New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill yesterday barring licensed therapists from so-called “conversion therapy.” Christie says that people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin. New Jersey is now the second state (after California) to ban “reparative therapy,” counseling intended to help a person change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation.
In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul lists “men who practice homosexuality” in a group of the “unrighteous” (v. 9). (Note that he includes “adulterers,” “the greedy” and “drunkards” as well.) Then he writes, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 10). I believe that the Holy Spirit can transform any person.
So, if I were living in New Jersey, here would be my questions this morning:
1. How would this bill affect my ministry and free speech?
One legislator who voted for the bill said it would not preclude clergy from providing such counseling if they do not seek a state license to practice professionally. A pastor objected, stating that he wants the option for clergy-counselors to obtain professional credentials. “This legislation would hinder my counseling center,” he claims.
2. How will this bill affect parents who seek reparative counseling for their children?
Clearly, they could no longer go to licensed therapists, even if their children ask for such help. In addition, opponents warn that the bill could be used to threaten parents who take their children for reparative therapy to “unlicensed” counselors (most likely, ministers) or licensed counselors out of state. They could be charged with “endangering the welfare of a child” and could lose their children to the state.
3. What will come next?
I assume that the majority of those providing reparative counseling are pastors and other unlicensed counselors. Will those who spearheaded the New Jersey bill now seek to ban such therapy in any context, regardless of free speech and religious freedom concerns?
Has our culture ever been as opposed to biblical truth as it is today? Would you have imagined ten years ago that our nation would be in this position? Where will we be a decade from now?
Of course, none of this surprises the God of the universe. He knows every name and story (see Acts 26:14). He called us not only to the place where we live, but to the times in which we live. He must believe that we can be salt and light in this culture, or we would not be alive to see it.
So don’t let the darkness discourage you from shining the light. Our culture needs nothing so much as it needs the help and hope of God’s truth. Our King is so gracious and so omnipotent that he can use every person who will say with Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
When last did you make his prayer yours?