For those who have read the article in Sunday’s The Age, “Gay conversion legislation puts Andrews on a collision course with churches”.
The headline is fair. It did not need to be this way, but the current Victorian Government has a poor track record when it comes to dialoguing with faith communities.
Journalist Farrah Tomazin has done a reasonable job trying to squeeze into one article many important factors. I thank her for her courtesy and pleasant conversation. Let it be said, Farrah Tomazin achieved more in that single phone call than the Government has probably done in attempting to understand how Christian churches function and what they in fact believe.
Nonetheless, it is important to reiterate these points that I have long maintained and which have been overlooked by The Age or insufficiently emphasised. Hopefully this encourages more conversation, not less.
- Christians oppose conversion practices, in terms of those archaic and awful therapies that a few religious groups once adopted. These include aversion therapy and shock therapy. Such practices were never mainstream and never supported by most Christians.
- If the Government had chosen to work with churches rather than against them, a successful Bill might have been accomplished.
- I noted yesterday that sermons do not fall under the umbrella of this legislation. However this is far from clear from the Bill itself. Clarification was required in a speech given by Attorney General Jill Hennessy.
- On preaching, Hennessy has not excluded the possibility of controlling Christian sermons in the future: “such conduct may be considered as part of the Legislative Assembly’s ongoing inquiry into anti-vilification protections.”
- The article failed to interview people who find support and care within Christians Churches (or other faith communities), and who find prayer and conversation of enormous value as they wrestle with their identity. This is not unusual for it forms the fabric of Christian Gospelling over 2,000 years.
- The article overlooks last week’s landmark ruling in the UK High Court where a 23 year old successfully demonstrate that the new trend in treating teenagers with gender confusion with hormones and other invasive practices is wrong and dangerous. The current Victorian Government enforces that medical professionals proceed down this path of conversion. The Bill threatens families who do not fully endorse this conversion.
- The aim of Christian teaching is not to alter an individual’s sexual orientation. Jesus was clear that sexual activity is reserved for the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Christians accept Jesus’ purposes as good and want to live in accord with them. The proposed Act prohibits both prayer and conversation where this Bible ethic is encouraged.
- It is incorrect and somewhat amusing for someone to describe me and churches like my own as “the religious right”. This is far from accurate. Over the years, I have been called left and right, conservative and progressive. Let’s be clear, the position I hold is neither right or left. These views are in step with classical Christianity, believed and practiced by 100s of millions of people around the globe and that has its teaching and centre firmly grounded in Jesus Christ.
- I will say this again, for a Government to define ‘prayer’ and ‘conversation’ as harmful is ridiculous, extraordinary, and reaches far beyond their jurisdiction. One can only ask the question, why have they chosen this extreme and unnecessary approach?