How to Pastor when Sanctification becomes Illegal

“Where I live and pastor some aspects of sanctification are now illegal.

A recent decision in my home state of Victoria – in Australia – seeks to overturn this work of God’s grace. The Victorian Parliament has adopted the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020.

Amongst other things, the Conversion and Suppression Practices Bill criminalizes any prayers or conversations in which one person aims to persuade another that pursuing certain sexual activity is not the best course of action.

It’s not only illegal to pray or speak with an individual about changing their sexual orientation or gender identity – unless, of course, this change means embracing an LGBTIQ lifestyle – the law states that suppression is also illegal.

‘Suppression’ includes prayers for celibacy, and any advice that communicates sexual faithfulness to one’s spouse is a matter of holiness.…”

9Marks in the USA has published this piece by Murray Campbell in Melbourne.

When and how to obey God, not man, in Victoria?

From The Pastor’s Heart:

“Harsh new rules have just been approved by the parliament of the Australian state of Victoria, banning conversion practices relating to sexuality.

The parliament has made illegal practices that have been part of Christian religion since the start of the church

What does the law say a pastor should do if asked for guidance on matters of sexuality? What does God say?  Pastors have questions on what the law says in regards to teaching in church, in small home groups and 1:1, and on how evangelical pastors respond in love to people with questions about personal sexuality. …”

– Neil Foster, Associate Professor of Law at Newcastle University, Peter Barnes, Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, and Heath Easton, Pastor of Drouin Presbyterian Church in regional Victoria, are Dominic Steele’s guests in the latest episode of The Pastor’s Heart.

Collision of laws: the impact of Commonwealth law on the Victorian CSP law

“The Victorian  Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 (Vic) (which I will call the “CSP” law for short) passed the Upper House on 4 Feb, 2021. As I write it seems not to have yet received the Royal Assent and become an ‘Act’ but that will no doubt happen soon. The government has signalled that the legislation will not come into operation for another 12 months (see the final sentence in this article.)

My previous posts (see here for the most recent) have expressed grave concerns about the effect of the law on religious freedom and specifically on the freedom of parents and others to encourage children to live in accordance with Biblical standards of sexual behaviour. It is astonishing that the Bill was rushed through Parliament in the face of concerns also being expressed by the Law Institute of Victoria, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). (See this excellent post from Murray Campbell noting these issues.)

There are, it seems, very few legal avenues available to challenge the many problems created by this law. But in this post I want to suggest one which may be available…”

– Associate Professor in Law Neil Foster writes at Law and Religion Australia.

Prohibiting Prayer in Australia

Carl Trueman comments on the new Victorian legislation –

“This provision is clearly not based on any coherent metaphysical objection to the practice of prayer. If the legislators believe God exists, they presumably believe that he is wise enough to ignore such prayers if they are indeed truly harmful. And if they do not think he exists, then it seems reasonable to assume they would regard such prayer as a rather pointless, even nonsensical, exercise.

If the policy is not metaphysical, it nevertheless reveals one of the aspects of the new identity politics…”

– Read it at First Things.

Where to From Here? – Victorian Law

Here’s a pastoral letter from the Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia –

“To the congregations of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, February 2021

The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill has now passed through both houses of the Victorian parliament. It forbids any attempt to change or suppress, or induce any person to change or suppress, his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Prayer or counselling designed to change a person, even at that person’s request, is prohibited. In short, this means that sexual preference is protected by law, as is any person’s gender preference. Homosexual sex is not permitted to be called ‘sin’, and a male today can claim to be a female tomorrow.

What is the Church to do? Two things come immediately to mind:

It is our task to keep on keeping on, to proclaim and to live out so far as we can the gospel of Christ which has been entrusted to us.

May God give us all wisdom and strength in Christ,

Peter Barnes

Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.”

from the Presbyterian Church of Australia, Tuesday 9th February 2021.

Victorian ‘Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill’ passes

“At 10.37pm on Thursday, February 4, 2021, the Victorian upper house passed the Government’s Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Bill.

The vote was 27 for the Bill and nine against. The affirmative votes included eight Opposition members. …

Concerns about the flaws in the Bill grew exponentially during the last few days leading up to the debate but it was too late to influence the Government. These groups of psychiatrists and doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, feminist and LGB groups who are concerned at the Victorian legislation’s overreach should look carefully at legislation planned for Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.”

– Terri Kelleher, National President of the Australian Family Association, writes about the passing of the Victorian legislation.

Victoria Bans Conversion Practices Despite Significant Flaws in the Bill

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)

“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17)

“What do we do when good is defined as bad? What is a godly reaction to a society that formally deems Christian beliefs as wrong. How can we respond when a Government makes illegal practices that have been part of Christian religion since the beginning of the Church and have their foundation in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ?

To be very clear, I am not talking about aversion practices and nonconsensual activity that stems from pseudo-science and bad theology. Church leaders including myself have repeatedly spoken against such things and believe they have no place in our churches. I am talking about prayer and conversation. What happens when people of faith are prohibited by law from praying and speaking in line with our Christian beliefs, even when people come to us for help and ask? If someone is offended, I can be reported to VCAT. If someone alleges ‘harm’, the criminal charges can be laid. …

During tonight’s debate, on member of the Legislative Council asked the Attorney General,

‘How will the Government up-skill ministers and pastors so that they know where the line in what they can and cannot say to people about sexual orientation and gender identity?’ (my paraphrase of the question)

What a revealing question! The Attorney General indicated that education materials will be made available. In other words, religious people must defer to the Government’s doctrine.”

Read it all – from Murray Campbell in Melbourne.

When Victoria Becomes Babylon

“A few short years ago almost everyone would be shocked to learn that praying for a person who asks for prayer would be considered illegal activity and lead to 10 years in prison.

That is the situation facing Victorians.

This is not hyperbole. This isn’t exaggeration. Next week the Victorian Legislative Council will vote on one of the most extraordinary pieces of law ever proposed in our nation’s history.

Imagine an Australia where two people are having a conversation about life issues and they are trying to encourage and persuade one another. The police are called, one person is taken away and charged because they sought to persuade the other with the Bible’s view of sexuality. …”

– Published a few days ago, Murray Campbell in Melbourne writes a ‘must read’ post about the legislation before the Victorian Legislative Council.

See also:

Victoria’s Conversion Practices Bill is as bad as they say it is – Assoc Prof Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia.

Liberal rift deepens over bill banning gay conversion therapyThe Age, 01 February 2021.

Canadian Anglican archbishops sign anti-conversion therapy declarationAnglican Journal, 03 February 2021. (Note the varying definitions used.)

‘In some instances … feticide is undertaken’

“I wrote in November about the Liberal Bill before the parliament here in Adelaide which seeks to make lawful the killing of a foetus right up to the time, and immediately after, his or her birth. The upper house has already passed it. The lower house will vote on the February 3.

Since I first wrote of the bill, an anonymous someone in the Attorney-General’s Department or Health Department has distributed to MPs a document explaining how the Bill the department has drafted will operate.

This is question and answer #5 in that government publication:

Q: What happens in later term abortions?…”

– Retired Federal Circuit Court Judge Stuart Lindsay writes in Quadrant Online about a vile abortion bill. Important, though distressing, reading.

Also read the earlier article with its challenge to the churches.

(Photo: Stand for Life rally, Sydney, September 2019.)

Related:

‘Catholic’ Biden marks Roe v. Wade anniversary with pledge to make abortion available for ‘everyone’ – LifeSiteNews.

Victoria’s Conversion Practices Bill is as bad as they say it is

“The Bill creates a powerful set of bureaucratic mechanisms by which religious groups presenting the classic teachings of their faith may be subject to investigation and ‘re-education’ by human rights officers. It arguably makes the presentation of some aspects of Biblical teaching unlawful if the aim of that teaching is to encourage someone to follow that teaching in their own life.

Despite the appearance of addressing horrific and oppressive quasi-psychological procedures inflicted on young people, the Bill goes well beyond this laudable goal, and will make it unlawful to provide assistance in obeying the Bible to those who explicitly and with full understanding request such help. Enactment of this legislation would be a serious mistake. …”

– In an important post, Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia, takes a careful look at the Victorian legislation.

Gafcon Australasia 2021 – More Than a Giant Selfie

“As we prepare next July to bring together faithful Anglicans from Australia, New Zealand and our neighbouring Pacific Islands, we are planning a week-long conference that aims to help us enjoy and celebrate our common faith, so that we might be equipped and energised to faithfully proclaim Christ in our region. …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Jodie McNeill, Deputy Chair of the Gafcon Australasia 2021 Organising Committee, writes about what’s planned for the Conference.

Photo: GAFCON Media.

“PRAY FOR AUSTRALIA” DAY

Phillip Jensen has written to encourage prayer –

Our country is desperately in need of our prayers so would you join us for a day to:

What better day than Australia Day, 26th January (the public holiday just before the year gets under way)?

What better way than in our parish churches – with connections to others meeting to pray?

Last January we started an evangelistic prayer day with a group of young adults. Read more

Teaching and prayer: Banned in Victoria?

From The Pastor’s Heart, a very important topic:

“This week on the Pastor’s Heart, we’re discussing upcoming legislation that is being pushed in Victoria. The Change of Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 has consequences of 10 years imprisonment for anyone engaging in “change of suppression practices.” Expert reading of the bill suggest this threatens religious freedom and implicates Bible Studies, Church services and even one-to-one prayer.

This week – we talk with key Christian leaders from Victoria: Murray Campbell and Chris Duke along with Law Professor Neil Foster about the ramifications of this bill.

We’ll discuss the details of the bill, the implications for Christians in Victoria and wider implications for Churches across Australia and the Western world. We’ll also discuss how Christian leaders can respond and opportunities to clarify and limit the scope of the bill.”

Watch or listen here.

Related:

What Explains the Left’s Hostility to Religious Liberty? It’s All About the Sexual Revolution – Albert Mohler, 02 December 2020.

Further information about Victorian “Conversion Practices” Bill – Neil Foster, 03 December 2020.

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