Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?

A couple of weeks ago (February 5, 2020) Spectrum Magazine published a very provocative article written by Dr. Bryan Ness entitled, “THERE IS MORE TO HUMAN SEXUALITY THAN XX AND XY“.

Dr. Ness has been teaching biology, genetics, and biotechnology classes at Pacific Union College for the past 30 years. Bryan, and his wife Judy, are two of the sponsors for the Gay-Straight Alliance group on the PUC campus – and serve on the SDA Kinship Advisory Council. They also have a lesbian daughter, who left her husband in 2014 for another woman, which certainly has helped to propel Bryan and Judy toward even stronger LGBT+ advocacy (Link). Not surprisingly then, Dr. Ness strives to show that homosexuality is on a normal spectrum of human sexuality (produced by random genetic mutations as part of God’s plan) that is no more right or wrong than are blue eyes vs. brown eyes or being left vs. right-handed.

_____

As a relevant aside, other professors at PUC have been promoting this same idea for quite some time. Back in 2014, there was a rather public controversy over the support of the homosexual lifestyle, in a committed monogamous relationship, by Aubyn Fulton (a psychology professor at PUC). Dr. Fulton said that if a student asks for his opinion, he’ll share his conclusion that “the Bible does not condemn, as sin, loving and committed homosexual relationships” (Link). Even the PUC Chaplain, Jon Henderson, gave a Week of Prayer talk entitled, “Adam and Steve”, in which he also supported committed homosexual relationships. (Henderson, 2014)

At the time, the President of PUC, Dr. Heather Knight, opposed such teachings as being out of harmony with the position of the SDA Church on this topic. So, she tried to rein in Dr. Fulton and others who were teaching the same thing. Of course, these professors resisted, citing “academic freedom” to teach, essentially, whatever they wanted to teach – even if it opposed the clearly stated fundamental goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Pacific Union College.

“Several department chairs wrote a letter indicating displeasure with the president’s actions in a number of areas, including breaching academic freedom, particularly in Psychology and Social Work. Several faculty in that department took retirement or resigned in protest of Knight’s interference in teaching methods and classroom discussion of lesbian and gay rights and other church orthodoxy issues.” (Jiggs Gallagher, 2016)

This, along with some financial issues, eventually led to the resignation of Dr. Knight in December of 2016…

It is also interesting to note that the enrolment for PUC has been declining since 2014. Many have blamed Dr. Knight for this, but why would Seventh-day Adventist parents send their children to an expensive private church school where the teachers are attacking the fundamental values of the church? – when they could send their children to a much less expensive state school to get the same type of education? – if not better? Certainly, other Christian schools are often a better fit. Sometimes, I think that our own professors and school administrators forget, from a strictly financial perspective alone, where their bread is buttered…

The Basic Argument in Favor of the Amoral Nature of Homosexuality:

Without mutations humans would all look alike, with the same eye color, hair color, skin color, facial shape, etc. Mutations are the basis of the nearly limitless variation observed in the human family. It is impossible to conceive of a genetic system without mutation, and if God is the architect of life and of the genetic systems that support life, He must have incorporated the process of mutation to provide the diversity needed to produce a vibrant human population … Why should genetic variation in sexual development be any different, labeling any variation that deviates from the average as somehow negative and due to the effects of sin?

Flawed Initial Assumptions:

Although this is a popular argument, the basic concepts behind it are flawed.

First off, random genetic mutations are not required to produce human variation. Rather, Mendelian variation forms the basis of rapid and efficient phenotypic variability (the same is true for plants and animals that undergo sexual reproduction). Another fairly recently discovered form of designed and well-controlled variability within the human gene pool includes numerous epigenetic controls – which rapidly govern genetic expression (turning off and on the expression of individual genes and genetic regions). Such forms of genetic variability can produce vast phenotypic differences in the expression of genetic information that has been entirely “front-loaded” within the original gene pool of options.

Consider, for example, that practically all of the hundreds of modern breeds of dogs were produced within the past 300 years or so – from the chihuahua to the Great Dane. How is that possible? Darwinian-style evolution doesn’t work that fast. Well, it happens because of something known as Mendelian genetics where rapid changes or variations in phenotypes can be produced without any change in the underlying gene pool of functional options. No new alleles need to be evolved, Darwinian-style, at all. It’s all based on the pre-programmed potential for phenotypic variability that was originally pre-programmed into the gene pools of such animals. The problem is, from a Darwinian perspective anyway, is that Mendelian genetics has specific limitations to the changes that can be realized – limitations that cannot be transgressed. In other words, using Mendelian genetics alone, you’re not going to turn a dog into a cat or a lizard into a bird. This kind of variation would require the evolution of novel alleles and other functional genetic elements that go well beyond what was initially present within the ancestral gene pool. (Link)

In comparison, uncontrolled random genetic mutations (the basis of functionally novel genomic changes for Darwinian evolution) strongly tend toward functional genetic deterioration. The problem here is that the vast majority of random mutations (that have a functional impact on the gene pool) are functionally detrimental – not advantageous at all. In fact, it is this very high “detrimental mutation rate” that is driving the human gene pool, as a whole, toward inevitable genetic meltdown and eventual extinction – and always has been. The same is true for all slowly-reproducing species (like all mammals for instance). Link

Beyond this genetic problem with Dr. Ness’s basic genetic argument, there is also a problem with the idea that just because something is “natural” or “genetic” that it is “good” or “Ok” or part of God’s ideal plan for humanity. That simply isn’t true. A lot of diseases and disorders and harmful tendencies within humanity have a “natural” or genetically-inherited and/or an environmentally-nurtured basis. This doesn’t make them “good” or “ideal” or part of God’s plan for humanity. Rather, God wishes to save us from our degenerated state, with all of our cultivated fallen and sinful tendencies and put us back in line with what is in fact best for humanity. He wants to save us from our degenerated and sinful state, not in our degenerated and sinful state…

My discussion of these points with Dr. Ness is as follows:

Genetic Arguments:

Sickle Cell Anemia:

As any geneticist could explain, the genetic diversity contained within just two individuals is insufficient to produce the kind of diversity we see today, unless you also have mutations to continually produce new diversity? How allelically different do you think they were, anyway? There many loci that have dozens of different alleles and more across the human population. A single diploid pair of individuals can possess a maximum of four alleles per locus. Where have all those other alleles come from if not via mutation?

For your contention to be correct, either Adam or Eve would have had to have had sickle-cell trait, thus enabling their African descendents to have resistance to malaria. Oh, oops, that’s a detrimental mutation (unless, of course, you live in Africa where malaria runs rampant). This is the kind of quandary that happens repeatedly with your kind of reasoning about genetics. (Ness, 2020)

Sickle-cell is a classic example of a genetic mutation that disrupts the original function of a system (hemoglobin in this case) which results in a survival benefit in certain environments. However, this type of survival benefit is like cutting off your arms to avoid a monster that only eats people with arms. In this particular case, the malaria parasite is less able to survive in an oxygen-poor environment. This produces a survival advantage in malaria-infested regions of the world for those humans who have defective hemoglobin functionality – a survival advantage that is produced via a loss of pre-existing functionality is no way to fight genomic degeneration over time.

Again, such mutations that are based on a loss of original functionality are very easy to achieve in short order, but will eventually add up to result in genomic meltdown and eventual extinction of a species. They simply aren’t helpful over the long haul because there are only so many pre-existing functions you can lose before you have nothing more to lose (i.e., you’re dead).

The origin of different genes:

There many loci that have dozens of different alleles and more across the human population. A single diploid pair of individuals can possess a maximum of four alleles per locus. Where have all those other alleles come from if not via mutation? (Ness, 2020)

Many novel alleles have come from mutations. However, the functionally novel human alleles that have been produced by random genetic mutations (outside of Mendelian or epigenetic variation) have not produced functional advantages over the original gene pool of options. Rather, such mutations have resulted in an overall functional detriment to the human gene pool (Link).

This is known as downhill evolution, not the other way around.

How could humanity of started with just four alleles and ended up with dozens without mutations. If you understand genetics, it is simple common sense. (Ness, 2020)

Yes, mutations do produce new alleles, but these new alleles are functionally detrimental compared with the original state (by a ratio of over a million to one). You claim that some mutations are functionally beneficial and that the “diversity” produced by these mutations is vital for human survival, but these beneficial mutations are extremely rare (and never happen at all when it comes to levels of novel functional complexity requiring a minimum of more than a few hundred amino acid residues – for a protein-based system – Link).

The real problem, of course, is that the rate of detrimental mutations so far outpaces the extremely rare rate of beneficial mutations that natural selection is powerless to keep up – to sort out the bad and keep the good remotely fast enough to stop the detrimental mutations from piling up in each and every generation.

This completely does in the Darwinian notion of uphill evolution, or even neutral evolution, over millions of years of time. That just cannot happen. Statically, it is inevitable that we devolve as a species due to our very high detrimental mutation rate. How do you get around this fundamental problem for your argument?

Also, as far as creating the potential for huge phenotypic diversity, you know as well as I do that this is easily doable given that most traits are governed by multiple alleles and other genetic elements – even non-coding genetic sequences as well as epigenetic controls. This allows for amazing phenotypic diversity to confront rapidly changing environments without the need to slowly produce new alleles with random mutations that are almost always detrimental and which end up rapidly degrading the functionality of the gene pool over time…

Perfection requires uniformity?

If God created the first two humans as perfect beings, then clearly when one considers the concept of perfection, some alleles are inherently more perfect than others, and one allele would presumably be the best and most perfect, then Adam and Eve must have been homozygous for all the same alleles across their entire genome, all 22,500+ genes. (Ness, 2020)

I don’t follow you. Why would one particular allele be more perfect than some other version that allows for variation in various environments that might be encountered in this world? I would argue, that such pre-programmed variability would be highly advantageous – a more ideal/perfect system compared to your concept of original uniformity within a non-uniform world. The fairly new study of epigenetic controls only adds to this potential for pre-programmed phenotypic variability.

How far have we fallen?

Obviously mutations would have supply that variation, which would be saying that all variation is bad, because it is represents alternatives to perfection. This is the fully corrupted, fallen world view of so many. I find such a dim view problematic, as even after the fall God seems to remind us that nature is still his creation and it is good, even though there are obviously some faults. (Ness, 2020)

While some good does remain from God’s original creation, so that we can still since His signature within what remains – it has rapidly degenerated since Eden. It’s not that there are “some faults” here and there that have come along, on rare occasions, to plague humanity since our time in Eden. Rather, almost everything that God originally created and called “very good” has been corrupted in some way or another – and it’s getting worse and worse as time goes on.

The problem is that random mutations almost always mess things up. This happens way more often than they come up with some truly new and beneficial function – as would be expected in any complex functional digital-type system (like computer code) undergoing random mutations to the original code. The real kicker here is the rate at which these detrimental mutations pile up within the human gene pool. They just happen far far too quickly to keep up with them. That means that they build up more and more and more in each and every generation.

How is that an “ideal design” for God to have created? I’m telling you, we get old and die, not because God created it to be this way originally, but because He is no longer maintaining the system as He did originally since we stepped away from Him and His constant care for us as it was originally intended to be. That’s why things get old, wear out, and eventually die – because they are not maintained and repaired. The very same thing is happening to our human gene pool as a whole. It’s wearing out. It will eventually die and go extinct if God doesn’t step in and save the otherwise dire situation that we’re currently in.

“I was informed that the inhabitants of earth had been degenerating, losing their strength and comeliness. Satan has the power of disease and death, and in every age the curse has been more visible, and the power of Satan more plainly seen. . . I was informed that those who lived in the days of Noah and Abraham were more like the angels in form, in comeliness and strength. But every generation has been growing weaker, and more subject to disease, and their lives of shorter duration. Satan has been learning how to annoy men, and to enfeeble the race… As Adam came forth from the hand of his Creator, he was of noble height, and of beautiful symmetry. He was more than twice as tall as men now living upon the earth, and was well proportioned. His features were perfect and beautiful. His complexion was neither white, nor sallow, but ruddy, glowing with the rich tint of health. Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. Her head reached a little above his shoulders. She, too, was noble—perfect in symmetry, and very beautiful.”  (Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, 69.2 and Vol. 3, 33.2)

Cain and Able must have been perfect clones?

I presume they would have to be exact genetic clones of their parents, anything else would be less than perfect. What a boring world that would be. (Ness, 2020)

How can you say this knowing even the basics about genetics? Do you really think that Cain and Able had to have been not only identical twins, but also identical in nature and appearance to Adam? – identical clones of him? If so, you must not understand that most traits are governed by multiple different alleles and genetic regions that can be mixed and matched via Mendelian-style variation (not to mention variable epigenetic controls) to produce an enormous variety of phenotypic differences within human offspring (as well as with plants and animals). Your notion that variation would have been impossible within an Edenic state for humanity is based on a very poor understanding of the potential variability for pre-programmed genetic information within the human genome.

Evolutionary arguments “not germane”?

I am not interested in arguing this point or any other related points, as they are not germain to the main points I make. I am not making any kind of evolutionary argument, and for some reason you seem obsessed with arguing about evolution and the doom of the human race due to the overwhelming effects of mutation. I just see your ideas in this regard as way off base, and they disagree with the great bulk of the evidence, but I do not care to further argue the point here. I will just leave you with your ideas and move on. (Ness, 2020)

Why then even bring up the argument of random Darwinian-style genetic mutations producing novel alleles and greater “human diversity” if this evolutionary concept really isn’t “germane” to your main argument?

Religious Arguments:

No moral harm:

No one is making hell for an alcoholic by wanting to help him get treatment for the addiction. There is a moral argument against encouraging someone to go ahead and live as an alcoholic. There is moral harm, since we know that being an alcoholic leads to many negative health outcomes. The same cannot be said for same-sex marriage, there is no moral harm you can identify, and since there is no moral harm, why prohibit it, except because it makes you uncomfortable, or it doesn’t reach some ideal you have determined to be important? (Ness, 2020)

I don’t think same-sex “civil unions” should be legally prohibited. That being said, I don’t think one can honestly argue that the Bible supports such a union as being the ideal for humanity. Rather, the Bible clearly supports only a marriage between one man and one woman as being the ideal situation before God.

Now, I’m not the one making such claims here. It’s the Bible making such claims. The very concept of marriage was invented by God and is described in the Bible quite clearly – including the ideal parameters, rights, privileges, and restrictions set for marriage by God. The very concept of marriage is, therefore, a religious concept in its very essence. Secular governments cannot, therefore, reasonably define marriage or dictate regarding something that is inherently religious in nature.  They can define “civil unions” all they want, but God is the Creator and Definer of “marriage”. And, if God says that there is a problem with homosexual relationships, then who are we to argue? Do you know more than God on this topic? How can you be so certain, then, that there really is “no moral harm”? – if God is saying otherwise?

Not ideal, but still Ok:

It’s obvious that the original plan is for men and women to marry and procreate. I have never suggested that this is not the case. Just because that is the ideal does not mean it is the only way things can be oe should be done. Same-sex marriage does not detract from that ideal at all. It’s just that because they have same-sex attraction they do not have the option of that ideal arrangement, but allowing them same-sex marriage gives them as close to that ideal as is possible. Same-sex marriage meets all the goals of heterosexual marriage except for procreation, and not even all heterosexual couples reach that ideal. (Ness, 2020)

If it’s not “ideal”, then why would anyone strive for it? Why strive for or promote something that is inherently harmful as compared to what is, admittedly, the more ideal goal?  From the Biblical perspective, an effort to do something that God doesn’t consider ideal for you or me to do is defined as “sin” (James 4:17) – a form of rebellion against what God has in mind for you and for me.

I am not acquainted with that definition of sin. I suppose it is a useful philosophical definition of sin, but it isn’t very practical, since in almost every sphere of life there are ideal ways to do things, but such ideals are often not possible. By that kind of definition we are all sinners, gays no less or more than straight people, so what’s the point. Why make a big deal about one particular ideal, i.e. heterosexual marriage, and say that anyone who does otherwise is a sinner and therefor disallow it, when the very “less than ideal” state, i.e. same-sex marriage is not morally wrong. You can certainly argue that same-sex marriage does not match the ideal, but that does not Make it automatically wrong. It must be shown to be morally wrong, which you have not done. (Ness, 2020)

I agree with you that God’s ideals for humanity are not possible through human effort. That’s certainly true.  However, God is not asking us to free ourselves from our own less-than-ideal state.  Not at all!  Rather, He is offering to recreate us, to give us a “new birth”, where He forms us into the ideal image that we were originally intended to have – if we only allow Him to do it for us.

Men and women complement each other in marriage:

As far as something being “morally wrong”, again, striving for anything that God says is not ideal, is not ultimately “good” as He defines it, is a moral wrong – a sin. There are aspects of men and women that complement each other that simply cannot be achieved in a “marriage” between same-sex couples. Therefore, striving for such a non-ideal situation, when God offers a more ideal path to us, is a moral wrong.

Even were this to be true, how does that address same-sex marriage. No one is implying that same-sex marriage is the same as heterosexual marriage. Just because something does not meet some specified ideal, does not mean that alternative approaches or variation should not be allowed. If there is nothing morally wrong with same-sex marriage, why not allow it, especially if it can help gays live more fulfilled and sexually responsible lives? If you are uncomfortable with it, don’t get married to a man yourself, but why prohibit others. Heterosexual marriages loses nothing by also allowing same-sex marriage. (Ness, 2020)

Again, from the Biblical perspective, an effort to do something that God doesn’t consider to be ideal for you or me to do is defined as “sin” – a form of rebellion against what God has in mind for us (James 4:17). So, we should always point people toward God’s ideals for humanity.

Originally, God designed marriage to be reflective of the very image of God Himself (Genesis 1:26-27).  Therefore, any distortion of this original design between one man and one woman living in a marriage relationship is a distortion of the very image of God.  It is impossible to fulfill God’s original design to make mankind in His own image via a homosexual relationship because such a relationship cannot produce the same type of interaction that a marriage relationship between one man and one woman can produce. This is not a hateful idea, it’s simply a matter of reality – of how humanity was originally designed, according to the Bible, to reflect the image of God. This image of God can be achieved in no other way. Men were simply not designed to fulfill the role of women and women were not designed to fulfill the role of men in the marriage/family relationship. That is why any effort to do so is a distortion of the image of God – which is certainly not a good thing to do.  It is for this reason that every effort is made, on the part of Satan, to attack the family relationships that God originally design – for in so doing he is directly attacking the very image of God Himself.

That being said, no civil law should be enacted to enforce such “Christian Ideals” onto society at large. Everyone should be free to choose to align themselves with such ideals, or not, at will – without any fear of civil reprisals of any kind. All should be able to freely choose to be a part of a particular Christian community that strives to live according to the Bible (like the Seventh-day Adventist Church) – or not.

It’s interesting how Ravi Zacharias puts it in this video clip:

The ethics of undermining one’s employer:

My problem is with those who wish to forcefully promote ideas and philosophies that run counter to the stated goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church – while being paid employees of the Church!

For example, you teach your students and publicly proclaim ideas that strike against the very heart of what you are actually being paid to teach. In the past, you’ve suggested to your students that the Noachian Flood described in the Bible was probably just a local Mesopotamian flood and that the Darwinian story of origins is becoming more and more well-supported by scientific evidence all the time (Link). Now, you’ve started publicly promoting the idea that the Church is wrong to teach that homosexuality is presented in the Bible as being out of line with God’s plan for humanity, that it is not a “sinful” behavior after all. You claim that there is nothing actually morally wrong with monogamous homosexual relationships – despite the lack of biblical support for this position of yours and despite the consistent claims of the Bible that appear to strongly counter your position on this topic.

Of course, you can believe and teach and promote whatever you want on your own dime.  However, when you’re working as a paid representative for the church, how can you think to go around directly attacking the fundamental goals and ideals of your employer whom you claim to represent? That, in my book anyway, is unethical.  It would be far better for you to simply resign your position and join any other of many organizations that are naturally more in line with your views.

Homosexuality no different than being right or left-handed:

Let me redirect the conversation to the religious contention that “Anything other than what God has determined is in error.” My question still stands, what is God’s will in regards to laterality. Right handedness or left handedness and does the wrong answer mean going against God’s will? (Elmer Cupino, 2020)

Clearly there are mutations that are quite negative. But for those mutations that are not so negative, some can be lived with, like being left-handed, and others like myopia can be corrected with glasses or contacts. Many of the differences in sexual development that exist are in the first category, they can be lived with. (Ness, 2020)

 

How are you so sure that the option for being either right or left-handed, or even completely ambidextrous, wasn’t originally included by God in the first human gene pool of options? You’re suggesting here that such options could only be achieved via the Darwinian-style evolution of novel genetic alleles and traits.  Again, such an assumption is simply unwarranted.

Beyond this, where, in the Bible, is there any statement against being either right or left-handed?  This cannot be said when it comes to homosexual activities. Both the Old and New Testament writers cite homosexual behavior as being out of line with God’s desires for humanity – as being sinful.  The Scriptures that testify against homosexual behavior ( including Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10) are so clear and specific that they defy reinterpretation. It is intellectually dishonest to say that conservative individuals and leaders “interpret” such clear verses as “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable”, presented as a direct quote from God Himself, out of simple prejudice against homosexuals. Styling these verses as “clobber passages” doesn’t change what the Bible actually has to say on this topic.

If God had really meant to say, “only non-monogamous sexual relationships are a problem”, why didn’t He just say that?  After all, it wasn’t like homosexuality was something new in that day and age in the surrounding nations. Why then didn’t God just say, “Homosexuality is perfectly fine as long as it is part of a monogamous marriage relationship”?  The problem is, such a statement is nowhere to be found in the Bible – nowhere. There simply are no such countering passages anywhere that cite God as being at all favorable to any kind of homosexual relationship – within or outside of a monogamous “marriage-style” relationship. In fact, the passages dealing with homosexuality in Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy are presented within the wider context of all heterosexual immoral behavior outside of the marriage relationship. This strongly speaks against the common argument that Scripture really only condemns homosexuality outside of a monogamous relationship – as you propose.

Some try to counter this lack of commendation for committed homosexual relationships by citing the friendship of David and Jonathan as being homosexual in nature.  Of course, this is more than a stretch since both David and Jonathan were about as heterosexual as one can get – especially David. Some even think to cite the relationship between Jesus and His disciples as being homosexual in nature – which is just as ridiculous.

Becket Cook’s Christian conversion and transformation:

But if you insist, can you direct me to a clinical case where a homosexual was successfully treated through the power of having a divine relationship with God? (Ness, 2020)

There are many examples of this, but perhaps one of the most striking examples I’ve come across lately is the case of Becket Cook – a very well connected and well-known homosexual man, in the Hollywood scene, who experienced Christian conversion in a most dramatic manner – and changed his whole lifestyle because of it.  While he still has homosexual feelings and tendencies, these are no longer so strong that they control his lifestyle or stand in the way of his relationship with God.

There are a number of very interesting videos and programs produced about him and by him, where he gives his personal testimony and what is it like for him to follow Christ, compared to what it was like for him to be living his previous homosexual lifestyle (Link, Link).

Video clips of Becket Cook’s story:

.

“Common Sense” morality – independent of the Bible:

Here is the center of the argument:

  1. Mutations are a fact of genetics, and I have no problem conceding that the majority of them are detrimental, but a large number are also either inconsequential or only mildly detrimental. It is these mutations which I am most interested in, because I contend that these largely inconsequential mutations, or maybe I should call them variations, since many of the traits of interest are certainly caused by more than a single allelic variant at a single locus. . . Anyway, these inconsequential variants need not have value judgments placed on them, unless they lead to behaviors that are properly recognized as morally wrong.
  2. Differences of sexual development represent some of what I am classifying here as inconsequential, since they are not inherently detrimental. Due to some of these differences, gays, for example display same-sex attraction, leading many of them to desire entering into marriage.
  3. Because same-sex marriage, and same-sex sexual relations within such a context are not morally wrong, the church should not prohibit members from entering into a same-sex marriage.

And there you have the central argument. All the other debates over other other issues we have been having are peripheral. In fact, in the end it doesn’t even matter whether you agree that same-sex attraction represents a genetically based variation, since same-sex, monogamous relationships are not morally wrong.

If you believe that same-sex, monogamous relationships are morally wrong, then please direct your arguments to that. What about such relationships makes them morally wrong? And just pointing to the Bible’s “clobber texts” is insufficient to prove that such relationships are morally wrong, as the same Biblical key test approach could just as easily be used to prove that slavery is acceptable (which runs counter to the common-sense argument that slavery is morally wrong) or that eating meat with the blood still in it is wrong. You need to show that same-sex, monogamous relationships have features that cause moral harm in order to consider such relationships morally wrong.

I would go even one step further. I think a moral argument can be made against people who do all they can to prevent same-sex marriage. When you do what you can to prevent SDA LGBTQ+ people from getting married with the church’s blessing, telling them that they must remain celibate or they are living in sin, you are preventing those individuals from fully experiencing a fulfilling life. You may even be damaging their ability to have a positive spiritual experience. These outcomes represent moral harms, and thus strong opposition to same-sex marriage for SDA LGBTQ+ members is itself morally wrong.

Now, I am willing to be more understanding than that, however, as I think God is too, of those church members who oppose same-sex marriage. I am willing to be compassionate and merciful toward those displaying such moral failings because I recognize how complicated the issue is. Many are ignorant of the deeper issues faced by LGBTQ+ people and are also often ignorant of how deep a spiritual experience many of these individuals have. They love God deeply, have struggled with their identity as LGBTQ+ individuals, and have finally come to a place of peace and reconciliation with God. If only those who oppose same-sex marriage could observe these spiritual struggles first-hand, they might finally come to realize how much moral harm we are doing when we oppose full affirmation of LGBTQ+ people and same-sex marriage. I think Jesus made it abundantly clear when he quoted Hosea saying, “for I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

It is my fervent hope that many who are now so opposed to same-sex marriage and full affirmation of LGBTQ+ people in the church will get on their knees and ask God to humble them and listen to God’s words of love to all, including the LGBTQ+ among us. We should not label evil what is morally acceptable. if we would let this sink into our hearts, we could make the path much easier on the LGBTQ+ young people currently growing up in the church, and they would not have to face the same sense of rejection that many older LGBTQ+ members have experienced, many of whom have left the church in despair and some who became so discouraged they committed suicide. We can do better. (Ness, 2020)

It seems to me that you are, in practical terms anyway, suggesting here that it doesn’t actually matter what the Bible has to say on a particular topic.  You can determine the morality of a situation, on your own via your own “common sense”, without any real need to refer to the Bible.  Given such an outlook, what relevance does the Bible hold for you regarding the morality of anything?

Now you claim, as an illustration of your “common sense” argument, that slavery is actually promoted by the Bible. Of course, all would agree that slavery is a clear moral wrong regardless of what the Bible says about it – right? You think to use this as a clear example of Biblical guidance that can be disregarded in light of a more modern “common sense” understanding of morality. Yet, historically, it is the Bible and the Christian perspective that, more than anything else, spoke to the equality of all people being all of “one blood” and one salvation before God, all being equally made in the image of God Himself, and all being equally fallen and in need of a Savior. Therefore, we are all commanded to “love one another” – to love our neighbors as ourselves, even valuing them greater than ourselves (Acts 17:26,  Ephesians 5:21, 1 John 2:2, Genesis 1:27, John 13:34, Mark 12:31, Philippians 2:3, Proverbs 22:2, Psalm 67:4, Romans 2:11, James 2:8-9, Leviticus 19:33-34, Luke 14:13-14, Acts 10:34-35, Colossians 3:10-11, James 2:1-4 . . . ).

Such Christian views of essential equality before God eventually overwhelmed the forces upholding slavery in countries around the world where the Christian influence was most strongly felt.

This same philosophy of essential equality for all peoples cannot be realized from other philosophical perspectives – such as the Darwinian perspective, for instance, where some individuals or groups of people are inherently and naturally “superior” and should dominate and enslave all others…

“Ideas mattered, and the leading abolitionists cannot be understood without reference to their Christianity. They believed that all people are God’s offspring and bearers of the divine image; they believed that you must love your neighbour as yourself and do to others as you would have them do to you; they believed in a God who heard the cry of the oppressed, and a Messiah who had come to bring deliverance to captives; and they believed that sooner or later, God would punish a nation that failed to repent of its iniquitous exploitation of another race. These simple religious convictions lent a special intensity to the campaign against the slave trade, turning it into a sacred cause. If we doubt the power and promise of Christian beliefs, we should remember the abolitionists.”

 

John Coffey,  The abolition of the slave trade: Christian conscience and political action, Cambridge University, June, 2006 (Link)

.

Of course, God is sympathetic to all of our fallen natural tendencies. Because of His love for us, He offers us a way out of our fallen state – a better way to live as we were originally intended to live and love.  God’s love and offer of grace and a new life through a New Birth in the Spirit is also offered to those who have homosexual tendencies as well.  God says there is a better way.  You can believe Him, or not.  However, if you choose not to believe Him and what he tells you is the best way for us to live, you will never experience it for yourself…

Dr. Bryan Ness responds to this article:

Please see Dr. Ness’s response in the comment secion below:  Link

_____________

About the author:

Dr. Sean Pitman is a pathologist from Redding, California with a particular interest in the topic of Creation vs. Evolution (Link), as well as other widespread interests regarding numerous issues involving the Seventh-day Adventist Church and spreading the Good News of the Gospel message of God’s amazing transforming love and grace for fallen humanity during these last days of Earth’s history. His father, Tui Pitman, is a retired pastor, teacher, high-school principal, missionary and trust services director from the Gulf States Conference.

Please follow and like us:
28
37

36 thoughts on “Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?

  1. You must identify yourself as a “higher critic” since you seem to act like you know more than God. If God accepted homosexuality as “normal”, he would not have made it a sin. He can not hold someone to sin if they have no control over it. We are clearly told in scripture that homosexuality is a sin, and those that practice it will not be in the kingdom of heaven. We are also counseled in the SOP that we can overcome every tendency of evil that we are born with. In fact, we had better overcome or none of us will be in heaven. Of course, we can do nothing without Christ. Homosexuality is a cultivated sin, no different than smoking or drinking, etc. You are either born male or female. Don’t try and skew the word of God to fit your agenda!

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    9
    • Homosexual tendencies are not always cultivated. Certainly there are many who are in fact born with this strong inclination. That being said, natural-born tendencies do not make such tendencies right before God. We are all born fallen and broken with many inherited natural tendencies that are degenerate and harmful in nature. However, the wonderful thing is that God offers us all a way to overcome both natural as well as cultivated tendencies that are in fact harmful to us.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
      6
  2. Stupid people think sex or “gender” can be only male or female. There are textbooks full of genetic and developmental anomalies resulting in intersex conditions of mismatched chromosomes, gonads, ducts, and genitals. Stupid people deny this. The biggest sex organ of all is the brain, and it, too, is subject to genetic, developmental, and epigenetic influences that bear on sexual identity, attraction, and preference. Stupid people believe God doesn’t care about whether the brain or specific regions of the brain are feminized or masculinized, because they believe all God really looks at is what’s between our legs. Stupid people think God is too stupid to see mismatches among sexual chromosomes, tissues, and organs that might also involve the brain. I think stupid people should leave the thinking to God. But check out below the stupid replies to this message from stupid people who are stupid enough to think they are smarter than God.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    1
  3. A large part of the problem is this, our leaders who know this is wrong refuse to do their duty they were elected to do, and simply want to create unity at all cost.

    Threats of punishment are idle threats and the rebels know it. Therefore, they are embolden in the evil rebellion knowing the church will not “man up” and discipline the evil.

    To persuade those who advocate this bogus argument is an exercise in futility. Comparable to those who deny the creation week. They put human speculation above the clear declarations of scripture. And since they get massive support by ministries like Spectrum and Atoday, they feel comfortable in denying and defying the word of God.

    Many if not most church members may not agree or support this open rebellion. But it is tolerated for the sake of unity and the preservation of the statis quo.

    Our children are being educated in a false tolerance that has no affinity to bible grace or the gospel. But it reflects the modern tolerance advocated in our country that denies law, order, justice and discipline for the preservation of civil society.

    We don’t know the precise details of just how God will deal with the rebellion in our church. But we do know where the world is headed in building a one world government the will eventually take away our freedom to declare and uphold bible truth.

    Historically, we did not think our church would embrace and even lead out in the spirit of rebellion that is rapidly developing in the church, the county and the world.
    Take care

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    5
  4. What a misleading headline! You are responding to one man’s opinion, not institutional policy. PUC is not “encouraging” gay marriage (nor endorsing Dr. Ness’s viewpoint).

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    1
  5. Wall Street Journal published an article on Feb 13, 2020, by Colin Wright and Emma Hilton titled: The Dangerous Denial of Sex.

    This article ends with — The time for politeness on this issue has passed. Biologists and medical professionals need to stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex. When authoritative scientific institutions ignore or deny empirical facts, in the name of social accommodation, it is an egregious betrayal to the scientific community they represent. It undermines public trust in science, and it is dangerously harmful to those most vulnerable.

    (Mr. Write is an evolutionary biologist at Penn State. Ms. Hilton is a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester.)

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    3
  6. It’s is very unfortunate that you guys are unable to discuss ideas and principles without threatening people who see things different than you. In a discussion of such an important and serious issue, you should be ashamed of yourselves for punching others below the belt.

    The day you find a gay person who was “treated” and is no longer gay, please contact me with the news. I am talking about “change of nature,” not conversion and change of habits (behavior). In the meantime, why don’t you stop bullshitting people with falsehood? Just suggestin’ …….

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    3
    • Since when has God removed all sinful tendencies that you were born with from you? – or from me? God does not fix all of our brokenness, our sinful tendencies, overnight. Rather, growing in grace is a step-by-step process brought about through a daily walk with God. Again, just because something is “natural” to us doesn’t make it good or ideal in God’s sight. And, anything that is not yet perfect in our lives, God will continue to help us overcome through a daily walk with Him.

      I fail to see how presenting this idea, or the idea that teachers who attack the clearly-stated position of their employer are being unethical toward their employer, is a “punch below the belt”? Also, please do show me any passage in the Bible that speaks of homosexual practices of any kind, monogamous or otherwise, as being in line with what God has in mind for humanity. There simply is no such passage anywhere throughout the Bible that I can find. Rather, the Bible consistently speaks of homosexual relationships, between consenting adults, as being out of line with righteousness before God.

      Again, this isn’t my idea here. The Bible is quite clear on this topic – as it is with other topics that strike directly at my own brokenness and natural tendencies. You can either believe the Bible or not. But, let’s not pretend that the Bible is actually ambiguous here. It isn’t. While God loves sinners, He is in the business of removing sin from our lives – not maintaining us as we were born in our natural broken state.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
      3
      • “…homosexual practices…”

        First, thanks for not just deleting my initial comment.

        Let me be clear, I am not talking about homosexual practices, but rather the homosexual gender, so to speak. Nature, not Nurture. Genes, not choices. Brain wiring, not perversion. Almost every time I comment of the nature of those individuals with homosexual traits I get someone talking back about “homosexual practices.” I do not condone homosexual practices. Never did, never will. But it seems that people do not want to really listen to I what I am actually saying.

        Like (almost) anyone else, homosexuals too have sexual needs. And they were born stuck with a very troubling nature. Yes, biblically trey cannot have homosexual practices, I always agreed to this. So, what they do? They have to stay celibate.

        This is certainly a harsh penalty, but it is what it is. Ultimately, this is between them and God, their Creator. As I always say, we have no right to be their judges, first because we are not in their shoes, second because they belong to God by creation.

        The major ongoing problem with this issue is that most people do not understand the Nature x Nurture concept. They need to be educated, and should speak only after being properly educated.

          (Quote)

        View Comment
        4
        • I do not condone homosexual practices. Never did, never will… They were born stuck with a very troubling nature. Yes, biblically [they] cannot have homosexual practices, I always agreed to this. So, what they do? They have to stay celibate.

          How are you saying anything different here from what I’m saying? It seems to me that we are saying exactly the same thing. I agree with you that sin itself is “hard-wired” into our genes. We are “naturally” sinful from birth. It seems as though we both agree on this. In fact, I’m having trouble seeing where you actually disagree with anything I’ve said on this topic?

          The problem, you see, is that this is not what Bryan Ness and other professors at PUC are saying. They are saying that because homosexuality is “naturally inherited”, that it was designed by God Himself and therefore it is perfectly Ok, from God’s perspective, to practice the homosexual lifestyle within the confines of a monogamous marriage-style relationship. That’s where we disagree. From your comments here, it would seem that you also disagree with Bryan’s position on this topic… or am I reading you wrong?

            (Quote)

          View Comment
          3
        • “They need to be educated, and should speak only after being properly educated.”
          Sean, this applies to you. Unless you are homosexual and know what is being talked about here, you really don’t have a leg to stand on by commenting what homosexuals should be doing. Yes, some heterosexuals “get it”, but you obviously don’t.

          One’s sexuality is not a brokeness. if your sexuality is less than perfect, don’t critcize that of others. You do God a disservice by saying that homosexualtiy is a sin when the Bible is quiet on sexual orientation.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
        • I wish you were right Floyd. However, unfortunately, I can’t see that you are right in your understanding of the claims of the Bible. I’m not sure anyone could claim in all seriousness that, “The Bible is quiet” on homosexual activity. The Bible has plenty to say when it comes to the expression of homosexuality. Now, having a sinful nature or sinful tendencies (which plague heterosexuals as well as homosexuals) isn’t, in itself, sin. Sin is the actual expression of sinful tendencies or propensities. On this, the Bible has plenty to say with regard to both heterosexual as well as homosexual activities that are not in harmony with God’s will.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
          4
        • If you google “homosexuality in Bible” you will get more than enough information about the issue and it is a sin. Give you a few verses; Lev. 18:22, 20:13. Romans 1:26-27, 1Cor 6:9,10. Use your common sense when God said go prosper and have children, this means heterosexuality!

            (Quote)

          View Comment
  7. I am very proud of PUC employing the caliber of professors like Dr Ness and Dr Fulton, etc. Our schools should not only teach SDA beliefs, but also teach students to think outside of the box and be prepared and aware of what is happening outside of the SDA bubble.
    I feel this article is very misleading and that is more “sinful” than Dr Ness’ article. You are making a mountain out of a molehill. Rather than trying to put down someone for writing a scholarly article, simply write your own article and ask Spectrum to publish it. Adventists have a million different ways of viewing things, if you feel your way is the only way, you are mistaken. God is so much bigger than being petty.
    I pray that in a few years, Adventists will realize their incorrect way of viewing sexual orientation and gender, just like other embarassing subjects such as slavery, etc in our recent history. Ellen White talks about Present Truth, but we only acknowledge that when it is convenient to the point we are trying to make. In the meantime LGBTQ Adventists have always been a part of the Sabbath morning worship services around the world and we are not going anyway despite efforts to drive us out. We may be an Inconvenient Truth for many of you, but you have survived having us around all these years. You will survive a bit longer.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    1
    • In the meantime LGBTQ Adventists have always been a part of the Sabbath morning worship services around the world and we are not going anyway despite efforts to drive us out.

      Who wants to “drive out” LGBTQ people from coming to Sabbath morning worship? The church is a hospital for sinners. Who would be able to come if the church expected perfection? All of us who worship on Sabbath come to God as broken and in need of a Savior. Jesus never leaves people as they are in their broken and fallen state when they come to Him for help to overcome sin in their lives. Becket Cook (in the videos highlighted in the article above) is a prime example of this.

      Your misunderstanding is in thinking that it is God who intentionally designed homosexuality within mankind as some kind of ideal sexual variation. You and I may not understand all the reasons, exactly, but the Bible is very clear that this is definitely not the case. Your argument isn’t really with me, but with the Bible. Do you believe what God says, or not? That’s the bottom line…

      I pray that in a few years, Adventists will realize their incorrect way of viewing sexual orientation and gender, just like other embarassing subjects such as slavery, etc in our recent history.

      Actually, the SDA Church was, historically, strongly opposed to slavery. Early Adventists like William Miller, Joseph Bates and Joshua V. Himes all actively championed temperance and abolition at a time when neither of those causes was popular. In fact, Joseph Bates and Heman Gurney were the first Adventists to take the Advent message to the slaves in the South in the early 1840s and they faced fierce opposition as a result. Consider also that Sojourner Truth moved to Battle Creek, Michigan in 1857 and was baptized as a Sabbatarian Adventist by Uriah Smith around that time. John Byington, the first General Conference president lent his farm, in New York State, as a stop-off point along the underground railroad. Ellen White, commenting on the relationship Adventists should have to the slavery laws of her day stated, “The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law.” John Andrews, John Loughborough, Joseph Bates and Uriah Smith all wrote against slavery and were outspoken advocates of abolition. Ellen White even advocated disfellowshipping church members who embraced views that advocated slavery.

      https://www.lineagejourney.com/episodes-season-2/adventists-abolition-and-oakwood/

      http://blacksdahistory.org/slavery.html

        (Quote)

      View Comment
      3
      • George Tichy is “full of himself.”

        Spectrum and Atoday condone and accept the practice of this evil agenda.

        As Sean said, we are born sinners with sinful tendencies and the born again experience gives us the victory over “the world, the flesh and the devil.”

        They don’t want to repent and gain any victory by the grace of God. They want to practice their evil agenda and bring it into the church.

        All in the name “We are born that way and thus it is an acceptable practice.”

        With this bogus argument, we can lie, cheat, steal and commit all sin with the argument “we are born that way.”
        It is a total denial of the words of Jesus, “Ye must be born again…….”

        A born again believer acknowledges they are sinners but do not “practice sin.”

        So we oppose any Last Generation Theology spirituality that claims if we do not commit any sin, then we are not sinners.
        Both the liberals and hyper-conservative spiritual foundation are false. Neither group present the true understanding of the words of Jesus, “Ye must be born again.”

        Victory over our sinful nature does not make us sinless. As Wesley said, “Sin remains, but does not reign.” The “new man” has control over the “old man of sin.”
        So Paul says, “I die daily.”
        But he affirms in Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore no condemnation over those who maintain the victory over their sinful nature.”
        We are sinners in a state of forgiveness until Jesus comes.

        We are still the children of fallen Adam but also now a child of God “in Christ Jesus.”
        We can not resolve the paradox by denying one or the other.
        Take care.

          (Quote)

        View Comment
        • Bill, it saddens me to see you declaring publicly a total ignorance about the Nature vs Nature issue. Instead, you go after others personally. Since we have such opposite views on the issue, I have no further comments for you.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
          2
        • Mr. Sorensen, Your comments about Dr. Tichy, I find repulsive. I also disagree with most of the comments on this site, but your demonstration of a non-Christian like attack on Dr. Tichy demonstrates that that you have absolutely no right to judge anyone.

          I came to this site from Spectrum, where people are at least respectful of other opinions. I will not terry here long because I can see that this is a “closed door” mentality.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
        • Lindy Williams February 24, 2020 at 1:13 am
          Mr. Sorensen, Your comments about Dr. Tichy, I find repulsive. I also disagree with most of the comments on this site, but your demonstration of a non-Christian like attack on Dr. Tichy demonstrates that that you have absolutely no right to judge anyone.

          I came to this site from Spectrum, where people are at least respectful of other opinions. I will not terry here long because I can see that this is a “closed door” mentality.”

          Well, Lindy, I find it somewhat ironic that you would defend Spectrum as an open minded forum.

          This is where they equate our General Conference President to a 12 year old in his understanding and spiritual administration.

          They run people off who expose their duplicity and ignorance of bible truth. But you obviously are well accepted in their ministry.

          None the less, I accept your reproof and apologize to Dr. Tichy as we all often let our sinful nature get the best of us.

          But the forum you defend demeans more people than you apparently see or admit.
          Take care.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
      • Sean said: “but the Bible is very clear that this is definitely not the case. Your argument isn’t really with me, but with the Bible. Do you believe what God says, or not? That’s the bottom line…”

        no Sean, my arguement isn’t not with the Bible. It is with you and with those who continue to twist the Scriptures and pick and choose what you want to adhere to. Yes, the Bible is clear.. there is NO condemnation of homosexuals or homosexuality in the Bible. Our Prophet never said a word about it. Jesus never referred to it. When I read your words, it becomes very clear to me that you don’t have a good understanding of sexual orientation and what it means to be homosexual, bisexual, or whatever. I don’t hold that against you, but it disqualifies you to speak to sexuality other than your own. The same applies to me. I can’t speak to things that are not my own experience either. But when someone used the Bible to marginalize others, I must speak up for them.

        No, you don’t want to “drive out” LGBTQ members on Sabbath morning. But your rhetoric does exactly that. Who would feel comfortable telling you they are non-heterosexual or non gender binary after hearing what you say? You leave no room for someone who is LGBTQ in your surroundings without condemnation. If we are truly all sinners (as you have said), do you have folks coming to you at every opportunity pointing out your sins and why you will not go to heaven because of them? Please stop and listen to what you are saying.

          (Quote)

        View Comment
        • Yes, the Bible is clear. there is NO condemnation of homosexuals or homosexuality in the Bible. Our Prophet never said a word about it. Jesus never referred to it.

          Really? How then do you explain passages in both the Old and New Testament that clearly point out homosexual activity as being out of line with God’s will?

          As far as the argument that Jesus never mentioned it, He never mentioned a lot of things that are classified as “sins” in both the Old and New Testament. So, I’m not sure what this has to do with anything?

          As far as your argument that Ellen White never mentioned it, she did in fact mention passages in the Bible that discuss homosexuality as a sin. Ellen White declared that Romans 1:18–32, which details a descent into illicit sensuality (including homosexual behavior), as especially applicable to the last days.

          “A terrible picture of the condition of the world has been presented before me. Immorality abounds everywhere. Licentiousness is the special sin of this age. Never did vice lift its deformed head with such boldness as now. The people seem to be benumbed, and the lovers of virtue and true goodness are nearly discouraged by its boldness, strength and prevalence. I was referred to Romans 1:18–32, as a true description of the world previous to the second appearing of Christ” (EGW, CG 440).

          Paul’s book of Romans, in particular, includes language declaring that the sexual relationships at issue are characterized by mutuality, rather than exploitation. The phrase “men . . . burned in their desire toward one another [allēlous]” uses the Greek term allēlous, which indicates a mutuality, a shared experience of desire. Moreover, the reference to “women exchang[ing] the natural function for that which is unnatural,” also reveals a concern with elements beyond exploitation or dominance. Lesbian relationships were especially known in ancient times for their lack of hierarchy, domination, or prostitution. Paul speaks of those who “exchanged natural [physikēn] intercourse for unnatural [para physin]” (Rom 1:26). But the word “natural” (physikos) here does not refer to what is natural to the person who practices it. Rather, it means what is according to the nature of things as God created it, and “unnatural” is that which is “against nature” as God ordained it from the beginning as the immediate context speaks of God’s “creation of the world” (Rom. 1:20, 26). Indeed, even in the larger Greco-Roman world, homosexual conduct of any sort was understood as being against nature. It is only the modern conception of “nature” that means whatever the human desires. Paul, conversely, held that human nature, being fallen and sinful, would be expected to have desires against God’s created order, commandments, and plans for humanity (cf. Rom 5:15–20; 7:7–23). However, Paul also teaches that an escape from “the body of death” and a new victorious life are given through the “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 7:24; 8:1). Further, in the vice list of 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul mentions the malakoi (lit. “soft men”), which likely alludes to men who are lain with as a man lies with a woman (see Lev 18:22 and 20:13). First Corinthians 6:9 also refers to the arsenokoitai “men lying with males,” and this term appears again in Paul’s vice list of 1 Timothy 1:10. Against those who see a Greco-Roman background behind Paul’s condemnation (and thus limit this term to something less than all same-sex intercourse), it cannot be overemphasized that this term never appears in the secular Greek of Paul’s day, but only in Jewish-Christian literature. The compound term points to the background of the LXX translators in their rendering of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, as they combined the words male (arsēn) and lying (koitē), corresponding to the Hebrew terms zakar (male) and mishkab (lying), to denote “homosexual intercourse.” The undeniable intertextual link between Paul’s use of arsenokoitai (1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10) and Leviticus 18 and 20, indicates that Paul is primarily referring to the OT Levitical background which forbids all samesex intercourse and not just issues of exploitation or orientation.

          After surveying the evidence of both OT and NT, NT scholar Richard Hays summarizes well the biblical witness concerning homosexual practice:

            “Though only a few biblical texts speak of homoerotic activity, all that do mention it express unqualified disapproval. . . . The biblical witness against homosexual practices is univocal. . . . Scripture offers no loopholes or exception clauses that might allow for the acceptance of homosexual practices under some circumstances. Despite the efforts of some recent interpreters to explain away the evidence, the Bible remains unambiguous and univocal in its condemnation of homosexual conduct.”

          https://www.andrews.edu/sem/about/statements/seminary-statement-on-homosexuality-edited-8-17-jm-final.pdf

          As far as your claim that only LGBTQ people can understand the claims of the Bible correctly regarding homosexuality, that’s just not true. Just because I may have motives to want the Bible to say this or that to support my own personal inclinations, doesn’t mean that the Bible actually supports what I may want it to support. The language is simply too clear and unambiguous to be misunderstood – except by those who are desperately looking for any way to make it say something that it just doesn’t say.

          Now, you are certainly free and most welcome to strongly disagree with me in this great country of ours – as you obviously do. However, it is ethically wrong to try to force your beliefs on me or upon the church. It is also ethically wrong of you (and those like Bryan Ness) to expect to take money from me or the Seventh-day Adventist Church to support you as our paid representatives – while you continue your efforts to undermine those who pay your paycheck. That, my friend, is called stealing – an ethical wrong in anyone’s book.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
          6
  8. Dr. Bryan Ness just wrote (in the comment section of the Spectrum website) a response to the article I wrote here, as follows:

    This saddens me more than anything. When someone who knows nothing about how or what I teach in my classes assumes they know. It seems that the assumption is that I am indoctrinating students into a belief about LGBTQ+ individuals that runs counter to SDA teachings, when I am doing no such thing. I say very little about same-sex marriage to my students, but rather take the approach recommended by the NAD in it’s very fine booklet “Guiding Families” and approach the LGBTQ+ students I come in contact with in the fashion described here (which is from the booklet):

    “While it is tempting to focus on causation, I want to resolve this question up front: the origins of sexual orientation and gender identity are highly complex, multi-factorial, and likely rooted in both nature and nurture. For any one person, it can be impossible to know the exact cause. For this reason, we propose that we shift our focus from causation to compassion .”

    I also encourage non-LGBTQ+ students to relate to LGBTQ+ students in this fashion. I also encourage abstinence in the LGBTQ+ students I know just as much as I encourage it among non-LGBTQ+ students. I encourage a compassionate and loving attitude and open acceptance of all individuals regardless their sexual or gender orientation.

    I do not go out of my way to encourage same-sex marriage nor do I promote on our campus and so it baffles me that the headline of the article cited here says PUC is “encouraging Homosexual marriage,” whatever homosexual marriage is. Neither do I keep it a secret that I think same-sex marriage should be affirmed, which as far as I am aware is not a punishable offense in any setting. I know numerous pastors who believe the same way, some of whom will not say so openly because they fear the kind of judgmental and hateful backlash that an article like mine engenders in some people.

    What seems to get repeatedly lost in these kinds of discussions and attacks is that people’s lives are at stake. Suicide among LGBTQ+ individuals runs several times higher than in the general population, and those that experience religious persecution around their sexual or gender orientation are especially seriously affected. If for no other reason than to show true compassion for such individuals, this kind of judgemental and angry discussion and attack should never happen. I think, as I repeat often, that we must take seriously Jesus’ words from Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” I fear that those who speak out so forcefully against our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters are more willing to sacrifice these people than to try and understand and truly love them.

    You just published a very public article expressing your position on this topic – a position that is in direct conflict with that of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Link). Have you not, therefore, as a paid representative of the SDA Church, taken a very public position that is in fact in conflict with the position of your employer? That’s a real problem as I see it. How do you see yourself around the conclusion that you are in fact actively undermining the clearly stated goals and ideals of your employer? How is this not an ethical problem for you? How do you not see it as a form of theft from your employer?

    Beyond this, how is it being “loving” to our LGBTQ+ friends and family to say that the Bible says something that it just doesn’t say? I personally think the most loving thing to do, as a Christian, is to be honest about what the Bible has to say on this topic… even if I personally might not entirely understand exactly why the Bible says what it says.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    4
    • Response from Dr. Ness:

      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.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
      3
      • Response from Bryan Ness:

        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?

          (Quote)

        View Comment
        • “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.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
          2
  9. From David1:

    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.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    3
    • As I said, Sean, it seems to be an “exercise in futility” to reason with those who defend a false view of any subject matter in the bible.
      They formulate some human conclusion that is a barrier to open investigation of bible truth. This has been demonstrated in opposition to the bible teaching about creation but also is a on going problem on other bible issues. The Gay agenda is typical of this fact.

      We don’t know who will repent and so we don’t offer any final judgment on any person. We always hope and pray that all will find repentance including ourselves on various issues of disagreement.

      Have a happy and blessed Sabbath to all.
      Take care.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  10. Posted by ArkDrey:

    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.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    4
  11. How ironic that you folks have sought confirmation from evolutionary biologists! As if they can be trusted!

    Unfortunately, those biologists omitted from their written pieces any mismatch between the brain and other gender-related tissues. We can ignore them, even though we can increasingly “see” them via modern-day imaging; there are ample published papers now documenting these mismatches. But does God ignore them? (I realize you guys absolutely know the mind of God, and how he judges.)

      (Quote)

    View Comment

Leave a Reply