If I’d written in my new book Being the Bad Guys that education materials would soon be sent to churches by a government in Australia to tell them how they are permitted to talk about sexuality matters to avoid prosecution, I would have been laughed at. Yet that is what the Victorian Government has just voted in, with its new legislation designed to shut down true diversity on sexuality matters.
The Change (Or Suppression) Prohibition Bill just passed the Parliament with flying rainbow colours. And in a warning to churches that they better line up or else, education material is going to be sent out. Just to keep churches in line and all that.
You can ignore all of the secular champions of this legislation, along with all of the revisionist apologists who can see nothing – that’s right – nothing wrong with the legislation. There is heaps wrong with it.
You see there are no unintended consequences to this Bill. No unintended consequences at all. And the reason there are no unintended consequences is because all of the consequences are intended.
Even the Royal College of Australian and New Zealand Psychiatrists can see major problems with the legislation. But that hasn’t stopped the Victorian Premier – and his sycophantic apologists – from labelling any disagreement as quackery. And he knows better than a ten year trained psychiatrist what this legislation might result in in terms of legalities?
The stated aim of the legislation was to get rid of the unhealthy practice of conversion therapy, but that was only the stated aim. The real aim was to fire a shot across the bows of every orthodox church in Victoria and warn them that unless you are not simply welcoming, but affirming, of all sexual expression, then you are in trouble.
Murray Campbell’s excellent breakdown of what the legislation says and what it means in toto, is worth a read. Check it out here. And as Murray points out, none of the amendments put forward by Parliamentarians worried about the Bill were accepted. None.
Here’s a quote from Murray’s blog post:
Amongst other things, the Conversion Practices Bill criminalises prayer and conversation where one person aims to persuade another that pursuing certain sexual activity or change is not the best course of action. A prayer for sexual abstinence can be considered ‘suppression’ and therefore illegal. Sermons are not targeted in this Bill, although the recently resigned Attorney General, Jill Hennessy, explained in the Parliament that sermons may be included at a later date.
Sermons may be included at a later date. What the heck?
I have already been telling ministers to be careful what sermons they put up on line, or to have a members only subscription, because make no mistake, activists are being set up for a field day. And once again that is not an unintended consequence of the Bill, it is the intended one.
Murray has his nose to the ground in Victoria, and so when he reports stuff like this, I am quite frankly astonished that it has gotten so far so quickly:
The Government’s LGBTIQ Commissioner explained,
“The proposed law is quite clear in countering any teaching that says that homosexual sex is wrong, so this may well be part of their education”
Part of their education? What? Is there going to be an education class? An education camp? Perhaps they can all be sent off to an isolated location. Come to think of it, we outsource everything else to China, and they seem to be doing a sterling job of re-educating the Uighurs. Maybe Premier Dan Andrews of Victoria can make it part of the Belt and Road Initiative with China that he’s sold the state into.
And the apologists for this legislation in the affirming churches? Those who piled onto the likes of Ethos magazine just this week on Facebook for raising their concerns about the Bill? Will they call that education process a bridge too far?
You can bet they won’t. I’ve said it time and time again, and I will say it once more: orthodox Christians who wish to teach the truth of the Bible around sexual ethics will find no friendship or support from the revisionists. Which simply proves that for the revisionist churches their gospel actually is the gospel of sex.
And like those such as Steve Chalke in the UK who are zealous proclaimers of that gospel of sex, they will be all too willing like Judas to lead the brigands carrying torches and clubs to the secret gardens where the faithful meet. Expect a bunch of eager progressive zealots to be calling out “Yoo hoo, over here, I”ve found one!” And for that they will get what they most desire, a pat on the head and a biscuit.
The revisionists will consider it a matter of faithfulness to the future of the church to highlight to secularists who have little understanding of how the church works, where to find the bolt-holes where orthodox views are held and proclaimed.
And for a whole bunch of other public ministries who have straddled the middle on this one, what will we get? Silence. Absolute silence.
The legislation is working already. To even call into question this drastic government over-reach will have you labelled a quack. I look forward to seeing how the self-declared “generous orthodoxy” Christian discussion groups on social media try to massage this legislation into anything other than a hostile and severe restriction in religious freedom. I hope I hear more than crickets from them.
My concern is more for those younger people starting out in ministry who are going to have to face the brunt of this full frontal attack on religious liberty. For that is what it is. Me? I’m a crusty nearly-54 year old, who is in a fairly safe position. I’ve spoken out a lot on these matters, hey I’ve even nuanced them, and the flak I get is the flak I get.
But the next twenty years are the years where those who want to publicly proclaim the gospel of repentance that gives life in Christ, and which includes signing a blank cheque and handing it to Jesus, are going to have it tough. They will be the bad guys and gals.
They will be the ones standing up to preach Romans 1 in the full knowledge that to do so will bring down the legal force of state and federal governments. It will be an act of defiance to stand there and proclaim these words:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Which is clearly not just about sex, but includes it. It will be an act of defiance, a delicious and costly act of defiance to a world that says we are wiser than the gods, and that we know ourselves better than anyone else could. Yet as that most admirable of celibate gay Christians, David Bennett points out constantly, freedom for all is found in this gospel, gay, straight bi, whatever. I suspect the likes of David will be in the firing line most of all. We need to support brave souls such as he.
And the revisionist churches? Well heed the history of the mainlines. They will shrivel and die as the world around them looks exactly the same as they do. I mean why bother getting out of bed on a Sunday morning to go and hear what you already can believe without moving an inch from the cafe or the bedroom?
Wonder what all their staff will do? Probably get employment in the Victorian government writing the education materials and showing poker-faced earnest officials where all the bolt-holes are to flush out the bad guys.
And now I need to go and do a revised chapter of my book …