Ben John on the need for the Church to speak clearly to oppose ‘conversion therapy’ bans
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer recently told LGBT+ Labour that the party would “implement a full, trans-inclusive, ban on all forms of conversion therapy.”
This could feasibly mean that telling a boy that he is really a boy or a girl that she is really a girl could be a criminal offence.
Would there be protections for parents or teachers? We don’t know. But given Sir Keir went on to say “that conversion therapy is psychologically damaging abuse” – presumably there won’t be. In fact, it seems that Sir Keir would support an extreme ‘conversion therapy’ bill like the one debated in the House of Lords. The proposed bill tabled by Baroness Burt of Solihull would criminalise any member of the public, not just therapists, for private, consensual conversations. This could include parents refusing to allow their children to cross-dress.
Under a Labour government, we could be in a society where people’s bodies are being mutilated: women’s breasts getting cut off, men having their genitalia removed. And to question this would be “damaging abuse.”
This comes after Labour received backlash for suspending by-election candidate Laura Pascal for alleged ‘transphobia’ (which in this case simply means holding gender critical views).
Trans surgeries are conversion therapy
At least Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, has spoken some sense in the madness of our age by suggesting that encouraging transition itself is a form of conversion therapy. But perhaps Sir Keir Starmer will outlaw saying this as hate speech or ‘conversion therapy’ itself.
The fact is that modern so-called “trans affirming care” is conversion therapy. We are going to have a generation of victims who have been lied to by doctors and an ideology that says they need to mutilate their bodies to match their ‘gender identity’. That maybe a boy is not a boy or a girl is not a girl.
We are sacrificing people’s healthy bodies at the altar of transgender ideology. Just as the prophets of Baal cut themselves until they were bleeding, so too are we mutilating the bodies of these men and women. Boys, girls, men and women think that affirmation, puberty blockers, hormones and surgery will save them – but their idol will let them down. Just like with Baal, “there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.” (1 Kings 18:26 NIV)
The Church of England
The Church of England formerly voted to oppose ‘conversion therapy’, but the term only referred to sexuality, not gender. This means that the church does not condemn so-called ‘trans conversion therapy’.
The bishops did provide guidance as far back as 2018 “[commending] the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith as the central feature of any service to recognise liturgically a person’s gender transition.” The idea was that someone who had previously been baptised as a member of their real sex could re-affirm their vows in a new identity, with their chosen transgender name.
They stated that “it is important that the occasion should have a celebratory character.” Suggested readings included Genesis 17, when God changes the name of Sarai to Sarah, and 2 Corinthians 5 which says that those who are in Christ are a new creation.
It is a shame that this evil did not get the backlash that the current Prayers of Love and Faith are getting. Although some church ministers and congregations bravely chose to leave the Church of England, there was little effective resistance within the church.
Do we really think that blessing gay couples is crossing a red line, but celebrating the destruction of the body and making a mockery of the gospel is okay?
We must speak
Sadly, many of those who are rightly concerned about trans conversion therapy bans are confused, thinking that gender-distressed teens would actually just grow up to be gay if left alone.
For example, Joanna Williams wrote in The Spectator this week:
“many gender-confused children grow up to be happily homosexual. Ironically, a future ban on conversion therapy could send these youngsters headlong down a path to medical interventions that will ‘trans away the gay’.”
Kemi Badenoch MP alluded to the same in her letter to MPs.
We must believe that God in his grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, transforms not only disordered “gender identities”, but also disordered desires. This is just the doctrine of sanctification. We should not believe the lie that trans people will just grow up to be gay. We should believe the glorious truth that God rescues us not just from the guilt of our sins but also from the power of our sins.
We must oppose legislation to ban any pastoral support for those seeking to leave homosexuality and those struggling with gender dysphoria. A trans-inclusive ‘conversion therapy’ ban should be a wake up call to Christians and parents, but we must be bold in speaking against any attempts to criminalise ordinary pastoral conversations and talking therapy.
We can be thankful that many in the House of Lords debate on Baroness Burt’s ‘conversion therapy’ bill were willing to speak out against it. It is encouraging that more are seeing the dangers of any ‘conversion therapy’ legislation.
Despite what the world says, history will be on our side, even if we do not see it in our lifetime, or if we do not see it this side of glory.
We must speak up for the broken and vulnerable. But this often means warning those on a path of destruction.
Labour is saying we should cheer and encourage people down this path. We must oppose this.