimate request.
The SDA Church isn’t asking anyone to lie or to teach what a person believes is false or weak. The Church is asking only for those teachers and pastors who actually believe that the evidence in strongly in favor of the Church’s position to accept Church employment. Obviously, if someone believes that the Catholic position was the strongest theological position after much training in theological issues (and there are many such people), that person would not be qualified to be a paid SDA representative – no matter how sincerely and honestly he/she held his/her views.
For example, if I were to accept the position of a paid representative of the SDA Church, as either a teacher or a pastor, I could do so in good conscience because I would not be lying in presenting the SDA message as the truth as I see it. I believe it is the truth and that it does in fact have the backing of the signficant weight of available evidence – even when it comes to the stated SDA position on origins.
Therefore, when you argue that a science teacher hired by the SDA Church isn’t really under any moral obligation to do what the SDA Church has specifically hired him/her to do, in no uncertain terms, you are mistaken. The SDA Church is not asking anyone to perform a civil crime or even to go against his/her conscience. The SDA Church is, however, asking those who accept a paid position to actually believe in and support the stated SDA ideals in their paid capacity of an offical SDA representative.
It just amazes me that this concept is so difficult for some to grasp! It is so obvious if actually considered with a candid mind. You just don’t steal money or time from people – even if you think those people are crazy.
As I recall, there is something in the 10 Commandments about â€œThou shalt not lieâ€. As Adventists, we donâ€™t need to shade the truth, or lie. We can afford to let the evidence lead where it will because we believe that nature is Godâ€™s first book, revealing himself. Didnâ€™t Mrs White say something about what this world needs is men who will stand for the truth though the heavens fall? I want to support La Sierra, and any other University in their academic freedom to pursue truth no matter where it leads. Christ is â€œthe Way, the Truth, and the Life.â€ To deny scientific truth is to deny Christ Himself. What you are asking for is nothing different in principle than the Spanish Inquisition. As a Seventh-day Adventist, I want nothing to an inquisition.
I’m not asking for the Spanish Inquisition – despite this commonly used strawman argument. There is a key difference between expecting an employee to actually do what you are paying him/her to do and expecting everyone to do what you want them to do regardless of their own free will to join or to leave your organization – on pain of civil penalties. The SDA Church is not and should not be involved with civil government. All are free to take on or to leave off a paid position within the SDA Church free of all civil penalties or consequences of any kind.
It is just nonsense therefore for you to compare the request of any organization for an employee to do what they are being paid to do with the Spanish Inquisition! That’s an idiotic comparison! According to this logic the SDA Church would have to pay anyone and everyone for every idea out there! Don’t you see this argument as just a little bit strained?
You have over-emphasized your point. I can agree with you up to a point, but you go too far in saying everyone should obey the edicts of the church. It is as if you are saying, â€œThe Church is infallible. Even if it were to fall, it is still to be obeyed. We ought to obey the Church, rather than God or conscience.â€
I never said that the church was infallible – just the opposite in fact. what I said is that any organization that wishes to remain viable must have internal rules, order, and discipline when it comes to paid representation. If you freely take on a position of a paid representative of any organization, to include a church organization, you also freely take on the responsibility to do what your employer asks you to do. If you cannot do this in good conscience, don’t join that organization.
Your first duty is indeed toward God. And, part of that duty is to be honest toward your employer. Taking money from someone who is paying you to do one thing while you are doing exactly the opposite is stealing of both your employer’s time and money. This is a moral wrong that is also against God’s Royal Law.
Skip that. I will obey God, rather than the church. Our church was not built upon the same authoritarian plan that many organizations operate under.
I’m not asking anyone not to following God or their own consciences. What I’m asking is that one not steal money or time from anyone. It is right of the Church to only hire those who accurately represent those positions that it considers to be fundamentally important to present to the world as an organized body. If you disagree, leave and go somewhere else to be paid by those who consider your ideas worthy of payment. That would be the only honest thing to do.
Jesus referred to the common practice in the world of rank under which â€œtheir great ones exercise authority upon themâ€ (Mark 10:42). However, His response called for a difference: â€œBut so shall it not be among you: butâ€¦whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of allâ€ (verses 43-44). Other biblical injunctions counsel Christâ€™s followers not to be respecters of persons, nor to treat people differently based on their wealth or lack of it (James 2:1-9). So much for the theory that â€œhe who has the gold makes the rules.â€
The fact of the matter is that Jesus Himself gave authority to Church leaders to govern the internal workings of the Church – an organization that receives God’s highest regard on Earth. The organization itself is important – not just the individual. If you decide, of your own free will, to join this organization, you take on certain responsibilities which you did not have before.
Although originally opposed to such constraints, it was John Loughborough, together with James White, who first started to realize the need for some sort of enforcement of SDA Church order and discipline – i.e., a Church government.
Consider the following comments and quotes by JN Loughborough in his The Church, Its Organization, Order and Discipline (1907):
“When those who back in the “sixties” [1860s] witnessed the battle of establishing church order now hear persons, as conscientious no doubt as those back there, utter almost the identical words that were then used by those opposing order, it need not be wondered that they fear the result of such statements as the following: “Perfect unity means absolute independence, – each one knowing for himself. Why, we could not have outward disorganization if we all believed in the Lord. . . . This question of organization is a simple thing. All there is to it is for each individual to give himself to the Lord, and then the Lord will do with him just what he wants to, and that all the time. . . . Our only safety, under God, is to go back to the place where God is able to take a multitude of people and make them one, without parliamentary rules, without committee work, without legislation of any kind.” – General Conference Bulletin of 1899.
God Requires Rules:
“Superficially considered, this might seem to be a blessed state, a heaven indeed; but, as already noted on a preceding page, we read of heaven itself and its leadings that “the god of heaven is a god of order, and he requires all his followers to have rules and regulations to preserve order.”
“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization, there would be great confusion, and the work could not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying on the work in new fields, for protecting both the church and ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for other objects, organization was indispensable.”
– Testimonies for the Church, No. 32, page 30.
As it turns out, the leaders of the early SDA Church at first thought that no enforcement of any kind was needed to keep the Church from fragmenting. This was true as long as the Church was small and made up of originally like-minded people. However, as the Church grew larger, this view soon became obviously untenable. Loughborough was one of the main proponents of this sort of church order and discipline – along with James White. Very quickly all of the early Church leaders changed their minds regarding Church order and discipline when they saw that their original ideas of completely hands-off freedom of Church representatives were quickly failing to do what they thought they would do. So, the leadership started issuing cards of commendation signed by James White or John Loughborough.
Of course, those who were not considered to accurately represent the views of the Church did not receive these cards of commendation. And what was the attitude of such persons? – according to Loughborough?:
“Of course those who claimed “liberty to do as they pleased,” to “preach what they pleased,” and to “go when and where they pleased,” without “consultation with any one,” failed to get cards of commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a warfare against those whom they claimed were “depriving them of their liberty.” Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a people to act, to establish “order,” these opponents soon turned their warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that “when they got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its `loud cry.’ ”
One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc. Upon this point, when church order was contested, we read: “Satan well knows that success only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. . . . He deceives even the professed people of God, and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course. . . . All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.”
– Testimonies for the Church, Vol. I, page 650.
I think you are in danger of falling into this same mindset… of thinking that imposed order and discipline within the Church is somehow evil or against the plan of God. This couldn’t be further from the truth. God is a God of order, of rules and regulations, and of government.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman M.D.
“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness
You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.
It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.
Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,
“Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”
That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.
I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?
Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.
And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”
The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…
Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.
Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.
Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.
Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman
Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.
You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?
And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.
Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman
I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.
Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).
Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.
But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)
I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.
That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.
Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.
Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.
I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.
In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.
I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?
Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.
At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.
Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.
My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:
But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6
I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.