Conversion Therapy

And so it begins.

When marriage was redefined in 2014, ‘safeguards’ were included (in addition to those in the 2010 Equality Act) by David Cameron’s government to prevent evangelical and Catholic churches from being hauled before the courts. Afterall, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; if we as a church, whose ‘offered services’ include the joining of couples, refuse to marry two men or two women, we might have been prosecuted under equality legislation. Well, the safeguards seemed to work; churches and religious organisations could hold to their ‘traditional’ understanding of marriage without prosecution. It certainly seemed like the fuss we kicked up was unnecessary. It now looks like we were right to be wary.

The campaign to ban ‘gay conversion therapy’ is the next attempt to force us to conform or close us down. Forget notions of strapping people down into large chairs while they are forcibly injected with hormones, or taped to electrodes by men in white coats. I would agree that any attempts to alter someone’s orientation using coercion, blackmail, brainwashing or other such tactics ought to be banned. In fact, I think they already are. Furthermore, I suspect that such methods do not work. ‘Conversion therapy’, if it is not very clearly defined, might include forbidding churches and ministries from urging homosexuals to be celibate. Praying with someone for God to give them strength to withstand temptation, may be classed as ‘gay conversion therapy’. The fact that heterosexuals are also urged to be celibate or strictly monogamous with their marital spouses is being conveniently ignored.

Imagine the following. A militant atheist wishes to close down as many churches as possible, apart from the most liberal congregations, whose platitudes offer no offence and whose low numbers will facilitate a natural demise sooner or later. All he need do is ask a minister or deacon if he, as a homosexual, may have sex with another man. When advised of the biblical teaching on the matter, he has all the evidence he needs to prove that a church is offering gay conversion therapy. The local police division, which delights to demonstrate its commitment to all things LGBTQ+, will be only too pleased to proceed.

Am I overreacting? Are we still living in times of peace and safety? Is it a fuss about nothing? I hope so. Remember, though, Ashers Bakery and Felix Ngole, who were penalised for their Christian beliefs. The higher courts upheld their religious freedoms, but the current attempt to change the law may compromise that.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay