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Conversion Therapy Ban Reactions

by Rick

The first reasonable response to which we referred in our original article, “Canada’s Conversion Therapy Bill C-4,” is from the Canadian Religious Freedom Summit,[1] to which we will refer later. The second reasonable response is from a Canadian pastor. Pastor Paul Carter, a council member of The Gospel Coalition (TGC) of Canada, wrote a column titled “Bill C-4: History, Concerns, and Response.” In his first paragraph, Carter says:

On January 7th, 2022, Bill C-4 will become the law of the land in Canada. Christian pastors, parents, counsellors and mentors may all be affected. Canadian Christians need to understand this law and they should be prepared for coordinated action. This brief summary has been created to serve that end and should not be understood or construed as legal counsel.[2]

Carter first gives the “Background and History” of Bill C-4 and then expresses his “Concerns About Bill C-4”:

In 2020, The Gospel Coalition Canada asked the Parliamentary Committee to clarify the definition of conversion therapy association with Bill C-6 [prior to C-4]. The concern was that the overly broad definition could lead to conversations between parents and children, or between pastors and congregants being criminalized. We further asked the Committee to clarify specifically what is meant by the terms “practice, treatment and service.” The wording of the approved Bill C-4 provided no such clarification. (Bold added.)

As such, it remains unclear to parents, pastors, counsellors and mentors how these terms ought to be understood. Assurances by lawmakers have been provided to constituents that the Bill only seeks to criminalize coercive efforts and coercive practices, treatments and services and that it would not apply to a person who sought out a pastor or mentor for help to live a chaste sexual lifestyle or to live in alignment with their biological sex. However, no such assurances appear in the language of the actual Bill.[3] (Bold added.)

In reading Bill C-4, it is appropriate to see its possible dangers, and Christians should be concerned. But the concern should be directed at how the bill could be interpreted as to apply to everybody, including Christians. Yet too many have jumped to unwarranted conclusions about what the bill has said without knowing how Bill C-4 will be implemented and enforced. Instead, Christians first need to find out what it means for Christians and not what the application of the bill could be for psychotherapists.

Dr. John MacArthur has issued “A Call for Pastors to Stand United on Biblical Morality.” MacArthur refers to an email he received from Pastor James Coates and says:

James’s recent email gave me insight into the Canadian government’s decision to pass Bill C-4, which “directly comes against parents and counsellors who would seek to offer biblical counsel with respect to sexual immorality and gender.” James indicates that it could be used to “criminalize evangelism” (emphasis added).[4]

MacArthur is wrong when he declares that Bill C-4 “directly comes against” and James is wrong in saying, “that it could be used to ‘criminalize evangelism.’” Notice the words could be. Again, these are tentative words. A few synonyms are “indefinite,” “unconfirmed,” and “uncertain.” While Bill C-4 has been enacted into law, the outcome of the bill’s enforcement against anyone other than licensed psychotherapists remains to be seen.

MacArthur then refers to a forwarded email that Coates had received from Pastor Andrew DeBartolo, who quotes from the Preamble to Bill C-4 and then says, “According to Canadian law, as of January 8, 2022, the belief in God’s design for marriage and sexuality will now be seen as a myth.” By whom? Certainly not Bible-believing Christians! The Preamble gives the reasons for the law and unfortunately could be used in interpreting the law.

It is the law itself and particularly the “Definition of conversion therapy” that is of ultimate concern. DeBartolo then quotes from the bill’s definition of “conversion therapy, and says,

The definition is intentionally broad, and it can clearly be used against any preacher or elder who either speaks against homosexuality/transgenderism or who counsels a person to obey Christ and abandon their homosexual/transgender actions and lifestyle. This means as of January 8, 2022, it will be against the law to preach, teach, or counsel regarding God’s design for marriage and sexuality.[5] (Bold added.)

DeBartolo is again clearly in error. The Canadian Religious Freedom Summit Initiative was read aloud in churches by pastors all across Canada on January 9. The initiative reads in part:

With the Lord’s help, we will continue to proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) without fear or favour. This includes God’s life-giving design for human beings, made in His image, male and female (Genesis 1:27), with sexual intimacy reserved for the covenantal union of a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24).[6]

These pastors spoke “against homosexual/transgenderism” and predictably no Canadian pastor was arrested.

On January 16, MacArthur and, with his beckoning, about 5,000 pastors across the United States, joining with him, rightly preached a sermon on “biblical sexual morality” in response to Canada’s Bill C-4. MacArthur reacted rightly by preaching on “biblical sexual morality,” but wrongly by using it to make false accusations against Bill C-4 when its application is unknown.

We know of no one to date who has been arrested or charged with a crime for their preaching or counseling the biblical truth about homosexuality, even though many LGBT friendly websites have indicated where both the state licensing laws and the conversion therapy ban laws in the US have been violated.[7] And probably because conversion therapy bans, where they exist in the US, are aimed at state licensed therapists. They are not aimed at private parties or religious leaders.

It is too bad that these 5000 pastors would not be willing to speak out about banning all psychotherapy for Christians and to declare their confidence in the Word of God for believers to be conformed into the image of Christ, rather than listening to the words of sinful humans in their psychological attempts to improve the flesh, which is enmity against God and ultimately has no eternal value.

“Direct Threat to Religious Liberty”?

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently posted a Briefing on conversion therapy bans, titled “Direct Threat to Religious Liberty.”[8] Mohler eloquently and eruditely explains the dire possibility of these bans, especially in Canada and the United Kingdom (UK). However, like many other individuals, Mohler dramatically and drastically exaggerates the possibilities for the Bill C-4 enacted law in Canada and likewise for the proposed law in the UK

Mohler’s stringent claims in his Briefing, are reflective of a logical fallacy. A logical fallacy is a statement that seems to be true until you apply the rules of logic and discover that it is not. The logical fallacy, of which Mohler is guilty in his Briefing, is the “Slippery Slope.”

The fallacy of slippery slope … involves a claim that a chain of causal events will occur. This fallacy is committed when a person argues that some event or practice he or she disapproves of [e.g., conversion therapy bans] will trigger a sequence of events ultimately leading to some undesirable consequence [e.g., ban against evangelizing homosexuals]. The reasoning is that since we do not want the undesirable consequence, we ought therefore to oppose the initial event or practice. The fallacy in the reasoning consists in the false assumption that the chain of events will in fact occur….[9]

Mohler introduces the subject of his Briefing by saying:

I want us to look at headlines on both sides of the Atlantic, having to do with legislative bans on what is called conversion therapy. And here we see the intersection, indeed the collision between the LGBTQ ideology and biblical Christianity. It’s an unavoidable collision. We’ve seen that over and over again. And as we went into the end of the year 2021, just before Christmas, I mentioned that this particular development is one that will quickly demand our attention. How quickly? Right now. It’s of top priority.[10] (Bold added.)

Throughout his Briefing Mohler’s inflamed remarks seem like a “five alarm fire” has enveloped the church!

Mohler presents the following to support what he says:

But the controversy over what’s called conversion therapy is directed not just at those official, professional medical and therapeutic context, but frankly, as are defined by the legislative proposals in both Canada and the United Kingdom, any effort to change someone’s sexual orientation.[11]

He says the bans are directed at “any effort to change someone’s sexual orientation.” Throughout his Briefing “any effort” becomes a present reality for Mohler and an imminent invasion on religious and private liberties, i.e., religious liberties for Christians and private liberties of choice for those who seek conversion therapy (slippery slope). Although Mohler has provided examples of what couldbe, he gave no examples in his Briefing of what has happened. There is a great deal of difference between what could be and what is happening under Bill C-4 and what will happen to the coming UK law.

One cannot say what the outcome will be of the enacted law in Canada or the content of the proposed law in the UK when enacted. It is not yet known in Canada how Bill C-4 will be implemented and especially how “practice, treatment, or service” will be applied or to whom it may be directed. As we will explain later, though the psychotherapists will be restricted, it is doubtful that the bill will prevent churches and Christians’ efforts “to change someone’s sexual orientation.” Certainly, no conversion therapy ban in the United States would prohibit biblical activity. In an “Abstract” of a law volume titled The Legal Status of Conversion Therapy, the law states: “The bans do not apply at all to private individuals or ‘members of the clergy…providing religious counseling to congregants.’”[12]

Mohler then goes on to say:

But let’s get to the biggest issue of Christian concern, these particular bills could have the effect of chilling the preaching, restricting the liberty of the pulpit in Christian churches, and even could extend to potentially criminalizing personal conversations and even outlawing certain kinds of conversations between parents and children…. [T]hey want to criminalize and sanction and make illegal any confrontation on biblical terms of their own new morality (bold added).[13]

Mohler’s words could have and could extend are possibilities, not realities. Mohler’s sentence, “[T]hey want to criminalize and sanction and make illegal any confrontation on biblical terms of their own new morality,” is a slippery slope into the yet-to-be-known outcomes of Bill C-4. We have not searched all the conversion ban laws in the U. S., but one can be certain, with all the LGBT activists around, that there would be one case that would reflect Mohler’s observation. What Mohler contends has not happened in the U.S, and, contrary to what Mohler suggests, it is our belief that it will NOT happen in Canada under Bill C-4 as we shall explain later.

In speaking of Canada’s Bill C-4, Mohler says:

The main thrust of this legislation is towards outlawing any kind of therapeutic context that would make a moral judgment consistent with Christianity in this case. (Bold added.)

“Christianity” in “any kind of therapeutic context” should be an oxymoron for Christians but has resulted in the prolific promotion of conversion therapy referrals from churches. Conversion therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is already controlled by 50 state licensing laws, which, at least in California, outlaw moral judgments in therapeutic settings.

Mohler inflates his charge with a steep slippery slope when he declares:

But the bigger threat is, of course, that this will be extended throughout society, inexorably, unavoidably, to every other context, including Christian institutions, Christian organizations, and even Christian churches. This is legislation that no one in Canada wants to admit is directed to the pulpit, but make no mistake, it’s directed to the pulpit (bold added).[14]

Note Mohler’s words “will be are the foundation of his ongoing slippery slope that follows and ends with “it’s directed to the pulpit.” These statements are absolutes! Mohler’s wild guess of what “will be” and the certainty that “it’s directed to the pulpit” are mere speculation.

Concluding his comments about Bill C-4, Mohler says: “One of the most radical aspects of the Canadian legislation is the removal of any exemption for consent” (bold added). One important fact that needs to be understood about conversion therapy bans is that much of the concern of Mohler and many other Christians has to do with the “exemption for consent” for those homosexuals who would like to become heterosexual through a psychotherapy that is already controlled by Canada. Mohler and many Christians are standing up for licensed psychotherapists to be able to do conversion therapy, which is licensed and regulated by the government. Our sole interest as believers should be that “the bans do not apply at all to private individuals or ‘members of the clergy . . . providing religious counseling to congregants,’” as exists in the US

Based upon our surveys over many years, we conclude that most pastors in the US refer their people to licensed-by-the-government psychotherapists. This must mean that they do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture or of the validity of the Bible’s promises that have to do with “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4). No wonder Mohler and many other pastors want to come to the defense of psychotherapists!

We hold Focus on the Family (FOTF), Dr. James Dobson, Jim Daly (the current head of FOTF), the American Family Association (AFA), and the Family Research Council (FRC) responsible for much of the current trust in psychotherapists, the current love for conversion therapy on the part of pastors, and the current desire of Christian leaders, like Mohler, to attempt to protect “choice” for psychotherapy clients so that pastors can send congregants to psychotherapy. FOTF, AFA, and FRC spent large amounts of money and received national coverage promoting conversion therapy. Pastors and Christian organizations that trust in the psychological wisdom of mere humans over the Word of God for transformational change are crying out against any and all bans of conversion therapy under the illusion that it will impinge on the preaching and teaching of God’s Word regarding what the Bible teaches about creation and transformed lives. It hasn’t in the entire US!

Mohler continues with his slippery slope fallacy:

read full story here…

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