Sexual Abuse as A Human Rights Issue

The ways in which we interface with one another in sexual terms is parallel to how we interface in terms of other human interactions.

All the associated activities and attitudes that we have about human sexuality are really part of a larger consideration of basic human rights.

From its beginnings the Adventist Church declared itself unequivocally against both injustice and immorality in all forms. In its extensive humanitarian service, it still seeks to show love and concern for all. The ways in which we interface with one another in sexual terms is parallel to how we interface in terms of other human interactions, such as race.

Indeed, the matter of how we relate to race is a good parallel for how we relate to matters of gender. One of the odious evils of our day is racism. While the sin of racism is an age-old phenomenon based on ignorance, fear, estrangement, and false pride, some of its grossest manifestations have taken place in our time. Racism and irrational prejudices operate in a vicious cycle. Racism is among the worst of ingrained prejudices that characterize sinful human beings. Its consequences are generally more devastating because racism easily becomes permanently institutionalized and legalized, and in its extreme manifestations, can lead to systematic persecution and even genocide.

One of the most troubling aspects of our times is the manifestation of racism and tribal- ism in many societies, sometimes with violence, always with the denigration of men and women. Intolerance is abounding on all continents in bigoted religious extremism, racism, tribalism, ethnic cleansing, linguistic enmity, and other forms of terrorism and violence. Some of those who call themselves Christian carry their share of the blame for prejudice and inhumanity toward humans.

Adventists deplore and seek to combat all forms of discrimination based on race, tribe, nationality, color, or gender. Christians must develop sympathy for beliefs or practices that not only differ, but even conflict, with their own. Dialogue is certainly much better than diatribe. Human beings must be able to discuss varying viewpoints without hate or rancor, moving in benevolence, responsiveness, and understanding toward others.

Adventists want to be faithful to the reconciling ministry assigned to the Christian church. As a worldwide community of faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Church wishes to witness to and exhibit in her own ranks the unity and love that transcend racial and gender differences and overcome past alienation and abuse.

Scripture plainly teaches that every person was created in the image of God, who “made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).1 In Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). Therefore, racism and gender discrimination are a heresy and in essence a form of idolatry, for they limit the fatherhood of God by denying the brotherhood of all humankind and by exalting the superiority of one’s own race or gender. The standard for Seventh-day Adventist Christians is acknowledged in Fundamental Belief No. 13, “Unity in the Body of Christ.”2

The approach we take on the issue of racial justice is the model we would also apply to that between human beings with respect to gender. Adventist doctrines teach that church members must stand up for the dignity and rights of all human beings, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, or social standing. If we ignore racist or discriminatory expressions or behavior, we diminish people for whom Christ died. The Bible teaches—in the Adventist understanding—that these are not strictly social or political issues, but also fundamental spiritual issues. Silence in the presence of bigoted comments or sentiments allow evil to grow and infect or strengthen the thinking of others.

We are—all of us—God’s children and members of His family.3


1. Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural references in this reading are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

2. < Http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html>.

3. Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.