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Collegedale, TN, Commisioners Approve Benefits for Same-Sex Couples
Submitted: Aug 6, 2013
By Adventist Today News Team

Updates appended August 12 and 14

Collegedale became the first city in Tennessee to approve benefits for same-sex spouses of government employees in a 4-to-1 vote last night (August 5). Two city commissioners—Katie Lamb and Larry Hanson—are Seventh-day Adventists, and both voted in favor of extending benefits. Despite Collegedale's small population of roughly 9,000 residents, the decision was covered widely in the region's media, including the Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Chattanoogan, WDEF (the CBS television affiliate in Chattanooga), and WRCB (the NBC television affiliate in Chattanooga).


Leading up to the vote, the Chattanooga Times Free Press noted that Collegedale seems “like an unlikely spot for such a revolutionary and controversial policy to emerge” because the area “developed as a primarily Adventist community around the nucleus of Southern Adventist University," a major Seventh-day Adventist institution with an enrollment of roughly 2,800 students.


Both Hanson and Lamb reflected on their political philosophies in the Chattanooga newspaper article. Lamb shares, “I don’t see it as a religious issue at all. I see it as a constitutional right that the Supreme Court has just brought down. I see it as treating all of our employees the same. And I try to keep those issues of government and church separate.” According to her Collegedale city web page, before retirement Lamb worked at Southern Adventist University (SAU) as dean of the School of Nursing, associate vice president for academics, and dean of graduate studies.


Taking a somewhat different approach, Hanson relies on biblical teaching to guide him through controversial issues such as this; however, the verse he attempts to honor (Micah 6:8) speaks to broad values rather than specific policies or issues. “What the Lord wants you to be is just, merciful, and humble. That’s my goal,” Hanson explains. “Why penalize someone when they’re born a certain way? … These people suffer enough, just give them a break.” From 1966 to 1999 Hanson taught mathematics at SAU and also chairing the mathematics department for many years, according to the city's website.


Hanson reports how various factions view the controversial issue. “We have a very conservative element in the church, and we have a very liberal element in the church, and it runs the gamut here. We have some people who think this is turning Collegedale into Sodom and Gomorrah. Others tell me, ‘Hey, you’re a city commissioner. You’re not representing the Adventist church in that job. You have to do what’s in the best interest for the city, not for your beliefs as an Adventist.’”


In contrast to both Hanson and Lamb, Edwin Reynolds strongly opposes the measure. Reynolds is a professor of New Testament studies and biblical languages at SAU. The Times Free Press reports that Reynolds wrote an open letter to the commissioners expressing his views, saying, “Voting to give homosexuals financial benefits like normal married couples and families at the expense of taxpayers like me who believe it is morally wrong is not defending the moral position.” After publication of this story, Reynolds clarified with Adventist Today that this comment was inaccurately reported, saying it was from a private communication, not an open letter (see comment below for further explanation). He continues, “If you like the homosexual employee, you have a right to be kind and helpful to her, but not at the expense of those who do not want to see the law legitimizing such relationships.” Reynolds sees the extension of benefits as “legitimizing the homosexual relationship as equivalent to a marital relationship of husband and wife,” warning commissioners they “will have to answer to God for that, not to me or other taxpayers.”


Wolf Jedamski, a church administrator and pastor of global mission at the 3,000-member Collegedale Adventist Church, provided a pastoral perspective in the newspaper story. Jedamski stated, “Some members see this as a homosexual issue or a marriage issue. The church sees this as a city issue, and we are not going to get involved in it.” Speaking to changes within the community, Jedamski added, “It’s not really true anymore that the city of Collegedale is a city of Seventh-day Adventists. It’s grown much more diverse, and that’s a good thing.”


The issue of benefits for same-sex partners has been an on-going concern since 2006 when Collegedale Police Department detective Kat Cooper first made a request, reports The Chattanoogan. That 2006 request for family health coverage and another in 2009 were both denied; however, a subsequent request last fall eventually led to Monday's affirmative vote. Given the legal situation—the Tennessee Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and Cooper and her spouse, Krista, were married in Maryland, where same-sex marriage has been legal since January 1, 2013—city attorney Sam Elliott explained that the City of Collegedale cannot legally recognize the marriage. However, Elliott told WRCB Channel 3 that the city can “recognize that a family relationship exist." WRCB also reported that in order to receive benefits, city employees must have a valid marriage certificate from a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.

Addendum on August 12

Reynolds has informed Adventist Today that he, not Hanson, provided a copy of his originally-private letter to the press. Reynolds clarified his original statements, saying:

"I am disappointed that you did not check your sources better before publishing the article on Collegedale’s vote.  I was quoted out of context there, and you simply perpetuated the quotation to the entire Adventist community.  The quoted statements from me were not from an open letter to all of the commissioners, from which nothing was quoted, but from a private letter to Larry Hansen after he responded to my open letter with his own response to the homosexuality issue, in which he expressed his personal views that homosexuals were born that way, so God should not hold them morally responsible for their behavior, and that he had met the lesbian policewoman who was requesting the benefits and she was a nice person, so he saw no problem giving her benefits.  I was writing to him as a Seventh-day Adventist to remind him that we all are born in sin and have aberrant behaviors, but God still holds us morally accountable for turning away from sin and seeking His grace for overcoming power.  He cannot just take his personal views and insist that everyone else pay the price for the sins that one person elects to engage in when the law of the state of Tennessee is that marriage is between a man and a woman.  He should be there to uphold state law as well as, as a Christian, feeling a personal responsibility to uphold the moral law as taught in the Bible.  The litigant wants to change the law to make others pay for the health benefits to her partner, who is not recognized by the state of Tennessee as a marital spouse, but the citizens of Collegedale have to pay $10,000 a year for her to receive spousal benefits.  That is not a legitimate decision on the part of the commissioners, because as the city attorney stated, it is not in harmony with state law, and it is not a moral decision because it is out of harmony with the moral teaching of God’s word.  By taking my statements out of context, I am made to look like a homophobic bigot, which I am not."

Addendum on August 14

Orlan Johnson, director of public affairs and religious liberty (PARL) for the denomination's North American Division, stated that the while the Adventist Church will "continue to make clear to the public where we stand," referencing the official statement on homosexuality voted a number of years ago, "I don't think we as a church are interested in singling out anyone and not showing them love. Society is always evolving and looking for way to take in consideration new views. At the end of the day for Adventists it's about being intentionally kind and Christ-like. I think you can have a difference of opinion as it relates to our fundamental beliefs and other beliefs."

Share your thoughts about this article:

2013-08-06 7:47 PM

Tennessee is one of the states that does not allow gay marriage so why would the city take such an action?  Shame on those two SDA commisioners who voted for this.  It can only put more pressure on the church to do the same with it's employees.   This will only whet the appities of the gay activists to push for more of the same in other cities.  After all if it will pass in Collegdale, it will pass anywhere, it would seem.

Just to give you an idea how far some are going with the gay rights agenda.  The city of San Antonio is considering  a  policy that would ban anyone who speaks out against homosexulality for moral reasons  from being employed by the city.  Likewise it would forbid the city from doing business with anyone, or business, who does the same.  Whatever happened to free speech?  This is just the type of reverse discrimination I have warned about for some time now.

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-07 1:54 AM

We should offer congratulations to the two SDA commisioners for their principled support of equity in the administration of their city. This has little to do with the so-called "gay rights" agenda.  It has to do with the fact that the Adventist Church should not impose its views on civil socieity.  Orthodox members of the Seventh-day Adventist would certainly object if some other religious body, for example, the Roman.Catholic Church, attempted to impose it views on some governmental jurisdiction whehter local city, state, or the national government.  It's time to grow up and realize we live in the 21st Century.  .        

Stephen Foster
2013-08-07 4:51 AM

The Bible equates homosexual behavior with immorality. SDAs certainly regard the Bible as authoritative. To deny either of this is foolishness.
That said, Hanson, Lamb, and Jedamski have analyzed and characterized this intelligently and maturely. Ervin Taylor’s commentary on this is correct.

Ed Dickerson
2013-08-07 2:20 PM

"Both Hanson and Lamb reflect on their political philosophies."

Yes. They are reflecting.

Bill Garber
2013-08-07 4:00 PM


Abomination, detestable, wicked, shameful, contrary to sound doctrine, perversion, and so on ... but never immoral. This suggests a social issue, rather than a moral issue.

The word "Immoral" does not appear in the KJV. It does appear in the NIV 36 times, and never is the word "immoral" associated with homosexual behaivor, but rather with plain old garden variety sex suitable for procreation.  The concept of adultry, by the way, is sex that results in risk to the husband's right to believe that his wife's children are his "seed" carrying his life into the future.  Is there a natural grouping, do you think, that the 7th commandment is surrounded by commandments against murder, steeling, lying, and coveting ... pretty much property crimes of one kind or another?

Just thinking things through here ... 


Stephen Foster
2013-08-07 6:21 PM

Ah, Dr. Bill; always thinking I see.
The thing is Jesus talked about a guy looking at a woman with lust as having committed adultery with her in his heart; so heterosexual men don’t catch the break you might think they do. In fact, given our (heterosexual men) nature, we apparently get less slack than anybody/everybody. (This may be another reason why polygamy was apparently somehow permissible after the fall.) Then again, where sin abounds (male heterosexual lust certainly abounds), grace much more abounds!

2013-08-07 4:49 PM

A sad day for Collegedale

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-08 2:20 AM

On the contrary, a great day for Collegedale.  Some thought that Collegedale would be a backward looking city because Soutern Adventist University, a leading center of conservative Adventism, was located there.  I guess they were wrong.   .

2013-08-09 1:04 AM

Ezekiel 3:18  When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 
1 Corinthians 6:9-11  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-12 2:05 PM

I fail to see the relevance of the texts that "notrocketscience" has posted.  The "wicked" persons that the text is referring include particularly the religious leaders of that day.  Based on a detailed evaluation of what Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians, it has little to do with long-term homosexual relationships of the type we are addressing. That text is misapplied by fundamentlists.as usual.  

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2013-08-07 6:37 PM

What reliable evidence is there that homosexuals are born this way? This seems to be the line of reasoning Hanson uses, like many others,  when he says: "Why penalize someone when they’re born a certain way?"

Is he just being misled? Or a victim of a crafty propaganda? Or is he in it for the ride perhaps, like most politicians? It is clear that in America today, like in some other parts of the world, that supporting the homosexual cause gains votes.  Look,  it kept Obama in power, with the help of many Adventists too - so it seems. To honor God or to honor man? That is the question. To put the laws of the country first OR to put God first?  Do you think God is pleased?  As America quickly sinks into the cesspool of evil, with their government leading the pack, the curse of God will befall their land.  That is inevitable.  Sin in any form, comes with a price.  Watch this space!

2013-08-09 1:51 AM

When I asked a friend, (who also made the assertion that gay men especially were born that way,) what it was that brought about such an anomaly, she claimed that it was a different mix of hormones that caused the deviance from the normal. In response I asked for sources; but upon further reflection, I wish I had said "If true, that's great news! If the cause is hormonal, a remedy should be possible--they can be fixed!" I mean, medical science already spends fortunes in the attempt to remedy all manner of congenital abnormalities, from cystic fibrosis to sickle cell anemia. The question would then become whether or not they would want to be fixed (assuming an early intervention would be preferable;) but when one considers the downside of being plagued with an inverted sexuality (childlessness, greater risk of disease & depression, societal disapprobation, guilt and fear of hell--and finally arriving there--etc.) in most cases parents would opt for normalization, except where state law would make such intervention a crime.   But I too, as does 22Oct1844, question whether claims of widespread inherent homosexuality are just so much propaganda (as studies of twins have borne out.) I remember news reports of how after the gay lobby had for years maintained that 10% of the population was gay, they finally admitted that in actuality it was probably closer to one or two percent, and that thay had advocated the 10% figure, with bogus or skewed studies as suppont, in order to generate greater political clout.  The bottom line for Bible believing SDA Christians, in my opinion, should be: society will do what it will, and immorality will wax worse and worse, lies becoming truth and truth becoming lies in the minds of many who once were faithful, as the return of our Lord draws nigh. And we should show love and compassion to all who are afflicted with or addicted to sin, without condoning the behavior, attitudes and unbelief that will bar them from heaven.  It's a shame that even in Collegedale, well-meaning but misguided SDA's, having gained a position of influence in the city, would join with those marching along the road to perdition. But as Jesus said to Peter when he asked how John's life would proceed, "What is that to thee? Follow thou Me!"

Ella M
2013-08-09 9:27 PM

  Can  you imagine anyone going through the hell these people do by choosing it? And it's not an addiction. 
  Again this is a religious liberty issue as very well stated below by several others.  

Kevin Seidel
2013-08-11 7:37 PM

She probably was refering to this study: http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/262525 which is about hormone levels affecting brain development during pregnancy.  So no, hormone treatment after birth would be unlikely to change the different development that had already occured. 

However the causes of homosexual orientation are probably more complex than just this one factor.  While Wikipeadia is not a primary source, they seem to have a good summary with footnotes to primary sources.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality#Cause

Ella M
2013-08-09 9:20 PM

     There are studies galore on the subject. Do some research from reputable universities and other places. (Don't depend on fundamentalist material.) Unfortunately some don't want to accept  physical truth and call it "propaganda" if it doesn't support our preconceived ideas.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2013-08-07 8:04 PM

Dr Taylor says: "It's time to grow up and realize we live in the 21st Century. ."
Yeah sure - we can realise that we live in a perverted 21st Century.  That's for sure...

Ella M
2013-08-09 9:29 PM

    In Bible days it was polygamy and slaves.

Stephen Foster
2013-08-07 9:20 PM

Reynolds sees the extension of benefits as “legitimizing the homosexual relationship as equivalent to a marital relationship of husband and wife,” warning commissioners they “will have to answer to God for that, not to me or other taxpayers.”
In point of fact, it’s Biblically impossible to do anything to “[legitimize] the homosexual relationship as equivalent to a marital relationship of husband and wife.”
Biblically speaking, how was what the commissioners did any different than permitting a grocery store or a restaurant a liquor license; or perhaps more apropos, than allowing them to be open for business on Saturdays? 

Philip Law
2013-08-09 12:49 AM

When a boat is sinking it makes no difference whether one votes to or not to rearrange the deck.  If Lot were an influential person in the City Council of Sodom he would certainly not impose his Hebraic values upon the City. It would not have changed the fate of that City anyway.  However it is considered good citizenship to allow the state to impose its values on an individual. Or at least one is considered up-to-date with the time --- congratulations!

Steve Tanner
2013-08-09 12:46 PM

Here is a thought..thinking about when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidon tree and when God came looking for them seems like when they came from hiding God said "Who told you that you were naked?"
Thinking more about this I think the same statement can be applied "Who told you that you were gay"
All this is nothing more than the work of the devil himself gaining ground at screwing up the world and the church.
I for one do not like it and will not support it.

Ella M
2013-08-09 5:50 PM

   You are on the wrong track here, I think.  You need to read more on the subject.  These are people that know they are born different, and no one can change that.  To deny them rights that others enjoy would be unconstitional and immoral by our own standards of religious liberty for those outside our church.

2013-08-09 2:01 PM

Sad day for sure, and just another evidenced act of crumbling standards, and as my Dad would say: "If somebody sticks their head in a bucket of dung are you going to do the same thing?"

Truth Seeker
2013-08-09 3:27 PM

"Tennessee is one of the states that does not allow gay marriage so why would the city take such an action?  Shame on those two SDA commisioners who voted for this."
Right on target, Tom. It's not just a moral position to oppose same sex aberrant behavior, endorsing same sex coupling is a position that is harmful to the society in general.

"The issue of government intervention on this issue is not limited to the Biblical aspect as it seems some here try to make it. This is primarily a societal concern, not a Biblical one. Governments are elected for the very purpose of ensuring that society is run in as healthy a manner as possible.

The fact that they have failed miserably in many aspects does not in any way translate to them not interceding when it is logically necessary. Just because they all too often make wrong decisions doesn't mean they should then stop making decisions altogether. I am stunned that some don't seem to see that this is where their reasoning goes.

Same-sex marriage cheapens the very concept of marriage and family itself which is the foundation stone of any healthy society. Just because many marriages don't live up to the ideal is no reason to further cheapen the institution itself and I am absolutely amazed when I hear that argument being used as though it is legitimate.

Governments exist to protect the citizens over whom they govern. This should always begin with those who are the least able to protect themselves: our children. Same-sex marriage goes beyond a simple argument about "loving" relationships being recognized, it is a political agenda designed to FORCE something utterly unnatural to be accepted THROUGH LEGISLATION! It is NOT just about being legally recognized or having it called a civil union would be good enough. This is also about having the right to adopt children as well as a whole host of other issues and it is primarily POLITICAL!"

Ella M
2013-08-09 5:46 PM

       I am thankful for the witness of the two Adventists who could think outside their boxed community.  This is what religious freedom is about--not forcing our beliefs on those who would suffer if we did.  There is nothing political about being born "different" unless such people are deprived of the rights that others enjoy.

Steve Tanner
2013-08-09 9:16 PM

Freedom is one thing but for a person to force their way on the rest of us by the use of city or government power is what I'm against and always will be.If a person wishes to drink or smoke to name a few things, he or she is free to do those things or even be gay. What upsets me is our leaders of government seem to commend these types of actions. This makes it a corporate sin that is worse in the eyes of God the same today as it was in Bible times and I know it will not go unpunished. I do not want to see my country take this sad road. It will surely lead to it's down fall.
When I get some more time I can give a quote from some of the later books of the Bible that have been found but are not in the Bible we have.
I'm saddened to continue hearing this topic in church related things. If a person wants to attend a SDA church they are welcome but do I want them for a teacher or other things setting an example for my grand kids? Absolutely not.

Stephen Foster
2013-08-10 3:43 AM

Steve Tanner,
You are right about homosexual behavior from a sin and Biblical standpoint. However this is our religious or theological perspective on this matter; is it not?

Biblically speaking, how was what the commissioners did any different than permitting a grocery store or a restaurant a liquor license; or than allowing Collegedale businesses to be open for business on the Sabbath (Saturday)?

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-09 7:28 PM

For a church whose strong belief and message for over one hundred years of future time when a powerful religious consortium would attempt to force its system on the small group of Adventists, now when the table is turned and civil recognition is  given to grant equality to a group long maligned; there are still Adventists who cry "foul" as if THEIR religious beliefs are being persecuted and thwarted.

There is nothing to force anyone of any religious belief that affects them in any way by a civil law giving equality to everyone.  What possible motive other than granting a group singled out to now have the same privileges that others have been enjoying?  No one has offered one concession that he is being forced to sacrifice with this ruling.  Such pettiness is beneath a Christian.

2013-08-09 9:04 PM

Difficulties often arise when issues are mixed. I see civil union as a freedom and equality issue. I see marriage as a church or religious matter. In some European countries these issues are not mixed.

In the US a heterosexual couple can obtain a civil union license to cohabit from the state. The license is usually called a marriage license. A civil authority like a judge or Justice of the Peace can perform a ceremony uniting that couple. A licensed minister can also perform a similar ceremony. When a minister who performs a marriage ceremony for a couple, he will usually say something like "By the authority vested in me by the State of ......, I now pronounce you husband and wife." The minister is acting as an agent for the state.

It seems to me that marriage is a religious issue and is therefore a church matter. The church can make their own rules for their members. The licensing is a state or civil matter, and the states make the rules for their residents. Unfortunately, in most states these issues are mixed, and should be legislativly separated. In my opinion the legislative separation will  not accur any time soon since most church members do not really want a separation of church and state concerning this issue.

Thanks, Katie Ann,

George Saxon


Stephen Foster
2013-08-11 5:32 AM

I couldn’t agree more geosaxon; well said.
The state, in reality, can only codify and sanction civil unions. God sanctions marriages. Do any Christians seriously disagree about this? The state can use the word ‘marriage;’ but marriage is a thing of God.
Civil unions are state sanctioned social contracts. When a justice of the peace/civil servant has ‘married’ you and when you haven’t made promises to God, you aren’t married; you have merely entered into a contract.
Although the state recognizes it, when you ‘marry’ someone whom you have no Biblical right to marry, you aren’t really married.
Why is this controversial for many Christians? I believe the answer is that the church as ceded its authority and function to the state without having realized it. The church as permitted the state to define holy matrimony; and that is impossible. The state can only define and/or acknowledge what it will with regard to contracts.

Stephen Foster
2013-08-11 10:11 AM

Correction: The church has permitted the state…

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-11 12:01 PM

The state doesn't confer "holiness" to anyone or any action.  If churches wish to do that, it can be only for its members who agree that the church should make decisions on what is and is not holy.

The church has never "permitted" the state to define "holy" matrimony, only issue state license  to marry.  State decisions and church decisions should always maintain separateness.  


Neither is the state concerned about "Biblical rights to marry." To repeat, the state is totally unconcerned with how the Bible is interpreted.  Apparently, there are some who are so enclosed in an Adventist world that they are unable to separate their religious beliefs from what is under civil governments.  There should be concern of ANY religion encroaching on civil matters rather than wishing to impose THEIR particular religious beliefs about marriage on all other citizens, most of whom do not share their religious beliefs.

Stephen Foster
2013-08-12 1:49 AM

You may have missed my point Elaine. While we apparently agree that the state doesn’t confer de facto ‘holiness’ to anyone or any action; it does, by its use of the word marriage, confer the same rights and privileges recognized by both church and state to all heterosexual couples.
The church voluntarily permitted this to happen. The church should always have insisted that “state decisions and church decisions should always maintain separateness,” but it unfortunately did not.
(Actually, to its credit, the Roman Catholic Church seems to insist upon its authority with regard to its own members’ marriages. Someone better versed in Catholicism may correct/confirm.)

2013-08-09 10:38 PM

As a principle of war is to divide and conquer, so we are going - We are divided within and thus shall be our failing.

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-10 2:30 AM

It is obvious that Adventists in the First World are divided on many issues.  This is just one of them.  That does not mean it is our failing.  It is a mark of the maturing of Adventism in the First World from a sect type church with a lot of social control mechanisms that maintained a narrow orthodoxy to a denominational type church with increasing pluralism in many areas.  Even churchs need to grow up some time. 

Philip Law
2013-08-10 12:17 PM

Pluralism is some social issues may be a sign of progress but when it is a matter of human right trumping God's sovereignty then that is pure apostasy. It is degeneracy rather than maturity. 

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-10 11:38 PM

I'm happy for Mr. Law that he is able to know the content of "God;s sovereignty" with such precision.  And might I ask what he views as the difference between just plain old "apostasy" and "pure apostasy."?  One person's "maturity" is someone else's "degeneracy."  No wonder there is so little communication between individuals in the church and we often talk past each other.  We can't even agree on the meaning of words.

Philip Law
2013-08-11 3:17 PM

If you disgree blame the dictionary. The words and ideas are plain.

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-12 7:01 PM

The words may be "plain" and have a dictionary definition, but the extended meanings we individually attach to some words such as "apostasy" reveal assumptions one individual makes which noone else might make.

Philip Law
2013-08-13 2:21 AM

Aren’t discussions of issues with strong sentiments tend to be entanglement of extensions of ordinary meaning of words? With enough qualifiers or extensions black and be white, right can be wrong. How about more straight talks with simple language?

Ervin Taylor
2013-08-13 12:31 PM

Well, something that we can all agree on--more straight talk with simple language!  I'd like to challenge our theologians to try that and see what happens. Also, using straight talk and simple language in church politics would really be something to see. I wonder if the Adventist political system could stand that..

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-13 4:04 PM

Even more:  if we could understand what theologians have discovered about God and how that relates to humanity, perhaps that would be of help.  As it now seems, they are only talking to each other about ideas that have no benefit whatsoever in knowing more about God than the smallest child.  Too long, they have been given both deference and reverence based on the subject to which they have been devoted.

Unlike most all other professions who have studied medicine, engineering, physics,  chemistry, or subjects have brought great advances in their fields of study, if there has been any advance in theology since the first human uttered the word "God" where is the evidence?

There is nothing in corporate employment where SDA theology graduates can fill a void without retraining for other vocations.  

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-12 7:52 PM

"Apostasy" is a religious term with different meanings.  If one leaves Catholicism, he is considered to be have committed "apostasy."  Many believe that former Adventists who have left that system have also become "apostates." 

If one leaves Islam, he is also an "apostate."  It all depends on which religion one has left that gives others the desire to label him.  The city of Collegedale, nor its citizens cannot commit "apostasy" as Collegedale has never been a theocracy, and under no obligation to vote other than their consciences.  This freedom, thankfully, is granted all citizens in the U.S. which is a democracy and has never been a theocracy (Thank God).  

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2013-08-13 6:47 PM

Ma'am, would you consider yourself one who is a good example of apostasy?

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-10 12:36 PM

Separation of church and state are undesirable if it conflicts with MY personal beliefs; but are welcomed if they prevent others to exercise their freedom FROM religion.  One cannot claim both separation and coordination with religion.  

While many Fundamentalists would prefer prayer in schools, and Bible instruction, it is always THEIR  religious view of the Bible, and THEIR CHRISTIAN prayers, not Muslim prayers.  The First Amendment gives U.S. citizens freedom  to practice any religion that does not interfere with civil or criminal laws.  But there is also freedom FROM religion being inculcated in any laws or practices.

Truth Seeker
2013-08-10 12:54 PM

The issue has nothing to do with separation of church and state. That's a mistaken notion. Incidentally, do we know whether the SDAS voted that way because of sincere conviction or pressure?

"This whole thing is a social engineering experiment in which we and our children are the guinea pigs and there comes a point where we have to draw the line. NAMBLA is using the same arguments that same-sex proponents used. Do we want to go down that road too? Where does it end? I say it needs to end with protecting heterosexual marriage and upholding it as the ideal despite the fact that we have couples who don't live up to the ideal.

I would laugh at the argument that "you can't legislate morality" if those who make it weren't serious. So you can't can't legislate morality but you CAN legislate acceptance? Can you not see how ridiculous that is? I would also argue that most laws we have do indeed legislate morality in one way or another, it just depends on whose morality you are considering.

The government has an obligation to do what it can to ensure we have a healthy, well-functioning society and heterosexual marriage is one of the single most important things that can be done in this regard. This has been shown in study after study to be the case (as if we needed studies to prove the obvious!). Protecting marriage should be the first step. Strengthening the marriage covenant should be the next. Eliminating no-fault divorce would be a good start. How much might the divorce rate go down, and countless broken homes prevented, if you actually had to present a compelling reason for divorce and one or the other partner had to be demonstrated to be at fault for the marriage crumbling?

This argument about not having the government involved because it is a primarily religious issue is illegitimate in my opinion. This is primarily a *SOCIETAL* issue and that is where the government DOES exist to intervene." (Emphasis Supplied)

Melva Hicks
2013-08-10 4:23 PM

Separating personal beliefs and allowing for independent thinking, is a gift from God.  Too often we respond to peer presure.  I aplaud both Hanson and Lamb.  This vote is not about religion, it is about equality in pay and benefits for humans.  As SDA's we ask for the same rights, can we provide less to others?

Truth Seeker
2013-08-10 5:19 PM

It's very easy, apparently, for all too many to ignore societal values as well as the welfare of children who will have their welfare subordinated to specious reasoning about alleged equality when, in actuality, it is not related to the issue of equality.
Aberrant behavior as demonstrated by same sex coupling is destabilizing to to society and injurious to the children of those couples.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-10 6:38 PM

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that same sex marriages is "destablizing society or injurious to their children."  This is strictly a personal belief and unless there is evidence submitted, it remains in the realm of personal prejudice of which there is an abundance.

There are many studies showing the contrary:  children and families  of same-sex couples have been cohabiting for decades but where is the injury seen?

Ella M
2013-08-10 8:41 PM

  Divorce actually causes more break-ups of the family in society than homosexual unions.  Should there be a law against divorce?  Or why not a law against adultery? 
   Did Jesus suggest laws to keep people from sinning?  Did He get mixed up in politics?  Did He not say "render unto Ceasar the things that are Ceaser's and unto God the things that are Gods"?
    Keep in mind that the Israelites were part of a theocracy.
    We may require single church members to be celibate (no matter what gender), but that cannot be required of those outside the church.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2013-08-11 6:23 PM

Dear Ella M
You say that there are studies galore on the subject. Are you referring to some reliable evidence that homosexuals are born that way? You must be joking - right? Where and what is it? No propaganda please...

Ella M
2013-08-11 9:50 PM

   I will get back to you if you are serious (I am busy now).  Actually I think you could find this on line if you are interested enough in finding out.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2013-08-12 1:17 AM

Dear Ella M
The use of 'born that way' in reference to homosexual behavior is just conjecture in order to excuse their deviant behavior. Humanity is plagued with all sorts of sin. We are all born with the propensity to sin as a result of our sinful nature. All sinners (including those with deviant sexual behavior) need to repent and turn from their wicked ways. That is the reason why Christ came to die. He died to save us and set us free from the curse of sin. Supporting the right for same sex couples to marry is a concerted effort to normalize their abnormal behavior.

Example: Suppose children were to lobby government claiming they are discriminated against and need to have the same rights that adults have. They decide they want to engage in sexual relationships with consenting children and adults. They say no to forced education; no to vaccines; no to obedience to parents; no to abortion; no to not having the right to vote; no to war; no to age restrictions on movies; no to not being allowed alcohol and tobacco; no to early bedtime and so forth - and then suppose the Obama government grants them adult status with all their requests but that each state must decide. Will good Christians vote in favor of this? After all, the church and state must remain separated and that the right of an individual must be is guaranteed at all costs. How will you vote?

Ella M
2013-08-12 3:00 PM

  First I don't think you have ever personally known a real homosexual and the suffering they go through or the judgmentalism and even hatred some have for them. Why do you think they have the highest suicide rate in the country?  Would anyone choose such a life?   The only way is to accept Christ and live with it as celebate for the conservative Christian.  This is difficult and lonely  for most all single persons. It is only by accepting the righteousness of Christ and holding onto His power that it is possible.

For those who don't believe the Bible pronouncements, we cannot force our religious belief on them any more than force them to worship on Saturday.  This seems very plain to me, and I have a hard time understanding why others can't see it.  I guess I am biased on the side of compassion for these people.  Everything I read from Jesus to EGW seems to say we should err on the side of compassion.

As for your comparison to children, I just can't see that at all.  I won't go so far as to say what I think of it as that would be unkind.  I don't think it is a rational approach from my viewpoint.  I pray that you will try to think this through, pray about it, and ask for an abundant gift of Jesus' love for nonbelievers.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2013-08-12 3:28 PM

ok. If the children’s rights lobby example I used to illustrate the absurdity of granting same sex sexual partners marriage rights seems over the top then how about our nudist fetish friends as an example. So what if they claim they were born this way and just wanted to walk around in the nude in public. Remember we can't use any religious bias in granting them rights. So would they also be granted this right? If not, then what would be the basis for denying them the right to be nude and from what source would such morality come from. Secular government? Where does secular government get moral principles from? Do they invent them?  Majority rule?  What would be the basis used to distinguish what is morally right or wrong - good or bad?

I'm not sure what you mean by 'real homosexual.'  Is there a difference?

Ella M
2013-08-12 5:02 PM

  I still don't understand the first paragraph and its relevancy to the topic. ( There are places in the world where people do go naked.)  In this society it is offensive just like stalkers who show themselves.  It's a majority consensus,. There are nudist colonies that are legal.

   I said "real" because there may be different levels. There are men who are clearly effeminate and have been from toddlers. They even choose girl's toys with no outside influence. A difference in their brain scans have been noted. And there is a small minority with physical transgender differances.
   I have never known any women who were lesbian to my knowledge. They don't seem to be as recognizable.
 You have heard of bisexuals, and they seem to choose which way they want to go. It would be diffiuclt to separate them however in some sort of legal way.

Steve Tanner
2013-08-12 7:58 AM

After sending all this to another person I know who does not get this posting he replied..stating that his town also had a vote like this but it did not pass. He also stated that Collegedale was the last place he expected to hear of something like this passing. Especially because it's a SDA city that preaches repentence and upholds Biblical standards. Also he wondered about the Suthern Babtists in the area and how they would feel about this?

Ella M
2013-08-12 3:00 PM

  I know you better and how you care for others; I pray you will also think this through--see what I have said above.

Ella M
2013-08-12 5:12 PM

I am not talking about the last post I made, but the one before.  I think the decision made by the two men at Collegedale was in keeping with our religioius liberty stand for everyone.  We would seem to be hypocritical to have done it any differently.

2013-08-12 8:05 PM

People who are in favor of what Collegedale did, are still forgetting the fact that the state of Tennessee only recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman.  So a marriage license by a same-sex couple who married in a state that allows such, is not valid in the state of Tennessee.  so how can this Collegedale employee who married her same sex partner in Maryland produce a valid marriage license in a city in Tennessee???

It would seem to me  the city is hanging there open to a lawsuit to prevent what they did from happening.   What's more, what a media spectical, a city that is at the heart of  Adventism being the  first in that state to do this.

I still believe that the day will come when the church itself will  find itself backed into a corner on this very issue with church employees.  It is not a matter of if, but when!  All this rhetoric about religious liberty flying around from those  who support gay marriage, will suddenly take an about face when that happens.  


Wayne Wilson
2013-08-14 2:47 AM

Homosexuality is impossible to pass on as a genetic trait since homosexuals don’t reproduce.  Such a trait would simply go nowhere. 
Identical twins studies provide the best evidence that there is no gay gene.  Since identical twins have identical genes, if one twin was a homosexual the other should be too, but research shows that homosexuality occurs in both twins only one in nine times. If homosexuality where truly a trait (like eye color) then both identical twins would be gay 100% of the time.  Additionally, since identical twins share the same womb they also share the same exposure to hormones, thus an argument which appeals to increased or decreased hormones is simply not valid.

2013-08-15 2:07 PM

God states in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin.  Folks here on earth claim that homosexuality is a genetic trait.  Genetic traits also include thyroid conditions, multiple sclerosis, etc.  So does that mean that folks with diseases or medical conditions in their genetics make them sinners?  I don't recall God saying it's a sin to be ill or it's a sin to be of another ethnicity other than caucasian.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-14 1:06 PM

Because no scientific evidence has been found so far, does not imply that there are causes or reasons for homosexuality not yet known.  There have been hundreds of discoveries undermining and destroying beliefs that were formerly held as absolute.  In the absence of absolute certainty, humility should be desired.

Wayne Wilson
2013-08-14 1:25 PM

What is absolutely certain is that a so-called “gay gene” could never be passed down to offspring because homosexuals don't reproduce.  Common sense should be desired over maintaining a logical fallacy under the guise of humility.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-14 2:42 PM


2013-08-15 2:26 AM

This kind of conversation has always seemed a bit bizzare to me.  Why for example to peoples minds jump to religeous issues when this discussion comes up?  Religeous issues are certainly a concern for some religeous groups and that is where it should be confined.  Confined to the context in which the groups wish to create their own definitions.  Well and good.  In the context of government the issues are not about obscure and historically unclear obscure religeous interpretations.  In goverment marriage laws are about Property, Child care and welfare.  One ought (as some do)be able to share property and pet care with one's dog if one wishes.  Two totatlly different conversations with different purposes and different values.  What is the point of conflating the two?

2013-08-15 2:49 PM

This is really not a religious issue, this is a reality issue.  Meaning that like it or not, when we choose to not believe in or follow Jesus, we by default choose Satan's side.  This is the reality of everyone's existence.  John the Baptist was not afraid to call sin by its name (i.e., Herod and Herodias) regardless of popularity and his life because he trusted Jesus completely with his real future and therefore lived and preached the truth which includes calling sin by its full name and not condoning while not condemning individuals.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-15 11:06 AM

There are many people who have little knowledge of science who love to speak as if with authority but are woefully and ignorantly seeking to offer reasons for their own prejudices.

2013-08-15 2:00 PM

very sad, disappointed...I wonder how the voting would have gone if Jesus were present in the board room during the voting?

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-15 3:52 PM

Christ said to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's," and property and inheritance and tax rights are for civil governments to determine, not religious.  Whose religion should decide?  Some religions would be happy with this decision.  How do you believe Jesus, who left to Caesar what was the states, to vote on this?

2013-08-16 8:48 AM

Dear Elaine,
Jesus is sad and He loves each of us where we are.  According to what Jesus tells us in His Word, we are only to render unto Caesar when it does not break or go against what Jesus wants for us and asks us how to live to be truly happy.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-16 2:25 PM

We, as single individuals, are responsible to God.  All others, we are not responsible for he legitimate choices they make.  To take on to ourselves to rule and judge for others is antithetical to treating others with the same respect we wish for ourselves.

Today, Adventists believe they are obedient to God for observing Sabbath.  Millions of other Christians do not believe the same.  We should never try to make laws that would inhibit others' responsibility to God lest it deprive them of their free moral choices.

Our Founding Fathers wrote that:

"We are all created equal, and no one has rights superior to those of anyone else.  And our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness imply the right to live our lives as we wish--to pursue happiness as we think best, by out lights--provided only that we respect the equal rights of common law tradition of liberty, property, and contract--its principles rooted in 'right reason'"

Wayne Wilson
2013-08-15 3:12 PM

Reynolds said it well: "God still holds us morally accountable for turning away from sin and seeking His grace for overcoming power.  He cannot just take his personal views and insist that everyone else pay the price for the sins that one person elects to engage in when the law of the state of Tennessee is that marriage is between a man and a woman.  He should be there to uphold state law as well as, as a Christian, feeling a personal responsibility to uphold the moral law as taught in the Bible."

Once the state laws regarding marriage are overthrown, the Bible, because it cannot be changed, will be viewed as document that contains homophobic hate speech and bigotry.  Those of us who hold to the Word of God as true will in turn be viewed in the same light.  This is when Christians will become persecuted for holding on to “out dated” moral views.  Those supposed Christians who are all happy about gay marriage will feel quite comfortable siding with state, and as Christ warned “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 10:21-22)
This matter will be a dividing line long before any persecution regarding the day in which a person attends church.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-15 3:57 PM

There have already been plenty of  religious preachers who have made homophobic protests and have used the Bible as the source.  If there are those who believe that religious beliefs should be incorporated into civil laws, whose religion should be chosen?  Where Muslims are in the majority, they would be happy with polygamy, and perhaps Mormons.  


Most people who wish to incorporate religion into civil laws always think it should be their definition of religion, not some one else.  If this is the wish, why not begin to fight for everyone worshiping on the day you prefer--Saturday.  Why not?  This is using religion and interpretation of the Bible for support.

2013-08-15 4:24 PM

"Praise and flattery would be pleasing to their ears; but the truth is unwelcome; they cannot hear it. When the crowds follow, and the multitudes are fed, and the shouts of triumph are heard, their voices are loud in praise; but when the searching of God's Spirit reveals their sin, and bids them leave it, they turn their backs upon the truth, and walk no more with Jesus."  DA 392

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-16 2:31 PM

Who, among commenters here, believes that it would be right for Adventists living in an SDA community, to introduce laws closing all businesses on Saturday?  Or, in any town today, would it be right to attempt to enforce everyone to "obey God's commandments" as Adventists interpret them?   While God enforced laws on the Jews during the theocracy, Christ never even hinted that Christians should seek to change Roman laws.  They were then not living in a theocracy; and today we are not in a theocracy. 


Then, why do Adventists believe it will be wrong if one day the Christian church decides to make laws prohibting worship or church attendance on Saturday?  What's good for the goose is good for the gander.  Why is it different when the shoe is on the other foot?  

Carol Drasher
2013-08-16 5:45 PM

Lev 18:22  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is
  LIE H7901 שׁכב shâkab shaw-kab'
A primitive root; to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose): -  X at all, cast down, ([over-]) lay (self) (down), (make to) lie (down, down to sleep, still, with), lodge, ravish, take rest, sleep, stay.
  With G4862 σύν sun  soon
union; with or together
  Mankind H2145 זכר zâkâr  zaw-kawr'
a male (of man or animals, as being the most noteworthy sex): -  X him, male, man (child, -kind).
  As With H4904  משׁכּב mishkâb   mish-kawb'
From H7901 (see above)  a bed (figuratively a bier); abstractly sleep; by euphemism carnal intercourse: - bed ([-chamber]), couch, lieth (lying) with.
  Womankind H802
נשׁים    אשּׁה  'ishshâh  nâshı̂ym      ish-shaw', naw-sheem'
a woman , female, wife.
  Abomination H8441
תּעבה    תּועבה  tô‛êbah  tô‛êbah       to-ay-baw', to-ay-baw'
something disgusting (morally) an abhorrence; especially idolatry or (concretely) an idol: - abominable (custom, thing), abomination.
Lev 20:13  If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman,
                     both of them have committed an abomination: they shall
                     surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Gen 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…….
Gen 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 1:28  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Gen 1:31  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
1Co 7:2  Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
1Co 7:3  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-16 6:42 PM

Is there anyone, or any Adventist who is not today very familiar with all the Bible texts against same-sex acts; none of which against the homosexual as a person?

This has absolutely nothing, zilch, nada, to change the CIVIL laws of a city.  The town of Collegedale should never be ruled by religious laws, unless those who make such suggestions are eager for the religion of Catholicism to impose its laws on a town.  


Such comments show the complete ignorance of many religious believers who are so boxed in the Adventist community that they do not seem to realize that the rest of the U.S. does not, nor can it defer to any religious beliefs  for determining  its laws.  This is the trend, legalized already in many states.
Get used to it, unless you wish to become another Don Quixote. 

2013-08-20 9:12 AM

I was thinking about this topic some more after telling my husband about it....he was raised agnostic and agrees with Jesus and the Bible!  Also texted this to a friend who attended and graduated from another Adventist college.  Texting, discussing, and thinking about this have caused me to realize:  Why did the two SDASs at least not take a stand with Jesus being very clear in the Bible that non-repenting homosexuals/lesbians will be destroyed at the 2nd Coming and will not be in the Kingdom of Heaven (so why vote for condoning/supporting a lifestyle that will be destroyed and have no place in the New Earth?)?  Collegedale City Council would have still had the majority vote, right?  Also, it was stated that one SDA voted in favor because the lady who is a lesbian is a nice person.  To which I say, the pope is a very nice individual too.  He forgoes himself in favor of feeding and washing the feet of those who are homeless.  The serpent was very charming and nice to Eve.  Eve was then in turn very charming and nice to Adam.  ....etc....

Trish Tickle
2013-08-21 12:35 PM

I was in SE Asia when this news broke. Was told about it from a Collegedale resident also visiting in the same place. The Adventist gossip mill is alive and very active as evidenced by how I heard the story......"Pray for Collegedale; the city council is approving same sex marriage and taking lots of heat because SAU is the largest tax payer and majority of residents are Adventist. This is so horrible.....etc." I questioned this person further about what exactly was being voted on since I have been following the Supreme Court's decisions on DOMA and same-sex marriage. Informant didn't know the specifics or understand the issues but was spreading their confused version to everyone within hearing.

I'm glad to see AT write a clarifying article so quickly. Hopefully this will stop some of the rumor-mongering but those who choose the "Chicken Little" view don't care about facts.

Personally, I applaud the commissioners who upheld their civil duty to extend equal rights/benefits to all city employees.  I believe it is important for Adventists to lead the Christian world in extending mercy and justice to all people regardless of whether or not they subscribe to our moral code.

Elaine Nelson
2013-08-21 4:02 PM

Because Collegedale has a history of being an "Adventist  Town" does anyone believe there should be a law against selling and eating bacon, or coffee, or businessess open on Saturday?

C'mon folks, If Adventists ever expect to gain understanding for their own religious convictions, the should practice now not enforcing them on others.


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