People want to know why I have done what I have done—going against the teachings of my church, giving up my career as a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and losing the only community I have known. That’s what happened when I came out as bisexual.

In some ways, my reasons might be unique. I changed my thinking about God and what the Bible teaches before I changed my thinking about myself. It wasn’t about desire for me, or even about being able to be open about who I am. It wasn’t until later that I saw how important those things are. Only after I knew the approval of God for my sexuality did I dare be honest with myself about it.

In many ways, it was a journey of years, but it culminated in a period of several months of intense study and prayer. I’d like to share with you what that process was like and what drove me to and through it.

Compassion Came First

The immediate catalyst was the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, but all that did was amplify the agitation that already dogged me. LGBT people were hurting, even when they tried to follow the church’s teachings. Christianity isn’t supposed to be easy, we’re supposed to take up a cross after all, but it isn’t supposed to tear you apart from the inside.

Besides, same-sex relationships seemed like a sin that existed only in the abstract, not in the real world. Who did it harm? How does it dishonor God? How does it harm one’s self? How does it harm anyone else? Can you really hurt someone by loving them in commitment and self-sacrifice?

Something wasn’t adding up. What was I missing? How is the gospel good news for people who experience same-sex attraction?

Foolishly, I didn’t see that these were questions about myself. I had long ago decided not to pursue my desire for a relationship with a woman. What I wanted to know was how I could better minister to my congregation, including the members who are LGBT or who have LGBT people in the family.

Psalm 119 describes the goodness of God’s laws. If God is prohibiting this, then that prohibition makes people more spiritually whole, and breaking it is destructive to the soul. I believed the problem was in my understanding, not in the prohibition against same-sex relationships. I expected to find a better understanding of the theology my church teaches. I expected this because of faith in God and his goodness. But I also knew that in the process I had to become better versed on the theological perspectives of both sides, so at the suggestion of Herb Montgomery, a friend of mine, I picked up Gender, Bible, Sexuality by James V. Brownson first, and eventually an entire shelf of books, and started reading.

What Does the Bible Say?

I often heard LGBT apologists say the Bible never speaks to sexual orientation, that none of the passages apply to the current situation. I didn’t find that compelling back then. I wasn’t concerned with what the Bible doesn’t say, I was concerned with what it does say.

So when I approached those six passages of scripture that mention some type of same-sex sexuality, I wanted to know what they were talking about. Whatever they were about, that would be in harmony with the compassionate and loving heart of God.

It wasn’t hard to find out what these passages were talking about. No matter what commentaries or books I read, no matter what conclusions they reached about whether same-sex relationships are wrong or right, I always found that what is being talked about in these verses is exploitative sexual behavior like rape, prostitution, and adultery, and out-of-control lust in the case of Romans 1. There was no limit or concern for marriage and commitment. In none of these verses would the behavior be condoned if it were heterosexual instead of homosexual. These verses are some variation on the theme of men degrading men by using physical or social power to dominate them sexually by treating them sexually like women.

What Did Verses About Same-Sex Sexuality Accomplish?

I don’t have a problem with the rules and statements about slavery in the New and Old Testament not because I think we should live by them today, but because they made life better for the slaves in Israel. Slaves in the Ancient Near East were better off in Israel than anywhere else. The laws affirmed them as a human beings and not mere property. They set significant limits on how slaves were treated.

Similarly, I don’t have a problem with statements in both the New and Old Testament that limit the autonomy of women because the real impact of these scriptures was positive by moving society in the right direction. They accomplished greater freedom and equality relative to their societies. If we were to apply these verses according to their plain meaning today, we would be accomplishing the opposite goal. We would enslave people and take away the civil rights of women. A literal interpretation sometimes undermines the meaning and function of the Bible.

With this in mind, I considered the verses about same-sex sexuality. I took myself out of my modern mindset and put myself in theirs. Instead of asking about sexual orientation and marriage, the question I asked was this:

What would have been the impact of these verses on the culture in which they were written?

They accomplished protection for the vulnerable and accountability for the outrageous, out-of-control lust of men who were almost certainly married to women. It’s unlikely that they would have stopped even one same-sex relationship between adults. Those weren’t happening.

Could it be that these texts prohibiting same-sex sexual exploitation were there for the same reason as verses about slavery and the limitations on the autonomy of women? These texts would be life-giving when they were originally given. It’s not hard to see how they have a powerful modern application as well that supports the sacredness of each person, the value of protecting the vulnerable, and the right that each person has to sexual autonomy against exploitation.

What is harder to see is how they relate to committed, monogamous marriages between people of the same gender. When I finally took the time to read and understand these verses, I had to acknowledge that applying verses about same-sex exploitation to same-sex marrige was a stretch. I was surprised to discover this. It messed everything up for me. All my plans, my career, even my firm and convenient decision to never date women.

Caring About What the Bible Cares About

I have read the verses referencing same-sex sexuality over and over. You could read all the texts in 1-2 minutes. I realized that none of these verses were part of a larger passage where the topic of same-sex sexuality is taken up as the theme. In each of these texts, it is only mentioned briefly and is secondary to the main point. In each of these texts, context shows that they refer to exploitative sexuality or out-of-control lust. Non-affirming Christians want to apply them to all same-sex sexuality, but what if they are stretching too little and too far?

I believe in the inspiration of scripture. Scriptures tells one story. There are places where that story is told clearly and boldly. There are other places where it is more difficult to understand because it’s being applied to people and situations dramatically different from our own. It’s only when we pay attention to the major themes of scripture that this becomes clear. Setting aside the most important principles in favor of a few texts is not taking scripture seriously, it’s explaining away the heart of the gospel in favor of selective literalism.

Gradually, I realized that we allowed a handful of texts to hijack the heart of scripture. Our theology was not leading us to treat LGBT people as we want to be treated. I’ve also come to believe that the traditional condemnation of same-sex relationships degrades the foundational ethics of marriage. You can’t save marriage by limiting it heterosexuals. That’s a distraction. It doesn’t address the real problems of selfishness, adultery, and complacency that are causing divorce and destroying marriage.

What we need is a biblical understanding of sexuality that addresses actual problems not manufactured problems. What we need is the true heart of the verses that address same-sex sexuality, which is to shun sex that is exploitative, selfish, and based on pure lust. Sex is not for that. Sex is meant to be given from the heart in love and fidelity to one’s spouse. Literalistic interpretations are obscuring the real meaning. Sex can be given from the heart in the context of a life-long commitment to a same-sex partner. It happens all the time. Such love is pleasing to God.

Tagged , , , , , ,

31 Replies to “Why I Changed My Mind About Same-Sex Relationships”

  1. Alicia
    I have read your story. I disagree with your conclusion. However I struggle with other issues and I want understanding from others for my issues so I do not judge you. God is the only judge. May he continue to be your only source for wisdom and everything else you need in life.

  2. Dear Alicia, We just watched your 27 minute FB post which led us to your Web site. You really ministered to us today as we just come in from a morning of Florida Camp meeting which was unaffirming and, quite frankly, depressing. Without even preaching a sermon you made us realize why we love basic Adventist doctrine (no eternal hell fire) and the Sabbath (which blesses us in so many ways) and lifestyle habits. Thank you for having the courage to do what you have done. It would be wonderful to meet you some day. We’ve been together for 42 years, raised a son, and gotten on with our professions and our lives. It’s very difficult right now feeling accepted in an Adventist church, so we’ve been staying at home on Sabbath and feeling fairly good about it, using it as a time to study and get rid of stress. We do miss the fellowship though. We encourage you in your new journey, and feel so hopeful for your future ministry. With love and best wishes, Peter & Eric (Peteric)

  3. Hi Alicia,

    Thank you for coming out. By coming out you have added to our voices and to the whole debate and made it easier for people like us to be free. Thank you so much. I am a trans women and I am also bisexual although I do prefer women. I am also an ex-SDA but I do go to an affirming church still. I have been wounded by the church but I love God. I keep my faith through it all. One day, I pray that it won’t matter who you love and that the church will love without conditions like my Jesus does. I will always support and love my community and that now includes you. You will now cop some abuse, sadly, as I have but know this- you are a beloved child of God and greatly loved. May the Lord shine His face upon you. He/She loves you immeasurably. 💜💜💜

  4. Great job, Alicia! As a former SDA pastor, I know how hard it is to give up the relative financial and cultural security of being a minister. My catalysts were theology and the church’s treatment of abuse victims. It turned out to be a great decision, but at the moment of departure, things looked grim. You will do well. Your love for people will propel you into more service. Thanks for speaking up. There are so many LGBT members who are hurting right now. Their church is actively deciding to abandon them and diminish them. They need people like you who can give them hope.

  5. God bless you for your courage Alicia. You are so right about the unbelievable damage our church is doing to LGBT young people. Being cis gender I can’t even imagine what it must be like. I think it is only the courage of storytelling like yours that might break through the pharisaical complacency and insensativity of our church. You have many thougts and prayers going up on your behalf.

  6. Hello pastor Alicia, thank you for being honest with yourself and with your church. You are an honest person. I respectfully disagree with your new identity and I feel that the serpent called the dragon called the devil have deceived the woman again. I believe that the first woman mother Eve was deceived by the serpent and is very responsible for much of our suffering today and to agree with you means to me that I have to pat Eve on her back and say to her you did no wrong. I wish you well on your journey and I believe that you will soon make another video and like Solomon you too will say that you have discovered that it was all vanity and vexation of the spirit, I believe that this is part of your journey to help someone or many in the future to save them from being decived, God works in mysterious ways, it was through a woman that sin and suffering came to humanity and it was through a woman that God brought His salvation to humanity the birth of Yeshua. GOD RESTORES. …….. I wish you all the very best today and on your journey. I believe the God loves you and have a great plan and purpose for you precious life.

    1. Very affirming Esther. I agree with your statement and approach.

      Alicia, thanks for your video. You delivered it in a very endearing manner. However you ask questions about who does same sex relationships harm etc and I find these questions very interesting. There are some sins like masturbation that maybe the same questions can be asked or even fornication perhaps. Also if God made penis to enter vagina, is it OK for humankind to find other uses of the genital organs on the pretext of love. Does love cover a multitude of all sins? Where does restoration and grace and the overcoming power of Jesus come in to help return same sex individuals to God’s ideal? Does the fact of sin causing issues for people mean that the issues are accepted as OK, pleasing to God? Are we negating the negative impacts of sin in our lives right now? When Jesus said that He came to save us from our sins, is there a limit to that salvation? Are we humans the ones to define sin right now? Does the Bible not teach that no effeminate will enter the kingdom of heaven, for example? Does Romans 1 only talk about uncontrolled lust or about unnatural use, according to the King James version? To me the choice of the words “unnatural use” there is very significant. Lots of questions, Alicia. May God help all of us in reaching His ideal for our lives, as we are compassionate and loving to each other, in working with Him, to restore each of us to his ideal.

      1. You have raised some good questions. I will make sure to address them in future posts. I hope you stick around.

  7. Is it what the Bible God s word says or what we agree to each other ? I love you all and believe God has power to enable us to overcome sin . Our challenge in this age is I will do what I think is right as long as it does not affect any one . God is not bothered by peoples sacrifices . He only needs obedience to what he said. I love the person but hate the deed .

  8. Alicia, you are special to me and I will always have your name on my lips when I speak to God. Perhaps you need more encouragement-I know I do.Remember God doesn’t just love you-He’s crazey about you.😊

  9. Alicia, As you negotiate your transition to a lesbian lifestyle, “bisexual” is a convenient stop along the way; that’s all it is, a sort of self deception about your own homosexuality.

    1. Hi Hansen. Have you ever read Lisa Diamond’s research? You can find it in her book, “Sexual Fluidity.” She explains female sexuality based her research of following 89 queer women for ten years with in-depth interviews. It’s the best research on the topic and the only research of it’s kind. Women are more likely to change their identity from lesbian to bisexual than the other way around, though their attractions don’t usually change much, we are more likely to broaden the way we describe it as we get older, at least according to her research. I don’t see myself ever changing my identity, but I’m sure it happens for people that way sometimes. I would have no problem identifying as lesbian. Lesbians are awesome! Peace to you!

  10. “What would have been the impact of these verses on the culture in which they were written?

    They accomplished protection for the vulnerable and accountability for the outrageous, out-of-control lust of men who were almost certainly married to women.
    It’s unlikely that they would have stopped even one same-sex relationship between adults. Those weren’t happening.”

    So do you have evidence of this? Like I find it absolutely weird that you could confidently affirm that no Israelite thought of, or desired same-sex relationships. If being same-sex attracted is not a choice what would be the chance that out of the million of Israelite, no one was “born this way”.
    It even odder when you know that, examples of homosexual relationships in Egypt predate Abraham. So more likely than not Israelites were in the midst of a culture where Same-sex relationships existed (and I mean… why would we assume that they did not ?).

    Furthermore, if we say that Homosexual Marriage, as in long term committed relationship, were not much of a social phenomenon either in the OT or NT period, isn’t it unfair to ask the Bible to contain a polemic against it?

    I agree wholly with you that right now the SDA church needs a more precise formulation of our position on Homosexuality, and that we need to find practical solutions and habits to deal with the phenomenon. Have we lacked empathy? Yes. Do we need some change in the way we talk about homosexuality Yes. do we need to change how we act and start actually ministering? Yes. But I am naturally weary of Theological Pendulum swings; don’t throw the baby with the bath water.

    1. I can’t provide evidence of what doesn’t exist. I’m familiar with cultural references. There are a couple obscure references in the Greco-Roman age making fun of men who marry men in some small region. There is no reason to think Paul would have been aware of this, and it doesn’t at all characterize Greek culture as they were mocking them.

      Could you show me evidence of these same-sex relationships in Egypt? I know they had shrine prostitution, but that’s rape and abuse.

      The clearest, easiest, most accessible way to understand the text is to compare scripture with scripture. The Bible itself tells us what the text is talking about. Rape, exploitation, and power.

  11. Alicia, Herb has a great ministry and I am regularly nourished and stretched, and sometimes moved, by his daily posts. His post today moved me to visit your webpage. I want to encourage and bless you on the journey you have begun. It will stretch (grow) you in compassion and understanding of the human condition. It will bless you. Some of the stories you will hear will leave you with a sense of broken despair. Other stories will be inspiring. In 2012 I was doing some post graduate studies in psychology. In connection with one of my classes, we visited The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. The richness and depth of the worship, teaching, evangelisum and outreach at CoH was inspiring. The CoH is the largest LGBTQ church in the world. Knowing that suicide is the second leading cause of death in Texas for teens, and knowing that LGBTQ teens have a very high suicide rate, I wanted to find a “safe place” I could recommend for LGBTQ youth. What I found at the CoH was so inspiring I ended up attending there on Sundays for a year while I also worshiped at my church on Sabbath. The CoH is well worth your time to visit if you find yourself in the Dallas area. Their worship is broadcast over the web. Their website is a great resource: https://www.cathedralofhope.com/ I’ve never attended a church which had a music ministry consisting of a full symphony orchestra. Due to their dedication to weekly practice sessions, the music ministry at CoH stands on a par with many of the symphony orchestras in major metropolitan areas. CoH is not only a safe place for LGBTQ youth and adults, it’s spiriturally nourishing and intellectually challenging. I hope CoH will be a helpful resource for you and others.

  12. Alicia, I’m no theologian and I am certain that you have studied this subject in-depth. I agree that Seventh-Day-Adventist doctrine is quite stringent, but it should be more loving and compassionate. However, this issue is not with adventism but with God. I actually think that the only thing that God require and value from us is our obedience, and all of this is just noise. He isn’t asking us to make determinations or come to conclusions other than to obey him. I am assuming that your search, determinations and conclusions are all in an effort to better understand God’s will so as to ascertain your conformity and obedience. God said all that he needed to say on the matter of appropriate sexual relationship when he created Adam and Eve and gave them his commands. His first command was to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. At that time God showed his intention for our sexual relationships by first creating a male and a female and then issuing this as his first command to them. He did not create 2 of the same sex nor can we fulfill that command in a same sex relationship. This is one of God’s primary reasons for creating us. God created us to praise him and this is one of the ways that he prescribed that he be praised. That command was just as relevant and deserving of Adam’s and Eve’s obedience as the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was not a suggestion. We don’t have to accept or obey that command, however, it would be disobedient and sinful. Adam and Eve would also have sinned if they had concluded that procreation was a bad idea and abstained. God further reinforced that notion of procreation after the flood when he saved male and female pairs of each species along with several male and female pairs of the human species. I think this debate is misguided. God left no doubt as to what he wants. There is nothing to figure out. The reasons that God allow these ambivalent feelings and confusion of gender or sexual identity must also have to do with him being praised and Alicia I believe that you’re part of that plan.

    1. Then I guess Jesus broke the command. No marriage. No procreation. It’s inconsistent to say there is one path, and we’ll take one exception but not another. And God’s commands are justice and love, that is the source of all of them. Love does not ignore the impact of our theology on LGBT lives.

      1. Ah, but Alicia, did Jesus have a sexual relationship? I think that was the point that JP was trying to bring forth. When God asks humans or animals to have sexual relationships, He focused on male and female. Did HE not? As JP tried to show in the case of the animals in Noah’s Ark.

  13. As a not-yet-out bisexual woman in a liminal state about Adventism (still attending a SDA university because of its excellent honors program, but largely alienated from “spiritual life” and the mainstream church), I want to express both how inspiring your video was, and how even more encouraging are your wonderfully gracious and calm responses in this thread! I will be following this blog with interest and pleasure.

  14. Many years ago I had to separate myself from the SDA church when I realized through study that doctrine did not fit scripture. Different issues, but still the same trauma of leaving a place, a community you love. My heart is with you as you seek to live by truth and not convenience. Love bravely!

  15. Hi Alicia, I don’t know a lot about the topic and would like to study it for myself. Which are the Bible verses you were referring to in your studies?

    Thank you

  16. Hello Alicia, I support your decision to be true to your self and others about who you are. As the parent of two gay men whom I love and support, I know that God loves and accepts them for who they are and I understand your decision. My husband, a third generation SDA, and I recently left the SDA church. It was a sad and hard choice to make. We could no longer remain in the church due to their tribal and exclusionary mentality and their reluctance to support social justice. We have joined the Episcopal church were all are welcomed through their door, all are welcomed to the communion table and where all are loved. Our beliefs are to love one another as God loves us and to put our faith into action through compassion for others and social justice. For God is Love and Love can’t not hate or discriminate. So where ever you are in your journey of faith know that God loves you and is with you Alicia

  17. I been a Seventh Day Adventist since i was a baby. I always wondered about the christians that stand in a corner and hate gay people. God is love we cant call ourselves Christians and hate in God’s name. Now for scriptures, it is so funny to me that everytime i read those passages that according to people are about same sex, the message i always read was that of sexual exploitation, rape and abuse. Just saying ! Good luck in your ministry a lot if young people need hope abd assurance that God loves them.

  18. Hi Alicia, this is a brave undertaking that you have embarked on. I want you to know that I will be praying for you. I was born into an Adventist family, and I made my own decision to officially join the church in my teens. I am intimately familiar with the issues in the church regarding how our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are treated. I agree with you that a change must happen, better yet I think the more appropriate word is consistency. The church does view some sins more negatively than others, and we tend to attach stigmas as well. We can do better here. I want to address your conclusions/rationalizations in this post. One thing that worries me is that you seem to now depart from biblical teachings on the issue of same sex sexual relationships. The bible cannot be easily mistaken or confused on this issue. It is clear that God only commissioned sexual relationships in the context of marriage between a male and female. Some one in this forum already pointed out the original plan at creation, Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. This idea is repeated in the preparation for the flood, male and female animals, and Jesus’ first miracle performed at a wedding ceremony in NT. It is hard to miss this, unless one is determined to. Also your response that “Jesus broke the command. No marriage. No procreation” also reveals your misguided thinking on this. Christ came to put an end to sin and sinfulness and to redeem humanity that was born into sin…. not to perpetuate. E.G. White makes this clear. So to use that argument in response to a clear biblical teaching is irresponsible. What I do believe is that it is possible that people are born with these inclinations. You have no control over that, that’s how you were born. The same is true for selfish people, thieves, adulterers etc, we were all born with a proclivity to sin. The explanation is that we were born in sinful humanity with thousands of years of degradation. The solution is not to rationalize these sins, but rather to acknowledge our sinfulness and seek help from our Savior. Christ is still powerful enough to give you power over your sexual inclinations if they do not align with what the bible teaches. One has to be willing to see them-self as God sees them. So my dear sister Alicia, do not focus so much on “who you are” but rather on who Christ is. Paul advises all believers to “make no provisions for the flesh…” It is a battle that you have to fight, and I hope that you will look to Christ for help, and not in your reasoning. God never contradicts Himself. Where I agree with you is on how the church needs to do a better job of dealing with individuals who are in your position. We must do so with love and compassion, pointing everyone to Christ who is able to change the inclinations of our heart. Seek Him dear sister, He will give you the strength you need to overcome self and be a help to others. You might later be the change agent the church needs, but only as you submit your will to the Lord. Blessings.

    1. I’m so happy that you are concerned with the church’s treatment of LGBT people. That is something about which non-affirming and affirming people cal all agree and work for change. The shame, the need to hide, and the discomfort of the church needs to change because it’s destroying lives and driving people out of the church. If you can find a way to do that and still be non-affirming, more power to you. Please teach others to do the same. It’s not something the Adventist church is doing right now, and it’s not something I was able to do myself. You did misquote me quite seriously when you quoted “Jesus broke the command” without quoting what came before it which is that according to the reasoning of the commentator, Jesus had broken the command. He was saying that Genesis is prescriptive command for all people. If that were the case, celibacy would be a violation of that command. Of course I don’t believe Jesus did anything wrong, that was central to my argument. Please read more carefully next time before commenting.

      1. Alicia, if I misquoted anything, it is what you meant to communicate and not what you actually did communicate. My comment on your response was solely based on how you responded to a clear biblical teaching. The original commentator reiterated what is written in Genesis, and yes it IS prescriptive for ALL people, and not merely descriptive. Procreation is a command in the context of marriage between a male and a female, the bible is very clear on that. Celibacy exists outside of that context and therefore is not a violation of this command. You might have meant to communicate more through your post but you didn’t, so I just commented on what was available. From reading your other posts, I realize that you have assumed a revisionist approach to scripture to further your ideas of what is right. Dear sister, while your passion for the marginalized is admirable, you have lost your way is seeking to wrest scripture to achieve that end. The choice is solely yours, and you alone will have to give a strict account of your actions.

  19. Alicia, I am a non practicing bisexual my self. But when I accepted the SDA doctrine and was baptised, I pledged to leave sinful behavior behind. I am happily married for over 40 years . Once in a while I am attracted to a beautiful woman, but don’t entertain the thought. For me being a bisexual woman has not been shameful. I has been that battle won by the blood of the Lamb on my behalf. Every day I thank God for the victories in my life. My husband knows and has been a source of love and support, and I love him dearly. Praying for you my child, keep growing in wisdom and grace in His sight

    1. Thank you, Rosa. I’m glad to hear your life is going well, though we certainly disagree on whether the Bible teaches that same-sex relationships are sinful, I do find it encouraging that you don’t feel shame and particularly that you don’t feel a need to avoid calling yourself bisexual when it is an honest description of how you experience life. Many people have different experiences with the church from yours, including myself. But then again I was also in ministry and I also never have found the right man to marry. The biggest difference though is that when I really dove in to the scriptures I found that they did not teach what I had been told they did. They reference exploitation, aggression, and out-of-control lust. Not healthy adult relationships. Even if I wasn’t queer myself, I don’t think I could be okay with calling something good a sin, especially considering the harm it causes.

Leave a Reply