This is from my book Religious Ethics: A Sourcebook, published in 2002. It is the view of a SDA pastor, who at the time had recently moved from Westbury to Brooklyn.
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS ADOPTED THEIR NAME IN 1861. It is an evangelical group founded in America in expectation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
About 1 million Americans are SDA’s. This represents only one-tenth of their total worldwide membership.
Pastor, Canarsie Seventh-Day Adventist Church Brooklyn, New York
1.What does it mean to be a good person?
To have a connection with God who alone is good and to produce fruits of righteousness. This is spelt out in Mica 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
It simply is to be a Just Person.
2.Why be good?
In order to exhibit the characteristics of God. To represent God. The human heart yearns for the good, which he lost when Adam fell. We lost something that we once had before, which is the character of God.
3.Is it possible to be a good person and no longer believe in your religion?
There is a desire in all to be good, but those who are sensitive to God; God is able to make them good.
One can be good according to the world, but not be saved.
4. Is it possible to be a good person and no longer believe in your religion i.e. can an apostate be a good person?
Apostate is one who has left The Faith and cannot be a good person, because he has denounced God; the very source of goodness.
5. Is there a difference between religious requirements and morality?
Religion mostly leads upwards but morality is mostly horizontal, dealing with person to person.
6. What is the source of ethics?
The source of Christian ethics is Divine, from God.
7.Can someone be a good person and be an atheist? 128
A person who denies the source of goodness cannot himself be good, because he lacks the connection to receive it from God who alone is good.
8.How do you decide what is right and what is wrong? The 10 Commandments and the standard of Jesus.
9. Why do bad things happen to good people?
The sinful environment affects us all and there is no distinction. Bad things happen to all.
10. Is there a difference between a religious offense and a moral/ secular offense?
Yes, religious offense is done against the principles of God. Secular offense is against governments or societies.
11. Who enforces the moral rules? God through the Church.
12.Should the moral rules of your religion apply to everyone? No.
13.What role should religion play in secular society? Moral conscience.
14.Is killing ever justified?
Our stand is not to kill. There can be justification before the state but not before God.
15. Is war ever justified?
No, our ethics is based on Christian principles. War is not justified. Christ said turn the other cheek and trust in God.
16. Is violence against innocent people justifiable? No.
17.Can someone be a conscientious objector?
Yes, The Seventh-day Adventists are conscientious objectors.
18. Is force justifiable against children? No.
19. Is force justifiable against a spouse? No.
20. Is suicide ever justifiable? No.
21. To what extent is martyrdom acceptable? Of dying for the Truth or standing for Jesus.
22. Is it right to kill an innocent person to save the life of another? No.
23. Is capital punishment acceptable; if so, for what offense? 129
Capital punishment disguises as justice but it also is incomplete justice.
It appears as if capital punishment achieves the balance real justice must achieve. You take life we take your life. This is a negative balance but true justice seeks to achieve a positive balance. The question of justice seeks to address not only the fate of the one who takes the life but most importantly the One whose life was taken.
To achieve justice for all, his life must be restored while the offender’s life must be reformed or transformed but no one must be left to remain in the same condition. It is incomplete justice to address the offender and to leave the victim in the same situation. But who can change the situation of the dead victim and bring him justice?
I admit such justice cannot come about by imperfect human systems or inadequate human capabilities. But justice delayed is not justice denied in a world that moves toward justice.
True justice must not all be negative, true justice must seek to create positive balance. Whereas it must seek to discipline the offender and cause him to change his ways so the offense should not occur again, true justice also must first and foremost seek to restore what the offender robed from the victim. The goal of justice is to restore the victim even beyond where he was before the offense was done to him, to where he could have been if he was left alone.
That’s why you can’t take life because you can’t make life or give life. Only God can do that. Only God can give and take life – He alone can bring about true justice, to restore all the innocent lives we have lost and punish the wickedness of men. That’s when there will be a real sense of true justice – until then justice delays – but justice delayed is not justice denied.
True justice is two pronged: it demands the reformation of the perpetrator and the restoration of the victim
Both the evildoer and the evil receiver need justice; one must be changed and the other must be restored so that evil will not be perpetuated. And justice is that great equalizer, the principle that restores equilibrium in the universe so that the world can move along in peace.
24. Under what circumstance, if any, is abortion allowable? Abortion is never allowable.
25. Are autopsies allowable; if so, under what circumstance?
Yes. To find the cause of death in order to convict a murderer and to stop a plague.
26. Are there rules about body modification e.g. tattoos, cosmetic, surgery, and amputations?
Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We are not our own, for we are bought with a price. So we are told, Whatever we do, we should do so for the glory of God.
27. Are transfusions allowed? Yes as the last resort.
28.Should extraordinary means be used to prolong life?
Life that is surrendered to Christ should not artificially be prolonged.
29. Should family and/ or patients have the right to end suffering? Decisions about death must be left to God the author of life.
30.Does anyone have the right to hasten death? No.
31. In the case of conjoined twins when both will die if nothing is done to separate them but only one will live (and the other die) if the operation takes place, is the killing of one acceptable in order to save the life of the other?
Yes. By trying to save both lives if one dies in the process, it’s okay.
32. Is genetic engineering permissible?
We need to better understand the concept to make a sound judgment about it.
33. Is the theory of evolution compatible with your religion? No.
34. Are environmental concerns part of your religious ethic? Yes. Man is to have dominion over the earth.
35. Do animals have any moral standing?
Yes. Since God made them and God cares for the little sparrow there is morality about how we treat them. Misuse of them is sinful. Man is made the steward of God’s creation.
36.Does your religion predict an end time? If so, when will that be and what will the world be like for humans?
Christ states no one knows the day or the hour? But it will be times of selfishness, evil will be rampant, spirituality will be bankrupt. It will be like in the days of Noah before the flood.
37. Is sex outside marriage permissible? No. It’s sinful.
38. Is sex only for procreation? No.
39. Is masturbation allowed?
Any sexual acts outside of marriage are sinful. Inside of marriage temperance should be observed.
40. Is genital sex the only morally permissible type? Personal decision on relationship with God.
41. Are there moral codes regarding dress and hairstyles?
Yes, a conservative look, not flashy, or trendy, but dressed in modest apparel that which does not draw attention.
42. Is transvestism immoral?
Yes, according to the bible men should not appear as women (vice versa)
43.Is homosexuality immoral?
Yes, Jesus said men to take unto themselves wives.
44. Should all people have equal rights under the law even if they engage in immoral behavior?
It is not our right to judge.
45. Should gay marriages be recognized by the state?
Union could be by state law, but not marriage. Legitimate marriage according to the Bible is lawful between man and woman.
46. Is it immoral to have more than one spouse at a time? It is not ideal Biblically, but not immoral.
47. Is divorce acceptable?
No, according to the bible, with one exception, that is fornication.
48. Are the roles played by men and women a moral issue? Yes.
49. Are men and women separate but equal? Yes.
50. Is the use of drugs and / or alcohol allowable? No.
51. Should prayers be allowed in public schools?
It should not be legislated, but individual conscience be respected.
52. Should the state subsidize religious schools or program? No, church and state should be separate.
53. Is the food a person eats a religious and/ or moral concern? Yes, both.
54. Is gambling allowed?
No, our faith should be towards God.
55. Is smoking allowed?
No, our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.