-------- Original Message --------
||G. Arthur Joy, Harold Lance, Linda Shelton,
||My response, # 1, Gregory Matthews
||Mon, 4 Dec 2006 08:32:33 -0700
Response to ASI
Overall I was encouraged by the outreach that Harold Lance
has made to us. It is a good start. It reflects a good tone
(spirit). In many ways it reflects where I am. Of course, I
am going to think a document is good when it agrees with me.
It seems to agree with my assessment of what must be accomplished
if ASI can establish a panel that can achieve some degree of
resolution. If he has read what I have previously posted on
the Internet, he knows that I have stated that the following
are the critical issues that the respective parties must agree
upon if this panel is to be effective:
- They must agree upon the issues to be considered.
- They must agree upon the aim of the panel, or to put it another way, what the expected results are.
- They must agree upon the process.
NOTE: In my previous public posts, I have expanded upon the above slightly.
In my understanding of what Harold has written, he also sees
the above as critical issues.
I have reflected upon his document overnight. Without detracting
from what I consider to be an excellent document, I will suggest
that it contains a number of issues that need further clarification,
and agreement by the parties. It is my intention in my response
to identify those and to comment upon them. Any references that
I may make to "critical issues," unless otherwise identified,
will reference the three listed above. To identify my point
for discussion, I will quote from Harold's document with a "Re:"
followed by either the quotation, or a brief summary of a point
in his document.
a) Re: ". . . request to ASI [by 3-ABN] that it establish
a commission to evaluate and determine Danny's' [sic] legal and
moral right to remarry."
This falls under my critical issue # 1.
This request seems to limit the issues that are to be considered
by this commission. Perhaps that is O.K., if the respective
parties agree to this. In my mind, the marital issues, which
have some importance, are much less important than other issues.
Again, what do the respective parties want, and agree to?
A larger issue is that this wording restricts the marital
issues to Danny and Linda, their divorce, and Danny's remarriage.
I will suggest that the marital issues are much larger than
this focus. Danny has been charged, rightly or wrongly, I do
not know, with sexual misconduct, during the time that he was
married to Linda, and following the divorce, prior to his marriage
to Brandi. These issues are clearly marital issues, yet they
lie outside of the narrow focus as requested by 3-ABN.
I acknowledge that this commission cannot be expected to consider
every one of the issues that are considered important by everyone.
But, I think it is important that this commission issue a statement
of such limitations, and that therefore interested parties are
free to pursue redress in other venues, to include the civil
authorities. After all, God established civil government, and
directed all of us to submit to its rule, when not in conflict
with God. This all is related to my critical issue # 2.
b) Re: "ASI has no jurisdiction. . . [and is without] authority
to make orders and awards that disputants are required to follow."
I agree wholeheartedly with the above. ASI is very limited
in what it can accomplish. To place what Harold then states
in words of my own: ASI can only make findings of fact, and
recommendations. Again, this is related to my critical issue
# 2. With this perspective, ASI cannot require binding resolution.
There must be an acknowledgement that the parties are free to
reject, and to see other venues for resolution. If any of the
parties should do so, the findings of fact, and recommendations
of the Commission would play a role as to how the SDA public
perceived this situation. From this perspective, I believe that
the parties would carefully consider such findings and recommendations,
before rejecting them. I believe that this would be helpful.
c) Re: The Biblical appropriateness of the divorce and the
We are on uncertain ground with this one, as important as
it is. Regardless of the CHURCH MANUAL, we as a denomination
do not agree with what constitutes Biblical grounds, and remarriage
following divorce. In my personal opinion, as applied to this
situation Biblical grounds must be limited to sexual misconduct,
and what is commonly considered to be adultery. This presents
us with a problem. Danny and 3-ABN (Dr. Thompson) have clearly
stated, many times, that they have no proof that Linda violated
what I have just laid out above. From this standpoint, by the
thinking of some, with this admission from Danny and 3-ABN, the
Commission can only find that Linda did not provide Danny with
Biblical grounds for divorce. I agree with that position, until
it is proven to me that she did commit adultery.
NOTE: In my mind, and that of many conservative SDAs so-called
"spiritual adultery" and adultery in one's thoughts are not Biblical
grounds. ASI will clearly, in my mind be off the conservative
platform if it suggests any such do constitute Biblical grounds.
Any such opinion coming from it will highly disturb its conservative
base of support.
In my thinking, the worst that Linda might be charged with
(I do not say she should be charged with such.) is what is professionally
known as "transference." I will say more about transference
later. But, such to me is not Biblical grounds for divorce.
Transference takes place in many settings (counselor & counselee,
physician & patient, pastor & member, lawyer & client, and more.)
It is a fact of life. Under some constructs it is a valid,
positive effect that is necessary for helping relationships to
There is also another issue here that is raised due to the
fact that the SDA church is divided in regard to what are Biblical
grounds for divorce and remarriage. It is a fundamental issue
under law that people be treated equally. It is likely that
people are not treated equally in this issue, and are treated
according to the congregation in which they find themselves.
The ASI Committee should consider not only Biblical grounds,
the CHURCH MANUAL, but also the typical way that people are treated
today in SDA congregations. I.e. They should not treat either
Danny or Linda more strictly than they would be treated in the
typical local congregation. This is required by basic fairness.
Retention in a position of spiritual leadership is an appropriate
consideration. I.e. A person might be retained in church membership,
yet removed from a position of major ministry. When such is
done, there is an obligation to treat all in the same manner.
E.g. If Linda is to be examined as to her conduct, and whether
or not she should be retained in a position of spiritual leadership,
so also should Danny be examined. And, her treatment should
also be examined in relation to other people who may also have
been charged with sexual misconduct.
d) Re: Issues of Danny and Linda's employment:
ASI can only recommend. It cannot enforce. ASI potentially
could recommend that Danny be relieved from all employment at
3-ABN, if this was thought to be appropriate. However, it is
a stretch of the imagination to believe that such would happen
if ASI were to recommend it.
As to Linda: Realistically, she could not effectively return
to 3-ABN unless there was a major change in leadership to include
the Board. She simply would not be allowed to effectively work
there, and would likely be marginalized.
e) Re: Issues regarding Linda's membership:
Linda is presently a member, in good standing, in a SDA Church
recognized by a recognized SDA Conference. Her membership should
not be an issue.
Should ASI consider how she was treated by her church of former
membership? Perhaps? Maybe? I am not certain? What would
be accomplished? Within the denominational rules that are supposed
to govern such, local congregations have the authority, right
or wrong. Perhaps the best that could be said might be to say
that the relationship between Linda, the local congregation,
the Conference and its leadership, and 3-ABN, was of such a nature
that denominational rules in existence did not provide the guidance
that was needed, and that therefore issues of potential ethical
conflicts arise out of this situation.
NOTE: I am not attempting to prejudge the case, or to suggest
that there is only one conclusion that the Committee may make.
I think that there are many aspects of this case that present
very hard questions and I am not certain that ASI can resolve
them. Perhaps, however, they can raise issues that may be resolved
for future situations should they rise again.
f) Re: Fundamentals as outlined by Mr. Lance:
He has listed a number which are of value.
g) Re: Selection of the Panel, # 10:
More is involved than just selecting people who are fair,
intelligent, spiritual, and without preconceived opinion. I
will suggest that the panel should have members who may have
expertise in some areas. E.g. If the panel is to consider that
"transference" is a factor in the development of the problems
(I do not say it was.), the panel should have someone on it that
can be considered some kind of expert on transference and its
meaning in a relationship as in question here.
If the ethical standards of Dr. A. come into question, the
panel should have someone on it who can discuss the professional
ethical standards for a person in Dr. A's position in Norway,
where he lives. There may be some common ethical standards that
are present everywhere. But, ethical standards are often determined
in part by local law and culture. I.e. If it is unethical for
a physician in the US to give a specific gift to a patient, one
cannot say that such would be unethical in Norway.
h) Re: Items A - F, on page 3, in regard to legal practices
that Mr. Lance does not think apply.
I think a so-called "judge," or someone who can direct the
panel, might be helpful under some situations, if carefully chosen.
I also believe that there may be situations where it might
be helpful to take depositions, such as dealing with women who
have charged someone with sexual misconduct.
The issue of a record is important. There must be enough
detail to provide a historical record for the future.
i) Re: Balance between privacy and openness.
There is a clear place for privacy. Women who accuse someone
of sexual misconduct must have some expectation of privacy.
Society in general recognizes such.
However, society distinguishes between common people and public
figures. Danny and Linda are both public figures. Both have
been accused publicly of major sins. Neither rightly has the
expectation of privacy that a common person might have. In any
case, with the publication of their alleged sins for the world
to read, privacy in not the answer at this time. In fairness
to both of them, a final report should report findings on the
accusations that have been made against them. As public figures,
the SDA public needs to know such findings. If this is not done,
these issues will not go away. They will remain in public view
and under public discussion.
j) One final note, although not brought up in this document
by Mr. Lance: ASI must accept the decision of the respective
parties as to who represents that party before ASI. ASI cannot
automatically exclude anyone.