It has not been easy for Christians to recognise that abuse exists in their churches and in the community. Since Christianity emphasises high moral standards, close fellowship and mutual trust, surely churches should be safe places without exception.
How are Seventh-day Adventists making their church a safe place?
Seventh-day Adventists take reports of abuse seriously. We believe that to remain indifferent and unresponsive is to condone, perpetuate and potentially extend such behaviour. We cooperate with other professional services to seek justice for sexual abuse victims while showing redemptive mercy to their perpetrators.
- Telling the truth about abuse
- Naming and condemning abuse
- Showing compassion for victims of abuse
- Preventing further abuse
- Confronting the perpetrator and imposing negative consequences
- Recognising the wrongfulness of abuse
- Setting the victims free from suffering caused by the abuse
Adventists will provide a ministry of reconciliation as changed attitudes and behaviour open possibilities for forgiveness and new beginnings. We will address the spiritual questions confronting abused persons, seeking to understand the reasons for abuse and developing better ways of preventing it.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church released statements on abuse and family violence in 1995 and child sexual abuse in 1997.
Domestic violence is damaging. It results in long-term, distorted perceptions of self, family and God. Seventh-day Adventists believe to remain indifferent and unresponsive to reports of domestic violence is to condone, perpetuate and potentially extend such behaviour.
How is the Adventist Church addressing domestic violence?
The Bible says you can identify Christians by the quality of their relationships. It is in the spirit of Christ to love and accept, to seek and affirm.
Adventists are responding to this challenge by:
1. Providing support, counselling and mediation services to victims of domestic violence
2. Addressing the spiritual questions of victims, seeking to understand the reasons for abuse
3. Challenging commonly held religious and cultural beliefs that victims and perpetrators may use to justify or cover up domestic violence
4. Educating church members about how to maintain healthy relationships and about the factors contributing to domestic violence
5. Providing a ministry of reconciliation to perpetrators as changed attitudes and behaviour open new beginnings for them.
The Bible writer Paul refers to the church as "the household of faith" because it should function as an extended family, offering acceptance, understanding and comfort, especially to those who are hurting.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church released a full statement on family violence in 1996.
Sexual abusers can be of any age, nationality or socio-economic background. It is common for abusers to deny their behaviour or to see their actions as a problem. Often they rationalise their behaviour or blame something or someone else.
Seventh-day Adventists are not immune from child sexual abuse, but the Adventist Church is committed to addressing it.
What is the church doing to prevent abuse?
The Adventist Church takes reports of abuse seriously. It is committed to holding church leaders and members accountable for maintaining behaviour appropriate for persons in positions of spiritual leadership and trust. It also:
1. Believes in families that foster the self-respect, dignity and purity of children
2. Creates opportunities for children to report sexual abuse
3. Trains ministers and members to recognise the warning signs of child sexual abuse and to respond appropriately
4. Establishes referral relationships with professionals
5. Holds abusers accountable for their actions and disciplines them appropriately
6. Treats fairly people accused of sexually abusing children
7. Dispels commonly held religious and cultural beliefs that may be used to justify or cover up child sexual abuse
8. Provides a ministry of reconciliation to abusers as changed attitudes and behaviour open possibilities for forgiveness
The worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church released in 1997 a statement on the sexual abuse of children. Read the full statement.
God created humans to love each other, but we have perverted this love. People are ignoring the Bible's teaching about relationships between men and women. Their passion for sensual pleasure is unrestrained by moral and religious principle and results in bondage and the breakdown of family.
How do Seventh-day Adventists view sexual behaviour?
Adventists believe sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman, as designed by God during Creation.
The Bible declares: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24, NIV). It affirms this pattern throughout the rest of the Scriptures (see Matthew 19 and Ephesians 5).
The Bible condemns bestiality, incest, obsessive sexual behaviour, sexual abuse and sexual acts that occur outside a heterosexual marriage because they are perversions of God's plan.
Adventists follow the example of Jesus. He seeks to minister to everyone because He recognises how valuable people are. Jesus has re-established our relationship with God, and He forgives those who ask.
Adventists also believe a person can live a chaste and pure lifestyle by the grace of God and through the encouragement of a community of faith in harmony with biblical principles. The Bible writer, Paul, speaks of how God can help us develop discipline to live "self-controlled, upright and godly lives" (Titus 2:11-14, NIV).
This worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church released in 1987 a statement of concern about sexual behaviour. Read the full statement.