Gov. Chris Christie’s broadside against religious liberty

Governor Chris Christie has just made New Jersey the second state to prohibit licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of gay minors. Like recent legislation in California, the New Jersey law is a disaster at a number of levels.

This bill not only prohibits “reparative therapy.” It prohibits any and all attempts by licensed counselors to change a child’s sexual orientation. And there’s more. The bill not only prohibits any and all efforts to change sexual orientation. It also prohibits any and all attempts to change sexual behavior in gay minors!

So if a child has unwanted same-sex attractions and is beginning to act out on those unwanted attractions, the state of New Jersey prohibits licensed counselors from helping him. He has no recourse now but to find someone with no state credentials. How is this law not an infringement upon the religious liberty and conscience rights of this child? Not to mention those of his parents?

Any attempt to change a child’s “gender expression” is also prohibited under this law. That means that if a parent has a young boy who likes to put on dresses and wear make-up, New Jersey law prohibits licensed counselors from helping that boy. Counselors must approve and support whatever gender that child chooses regardless of the child’s sex.

The law also means that licensed service providers who also happen to be Christian will have to choose. They can either abandon Christian teaching or they can abandon their profession. The law now prohibits them from doing both. You just watch. Any counselor or therapist who tries to buck the system on this one will lose their credentials from the state. There will be no religious liberty exception.

Bottom line? This law means that convictional Christians in New Jersey may no longer participate in these professions without compromising their faith. It also means that children with unwanted same-sex attraction will have no help from licensed counselors. Christians and other people of faith in New Jersey have just had their marginalization ensconced in law.

In a note accompanying the bill, Governor Christie says that people are born gay and that homosexuality is therefore not a sin. In a signing statement, he links “gay conversion” therapies to a litany of negative outcomes and concludes that public health concern overrides parental rights and any other objections that might be raised against this law. He draws a straight line from his moral position (that homosexuality is not a sin) to the measures enacted in this law. I wonder if those who object to legislating morality will object to this particular piece of legislated morality.

I am sure I will have much more to say about this at a later time. But let me finish my initial thoughts with this. By signing this bill, Governor Christie has just issued a broadside against religious liberty and parental rights in this country. This is not coming from a Democrat, but from a Republican—one that many people hope might be the next president of the United States. This is but one more indication that the revolution is upon us, and there doesn’t seem to be any viable candidate from either party willing to push back against it.

———————–

Read the New Jersey law here.

Read Governor Christie’s signing statement here.

91 Responses to Gov. Chris Christie’s broadside against religious liberty

  1. JohnAHodges --- Abe August 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Very sad, national leaders continue to drift further and further from truth.

  2. Keith Hill (@Diknak) August 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Sounds like a good idea to me. Parents should love their child for who they are and not try to force them to be someone else. This kind of ‘therapy’ can be extremely damaging and it should most certainly be prevented.

    • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Seconded. Reparative therapy used on children is child abuse. It should be banned everywhere for people under 18.

      • Brett Cody August 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        What would you say regarding parents who refuse their children a blood transfusion due to religious conviction? Is this child abuse?

        • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

          Absolutely.

        • Keith Hill (@Diknak) August 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

          I see that as a false equivalency because one is the active pursuit of ‘therapy’ that is damaging an otherwise healthy kid. The other is the denial of service to a sick kid.

          Having said that, I find it grotesque that a parent could watch their kid die when it can be 100% prevented. Our society is dependent on science and for them to enjoy cell phones, cars and electricity while denying a blood transfusion is extremely hypocritical and cruel. Yes, it is child abuse and any parent that refuses medical treatment over ‘faith healing’ should be thrown in jail once their kid dies.

          • Brett Cody August 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

            “I find it grotesque that a parent could watch their kid die”
            The parents who take their children to the now illegal counselors believe they are helping their children avoid spiritual death. I am not in favor of reparative therapy, but if the parents take seriously their role of raising their children in a healthy environment, how is it legal to refuse them the right to parent according to their own personal beliefs? (By the way, as far as I know, it is completely legal for a parent to refuse their child a blood transfusion based on their religious beliefs. Why can’t Gov. Christie chase after this instead?)

            • buddyglass August 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

              Actually it’s the reverse, so far as I can tell. The courts routinely rule in favor of physicians, I.e. against parents, when the parents wish to refuse a blood transfusion deemed medically necessary.

              http://www.uic.edu/depts/mcam/ethics/refusal.htm

    • Nate Schlomann August 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      I get why you guys have these opinions. What I don’t get is why you as non-Christians are commenting and reading on a clearly Christian blog?

      • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

        I am a Christian. There are a lot of Christians who think being gay is neither a sin nor a disorder that needs to be fixed.

        • Scott Christensen August 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

          You didn’t get your definition of ‘Christian’ from historic Christianity since the notion that ‘homosexuality’ and ‘Christian’ are compatible is a novelty of contemporary thought. Until the last few decades, there has never been an affirmation of such a notion in ANY branch of Christianity. It is a product of the contemporary desire to marry Christianity to the prevailing values of society, never a good source of truth at any time.

          • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

            Firstly, the status of my salvation and the relationship I have with Jesus doesn’t get to be signed off on by anyone. It’s not your call, it’s nobody’s call. It’s between me and my God. Your opinion of my relationship with Jesus is moot. As is my opinion of yours or anyone else’s.
            Secondly, since when did historic Christianity get everything right? If I try to define my Christianity by the history of the “Christian institution” than I’m truly screwed.

            • Scott Christensen August 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

              If what you call “my God” is truly God, than He is not just your God. You may have your own private deity if you choose, but don’t try to identify Him with Christianity. The God of the Bible is a God of public revelation about what constitutes truth. Truth is not what we define it be unless we want to deny that God is the author of truth and that He has revealed the most critical truths in a transcendent revelation contained in the Bible,

              Thus, the Bible is clear on how God defines a Christian. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is pretty unequivocal that homosexuals fall outside of the definition of a Christian. Verse 11 goes on to say, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Note that this verse describes people who once identified themselves with the sins listed, including homosexuality, but now they have found new life in Christ through regeneration, sanctification and justification, all things that uniquely describe a Christian. Also notice that this affirmation of a true Christian is a publicly shared notion among ALL believers when Paul says “our God.” Every Christian has not only the right, but also the duty to test the claims of another’s profession of faith. If it does not stand up to the scrutiny of the objective source of truth in God’s divinely inspired words, then you can define a Christian however you want. But if that is the case, what’s the point? Truth no longer has objective shared meaning.

              • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

                I highly recommend the book “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate” by Justin Lee. It addresses a lot of these interpretation issues, such as the one in 1 Corinthians which you cited, and which a lot of Christians, myself included, interpret differently than you do here. It also addresses a lot of the problems with reparative/conversion therapy.

                • Ken Temple August 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

                  Hannah –
                  Regarding Justin Lee and his book “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate” by Justin Lee.

                  James White and Justin Lee had a very respectful and gracious debate on the issue. Dr. White read his book and prepared well for this and answered all of the issues from a Biblical perspective.

                  http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=5452

                  We can all agree that some forms of the “reparative therapy” were wrong and some goofy Charismatic stuff – but Christy’s law and the arguments of Lee and you and Rachel Held Evans go too far in saying that God cannot change someone through repentance, faith, prayer, discipline, struggle, sanctification.

                  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is clear that God can and does change people and sanctify them and justify them; but that does not mean that all same sex attractions automatically go away for all time. We are not defined by our sinful desires like lust or greed or wanting to be famous or popular (pride and arrogance) or tendencies toward gluttony or laziness or gossip or anger. The gospel is the power of God to change us from enslaved sinners to forgiven growing sinners who are no longer slaves to sin.

                  “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” Romans 6:6

                  “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

                  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                  Romans 6:22-23

                  • Denny Burk August 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

                    Amen!

                  • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

                    As I’ve mentioned before, I disagree with you here on the nature of homosexuality as sin. Neither I nor Evans say God cannot change someone, we simply say that in the case of being gay, there is no need for Him to. I’ve heard all the arguments, I’ve read all the counterpoints, and this is the side I’ve decided on based on my research of the data available.
                    But explaining my view of homosexuality is not why I commented on this blog entry to begin with. Most people on this blog are not going to agree with me on that and I’m fine about that. My original point was that reparative therapy is abuse and inneffective. I’ve heard too many horror stories about it and too, too few stories of any sort of success or good experience with it. I hold it akin to the medieval practice of burning people at the stake to save their soul. I support its ban.

                    • Michael Jefferson August 21, 2013 at 2:03 am #

                      Speaking of historic Christianity, Phariseeism really seems to have made a comeback within fundamentalist Christian circles. Not that I’m accusing anyone of being impious.

        • Ken Temple August 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

          You cannot be a Christian and not believe that homosexuality is sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

          “. . . such were some of you; but you were washed, you were justified, you were sanctified . . . ”

          You cannot be a Christian and deny that Christ can give you power over sin and change your life.

          Chris Christy just lost all and any respect I had for him. He also lost respect of about half of all other conservatives.

          • buddyglass August 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

            “You cannot be a Christian and not believe that homosexuality is sin.”

            Even if homosexual acts were sinful, and they are, it’s hard to argue that, by itself, an incorrect understanding of the sinfulness of homosexual acts precludes being part of the body of Christ.

      • buddyglass August 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

        I can speculate on a couple of possible reasons:

        1. They view the majority of positions taken by Denny and/or the commenters here as harmful either to themselves or to society in general and, as such, are compelled to try to sway those who hold them over to a less destructive way of thinking.

        2. They relish the opportunity to dialog with those who oppose their views because, in doing so, they’re able to hone their own position. They’re exposed to counter-arguments they might not have heard before.

        3. People in general get off on righteous indignation. It’s easy for someone who’s not a socially conservative to get pretty indignant at most of the stuff posted here.

        4. They feel a odd compulsion to correct what they see as “wrong thought”. Humorous depiction here:

        http://xkcd.com/386/

  3. Chris Ryan August 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I have mixed feelings abt this law. I dislike that it weakens parents’ attempts to raise their children as they think best. However its not a violation of religious liberty & its legitimate rationale is grounded in public safety (reparative therapy has been linked to high suicide rates).

    No preacher, minister, or church lay official is prevented from helping kids redirect their homosexual interest into heterosexual interest. Religious authorities are exempted from this law. I imagine lots of ministers, priests, and nuns will rush in to fill the need. This would actually strengthen religious instruction.

    Now its true that therapists’ right to minister to children is infringed here. But the state has always strongly and legitimately regulated the practice of medicine & the 1st Amendment often takes a back seat in these cases. For instance many states require abortion doctors to tell patients any number of things: abortion leads to breast cancer; abortion leads to suicide; abortion is “the taking of an entirely separate life”, etc. The first two things are demonstrably false, and the last is inconsistent with some doctors’ & patients’ religion.

    So, if this regulation is construed as a violation of religious liberty then forcing abortion doctors to mouth the objections of Pro Lifers is also violation of religious liberty. And what’s good for the goose…

  4. Lynn Burgess August 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Denny wrote, “This is not coming from a Democrat, but from a Republican—one that many people hope might be the next president of the United States. This is but one more indication that the revolution is upon us, and there doesn’t seem to be any viable candidate from either party willing to push back against it.”

    Maybe, but maybe not. Possibly, the good Gov. Christie just eliminated himself from the presidential race and it is highly possible there will be multiple candidates who will take a biblical stand on homosexuality.

    But no matter, let’s not lose sight of the fact that our fight and our victory is not political but spiritual.

  5. Keith Hill (@Diknak) August 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    A biblical stance on homosexuality? That they should be killed? That’s what the bible advocates. The bible also says not to eat shellfish, wear clothes of mixed fabric, not to get tattoos, etc. We live in a different world than the bronze aged misogynistic men in the bible and our social policies should reflect that.

    • Scott Christensen August 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      Why does everybody trot out this tired old cliche that shows such a massive misunderstanding of Biblical ethics?

    • Ken Temple August 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      Dr. James White answers all the old tactics of bringing up Leviticus laws about shellfish and mixed fabric, etc. – made famous years ago – I remember Barry Lynn of the ACLU saying that in the 1980s and the President character played on “the West Wing” TV show played by Martin Sheen.

  6. James Olewiler August 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    So can the state get in trouble now for convincing children that they are gay, when in fact they believe they were not in the first place? If kids hear that’s it’s acceptable to be gay and this foster homosexual behaviors, isn’t that contributing to the change of their sexual orientation? Will NJ prosecute parents and peers of children who further the homosexual agenda or is this just aimed toward anyone opposing homosexual tendencies exhibited by children?

  7. Ian Shaw August 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    “They can either abandon Christian teaching or they can abandon their profession.”

    Hmm, where have I heard this recently. Oh yes, the bakers and florists who refuse to provide services for homosexual weddings.

    No surprise this happened. But I am surprised it came from Christie. He pretty much just threw his potential campaign in the drain.

    To Keith, should I assume that you think levitican priestly laws/customs are the same as moral laws? Please try to refrain from making statements like you did above equating homosexuality to getting tattoos, because it truly only hurts your argument.

  8. Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    The question is how can Christians support such an obviously harmful therapy? It’s because I’m a Christian that I can’t support such barbarism. The research I’ve read about it shows it’s harmful far more than it’s beneficial, and it’s not even effective anyway. I understand there are differing interpretations of homosexuality among Christians, but those differing intepretations should never be an excuse for the kind of pain and suffering reparative therapy has caused. After all the horror stories I’ve heard about reparative therapy by people who’ve gone through it, and all the accounts of suicide of others because of it, I simply can’t support it as a Christian. It has to stop.

  9. Scott Christensen August 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    It seems like most people here are missing the point. It is not just that “reparative therapy” is being banned, but as Burk points out, “any and all attempts by licensed counselors to change a child’s sexual orientation.” There may be legitimate reasons to challenge “reparative therapy”, but this legislation appears to be throwing out the baby with the bath water. That’s the point. It is saying that no attempt whatsoever can be made by licensed counselors to affect change in a child’s so-called sexual orientation. That is a serious religious liberty issue.

    • Denny Burk August 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      Exactly!

    • buddyglass August 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      I wonder if a counselor could simply say, “In my reasoned opinion this child’s orientation is heterosexual, but he has (incorrectly) judged it to be homosexual instead. I’m not trying to change his orientation, but to help him discover what it already is.”

    • Mary Gray Moser August 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Agree with you, Scott. –Mary Moser, Licensed Professional Counselor

    • Chris Ryan August 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Can someone explain how its an infringement of religious liberty for the state to regulate DRs and health professionals? The gov’t regulates the speech of pharmaceutical companies. The gov’t forces DRs to tell patients that abortion leads to breast cancer, even tho no science supports that. The gov’t forces DRs to tell patients that abortion increases the risk of suicide even though that, too, is unproven. And the gov’t even Forces DRs to say that abortion destroys an entirely separate life, even though some faiths disagree with that. Health care professionals have always been subject to strict regulation.

      How can it be that these restrictions on the First Amendment are good when used against abortion and bad when used against gay conversion therapy? We can’t have a double-standard.

      Parents can still take their children to ministers, pastors & church officials for prayer, counseling & help on this issue. Churches will probably even expand their ministry in this area. So I really don’t see the conflict with religious practice here.

      • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

        Good point. Reparative therapy is almost exclusively a religious-based idea anyway. Why a medical professional would promote its use when current research and patient testimonies have shown it to be ineffective and abusive is beyond me.

      • buddyglass August 21, 2013 at 9:31 am #

        I can try to explain. Most of what doctors and health professionals are required to do isn’t also a religious prohibition. Most of what doctors and health professionals are prohibited from doing doesn’t rise to the level of religious commandment. So when the state says, “You can’t prescribe Drug X anymore,” that’s highly unlikely to infringe on anybody’s religious beliefs.

        This bill, though, restricts doctors and health professionals from doing something they consider their faith to compel them to do, i.e. help kids seeking to turn away from unwanted same-sex attraction.

        Imagine a hypothetical law that prohibits doctors and counselors from trying to help patients who are caught in a cycle of destructive alcohol addiction, on the basis that they’re better off remaining alcoholics than going through treatment. That’s the perspective of Denny and the folks who oppose this bill. They either A) reject the claims that reparative therapy is harmful, which is the basis for the bill, or B) admit reparative therapy is harmful but oppose the bill because it goes beyond simply banning reparative therapy and also prohibits any counseling designed to help a patient deal with unwanted same-sex attraction.

  10. Brett Cody August 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Hear! Hear!

  11. Brett Cody August 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Thank you, Scott! So true…

  12. Scott Christensen August 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Excellent point! What will happen to counselors who encourage kids to pursue homosexual temptations when historically a child has exhibited a heterosexual orientation? Would this not be regarded as an attempt to change their orientation? In another scenario, a child struggling with moving toward homosexuality, someone will argue, “Well the child is interested in changing his/her orientation and the counselor simply helped them do what they already wanted to.” As long as there is a movement favorable to homosexual orientation, I doubt the law will be applied. i imagine it will only be applied in cases where therapy favors heterosexual orientation. It is simply politically incorrect these days to support heterosexuality.

  13. James Stanton August 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Schadenfreude against social conservatives would probably reach its zenith if Chris Christie were to be the next Republican nominee for President after Mitt Romney. If you were able to stomach a vote for Romney then Christie won’t be so bad. He at least has been consistent on abortion and gay marriage.

    This is a sop to the media and the middle of the electorate that is increasingly comfortable with homosexuals as a normal element in American society. The posts here that Christie is now electorally unelectable underestimate the depth of the marginalization of conservative Christian views about homosexuality. Christie won’t win Iowa but think about how the media will cover this “moderate” Northeastern Republican who will be seen as an appealing alternative to the “extreme” Ted Cruz and the “isolationist” Rand Paul.

  14. Ian Shaw August 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Hannah, while I am not 100% sure where I stand regarding the therapy treatment, I will tell you that I believe homosexuality to be wrong and contrary to God’s created order as is revealed to us in the Bible. That being said, if a parent desires to have their child go through a therapy that they truly believe will save their soul, that’s their right to do so. Do you have children, Hannah? God blessed me with 2 of them and I have been charged by God to raise them in a Godly home and teach them about who God is and what He has done for us. I would gladly lay down my life for them whether it be to save their physical bodies or save their souls.

    What’s next, will states claim that parents who send their children to private schools are “harming them” because they do not acknowledge or teach evolution? It’s merely a stones throw away (and I don’t even like the slippery slope argument) The state is clearly taking away a parents right/responsibility over their child. Big red flag in my book. I’m my children’s parent. My wife is my child’s parent. No one else gets to wield that responsibility. Period

    • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      I am fine with agreeing to disagree here. We obviously have different definitions for similar terms, and there’s little progress that can be made from that. And while I don’t have children, this about sums up my approach if God chooses to bless me with gay children: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/son-daughter-gay

  15. Ian Shaw August 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Hannah, you are correct. Your salvation is ultimately between you and God. Keep in mind though, it can be easy to get the name right, but the God wrong. Many people claim to believe in God or Jesus, but it very well many not be the God/Christ as revealed to us via sola scriptura.

    • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      Very true. But I do not hold to sola scriptura. I believe Christ can reveal himself/speak to us in other ways in addition to the Bible. And holding strictly to sola scriptura will not necessarily lead you to a right understanding of Christ. As you’ve rightly said, you can read the Bible and still get the entirely wrong god. :)

      • Scott Christensen August 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

        Hannah, since you deny sola Scriptura, how do you judge the voice of Christ outside of the Bible? How do you know it is the voice of Christ? By what criteria do you judge its truth or falsity? What is your standard of truth? I am genuinely curious.

        • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

          In seminary, my Greek professor told us a story about how he was asked once how he would react if it were proven that the Bible contained errors. What would happen to his faith? He responded by saying that nothing would happen because his faith isn’t placed in the Bible, it’s placed in Jesus. The Bible didn’t save Him, the Bible isn’t his God, and if the Bible were proven to have errors, that would say nothing about his God. It’s Jesus he ultimately believes in and it’s Jesus whom he ultimately follows. The truth and reality of that, he believed, wouldn’t change if the Bible was shown to be erroneous.
          Take from that what you may, but it made me think what I actually put my faith in and who I actually have a relationship with. The Bible? Really? I believe God is bigger than a book and I reject the pseudo Bible worship that many Christians engage in. The Bible is simply a tool to point us to Jesus, it’s not Jesus himself.
          There are a lot of things in the Bible that I question, many things I believe are metaphor and story and not historical truth, but that doesn’t diminish the truth being conveyed in those metaphors and stories. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, but what that means for me probably differs from what it means for you. And that’s ok with me.
          I have a relationship with Jesus and he’s the ultimate authority for me. I believe there’s a God out there that’s bigger than a book and He can choose to work outside it. Namely through the Spirit, which Jesus promised would come and guide us. Every Christian I know has sought God apart from the Bible in some situation or other in their life , through prayer, meditation, a simple walk in the woods, and has come back and said that God spoke to them vis-a-vis their situation in a way that was meaningful to them. I was taught in my Christian upbringing to seek God like that. People feel God’s call, they feel His spirit move, they hear his voice in some way, feel his touch in another, in many ways apart from the BIble. He is constantly with us, speaking to us, teaching us.
          The Bible can be twisted to be used in many different ways to suit anyone however they want, and we end up with many contradicting voices – how do we determine which use of the Bible is right? Don’t we seek God, the ultimate authority, to guide our understanding? Don’t we consider who Jesus is and what He taught, as the ultimate and truest revelation of God, to guide the rest of our Bible interpretation?
          Also, God is a being with whom we’re supposed to have a personal relationship – we get to know God as a personal being and learn to recognize Him when he speaks or moves or teaches in our lives. Someone can say “The Bible teaches such-and-such” but how can I know that’s true? There are many times what has been taught as “Biblical” goes totally against the God I’ve gotten to know through Jesus and I can see nothing of that person I know and love in that thing being taught “from the Bible”. This relationship I have with Jesus, the God I’ve come to know through Jesus, who is the truest revelation of God, is my ultimate Truth. All of the Bible must lead back to Jesus, because He’s the point of the Bible, the Bible isn’t the point itself. The Bible only serves to point to Jesus. If an interpretation of the Bible is in discord with who Jesus is, than that portion of the Bible must be reinterpreted in light of Jesus. And a portion of that Jesus comes from my personal relationship and experience with Him apart from only the Biblical stories of him. But I have trust that God won’t contradict himself. So the Bible, his Spirit working in the world and people around us, Jesus working in my life personally through my individual experiences, will all be in harmony. I have no problem with sola scriptura if other people want to hold to that, it’s just I believe God is bigger than that, and I let Him be so, and He has been many times over in my life. So I’m working a lot from personal experience here. As someone once said to me, the Bible’s silence on its own perfection is telling.
          And that’s the short version. ;) And I know it’s probably not going to be black and white enough for you, but life as I know it isn’t black and white, and I try not to force it to be.

          • Hannah Lewis August 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

            To add, (I write stream-of-consciousness style), there are also the issues of church tradition and reason (including science, which I believe to be a great revealer of God) in addition to scripture and experience that also have a great deal to add in how we understand God and Truth and how we interpret it all. And all these things work together but none of them work entirely on their own.

            • Scott Christensen August 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

              Hannah, everything you have said points to yourself and your own personal experiences as the arbiter of truth concerning who Jesus is. That is not only subjective, but I would suggest, arrogant. Jesus prayed to the Father for His followers that God would sanctify them in truth and then states pointedly, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). If you get to determine via your personal experiences who Jesus is for you, then you have just eviscerated Jesus of His own objective independent being. He suddenly becomes a piece of clay that anyone can mold into the shape they want Him to be. Christ does not allow that. He came to reveal the Father as “The Word.” He alone determines who He is and because He is one with the Father, He is the author of truth. In Him lies ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Furthermore, He has definitively spoken concerning who He is in His Word which He has faithfully conveyed to His Apostles and Prophets (Hebrews 1 and 2).

              Those of us who take the Word of God as the only authoritative ans sufficient means for ascertaining who Christ is don’t look to the Bible as the end-all in some form of Bible worship (which I am not really sure what that means). The only way you can get to know someone is through communicative interaction with them. No one can claim to know Christ unless He has clearly communicated Himself to them. The means by which He has done that is through His word inscripturated in the Bible (Again see Hebrews 1 & 2). The Bible IS the voice of Jesus. If we claim to hear another voice that denies what the Bible clearly says, we have deceived ourselves. If God chooses to speak it will never be out of sink with the inspired Word. The role of the Holy Spirit is certainly to draw us closer to Christ and our personal experiences make our communion with God unique. But the Spirit always works in conjunction with the Word so that no experience in the life of a true believer that is genuinely in accord with the life of Christ will in any way depart from the truth of the Word. If you deny this then I believe you have no justification for any claim that the Jesus you know is the real Jesus. Jesus Himself predicted false Christs who seek to deceive many (Matt. 24:24). Be certain that the Jesus you know is the Jesus as he has revealed Himself to be.

              • Mary Gray Moser August 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

                Thanks, Scott.

              • Michael Jefferson August 23, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

                It seems to me that granting a material possession like the Bible the status of perfection would be to place it on the level of God – idolatry. The Bible was written by fallen men, so we would expect it to be broken in some aspects. I find it curious that you would dismiss revelation from experience so offhandedly as being merely subjective. Are you saying that God cannot reveal “His Word” to us outside of the Bible? It seems like you just don’t trust God. Maybe we just don’t have the kind of straightforward, legalistic security you’d like.

  16. Ken Temple August 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Scott – thank you for this comment –

    “It is not just that “reparative therapy” is being banned, but as Burk points out, “any and all attempts by licensed counselors to change a child’s sexual orientation.” There may be legitimate reasons to challenge “reparative therapy”, but this legislation appears to be throwing out the baby with the bath water. That’s the point. It is saying that no attempt whatsoever can be made by licensed counselors to affect change in a child’s so-called sexual orientation. That is a serious religious liberty issue.”

  17. Nathan Cesal August 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    The truth is in the pudding. I know dozens of people that have tried and failed to change their orientation through reparative and other therapies. All consider themselves worse off because of the attempts.

  18. Paul Reed August 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    And Christie is a Republican… Just imagine what the Democrats are prepared to do.

  19. Daryl Little August 20, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Perhaps this will have the good effect of sending people to their pastors when they need help in a situation like this which is so clearly a spiritual issue.

    Perhaps this will help reign in some of the psycho-babble that we so often fall for within the church.
    Not saying that there is a problem with Christian counsellors per se, just saying that God may use this, like He uses so many other things that are negative on their face, to help strengthen and purify His church.

    That said, this blatant slap in the face to historical Christian teaching is troubling to be sure.

  20. Bill Griffin August 20, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    @HannahLewis – Hannah I was reading some of RHE’s blog. I’m just curious are you posting as Abigail Maxwell/Clare Flourish as well?

    • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      No… not sure what you’re referring to. I always use my own name when commenting on blogs.

      • Bill Griffin August 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

        Thank you.

  21. Nathan Cesal August 20, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    To those of you that bemoan the passage of this law: What do you think about shocking kids with electricity to change their orientation? This is some of what was happening…

  22. Nell Parker August 20, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    I think it might be helpful to the dialog to describe what you mean when you use the word “homosexuality.” Are you saying that the sexual act is a sin or that those who have SSA are sinning by merely having those feelings?

    For example, there are many people who have tried reparative therapy and have failed. They then continue as celibate although their feelings have not changed. Do you believe that they are sinners as well?

    • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      This is an important distinction. Often people are using different terms when they talk about “being gay” or “homosexuality”, bringing into question which part people think is a “sin”. Research and testimony is sound that being sexually attracted to the same gender (or both, or none) is something (with very very few exceptions) a person is born with. Then there’s the issue of acting on those feelings. Is it the state of being, the action, or both that is a sin? In the case of the first, if God makes people in a state that he sees as horribly sinful and an “abomination” then condemns them for it, something they had no control over, then that God is a true monster and tyrant. Since the God I know and worship is not a monster or tyrant, and since people are born with these attractions, this also means that being gay (or bi, etc) is not sin or a defect any more than my being born a female is. This also informs the notion of reparation/conversion therapy (and almost certainly why it’s so inneffective). The second issue, howeve, acting on those same sex feelings and whether that’s a sin, is a more complex issue and there are a range of Christian opinions and interpretations on the subject. My opinion, based on my research of the issue, is that Christian gay sex should follow the same guideline for all sex: that is, it should be practiced in loving, committed relationships and that’s ok (I still hold that sex outside marriage of whatever form is not ok for a Christian). But not everyone holds this view, and I’m fine with that. Again, it’s a complex issue and the Bible is not entirely clear on it. Justin Lee uses the terms “Side A” and “Side B” (I don’t remember which side is which) for people who hold that simply being gay (as in being born gay and having same gender attraction) is not a sin, but yet have differing opinions on whether acting on those attractions is right or not. There’s a very good book called “Washed and Waiting” which is written by a gay Christian (name escapes me right now) who is on the side that acting on same sex attraction is not ok.

      • Chris Ryan August 20, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

        Hannah–I’m curious abt your statement: ” if God makes people in a state that he sees as horribly sinful and an “abomination” then condemns them for it, something they had no control over, then that God is a true monster and tyrant. ”

        Please don’t take this as piling on, b/cs I’m really not, I’m just trying to understand your rationale here. Geneticists have isolated genes which make people predisposed to being alcoholics & binge drinkers. Yet drunkenness is a sin. Why doesn’t this imply that God in His infinite wisdom may actually give someone a physical impediment to righteousness that another person may not have? …And why would such a physical impediment be any worse than the temptations that Job faced, say, or Christ Himself? Why would it not be a thorn in our flesh that should be overcome through faith a la 2 Corinthians 12:7-10?

        • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

          A predisposition to alcoholism is not sinful nor is it a sin. Sin happens when someone actually abuses alcohol (or intends to in their mind). And drinking alcohol alone isn’t a sin, it’s the use of it to the point of abuse.

          The problem I have is when Christians say people, simply by being born gay, with a natural inclination to be attracted to people of their same gender (the same natural inclination which happens in straight people, only to people of the opposite gender) are sinful for this reason alone. When they say that people who are gay (even if they never act on those attractions) are sinful and rebellious, and going to hell etc, etc, SIMPLY FOR BEING GAY. When they fail to understand that being gay isn’t something one can control anymore than being straight is controllable. Then they say it’s something that needs to be fixed and that they can only be right with God or clean or saved or whatever by becoming straight! I don’t see how natural inclination over which one has no control in and of itself like this can be a sin or how God could condemn them for something they can’t control. That, to me, is like God condemning me or people seeing me as sinful just for being born straight or female. I didn’t choose it. I can’t control that. I didn’t want it. I just am that. This is why “gay Christian” is not an oxymoron because it’s like saying I’m a “straight Christian” or a “female Christian”. I was born female and I chose to be a Christian. I can call myself a “female Christian”. The importance is that I remember that “female” is an adjective and “Christian” (namely, Christ) is my IDENTITY. I would hope that any Christian, regardless of their adjectives, don’t find their identity in those adjectives, but find their identity in Christ alone. But being born gay doesn’t preclude one from being a Christian. Because it isn’t inherently a sin or a flaw any more than my being straight or female is. For such reasons, simply being born gay shouldn’t keep any Christian from serving in the church in any role allowed to any straight person – pastor, elder, worship leader, child care, what-have-you, or having a full and equal position in the family of Christ as any straight person. This is the same foundation on which I base my support of female ordination. But I digress…

          Now, the switch happens when someone goes from having desires or propensities to acting on them. I have a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism, but I am not sinning regarding alcohol until I choose to abuse it (or desiring to abuse it in my mind – yes, I believe that we can sin via intention as Jesus said, not just action). I am straight and have opposite gender attractions, but that doesn’t become sin until I act on it in a way that is sinful. I hold gay sex to the same guidelines as non-gay sex, which means, I believe it’s sinful outside of a selflessly loving, committed marriage relationship. (May I note that just because it’s straight people getting married doesn’t make it truly Marriage, there’s a lot more to it than that, and same goes for gay couples, IMO.)

          There are Christians, however, who say “being gay is not a sin, but acting on it in any way is” and they believe that gay Christians should remain celibate. I understand and respect that view. I have friends who hold that view. So is acting on gay desires a sin? Even in a committed marriage relationship? Maybe. I’ll grant that. I understand that side of the argument, it makes a good deal of sense to me. My personal conclusion however, currently, which is based on my best research and consideration of the data is no it’s not – as long as it takes place in a committed marriage relationship, or as long as it’s a chaste relationship outside of marriage (like “dating”). I understand that people will disagree with me on that, and I have many friends who do. But we are still friends and we can still be civil about it, and not draw judgemental conclusions about the status of anyone’s salvations.

          I deeply apologize for anyone who may feel offended by my thoughts or opinions, as that wasn’t my intent. I try to always express my thoughts as civilly as possible, but i don’t have a great track record so I’m sure to come across wrong or just say something mean without thinking from time to time. But I really do believe in the unity of the church and believe that Christians can and should get along despite this issue and that we can find common ground and work together through it. As Sarah Bessey wrote in a wonderful blog post: “After all, my Bible talks more about the sins of not caring for the poor and orphans of our communities, about our pride, about idolatry, than it does about homosexuality” (http://sarahbessey.com/in-which-i-tell-you-the-truth/) and whatever our view of homosexuality, we shouldn’t ever cease to love gay people as richly and selflessly as anyone else or let this issue eclipse those issues which seem far more important to God, like caring for the poor and fixing the sin in our own lives before judging others. That is where I see God most clearly anyway.
          Wow, this ended up being a lot longer than I intended. I should go into preaching, yeah? ;)

          • buddyglass August 21, 2013 at 9:42 am #

            “When they fail to understand that being gay isn’t something one can control anymore than being straight is controllable. ”

            One could argue that straight folks are inherently sinful and hell-bound by virtue of their (corrupted) straightness just as gays are hell-bound due to their gayness. Basically we’re all hell-bound.

            I’m not sure I’d argue that, but it’s pretty mainstream. The idea is that it’s not any one sin that renders one unworthy of entering God’s presence but an inherent bent toward sin (“sin nature”) that every human being shares.

            Back to the sexuality thing though. I’m straight. I’m also predisposed to have sex with every woman I can get my hands on. This is probably true of most straight men. And I was born that way! That fact, though, doesn’t grant me license to indulge my predisposition.

            What’s often debated is whether having such a predisposition precludes one from the body of Christ. Clearly it doesn’t, or there would be a lot less Christians who are men. My feeling is that a predisposition toward same-sex attraction doesn’t preclude membership in the body of Christ either. It certainly complicates things, and God can and has miraculously delivered folks from s.s.a., but it’s not a deal-breaker. Living as a “practicing” homosexual, though, pretty much is, for the same reason my choosing to live as a wildly promiscuous heterosexual would be.

          • Chris Ryan August 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

            Thanks for the explanation Hannah. I hear you now.

  23. Ian Shaw August 20, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    This is just another nail in the coffin to try and finally split the characteristics of Christianity that the secular/nationalistic culture tried to take and use as it’s own. I welcome the full divorce. I feel the state has crossed the line over a parent’s responsibilities, but I have more hope than the state can offer.

    “If there were ever a time when it was appropriate for the church to remain in this marriage for the sake of witness, that time is clearly over. The state in the western world has effectively divorced the church. Furthermore, if the state wants to be the state without the help of the church, then part of the church’s witness is to exhort state representatives to stop co-opting the church’s language to serve state purposes. If the church cannot have it both ways, then neither can the state. As the church renews its identity as God’s set apart chosen people, it must therefore remind the state that it no longer possesses grounds for making this same claim. The hope of the earth is Jesus Christ and his body is the church, not the state. This is good news for the state and its citizens. For it disabuses them of the notion that they will ever find salvation by staring down the edge of the sword, the barrel of a gun, or the face of a ballot. Jesus instructed and modeled bottom-up service, to his disciples not top-down power (John Nugent at Great Lakes CC). This will not stop our witness and ability to serve.

  24. Larry Geiger August 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    “Nathan Cesal August 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm #
    The truth is in the pudding. I know dozens of people that have tried and failed to change their orientation through reparative and other therapies. All consider themselves worse off because of the attempts.”

    No you don’t. I don’t believe you. Dozens? At least 24 to 48? I just don’t believe you. Nice try.

    People make statements like this all of the time. Totally unsubstantiated statements. Like Hannah. I don’t believe them.

    • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      I recommend the book “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay-vs.-Christians Debate” by Justin Lee. It addresses these issues in detail. I could recommend others if you’d like.
      Google is also pretty user-friendly.

      • Daryl Little August 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

        Justin Lee “rescues the gospel” by denying what the Bible clearly teaches about sin.
        James White has interacted extensively with him.

  25. ajmacdonaldjr August 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Satan is very busy… destroying the lives of young peoples and children.

    By the way… what sort of a culture says “children struggle with homosexuality”? 

    Children don’t engage in sex, or even think about sex. Young adults do. 

    Perhaps we should pass a law saying no one is allowed to affirm any child or young person’s personal preference regarding who they would like to have sex with until that person is legally allowed to engage in sexual activity, which would be when they become eighteen years of age? 

    For anyone to propagandize for, instill, and then affirm the deviant, unhealthy, abnormal, sinful homosexual notions and behaviors they have cultivated within a child or young person is criminally and sexually abusive in my thinking. Shame on all those people who do this.

    People are born homosexuals?

    People are born fools! 

    People are born with an innate tendency to commit every sin and crime imaginable.

    That’s what Original Sin is.

    Proverbs 22:15 tells us:

    “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child”

    “A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness”

    “A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong”

    “Foolishness is tangled up in the heart of a youth”

    Affirming homosexuality in a child or young person is the same as affirming any other sin, which a dangerous, hateful, and foolish thing to do. I can’t think of a better way to ruin a child or young person’s life than to tell them they are okay in their sin… to tell them that which is not best for them is okay… to fail to love them, discipline them, and teach them they way out of their foolishness.

  26. Nathan Cesal August 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Yes! 24ish and maybe more, but definitely not as high as 48.

    People who have tried and failed (as a child or adult; coerced or freely chosen; reparative therapy or something else; whatever) to change their orientation abound in gay Christian circles. Definitely more than those that have tried and succeeded because anything is more than zero, which I am assuming is the number of ex-gays that most people that comment here (even Denny) personally know of.

    There can be a couple of reasons for this. 1) they don’t really exist, or 2) they don’t want to stand and be counted. I truly believe the frequency of change is rare ***and those that do change, don’t want to be counted because of the reaction they would receive from the church.***

    They are hiding things under a bushel to a detriment because they think (and probably their close confidants/mentors think) that the church can’t handle their truth.

  27. Ian Shaw August 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Can’t say I’m surprised by all this coming out of the state of New Jersey consdiering today the state has approved medicinal marijuana for children….of which the American Academy of Pediatrics has yet to endorse. Stay classy New Jersey.

  28. Ian Shaw August 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    ajmacdonaldjr,

    You make some very good points.

  29. Ken Temple August 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Nathan Cesal wrote:
    “Definitely more than those that have tried and succeeded because anything is more than zero, which I am assuming is the number of ex-gays that most people that comment here (even Denny) personally know of.

    Not true – I can think of at least 3-4 former homosexuals that I know personally –

    I shared the gospel with a homosexual who repented and turned his life over to Christ, and then a few years later, died of AIDS. But he was redeemed; and he confessed to me that he knew it was wrong every time he did it. I visited him in his home and ate meals with him. His first name was Steve.

    Another former homosexual I taught the Bible to and discipled and he eventually became a missionary to Muslims. He got married to a woman and had 4 children. A dear friend.

    there were several other former homosexuals that I knew of at the church and I will never forget one of them telling me that what turned him around was hearing a sermon on “holiness” – “without holiness no one will see the Lord” – Hebrews 12:14 and “walk in the light” (Ephesians 5 and I John 1:5-2:2).

  30. Ken Temple August 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Hannah Lewis wrote:
    “I have a relationship with Jesus and he’s the ultimate authority for me.”

    So, Hannah, what do you with what Jesus about marriage, that it is between one man and one woman, “the two will become one flesh” and “God created them male and female from the beginning” – Matthew 19:4-6, quoting and alluding to Genesis 1:1; 26-28; 2:24; 5:2. ( “male and female” – and “the two will become one flesh” – no room for marriage other than that combination, according to Jesus Himself.

    Jesus is the ultimately authority and His word has authority over your life.

    4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    Jesus also said,
    “My sheep hear My voice” – John 10:27
    To continuously and persistently rebel against His voice and His word means one is not a true sheep.

    • Mary Gray Moser August 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      Ken, I think your sharing of you personal experience with bringing homosexuals to Christ blesses others very much. Sounds to me like you are gifted with this ability, and I think it would be well if you would keep on sharing. Maybe a book? Mag articles?

    • Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      There are many Christians who believe that being gay (being born as someone who has natural same sex attractions) is not a sin, yet who think that gay marriage and gay sex is still wrong. The first verse you gave is one that they often use in support of that. I respect their decision and I can understand where they are coming from. This verse, however, does nothing to support the idea that people born with natural same sex attraction are sinful for being so. It simply addresses the complexity as to whether acting on those attractions is right or wrong.
      But while the Bible says God created people male and female, science shows us that gender is much more complex than this. It’s not a simple binary system. The same way that the Bible clearly teaches the universe was made in 6 days, yet science shows that’s not literally true. God reveals Truth through various things, including reason (science is part of this), church tradition, and experience, etc., in addition to Scripture. And anyone who has read even part of the Bible even once knows that semantics in the Bible is not a simple, easily understood thing. What is a day? What is male or female? What is marriage? This is why Bible interpretation continues to be a fascinating and complex area of study. I mistrust on principle anyone who claims to know exactly and perfectly what the Bible says about any thing. Including myself.
      And yes, Jesus’ sheep do hear His voice. You are absolutely right. :)

      • Ken Temple August 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

        This verse, however, does nothing to support the idea that people born with natural same sex attraction are sinful for being so.

        If they act upon them or fantasize with them – like Matthew 5:28, then they are sins. Those desires and attractions are broken and perverted desires -they are not natural or normal, they are part of the brokenness of the fall. But no one who does not struggle with those desires is better than they are. We are all sinners and we all have our particular brokenness and sinful tendencies and corruptions.

        20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

        Those desires are like other tendencies that different people struggle with – some with anger, some with gluttony, some with laziness, some with pride/arrogance; some with gossip; some with jealousy; some with lying and deception; some with greed. All of those things are sins of the heart and the roots of sins – the disposition and sinful nature. We all have some kind of that stuff.

        • Ken Temple August 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

          The above verses are Romans 8:20-22.

          20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

  31. Ken Temple August 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Mary Gray Moser-
    Thanks for the encouraging words. I am not gifted; I just wanted to be true to the gospel and reached out to them with the gospel; and God chose to use me and help them. Most of my ministry experience is with Muslims. God has worked in some of their hearts also. But most people don’t respond. It depends on God to work in people’s hearts. ( Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:8; John 6:44; Acts 16:14) But we are to be available for God to use us with whomever He brings into our lives. Only God converts people and changes their hearts.

  32. Hannah Lewis August 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Poor Denny, he was trying to make a totally different point. :)

  33. Larry Geiger August 21, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    “I know dozens of people”. Hannah, don’t quote a book to support his position. Read the statement in quotes again. Now read it again. It does not say “I read a book about dozens of people…”. It does not say that. It says, (here read it again), “I know dozens of people…”

    Once again, nice try.

    • Nathan Cesal August 21, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Larry, do you want me to do head count at the next weekly meeting I attend on this very subject? These meetings are in an area of the country with millions of people. So a couple dozen is not unheard of.

      • Nathan Cesal August 21, 2013 at 10:37 am #

        The FB group of -current- attendees has 34 members. That number is not all people that attend the meetings. I’ve been going to the group for a few years. I stand by the statement, “I know dozens of people that have tried and failed to change their sexual orientation from not straight to straight.”

        Just to clear, the meetings aren’t all about changing orientation, but how a conservative church can bridge the gap to LGBTQ. The Church is Side B officially, but can lean Side X, IMO. Every quarter the topic of a meeting is about changing orientation and what people’s experiences were/are.

  34. Larry Geiger August 21, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    Thank you, Ken Temple.

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