When you leave the Seventh Day Adventist church, you will now become part of “The World”. To people leaving, I don’t need to explain to you why this is bad. It is hard to put into words, and you know/understand anyway. That is probably why you are here in the first place – it is terrifying to become part of “The World” and so you are looking for some advice on how to do this without destroying yourself in the process!
However, not all of my readers will understand this, and so here is a little bit more about “The World” and why Seventh Day Adventists do not like it.
First up; what is “The World”?
- This is a phrase that refers to all non-Adventists. It doesn’t matter what religion they are; if they are non-SDAs, then it is in reference to them.
- “The World” can also be used to describe things that SDA’s do not agree with. For instance, to most conservative SDA’s Harry Potter is part of “The World”, because it is evil.
- “The World” is inheriently evil. Let us take Mother Theresa. Most people would agree that she was an amazing woman, absolutely inspiring. Well, one reader wrote in and said he tried to donate a book about her life to his church library. The response? It was given back to him. Why? Because she was not an Adventist, and was part of “The World (even worse, she was a Catholic). It didn’t matter to the church that she dedicated her life to charity, and that she did so out of the goodness of her heart. She wasn’t an Adventists, so she was part of “The World” and not welcome in the church library.
- This is the perfect example of Adventist attitudes towards “The World”. They are not concerned with the good deeds non-Adventists do, they are not concerned with their intentions, and they are not concerned with their achievements in life. Adventists group people into two groups; Adventists and non-Adventists. The moment you are a non-Adventist, your identity is basically lost and they stop paying attention to your achievements/deeds, because you’re immediately “evil”.
There are exceptions to this:
- If you have Adventist friends and you aren’t an Adventist, don’t immediately assume that they view you as “evil”. Adventists generally have this attitude towards “The World”, but that doesn’t mean it always plays out in practical terms.
- If they are friends with you, then they do view you as an individual person. As an Adventists, I would have these attitudes towards most non-Adventists but if I met and specifically came to know a non-Adventist (even in a casual way) I was forced to see their lives for their individual parts, and forced to see that they were indeed good, great, amazing people. These people basically act as “exceptions” (but part of you is always aware that they are wordly).
- This also isn’t to say that Adventists completely paint “The World” this way. It is a difficult thing to describe. I am over-simplifying it because it is hard to exactly talk about. If you have been immersed in SDA culture/thought, then you’ll understand what I mean.
It is apart of their culture
- Adventists do not like “The World” because they are taught, from a very young age, to not like “The World”. As children, they will be told daily things such as:
– “We are not like The World, we are different.”
– “We have the truth, unlike The World.”
– “We are in The World, but we are not a part of it.
– “The World does not obey God’s commandments, like the Sabbath, but we do.”
– “The World is disobedient to God. They are following Satan.”
This is especially effective on children. They grow up, knowing there are two groups of people, and knowing that they are different. They reinfornce constantly, every single day, to their children this idea. As a child we would be watching TV, and my parents would casually make remarks such as “see this? That is an example of The World.“
- They assign non-Adventist ideas the phrase “worldly”. This becomes apart of the adventist vocubularly, fast. Here are some examples of how this is used in casual speech;
– “Worldly things are evil. Satan uses them to deceive.”
– “That TV show is worldly.”
– “Not keeping the Sabbath is worldly.”
– “Your non-SDA friends do worldly things that we do not do.”
Adventists can’t help it; we hear this all the time as children, as teenagers and then as adults.
Why Adventists do not like “The World”
- Adventists are very much focused on works. When you join the church and are baptised, you are required to sign and to publically proclaim in front of the church that you accept and will follow the 28 Fundemental Beliefs. Some of these relate to ideas that you accept (such as the prophecies), but a lot of these are rules.
- The rules you agree to are very taxing. The include things such as the Sabbath (which disrupts both the Friday and Saturday), tithing 10% of all your income and sticking rigidly to health food laws. You are also under pressure to go beyond this, such as go vegan instead of just following the rules concerning meat.
- (Conservative – and some liberal) Adventists believe they are fundemental, core, to being an Adventist. If you don’t keep ONE, then you are breaking your baptist code. You can’t be an Adventist, but choose to eat pork. You have to keep it all. Anything else is “worldly” and sinful.
- To Adventists then, if you choose to break these rules, you’re basically no longer a real Adventist. And if you are not an Adventist, then you will not be saved by God. If you choose to eat pork, then you will not go to heaven. This is conservative Seventh Day Adventist theology.
- If you’re not an Adventist, then you are apart of “The World” which is, again, evil. Only Adventists are saved. There are exceptions; if someone has not heard Adventist theology/beliefs/ideas, they will be given grace by God. But once they come in contact with them, they are required to immediately take it up. So if you are an Adventist, and then flat-out reject it, for whatever reason, you have signed your death warrant. There are very few ways that Adventists can rationalize you going to heaven.
What does this mean for people that leave the church?
- When you are in the church, your family/friends are concerned with you. They are interested in your life, they celebrate your achievements and they are focused on your individual qualities.
- Once you leave and join “The World”, you basically loose your identity. It doesn’t really matter to the Adventist world if people in “The World” have an identity, because they are all destined to die anyway, because they are, in effect, all evil and rejected God. That is all that really matters, and now you have definitely joined them.
As a Seventh Day Adventist, it is very hard to even begin to truly consider other beliefs in the first place, because of how much these negative ideas are reinforced. Then, when you begin to consider these ideas, it is terrifying to consider leaving. Losing your positive, unique identity to your family and taking on this new identity is an incredibly painful, shameful and scary experience.
That is why you need to break away from Adventism exclusivism, and start making non-SDA friends, because their good thoughts about you are not conditionally based on being apart of a particular religion. You need their positive reinforcement, to counteract the horror in becoming everything the church teaches against.
Interesting SDA video on staying “connected”. In the video, it says a sign saying “what if everyone connected?” Yet the answer to this was that the man join an Adventist small group meeting.