Former Board Member of SDA Kinship Speaks About Their Harassment of Coming Out Ministries
This article was originally published on Fulcrum7 by Greg Cox.
Title: “SDA Kinship “outed” in open harassment campaign; former Kinship Board Member speaks out”
SDA Kinship, an LGBT organization who openly promotes that one’s “sexual orientation” should be accepted and celebrated by the SDA church, has been involved in a hostile campaign of censorship and harassment against SDA General Conference supported Coming Out Ministries (COM).
Kinship has been involved in open warfare to repress and oppose COM—who ministers to those who desire to leave the LGBT culture and rejoin the Body of Christ. Various methods of harassment have been employed; emails, petitions, phone calls, and even pro-LGBT leaders within our Church organization are being utilized to stop COM from preaching to those who seek deliverance from the destructive LGBT culture.
In any other situation, these hostile actions by Kinship might be viewed as illegal. But spiritual opposition often chooses wicked pathways in efforts to demote and suppress the truth.
As a former SDA Kinship Board member, I am appalled at what I have witnessed at the hands of Kinship. Thus, I have written this open letter to my Church and its leadership in order to have a direct conversation about this. My goals are to engage in honest and open dialogue and to expose the actions of SDA Kinship - an organization I once promoted. Here is my open letter:
“My Beloved Seventh Day Adventist Church Family,
Recently, I was shown an email originating from Seventh Day Adventist Kinship’s Vice President, Floyd Poenitz. The email was sent to SDA Church leadership in South Africa and plainly requests that Coming Out Ministries (COM), who were invited to South Africa, be refused to present its ministry there.
As I read this email from Mr. Poenitz my heart sank. Throughout the body of Mr. Poenitz’s email were false accusations, distortions, and outright fallacies leveled against COM - primarily that COM is a “change ministry”. Moreover, the very cornerstone of Mr. Poenitz’s email was that COM should not only be censured from its invited ministry presentations, but that COM was causing irreparable psychological, spiritual and physical damage to LGBT people. Not a single Scripture or valid Christian concept was found within Mr. Poenitz’s email.
Why am I concerned about Kinship or Coming out Ministries? To state it plainly, both organizations represent a fork in the road for Adventism — a Mt. Carmel choice. On one hand, COM preaches the Gospel message of salvation and restoration from sin, any sin, and leaving the path of homosexual activity through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And on the other hand Kinship represents embracing one’s personal sexual desires, one’s natural carnal inclinations calling this path “love” and God-given. In essence, Kinship asks the church this: “let us physically explore our sexuality openly and without limits. Let us change the meaning of Scripture and let us write the narrative to our liking and ever changing feelings.” Church, are you comfortable with this?
I was formerly an SDA Kinship Board member, and I’m not comfortable with this. I will tell you that long gone are the days of large-scale LGBT folks suffering from overt persecution by job terminations, evictions, disfellowship, and rejection from one’s church and family. These were events that did sometimes plague our church’s relationship with its own LGBT members — which I can personally attest. SDA church members with same-sex attraction trying to make sense of it all — they longed for prayer, understanding, and help. As a former Kinship Board member I can recall taking many midnight phone calls from college students who were being kicked out, church members being disfellowshipped, and tearful parents calling for help and advice. They had no one to turn to. So the goals of SDA Kinship then seemed clear — at least I used to think so.
Historically, our church has viewed same sex attraction with incredulity and dismissiveness, not realizing exactly how deeply affecting it is. Thus, an infectious disease of “your sin is worse than mine” resulted and our church simply wished the LGBT problem away to great failure. This disease of moral failure and sin compartmentalization now requires a cure called repentance. And in that repentance I ask that each and every soul look at their owns sins first. And instead of suffering in silence for those sins we press together, confide and walk with each other, and most importantly love each other (Col 3:13-15). At this point some may be thinking that I’m supporting our LGBT members without question. I’ll dispel that thought! Others may accuse me of being insensitive and trivializing one’s sexual desires. WRONG! Scripture teaches us just how desperate we are when overcome by these “natural” feelings and desires. David had a loyal employee killed so he could steal his wife, and Mary Magdalene repeatedly returned to her “natural” life resulting in demon possession 7- times. Yes, the pull of the flesh is just that powerful. And as we repent together, we will be shown a way out.
We Are Now in a New Era
Over the last 20+ years, the way that the SDA Church related to LGBT individuals has changed. What has developed is that our church has made much more formative gestures for loving relationships with its members suffering from same sex- attraction. Some of these efforts are good, others quite off the mark, but much more work is needed. In contrast, the old narrative of victimhood formerly experienced by our LGBT members has now become an olympic event. Old wounds and scars are now proudly waved as rainbow flags of “virtue” despite God’s hatred of pride (Prov 8:13, 16:5).
What is now being asked of our church is unquestioned acceptance of LGBT’s desire to practice free sex, polyamory (multiple sexual partners), and gender-is-a-choice-not-biology as a way of forced contrition. Please tell me how do you exactly “celebrate” homosexual sex in the context of Holiness and scriptural counsel? Questioning the LGBT “virtue” flags even through the lens of Scripture can get you labeled as a “hater” and a bigot. My own pastor even said to me that discussing Coming Out Ministries’ call to repentance would seriously injure any youth questioning their LGBT struggles!
I was asked last November by Kinship’s own president why I was protesting their social messages and numerous acts of censorship against COM via social media. I told her that as I watch my Kinship sisters and brothers decay into madness my heart breaks: Its former purpose, one which I formerly viewed as benevolent, has been long replaced with themes of pride, un-biblical sexual expression and self-aggrandizement. Its mission now is about sexual orientation as self-worth, “celebrating bisexuality month” and other oddities, and placing the pinnacle of one’s identity through sexual expression.
And out of this very obvious change in its mission, SDA Kinship—who once longed for a dialogue with the church and a place at the table—is now openly engaging in attempted censorship and targeted harassment against COM, as Mr. Poenitz’s letter proves. The “oppressed” has now become the oppressor. And the Kinship cry-bullies have done this many times before (historical examples include Kinship’s efforts to censor COM in Canada, UK, Australia, etc.)
I witnessed this targeted harassment by Kinship personally when COM preached a Sabbath Service in Pasadena, California 2 years ago.
Kinship made numerous attempts to block this event—even going so far as to ask local Southern California Conference officials to pressure the Pasadena SDA church Head Pastor to stop it. Praise the Lord, that little Pasadena church had a strong spiritual spine! In that event, COM asked our church to start healing the old, former wounds and walk with those desiring to leave the LGBT culture, and to love those with same-sex attraction who struggle, while outside an LGBT group waved their pride flags denouncing COM and the church’s event as “hate”. Kinship dug in its heels in and through social media attempted to spotlight examples of LGBT people still being treated badly, even killed, and that even listening to COM would perpetuate ongoing hate. These examples continue to be waved around as the reason to accept Kinship’s rainbow message of following your personal “feelings” and to reject COM’s message of denying your feelings and coming to the Cross. This is the battle we face.
To add insult to injury, SDA Kinship would also like you to believe that COM and really anyone who desires to leave the LGBT life is deeply broken psychologically. Kinship regularly employs the past example of Colin Cook’s disastrous ministry that promoted sexual orientation change through bizarre, unbiblical exercises. And they directly associate Mr. Cook’s change ministry and its historical damage with COM. Mr. Poenitz’s email openly promotes these ridiculous lies.
I want to share with my beloved church that not all who leave the LGBT culture did so from trauma and pain. I lived truly a rich life according to LGBT standards. Fit and nice looking, I drove a Mercedes, had a house in the Hollywood Hills and an office in Beverly Hills. I owned a beautiful weekend home in Palm Springs and had numerous rental properties. Money was never in shortage. Each night I came home to a loving husband who adored me. My business partner, employees, patients, friends, father and siblings were also loving and supportive. I was an “A” list gay living the rainbow dream. Yet that life never led me into a deeper relationship with Christ. Quite the opposite. When I eventually answered the call of the Holy Spirit all these things seemed to vanish in their importance and my sexual self-identity no longer held its former value. No “Change Ministry” was ever considered or called upon. And as the Holy Spirit led me away from the LGBT world, I realized that this is the SAME PROCESS that every soul, regardless of their struggles, must do. The Holy Spirit did the “change”, and He is changing others. I used to think I was alone, the only one. But as my eyes were opened I’ve discovered there are many like me. The number of “people like us” are growing, and COM is letting them know that they are not alone.
Kinship’s talking points are emotional and beguiling. Kinship’s own website and social media platforms bemoan isolation, harassment, and youth suicide. Their conclusion is that if you don’t accept the rainbow sexual lifestyle—all of it—our children will simply kill themselves.
These are tremendously powerful messages to the misinformed. I could deeply disassemble Mr. Poenitz’ letter and Kinship’s mantras with point-by-point scriptural, biological, statistical and psychological facts, but it’s been done already (pay close attention to the footnotes and links of this article):
Will this end the debate? No! We apparently no longer live in a culture of facts and Scripture-as-bedrock. They’ve been replaced by feelings.
Instead, I’d like to ask my church and its leadership directly; will you please have an honest conversation with “people like me”, people who left their feelings and followed the Holy Spirit? People like me who experienced the lies of the promised land of rainbows and free sexuality.
So why is COM’s ministry so offensive to SDA Kinship?
It’s because many former LGBT people like me are leaving the gay culture.
The LGBTQ culture is full of promiscuity and numerous failed relationships. The LGBTQ culture is affirmed solely on placating “feelings” through unbiblical and illicit sexual paths. No change ministries are involved, and this terrifies Kinship. Kinship paints a rosy picture, that given the right combination of acceptance and doting, the LGBT members flourish within Adventism. I assure you, this is Jonestown Koolaid. You see, the LGBT culture has its own set of rules that any “affirming” church has discovered they cannot change. Let me ask you something: Do you know how gay men date? Would you allow your daughters to express their sexuality as freely and openly as men in the LGBT community do? The LGBT culture doesn’t accommodate its hosts, it changes them. I assure you, I used to be part of those efforts.
What Does Scripture Say?
You can be assured that the theological and scriptural battles over sexual orientation will continue. They always will because chaos reigns wherever darkness is allowed. What is solidly clear; sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage is simply NOT condoned in the Bible. I’ve heard the argument from pro-LGBT advocates; “I can’t believe a God of love would deny someone their natural sexual preferences!” This thinking always troubled me and it should trouble you. I’ve read numerous theologians who attempt to negate and rationalize away every Scripture on the subject.
Despite their reassurance that “love is love” and that my “natural“ sexuality was genetic, God-given and should be embraced and affirmed, I never really accepted these rationalizations. What’s “natural” is not perfect nor a template to live by; animals eat each other, tornadoes destroy, and strychnine comes from a plant. These are all “natural”, and even nature groans under the strain of sin! (Rom 8:22).
As I eventually left the LGBT culture, these battles haunted me as I gave my life to the Lord. I thought to myself; “Can I really leave this life now that I want to follow Jesus?” Little by little, as my relationship with Christ grew, the LGBT world and my former life became more and more distasteful and incompatible. Didn’t Christ say if part of your body causes you damnation then remove it? (Matthew 5:29). Yes, our God of love DOES ask that even if our natural inclinations lead us to destruction then we should deny them. It’s better to lose them than to lose one’s salvation.
When my own church had a Gay Pride party (on Sabbath afternoon) again my heart was deflated. People like me weren’t invited because it wasn’t a celebration of denying one’s self and following Christ - it was a prideful uplifting of one’s personal feelings and sexual practice. This is opposite of our God of love and what He wants for us.
Coming Out Ministries
When I first heard of Coming Out Ministries, I was curious but cautious. I knew well the history of some change ministries that crashed in failure (Colin Cook’s). I falsely assumed COM was one of them. But the Holy Spirit continued to prompt me, so I decided to find out what COM was really about. After several lengthy phone conversations with 2 of their founders, I decided for myself to see their testimony movie “Journey Interrupted” (this was prior to the Pasadena event).
As I sat in an audience of more than 700+ people, I heard quiet sobs and soft praises coming from the audience as the COM members told their stories or redemption. I walked away from the movie realizing I no longer had to carry the rainbow label that the LGBT community so defiantly told me I had no other choice but to carry. I realized it’s not about being “naturally” gay, or converted from gay, or claiming to be made “straight”. It’s about being saved, and no other label would suffice. The scales fell from my eyes.
All the indoctrination and battles I had endured to wear the proud “gay” label no longer had any power over me. I can’t claim to be free from same sex attraction, but now those very attractions progressively lost their appeal. A sense of true freedom filled my heart and I knew I was a son of God, a chosen creation. I was truly free to follow my Savior and leave the LGBT world. When Christ said “deny yourself and follow me”, a thunderous clap echoed in my heart - yes, I can deny myself and follow Christ (Mt 16:24-25). There were no change ministries involved.
Will “people like me” be made “straight”? Frankly, I don’t care. It’s really not about being made straight—it’s about being saved. It’s about leaving the immoral and spiritually bankrupt rainbow life. You simply can’t “pray the gay away”, but one affected by same-sex attraction can ask for respite in their hour of need.
Our church MUST be a refuge to walk with those affected. Some of us will be able to transition into heterosexual marriages, most may not. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that all are shown the path of the true and living God, one of Holiness and recovery. If I walk the rest of my life as a celibate, single man who left my former LGBT life, will you accept me and walk with me? Would you give me a place at that table to share my testimony? Or would you censor me too?
I can provide mountains of data to prove that the very heart of Kinship’s efforts are straw-man arguments. They’ll have you believe that most kids attempt suicide because the Church refuses to allow them to live openly gay, promiscuous lives, and that homosexuality is God-given and a spiritual right to express and exercise sexually.
Please tell me exactly just how do you celebrate bisexuality month? I can factually show you that suicide is actually a white, middle-age male disease and that middle and upper income gay men living in gay supportive communities have not only one of the highest rates of suicide, but also have some of the highest rates of drug and alcohol addiction. They lead the statistics in broken relationships (despite marriage being legal now), and unhappiness [called the “Dutch Paradox” by psychologists].
Millennials raised in liberal, love-is-love, gender-is-a-choice, sexual preference is hardwired, free spirited cultures, are also suffering from increased suicide as well. The reality is that no matter how placating the LGBT community demands that the world be towards them, it’s only getting worse and so are its demands. Many pro-LGBT and Kinship supporters will undoubtedly try to cry foul to this message but I actually welcome it and the resulting dialogue. I don’t believe in censorship.
I’ll probably be accused of tremendous insensitivity to past historical pains suffered by the LGBT community at the hands of an uncaring church. This is egregious at best.
I read the book of Psalms as last rites to a man covered head-to-toe in Kaposi sarcoma while his death rattle echoed in the room. I held a friend as he hysterically wept over his HIV diagnosis. I visited a friend day after day in a suicide ward who lamented that his family disavowed his very existence. And I have my own painful stories to share as well. I know pain. We’ve been pretty good friends over the years.
But feelings aside, here are some surprising facts from my own church family. There are at least 6 formerly LGBT folk in my immediate sphere who simply came to the realization that the gay culture is not all rainbows. They left. All on their own, no “change ministry” to tell them how, just the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And as I attend other churches and meet more and more of these alienated souls, it’s becoming obvious that this is happening all over the place in Western culture. Church after church that I visit I meet them — and they all say the same thing; “I thought I was the only one”.
So, sisters and brothers, can COM and people like me have a platform to talk? Can “people like us” who actually walked the rainbow walk tell you our “exit” story? Can we give you our testimony about how the Holy Spirit guided us out of the closet of sin and into the arms of a forgiving, loving, and transforming Christ? Can I share the story of the elderly gay couple who left their former lives and got baptized and no longer identify as gay? Or the gay community activist, a former “leather daddy”, who is now married to a loving wife and has 2 kids and runs a men’s group for those who seek a way out?
Can I introduce you to the gay-sex and drug addict who found the Lord and has given his life wholly to Jesus? Let me introduce you to a former lesbian truck driver who ran to the foot of the Cross in her time of need and now wants to tell the whole world there is a better way! Can I tell you about the former Kinship Board Member who believed all the lies the world assured him of only to be called to repent and kneel at the foot of the Cross through a dream? I’d love to! Because that last one is me!
But each precious, saved soul needs to tell their own story—and they want to! What “people like us” have in common is they no longer care for the man-made labels of “I was born that way” rhetoric. The fact is, everyone was “born that way”. And that’s why Jesus came, to save us from ourselves.
So dear church, like Israel—who stood speechless when asked whose opinion to follow—I ask you to break that silence and be set free of the paralysis of non-biblical narratives and feelings. Renounce those who accuse Biblical views, like COM’s, as the source of Israel’s troubles. Israel needed a supernatural sign to wake them. Well, I’ve seen that Holy Spirit fire from heaven transform my fossilized heart into fleshly tablets now malleable to the Word. Can you allow the same? Can you allow us a platform for conversation, people like me and Coming Out Ministries? We have a testimony.
Listen to our stories of redemption and restoration, as well as our stumbles and falls. Will you walk with us and pray with us, and help us back onto that Narrow Way? Our message is that Jesus is coming again and He will set everything right.
This is the hope that burns within our hearts.”
Humbly at the foot of the Cross,