Homosexuality and Religious Liberty

Questions and conversation about religious beliefs, Scripture, the Spirit of Prophecy, and Creation 7th Day Adventism
User avatar
Posts: 104
Joined: May 28th, 2012, 12:51 pm

Homosexuality and Religious Liberty

Postby Lucan » November 9th, 2013, 6:43 pm

The following discussion is being transferred from an online chat meeting to the forum. As such, this post will contain the history of the discussion:

Lucan : I notice the study took a brief aside to talk about our reasoning for opposing homosexuality. It reminded me of something I heard an SDA speaker say not too long ago, and I'm curious about what the church members would say to it. Based on what we read above, would you support a law criminalizing homosexuality?

Zahakiel : Well, I've read that in the days when prohibition (of alcohol) was under consideration. Adventists were encouraged to support that law. So, it seems that we should be in favor of any law that supports a Biblical perspective. Not very long ago... adultery was actually illegal. It probably still is in some countries... so, while that was dropped no doubt due to popular support, that doesn't mean it should be accepted.

Pastor_Chick : I think we must separate the civil nature and the criminal nature of laws... I believe laws against sexual deviations in America have been in the CIVIL class...However, in many (if not most) African nations, homosexuality can be considered a crime... While Africans are to a degree considered by the "civilized countries" barbaric, they tend to see the barbarism of homosexuality more clearly than the so-called "civilized" nations... our government is SECULAR in its existence, I cannot see that homosexuality could be considered a crime... though, for the well-being of society (which the secular government is to protect), I could perhaps support some civil law on par with what adultery used to be.

Zahakiel : While we await others' responses, what was the context of that speaker's statement, Luke?

Lucan : It was a religious liberty rally headed by Lincoln Steed; among other things, he was asked about homosexual marriage, and replied that he felt the beginning of the problem was ceasing to treat homosexuality as a crime.

Pastor_Chick : I think I erred in my wording... Perhaps what complicates the "criminal" aspect is "felony" vs. "misdemeanor"... While about 23 states held adultery as criminal in 2012, only a hand-full considered it a felony, and, for the most part, no one enforcing what is on the books.

Naraiel : Could you repeat your position regarding Luke's question, it wasn't clear for Jaime.

Zahakiel : My position was that we should support laws that are in harmony with the Biblical perspective. As pastor pointed out, where the well-being of society is in question, we should feel that this is a duty.

Pastor_Chick : I have gone back and forth on this subject, trying to look through the secular eyes of government and the Eye of YAH (considering "liberty and justice for all")...IF the topic of homosexual behavior was ever brought to a vote of the people, I would vote to make it illegal (not sure what category, whether civil, misdemeanor crime, or felony crime).

Elyna : I believe that it (homosexuality) could be seen as a violation of any divine instructions. And based on the biblical perspective it is under penal laws as Paul indicates. So I would support the bible view on that and naturally support a human law as well.

Lucan : What part of Paul's writings are you referring to?

Elyna :"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature (lesbianism). Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burning in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful (homosexuality) . . . that those who practice these things are worthy of death (Hell), and not only those who do the same but also those who approve of those who practice them!" (Romans 1:18, 26, 27, 32)

Lucan : What did you mean by "under penal laws?" That is the part that confused me.

Elyna : Criminal.

Lucan : What part of that text implies criminal laws?

Adriel : If what they practice is worthy of death, wouldn't that be considered criminal?

Lucan Paul was saying that Yahweh judges people who (committing a long list of sins, including murder) are "worthy of death" While some of those certainly should be considered criminal, he also lists, for example, "disrespectful to parents, pride, backbiting..." Yah considers all sin to be worthy of death.

Elyna : Yes, it seems as indicated in the passage by a comment beside the word death, he is referring to Yah's judgment as opposed to society's. Every and anyone who violates Yah's laws, any of them will be deemed worthy of eternal death. So if society would uphold any of these laws, it might save some out of the fire. Though that sounds like force it is not. Of course everyone is free to choose their lifestyle, but if it endangers the liberty and safety of others it cannot be termed legal.

Adriel : Given everything that's been said, while I don't think there ever will be a law passed against homosexuality. I would vote for it.

Naraiel : I guess I would wait to see what kind of punishment would be enforced for the crime of homosexuality before I vote in favor of it. I would prefer to see under what criminal subcategory it would fall, but in general I would be in favor of the criminal category, especially for those who adopt children.

Barbli : In answer to Luke's question, at first I was contemplating how religious liberty fits with this. After reading the discussion here, I would support a law against homosexuality. Although if the penalty is part of the law, I would have to consider that also. I do not think that death sentence would be right.

Lucan : Thanks for the participation. My own thoughts seem to be on the liberal end of the spectrum, which may be a first in Church history... :) From what I understand of our position against homosexuality; it is strictly rooted in our religious view - that is, that Yahweh created man and intended marriage (and sexuality) to be reflective of the relationship of the Father and Son. It's similar in that to our position on Sabbath-keeping. I'm not aware of any aspect of homosexuality that violates the safety of others in society.

I have a hard time with the idea, as a result, that criminalizing homosexuality would be any more appropriate than criminalizing Sabbath breaking. Actually, many of the statements I saw used tonight were the same ones used to advocate the Sunday law in Mrs. White's day. I think that we need to be very careful with the idea of aligning with any law that furthers our understanding of Yahweh's will. Every example of religious persecution in history stemmed from that.

My understanding is that the government's place is never to enforce morality for the sake of morality. While we would never baptize a homosexual or claim that it has Yahweh's approval, I don't think we can safely support putting people in jail for something which is solely based on a religious understanding.

Pastor_Chick : Luke has summarized what caused me to go "back and forth" for a time. What I have done is to divide the Decalogue into the two great commandments. Civil laws are enacted to protect society from harm and corruption. I certainly would not be in favor of "civil" or "criminal" laws that enforced WORSHIP in any way, and I think that is the dividing line. IF the behavior has potential for corrupting society at large, Christians have the obligation and duty to vote for righteous principles. EGW said we are to vote (even on the Sabbath) to support righteous principle (not necessarily in those exact words).

Elyna : First I saw the magnitude of this subject that could be discussed all night. And to answer Bro. Luke regarding «safety», I was thinking in a spiritual terms of those ... especially children who might end up having a distorted view of love and of our heavenly Father.

Lucan : My understanding of the Sunday law in Mrs. White's day was that it did not compel any form of worship. It was a law that forbade actions on Sunday that would be deemed distracting and detrimental to spiritual focus. The argument was that if the Sabbath was not protected, society at large would be corrupted. Ellen White even indicates they were right; she says that if the Sabbath had been kept dutifully, there never would have been a murderer, thief, etc. The arguments against it were not that it forced worship; they were that the law had no basis except a religious one. That there was no duty in the government to protect its people from spiritual corruption, because it then must rule what spiritual incorruption is.

I may be mistaken - and correct me if I've missed something - but arguments for prohibition were never founded on Bible verses. They were founded on the clear physical detrimental and damaging effects of alcohol on society, the same as any other narcotic. To me, the distinction is whether we would enforce this because Yahweh said it, or whether Yahweh said it because society cannot function without it. Originally, the Supreme Court held a test called "compelling interest..." It basically meant that if they were to potentially infringe on the First Amendment, they had to demonstrate a compelling interest to protect its citizens from danger. I'm not seeing how homosexuality would qualify for enforcement, but any of our other beliefs would not necessarily do the same.

Pastor_Chick : From Wiki: " Prohibition supporters presented it as a victory for public morals and health. Anti-prohibitionists, known as wets, criticized the alcohol ban as an intrusion of mainly rural Protestant ideals on a central aspect of urban, immigrant, and Catholic life." I believe EGW's position was in the realm of corrupting society -- a grave danger to both morals and health. We find that homosexuality is a grave danger, and the whole AIDS thing originated among the gay population. I am glad that YAH gives us freedom of choice in our "political" stands (and to a degree, in our moral stands) I would deplore that day that the CSDA Church as a body took the liberal stand on homosexuality.

Zahakiel : My comment is this. There are a couple different terms that should be well defined if we are going to look at it from a legal perspective. First, morals deals with how we individually judge things, how we decide what is right and wrong. It is true that laws cannot enforce this. But ethics is how morality is expressed in how we relate to other people. Laws ARE intended to enforce a system of ethics on society's citizens. Also, from our perspective as Protestants, we need to make a subtle but important distinction between "fairness" and "justice." It may be "fair" that everyone can do as they like, practice what they want, and as long as they are not immediately, actively harming someone, we let them do it. But that is not justice that does not line up with Yah's will for that society, or the individuals who live in it. The difference between a Sunday Law and a law that is in harmony with Yah's will is that (although it may not seem fair to say one is right and the other is wrong) the law that harmonizes with Biblical principles is a "just" law.

It is one that we should feel it is our duty to support, because if the ungodly knew what we know, they would support it also. Ignorance of Yah's law does not make violating it any less hurtful... and this gets into what pastor was saying.

The liberal media would never report it, but... even aside from AIDS, the homosexual lifestyle is quite unhealthy even biologically, not to mention (obviously) morally. And while I said that the claim was used against conservatives that they were "superstitious" to fear Yahweh's wrath also qualified it by pointing out that Yahweh DOES visit nations with disaster for sexual crimes.

Lucan : I think my current position here can be best summarized as "that's true of everything Yahweh has instructed us." Any violation of His commands will corrupt society, be harmful to health, and lead to negative consequences at some point. If I follow this to its logical conclusion, it appears to me that "religious liberty" becomes a matter of "majority rule" on what Yahweh has and has not instructed in a society. I see no reason why every instruction of Yahweh's would not be enforced by law. What are your thoughts on the distinction? Is it solely things that regard days of worship?

Zahakiel : No, not majority rule, but rather, as Paul says, "Let no man judge you on these matters but... the Body of Christ." We are, of course, talking about a theoretical nation where the Spirit of Yah was actually respected But if that were the case, then the "least" of converted Christians would be suitable to judge these matters.

Lucan : If I'm understanding you correctly, I think that is my point... if the Body of Christ is to judge these things, and the state is to enforce those judgments, then the Catholics were justified to control the civil power.

Zahakiel : The Catholics were not the Body of Christ, so I disagree.

Pastor_Chick : The law was given because of sin. Where there is no transgression, there is no law. The law is to control an evil society. All laws need to reflect the principles of Heaven. So, I see what Br. David is saying, and I can agree. I believe "religious liberty" needs to be kept in its correct sphere, and that is, in matters of religious observance to YAH.

Zahakiel : To expand a bit on my answer to Luke just now. I would have no problem submitting to a Church-run state IF I could objectively know that that Church WAS the Body of Christ in truth, and thus did not abuse its power, would not seek to crush individuality, etc. In fact, Israel flourished under just such a Priest/King as David and early in Solomon's reign. The current political systems are temporary... democracy and republicanism are both place-holders until the Everlasting system arrives, and that will be a theocratic monarchy. Of course, Christ as King will fulfill what David's kingdom was intended to be... a society perfect for the worshipper of Yahweh, and impossible for any lover of sin. So until that time, we have to put up with human approximations :)

Lucan : What are your thoughts on this quote from Mrs. White:

"But today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, "My kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne." [DA 509]

Zahakiel : Right, of course. I do not "expect" that any such thing will happen. That is why I said we have to deal with the placeholders. I am not working to establish Christ's Kingdom on earth. I am helping people to get ready for when it arrives at His timing. Do you see the difference? Until that time, I can certainly say how it "should" be.

Lucan : I think I am taking something different from that quote. What I understand her to be saying is that, by using legal enactments and human authority to execute the laws of His kingdom, they are erring. Though, perhaps it is getting late enough at night that further processing will be challenged at best. :)

Zahakiel : Well, I Got that also, but the key point there, for me, was "They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority." I am sort of glad that Yah's commandments against murder and stealing are so enforced. And, IF a society becomes sensitive to Yah's laws they would realize that even the "subtler" crimes are still violating the same principles. But again, the error there was that they were trying to make Yahshua's kingdom be here now, and they would become dictators to do it, which has the danger of putting corruptible man at the head of things. Whereas what I am saying is that if the collective Body of Christ could make laws for the good of society, under the influence of His Spirit, that would be a better society.

Pastor_Chick : Paul teaches that the civil authorities are "ministers of YAH," and those ministers must support Heavenly principles or be failing in their ministry.

Lucan : I'm still not seeing how that differs from a theocracy... it sounds like the position is essentially "we are to encourage the government to enforce Yah's will on its populace... except for the Sabbath?"

Pastor_Chick : The WAY you worship is religious, not civil. YAH does not require the civil authorities to control the way people worship. Personally, I believe some, if not most of the SDA argument(s) against Sunday laws may be flawed. The Supreme Court has ruled that Sunday laws are purely civil in nature. I can see that, and in seeing that, a Sunday law for civil rest that does not require any influence on worship does not bother me particularly. I think SDAs are a bit paranoid about Sunday laws, based on their eschatology. AND, I can see how it IS possible that once you get the Sunday law passed, it can eventually turn into some religious requirement, which I think is the larger issue for SDAs.

Zahakiel : I agree. The danger of the Sunday Laws, when rightly understood, was that they could be extended to make Sunday the ONLY proper day for public worship... at such a point, the Sunday aspect is not the issue, it would be an Anti-Sabbath Law. That would be a danger.

Lucan : So essentially, the problem with a Sunday law isn't that it's violating religious liberty or an example of the state being controlled by the church... it's that they had the wrong day?

Pastor_Chick : If the state wants to legislate A DAY (any day) or rest for its society, that is CIVIL, not religious. YAH allows the state to dictate that which is beneficial to the society. As SDA/CSDA, this DAY issue is blown out of proportion in my view. But, I really DO think we are too late to reason effectively.

Lucan : I'm inclined to agree. I do have some other thoughts and questions, but I’m doubting I could relay them effectively at this point.

Zahakiel : Well, this could make for a good forum conversation. :)
- Lucan Chartier

David Aguilar
Posts: 63
Joined: May 28th, 2012, 4:28 pm

Re: Homosexuality and Religious Liberty

Postby David Aguilar » November 12th, 2013, 11:29 pm

Hi Luke,

Thanks for the summary of our discussion. It seems, though, that we ended on a relatively common state of agreement... at least with regard to the legislation issue.

In my view, the ideal form of government IS a Theocracy (capital T deliberate); however, like communism to an extent, if fallible humans are placed in charge, then even if something seems good "on paper," it will not work in practice. This is why Yahshua's Kingdom is not "of this world," because if He attempted to administer His will through human vessels that were not yet "sealed" into the perfect, incorruptible character, then evil would result. We are travelers here, waiting for Yahshua to reign in His own Person, with sealed, redeemed human beings administering that Kingdom as designated assistants to the King.

What we have in the meantime is a situation where Christians will always live in a society that does not perfectly maintain a standard of law in harmony with the 10 Commandments. While we are encouraged to work peacefully within that society, we are nowhere instructed to try and take it over for Yahweh's glory. Instead, we are told to try and get along, to submit to any law (even if we disagree with it) unless it directly causes us to violate Yahweh's instructions. This is one of the reason why some conservative preachers seem to go to extermes with regard to governmental rules (e.g., Kent Hovind and the tax issue that landed him in jail). CSDAs try as much as possible to respect even imperfect laws, but IF a law arises from within a society itself that would bring that society closer to Heaven's ideal (e.g., a law that makes it a matter of "record" that homosexual acts are contrary to the law) then we should support that because it is TRUE. What I mean is, if a human law says something that Yah's law says, then that law is a just one, and something we should favor.

This is one of the things I attempted to convey in my statements there. If a law were passed saying, "Sunday is a holy day," we would disagree. If a law were passed saying, "Sabbath is a holy day," we would agree. Now, we might not agree on how (or even that) this should be ENFORCED, because we wish to respect the religious liberty of even those who disagree with us, but we would agree with the law saying what it does. Some of our members sort of touched on this issue, when saying that with regard to homosexuality, they would want to know what the proposed penalties would be before voting. I think that's reasonable, because while we would agree with a law (even a human law) that states divine law as fact, we know that certain matters are left up to Yahweh to judge (and penalize) upon His return.

The bottom line, then, for me at least, is that the spiritual health of a nation can be measured by how well is laws reflect Yah's laws, even if it can't perfectly enforce them - for example, how would you enforce a law that makes "coveting" illegal? But if such a law DID exist, we would say, "That is correct." I think it is still important that just and divinely-inspired laws exist. Even if they only exist to make a statement on what defines "lawful" and "unlawful" for that nation, there is some value to that in terms of expected standards of behavior.

User avatar
Pastor Chick
Posts: 80
Joined: May 28th, 2012, 3:03 pm
Location: Kisoro - Uganda

Re: Homosexuality and Religious Liberty

Postby Pastor Chick » November 13th, 2013, 1:24 pm

Thank you, Brother David, for your synopsis. Your position makes sense to me and helps to clarify some foggy areas that have lingered in my mind.

I can recall reading both Adventist and evangelical positions on these matters and thinking BOTH were somehow "off," but I could not quite put my finger on the balance of the two. I am convinced that your understanding takes the balanced approach. Thank you for sharing, and I pray that we, as CSDAs, will always be balanced in our views.


I do believe, however, that secular laws enacted to enforce any of the first four commandments would violate the church-state separation principle. This particularly applies in America where our Constitution has established a church and state separation for the good of its society. This is the political recipe for "religious liberty" in an imperfect world.

Return to “Doctrine and Theology”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest