The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors

Premarital Purity
I appreciated the article, and I congratulate Alexis A. Goring for writing on “Premarital Sex or Purity” (Nov. 15, 2012). Having devoted 25 years of my life as youth leader for the worldwide church and many more years as a pastor, I resonate with the challenges to today’s youth. Society’s message is “Everybody is doing it,” and we know the pressure our youth face. However, if they know and have a vision of the consequences of losing their purity before marriage they would remain faithful and, like Joseph, run away from temptation. More than ever we are bombarded by the media--magazines and movies depicting a lifestyle contrary to God’s principles.

Ellen G. White has one of the most beautiful quotations on love: “True love is a high and holy principle, altogether different in character from that love which is awakened by impulse and which suddenly dies when severely tested” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 176). She also mentions that young people should practice “self-denial.” Young people have to know that “risky behavior” is not the norm, and that true love is a solid basis for relationships. We have seen the results of sensual love that has permeated our society and destroyed millions of homes. Let’s pray that our youth will choose to follow “God’s plan for relationships.”

--Leo Ranzolin
Estero, Florida

Interpreting the Word
I’m writing in response to the article “Fighting the Good Fight” by Hyveth Williams (Nov. 15, 2012).

Reference is made to Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing!” It is a long stretch of interpretation to take this text, referring to a new heaven and a new earth, and apply it to prophesying a newly recognized role for women. Such a stretch could be applied to anything new that comes up.

The article calls our attention to 2 Corinthians 6:1-3, inferring that Paul says there is an acceptable time for everything. Paul is here talking about an acceptable time to accept salvation. It is a mistake to take Paul as meaning there is an acceptable time for everything (for some things there is no acceptable time), and infer that it applies to women’s ordination.

The author quotes Ellen White regarding the emergence of new truth and/or doctrine. Women’s ordination is neither “truth” nor “doctrine”; it is simply a way of getting things done. We can’t accept something simply because Ellen White said, however true, that more truth may (not will) be uncovered, and our ideas may (not will) be in error.

Now, “neither male nor female.” In the text quoted, Paul refers to those who are “children of God through faith” (verse 26). When one becomes a child of God, they will still be Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman. God will accept them all equally as His children. In Christ they are equal but still different.

Be cautious: Bible meanings can be strained to mean whatever we want them to mean, to foster whatever we want to promote.

--Ray Hickman, Sr.
Midlothian, Virginia

The Unbroken Circle
Regarding "The Circle of Caring” (Nov. 8, 2012): When Christian churches close their doors after the weekly service, where is caring for the rest of the week? God does not forget who we are, down to our very last cell. Why should we forget our fellow human beings?

The love that Bill Knott’s father imparted lives on in him, and those to whom he passes it, and so on. When caring is 24/7 beyond church doors, then life is not driven by religion. . . . In knowing, believing, and living this principle we are each given the will to go on until our last breath.

--Libby Beament
Stanhope Gardens, New South Wales, Australia

Short and Helpful
Lillian R. Guild’s article “How’s Your Prayer Life?” (Nov. 8, 2012) was short, concise, interesting, and well-written.  I found it helpful and refreshing.

--Helen Burtnett
DeLand, Florida

Social Realities
Calvin Rock’s article, “The Social Realities of Racial Diversity” (Oct. 25, 2012) was stimulating and forthright. Past discussions seem devoid of real meaning and workable strategies. The discussion has to be more courageous and honest.

The goal of our church seems to be one of integration along racial, cultural lines. Witness the many long-standing attempts to show “mission accomplished” by word and picture in church publications.

I have also long noted the disproportionate effort expended to evangelize both the poor and minorities. Intended or not, this has a consequence of moving us to a skewed membership composition and implies failure of effort among other groups.

While the church proceeds with its attempts at integration, the most prominent racial and ethnic groups persistently organize themselves in their own conferences, congregations, and other entities. Are they acknowledging that differences matter, and that all such natural groupings can find the greatest comfort and fulfillment in their own socio-religious environments within the church?

It’s complicated, but we have to reconsider whether “forced” integration actually helps us achieve church goals, or serves as a stumbling block to our overall objectives. I think it does, in spite of any positives that may be argued.

Physical proximity does not necessarily reduce conflict or make us more loving or more successful evangelists. Christian love can exist across racial and ethnic lines, and we can work for common goals without destroying our respective cultural identity spaces.

As a church we may have created naïve practices and policies that have the unintended consequence of making us less cohesive and effective as a church. But it may be too late to do anything about it.

--Dean Riley
Banks, Alabama

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