her remarks to the delegates at the Annual Council about this
said that "We want this to be done in an educating, healthy
way, not condemning anyone because both men and women abuse;
and men, women, children, and the elderly are victims."
face this evil and name this challenge for what it issin.
Something that comes from the devil himself. We need to meet
this evil with spiritual weapons as well as with support, anger
management, shelters, counseling, and the other usual tools," she
In August Women's
Ministries helped to sponsor Helen Pearson of Great Britain,
TED, to attend an inter-faith meeting on domestic violence in
Dundee, Scotland. The leadership was so impressed when they saw
what resources Pearson had from the Adventist church that they
invited Karen Flowers to attend, also.
this meeting came from all parts of the world to share resources;
they developed nine principles of action intended to raise awareness
of the abuse issue and to encourage churches to develop effective
We want to
encourage all women to be involved in and plan for this special
Family violence involves an assault of any kind—verbal, physical, emotional,
sexual, or active or passive neglect—that is committed by one person
or persons against another within a family, whether they are married, related,
living together or apart, or divorced. Current international research indicates
that family violence is a global problem. It occurs between individuals of
all ages and nationalities, at all socioeconomic levels, and in families
from all types of religious and non-religious backgrounds. The overall rate
has been found to be similar for city, suburban, and rural communities.
violence manifests itself in a number of ways. For example,
it may be a physical attack on one's spouse. Emotional
assaults such as verbal threats, episodes of rage, depreciation
of character, and unrealistic demands for perfection are
also abuse. It may take the form of physical coercion and
violence within the marital sexual relationship, or the
threat of violence through the use of intimidating verbal
or nonverbal behavior. It includes behavior such as incest
and the mistreatment or neglect of underage children by
a parent or another guardian that results in injury or
harm. Violence against the elderly may be seen in physical,
psychological, sexual, verbal, material, and medical abuse
Bible clearly indicates that the distinguishing mark of
Christian believers is the quality of their human relationships
in the church and in the family. It is in the spirit of
Christ to love and accept, to seek to affirm and build
others up, rather than to abuse or tear one another down.
There is no room among Christ's followers for tyrannical
control and the abuse of power or authority. Motivated
by their love for Christ, His disciples are called to show
respect and concern for the welfare of others, to accept
males and females as equals, and to acknowledge that every
person has a right to respect and dignity. Failure to relate
to others in this way violates their personhood and devalues
human beings created and redeemed by God.
apostle Paul refers to the church as ‘‘the household
of faith'' which functions as an extended family, offering acceptance,
and comfort to all, especially to those who are hurting or disadvantaged.
Scripture portrays the church as a family in which personal and spiritual
occur as feelings of betrayal, rejection, and grief give way to feelings
of forgiveness, trust, and wholeness. The Bible also speaks of the
Christian's personal responsibility to protect his or her body
temple from desecration
because it is the dwelling place of God.
Regrettably, family violence occurs in many Christian homes.
It can never be condoned. It severely affects the lives
of all involved and often
long term distorted perceptions of God, self, and others.
It is our belief that the Church has a responsibility—
1. To care
for those involved in family violence and to respond to their
to and accepting those suffering from abuse, loving and affirming
them as persons of value and worth.
the injustices of abuse and speaking out in defense of victims
both within the community of faith and in society.
a caring, supportive ministry to families affected by violence
and abuse, seeking to enable both victims and perpetrators
to access counseling with Seventh-day Adventist professionals
where available or other professional resources in the community.
the training and placement of licensed Seventh-day Adventist
professional services for both church members and the surrounding
a ministry of reconciliation when the perpetrator's repentance
makes possible the contemplation of forgiveness and restoration
in relationships. Repentance always includes acceptance of
full responsibility for the wrongs committed, willingness
to make restitution in every way possible, and changes in
behavior to eliminate the abuse.
the light of the gospel on the nature of husband-wife, parent-child,
and other close relationships, and empowering individuals
and families to grow toward God's ideals in their lives together.
against the ostracism of either victims or perpetrators within
the family or church community, while firmly holding perpetrators
responsible for their actions.
2. To strengthen
family life by:
family life education which is grace-oriented and includes
a biblical understanding of the mutuality, equality, and
respect indispensable to Christian relationships.
understanding of the factors that contribute to family violence.
ways to prevent abuse and violence and the recurring cycle
often observed within families and across generations.
commonly held religious and cultural beliefs which may be
used to justify or cover up family violence. For example,
while parents are instructed by God to redemptively correct
their children, this responsibility does not give license
for the use of harsh, punitive disciplinary measures.
3. To accept our moral responsibility to be alert and responsive
to abuse within the families of our congregations and our
communities, and to
such abusive behavior is a violation of Seventh-day Adventist
Christian standards. Any indications or reports of abuse
must not be minimized
but seriously considered.
For church members to remain indifferent and unresponsive
is to condone, perpetuate, and possibly extend family violence.
we are to live as children of the light, we must illuminate the
darkness where family violence occurs in our midst.
We must care
for one another,
even when it would be easier to remain uninvolved.
above statement is informed by principles expressed in the following
scriptural passages: Ex 20:12; Matt
John 13:34; Rom 12:10,
13; l Cor 6:19; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:2, 3, 21-27; 6:1-4;
Col 3:12-14; 1 Thess 5:11; 1 Tim 5:5-8.)
was voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Administrative Committee (ADCOM) on August 27, 1996, and by the
General Conference Executive Committee at the Annual Council
in San Jose, Costa Rica, October 1-10, 1996.
on Abuse & Family Violence
Adventists affirm the dignity and worth of each human being
and decry all forms of physical, sexual and emotional abuse
and family violence.
the global extent of this problem and the serious, long-term
effects upon the lives of all involved. We believe that
Christians must respond to abuse and family violence both
within the church and in the community. We take seriously
reports of abuse and violence and have highlighted these
issues for discussion at this international assembly. We
believe that to remain indifferent and unresponsive is
to condone, perpetuate, and potentially extend such behavior.
our responsibility to cooperate with other professional
services, to listen and care for those suffering from abuse
and family violence, to highlight the injustices, and to
speak out in defense of victims. We will help persons in
need to identify and access the range of available professional
changed attitudes and behavior open possibilities for forgiveness
and new beginnings, we will provide a ministry
We will assist
families in grief over relationships that cannot be restored.
We will address the spiritual questions confronting abused
the origins of abuse and family violence and developing better
ways of preventing the recurring cycle.
was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day
Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM) and was released
by the Office of the President, Robert S. Folkenberg, at the
General Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June
29-July 8, 1995
on Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse occurs when a person older or
stronger than the child uses his or her power, authority,
or position of trust to involve a child in sexual
behavior or activity. Incest, a specific form of child sexual abuse, is defined
as any sexual activity between a child and a parent, a sibling, an extended
family member, or a step/surrogate parent.
Sexual abusers may be men or women and may be of
any age, nationality, or socio-economic background.
They are often men who are married with children,
jobs, and may be regular churchgoers. It is common for offenders to strongly
deny their abusive behavior, to refuse to see their actions as a problem,
and to rationalize their behavior or place blame on something or someone
While it is true that many abusers exhibit deeply rooted insecurities and
low self-esteem, these problems should never be accepted as an excuse for
abusing a child. Most authorities agree that the real issue in child sexual
abuse is more related to a desire for power and control than for sex.
When God created the human family, He began with
a marriage between a man and a woman based on
mutual love and trust. This relationship is still
designed to provide the foundation for a stable, happy family in which
worth, and integrity of each family member is protected and upheld. Every
whether male or female, is to be affirmed as a gift from God. Parents
given the privilege and responsibility of providing nurture, protection,
care for the children entrusted to them by God. Children should be able
to honor, respect, and trust their parents and other family members without
the risk of abuse.
The Bible condemns child sexual abuse in the strongest
possible terms. It sees any attempt to confuse,
blur, or denigrate personal, generational,
boundaries through sexually abusive behavior as an act of betrayal
and a gross violation of personhood. It openly
condemns abuses of power,
responsibility because these strike at the very heart of the victims'
deepest feelings about themselves, others, and God, and shatter their
love and trust. Jesus used strong language to condemn the actions of
through word or deed, causes a child to stumble.
The Adventist Christian community is not immune from
child sexual abuse. We believe that the tenets
of the Seventh-day Adventist faith require
us to be
actively involved in its prevention. We are also committed to spiritually
assisting abused and abusive individuals and their families in their
healing and recovery
process, and to holding church professionals and church lay leaders
accountable for maintaining their personal behavior as is appropriate
in positions of spiritual leadership and trust.
As a Church we believe our faith calls us to:
- Uphold the principles of Christ for family relationships
in which the self-respect, dignity, and purity
of children are recognized
as divinely mandated rights.
- Provide an atmosphere where children who have been
abused can feel safe when reporting sexual
abuse and can feel that someone
- Become thoroughly informed about sexual abuse and
its impact upon our own church community.
- Help ministers and lay leaders to recognize the warning
signs of child sexual abuse and
know how to respond appropriately
or a child
reports being sexually abused.
- Establish referral relationships with professional
counselors and local sexual assault agencies who
can, with their professional
abuse victims and their families.
- Create guidelines/policies at the appropriate levels
to assist church leaders in:
a. Endeavoring to treat with fairness persons accused
of sexually abusing children,
b. Holding abusers accountable for their actions
and administering appropriate discipline.
- Support the education and enrichment of families
and family members by:
a. Dispelling commonly held religious and cultural
beliefs which may be used to justify or cover
up child sexual
b. Building a healthy sense of personal worth
in each child which enables him or her to respect
c. Fostering Christlike relationships between
males and females in the home and in the church.
- Provide caring support and a faith-based redemptive
ministry within the church community for abuse
survivors and abusers while
them to access
the available network of professional resources
in the community.
- Encourage the training of more family professionals
to facilitate the healing and recovery process
of abuse victims and perpetrators.
(The above statement is informed by principles
expressed in the following scriptural passages:
2:18-25; Lev 18:20;
2 Sam 13:1-22;
Matt 18:6-9; 1 Cor
5:1-5; Eph 6:1-4; Col 3:18-21; 1 Tim 5:5-8.)
was voted during the Spring Meeting of the General Conference
Executive Committee on Tuesday, April 1, 1997, in Loma Linda,
The Annual Council voted on September 26, 2001, to add an Abuse Prevention
Emphasis Day to the church calendar of special Sabbaths. This will be on the
church calendar around the world. The fourth Sabbath in August has been designated
as the Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day. The General Conference Women's Ministries
will be supplying material that can be used that day just as it does for the
International Women's Day of Prayer in March and the Women's Ministries Emphasis
day in June.
Women's Ministries will be working with Family Ministries,
Health Ministries, Children's Ministries, Youth Department,
Education Department, and Ministerial
Association in preparing materials for the prevention emphasis day. Although
it is an uncomfortable subject for many people it has become more and more
obvious that abuse is a serious problem for Christians, for Adventists. Abuse
in any form deforms the body of Christ—for the victim, for the perpetrator,
and for the church that is left with the hurting members.
The Emphasis Day will provide an opportunity for local churches
to address this issue to educate church members and leadership,
and to let victims know
that their church cares.
Women's Ministries directors in the local churches should plan
very early so that this day can be a part of the local
church planning. Work closely
your pastor, keeping him or her informed.
Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day represents a "step in the right direction," said
Karen Flowers, associate director of Family Ministries at the General Conference.
Family Ministries has already developed a range of resources on this subject
that will be of great value as they become more well used at the local level.
In her remarks to the delegates at the Annual Council about
this day, Stenbakken said that "We want this to be done in an educating, healthy way, not condemning
anyone because both men and women abuse; and men, women, children, and the
elderly are victims."
" We must face this evil and name this challenge for what it is—sin.
Something that comes from the devil himself. We need to meet this evil with spiritual
weapons as well as with support, anger management, shelters, counseling, and
the other usual tools," she concluded.
In August Women's Ministries helped to sponsor Helen Pearson
of Great Britain, TED, to attend an inter-faith meeting
on domestic violence
Scotland. The leadership was so impressed when they saw what resources
from the Adventist church that they invited Karen Flowers to attend,
Delegates at this meeting came from all parts of the world
to share resources; they developed nine principles of action
intended to raise
of the abuse issue and to encourage churches to develop effective
We want to encourage all women to be involved in and plan for
this special day.
Ministries Resources on Abuse