Divisions are clearly showing up both within churches and within politics:
I have said it before: sometimes the best thing about the wars that we find ourselves in is you can clearly determine who is your friend and who is your enemy. Or to use biblical parlance, you can easily tell who are the sheep and who are the goats. The delineation between the good guys and the bad guys becomes plain – plain as the difference between night and day.
Sometimes we see this being played out in politics. Sometimes we see it played out in the churches. And sometimes we find it happening in both realms, simultaneously. And that is just what we find today, with the press reporting on how both spheres are heading on collision courses.
It all has to do with yet another dangerous and diabolical bill put forward by Dan Andrews and the Victorian Labor government. The bill, to outlaw and drastically punish anyone involved in, “conversion therapy” is splitting the ranks of some churches as well as the ranks of the Liberal Party.
Those struggling with same-sex attraction and wanting some help and counsel will be denied this assistance, and those who offer such help will be subject to massive fines and lengthy prison sentences. I have discussed this nasty piece of legislation elsewhere. See here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/11/26/victoria-tells-those-seeking-help-let-them-rot/
Today the two main Victorian newspapers the Herald Sun and the Age both ran major stories on the divisions that are now obviously occurring concerning this legislation. I will use an article from the latter as the former is hidden behind a paywall. It says this in part:
A number of faith leaders have spoken publicly in support of the state government’s controversial legislation to ban gay conversion therapy as an internal tussle has broken out within the Victorian Liberal Party over the issue. The Andrews government is on a collision course with church groups around the country, including Melbourne’s Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli, over its push to criminalise attempts to suppress or change an LGBTI person’s gender or sexuality, including through faith, with a number of leaders calling the new law a serious attack on religious freedom.
But on Monday, University of Divinity vice-chancellor Peter Sherlock said the proposed laws “protect the religious freedom of LGBT people of faith” and “prevent the programatic deployment of prayer” as a way of forcing someone to change who they are. Pastor Teash Taylor from the St Kilda Baptist Church said that reforms had “the potential to be life saving”.
Divided opinion was also evident in the Liberal Party, which is due to decide in a party room meeting on Tuesday if it will offer a conscience vote on the issue. Ahead of the meeting, former federal Liberal vice-president and influential party figure Karina Okotel – a religious hardliner – emailed all Victorian Liberal state MPs suggesting it should be legal for people to attend prayer groups to reverse their sexuality but illegal for extreme medical measures such as shock therapy to be used to achieve the same ends.
The Andrews government laws would ban both methods. In response to Ms Okotel’s email, Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith sent a reply-all email saying: “You should have been expelled from the Liberal Party, and your poorly timed intervention provides me with the opportunity to ask Michael O’Brien why you are still a member of our party.”
“Michael, do explain why this individual is still a member of our party, with your factional allies’ support? Heaven help the lot of us.” The challenge by Mr Smith comes as Mr O’Brien is already facing criticism from within the Liberals over the party’s direction. The decision will be difficult for a party which values religious freedom but whose MPs are on the record saying they do not agree with gay conversion therapy.
Victoria’s legislation goes significantly further than a similar law passed earlier this year in Queensland in that it bans certain religious practices. The Queensland legislation only covers health settings such as counselling, psychotherapy, or support groups referred by healthcare practitioners. The decision to also include harmful “religious-based practices” and “prayer-based practices” in the bill – such as exorcisms, deliverance or spiritual guidance designed to overcome same-sex attraction – has alarmed proponents of religious freedom.
Some faith leaders, such as Archbishop Comensoli, argued that the government was going too far by legislating on prayer at all. But as Parliament prepares to debate the bill this week, other faith leaders and academics have thrown their support behind the bill and rejected the claims of government over-reach. Pastor Teash said she had met many LGBTI people who had been damaged because their church had made them feel “unloveable and unloved.” However, churches “don’t often understand the consequences of the actions that they engage in,” and that they need to come to terms with that if there’s going to be any change. https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/liberals-tussle-over-gay-conversion-laws-as-religious-leaders-split-20201207-p56le8.html
Well there you have it folks. This issue has become a clear line of demarcation between true Bible-believing Christians and the progressive left fakes who run with every trendy secular left agenda item, including the full support of the radical homosexual agenda.
These “progressive” Christians often are indistinguishable from their lefty pagan partners in crime. They seem far more sold out to the Gospel of Marx than the Gospel of Mark. They seem to take their marching orders from the New York Times and the ABC instead of from the clear teachings found in the word of God. See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2011/01/23/progressive-christianity/
But we also have divisions in the ranks of the so-called conservative party here as well. The Liberals were meant to be on the side of the small state, the free market, and conservative values. Now increasingly they are only into the free markets, while seemingly happy with the expansive state (something this bill further enables) and oblivious to the moral and cultural issues.
All true conservatives and Christians also care deeply about these key moral matters and culture war issues: the sanctity of life, and the importance of marriage and family, and so on. But so many “conservative” politicians – especially the more secular ones – really do not seem to give a rip about them.
They can be just as cavalier about these vitally important issues as Labor and the Greens. That has long been the curse of conservative politics in Australia. In so many states, and often on a federal level as well, the so-called opposition parties are little better than the Labor and Greens parties on these issues.
That leaves little hope for conservatives and Christians as to who to vote for, and that explains why so many smaller pro-family and pro-faith political parties have been set up over recent years. Christians and conservatives are increasingly being alienated from the Libs – and often from the Nats as well.
I am not picking on anyone here, as these folks would be all rather representative, but Tim Smith is a case in point. He is a nice guy, and I have shared speaking platforms with him over the years. When it comes to taking on Andrews and his bungling of the hotel quarantine program and so on, he does a great job, and is good to have on the team.
But when it comes to these sorts of issues, he can be weak as water, and can often be singing from the same song sheet as Labor and the Greens. Sadly too many Libs are in the same place. Thus they end up turning on Christian conservatives like Okotel who I also happen to know.
As I say, this is a big problem for Australian politics: true conservatives are becoming ever more of an endangered species. Invariably those who are the strongest on the moral and cultural and social issues that matter so much to us are those who are also Christians.
Sure, one can have solid conservative values and be an atheist or a secularist, but there are not too many who fit this description. The biblical worldview and the solid rock of biblical faith seem to offer the best foundation on which to solidly and consistently build a strong conservative politic structure. Otherwise it tends to collapse being built on sinking sand.
This has been the problem with our so-called conservative media as well, and is something I have also written a lot about. Our Sky News evening presenters are good in many ways, but almost all of them are non-Christians – and it shows. They are almost all pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality, making them more libertarian than conservative.
That includes all the heavy hitters, be it Bolt or Jones or Murray or Panahi or Dean, etc. So both in the media and in the political arena, we are seriously lacking genuine solid conservative voices who do run with the whole conservative platform, not just economic concerns.
But as I say, all this serves nicely to act as a sieve. It is separating the men from the boys. It is separating real deal conservatives from those who are not so conservative. That kind of differentiating process can come in handy. Things will be getting worse in the short term, and not better, and we need to know which politicians we can really count on, and which ones will let us down.
We need to know who our real friends are, and who we can really depend upon in crunch times. This sort of division is showing us where folks stand – if we did not already know where they stood. And it is the same in the churches. These key issues become a major means by which we can tell fake news believers from real deal believers.
It’s those who really fear God and tremble at his Word, versus those who cozy up to the world and turn on those who stand resolutely on Scripture and faithfully serve the Living God. As such, these splits serve a useful purpose. Yes, they are painful as well, as we see those we thought were our friends, our allies, and our comrades actually turning against us.
As to the way forward, well, it depends. If you are in a church that is becoming increasingly apostate, the best move is probably to just leave, and find a real church with real gospel preaching and convictions. As to conservative parties that increasingly become liberal on too many matters, that is a tougher call.
Do you stay and fight and seek to reorientate it to real conservatives, or do you seek to set up a new party instead? Of course that has been done before, with varying degrees of success. While the old DLP which broke away from the ALP did do a lot of good for quite a long time, it is now near the end of its course.
Other parties, like the Australian Conservatives under Cory Bernardi, sadly lasted only a few years. So the way ahead for conservatives who are more and more dissatisfied with the Libs is not clear-cut. They will need the wisdom of Solomon as to the best way forward.
In the meantime, we can at least be thankful that the wheat and the tares are becoming further distinguished and more clearly highlighted. But it is a real pity that such distinctions within our conservative political parties will almost certainly guarantee that this horrific bill will easily pass.
It will be yet another nail in Victoria’s coffin, resulting in even more ugly clampdowns on religious freedom and freedom of conscience.