Living in Our Changing Unchanging World
2 Timothy 3:1-17
January 16, 2022
In December Canada passed bill C-4 that outlawed what is called “Conversion Therapy” or “Reparative Therapy” for counselors. The bill became Canadian law eight days ago, on January 8. Conversion Therapy is a practice where people with homosexual desires and actions are re-oriented and “converted” to heterosexual behavior. The difference between what we believe and what conversion therapy practices is subtle but significant: our goal is not to convert homosexuals to become heterosexuals; our goal is to see sinners converted to become Christ-followers (and letting Christ conform every aspect of their lives to biblical truth). One pastor explained the danger of the bill (now law) this way:
In the Preamble of the Bill, it says that the belief that “heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions” is a “myth.” 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.
[Further,] The Bill defines conversion therapy as, “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual; change a person’s gender identity to cisgender; change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth; repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior; repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.”
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.
“Everyone who knowingly causes another person to undergo conversion therapy – including by providing conversion therapy to that other person – is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.” Similarly, “Everyone who knowingly promotes or advertises conversion therapy is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years.” [“A Stand on Biblical Sexual Morality,” his emphasis.]
A pastor friend in Canada emailed me a couple of days before the bill became law, informing me about what was coming and then asked this: “[The law] is meant to outlaw conversion therapy, but the wording is so vague that it captures so much more than that. Please pray for those of us who minister God’s truth here in Canada and for our Biblical Counselling ministry…particularly as we could easily get caught up in this, even though we do not practice what is known as conversion therapy.”
The attack against Christians is not just in Canada — it’s a little closer to home as well. The City Council in West Lafayette, Indiana is considering Ordinance 31-21 which:
…proposes to ban “unlicensed counselors” from practicing “conversion therapy” on minors, enforced by $1,000 fines. It defines conversion therapy as “any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity” & “counseling” as “techniques used to help individuals…make decisions relating to personal growth, vocational, family, and other interpersonal concerns”….
Ordinance 31-21 therefore means the city would be able to fine people $1,000 if they “help [minors]…make decisions” based on their religious beliefs. Since 31-21 calls it “exposure to…serious harms and risks,” it also leaves the door open for CPS to remove children from the home of parents who don’t affirm their child’s gender identity or sexuality.…
Ordinance 31-21…would legislate your speech and behavior if you satisfy two conditions: (1) you are “not licensed or governed by…the State of Indiana’s Professional Licensing Agency,” and (2) you employ “techniques used to help individuals learn how to solve problems and make decisions related to personal growth, vocational, family, and other interpersonal concerns”…
Ask yourself: are you licensed by the State of Indiana? If not, do you “help individuals…make decisions?” If so, you would be governed by 31-21. The City would disallow minors the freedom to seek their own counsel.
This is happening in a city that has been greatly helped by the ministry of Faith Baptist Church where so many biblical counselors have been trained. The ordinance almost appears to be written to restrict specifically with Faith Baptist Church in mind.
And the “attacks” against biblical teaching on homosexuality and gender issues are potentially even closer: in 2014, Houston Mayer Annise Parker issued a subpoena demanding that pastors submit the manuscripts of any sermons dealing with homosexuality or gender identity as part of a non-discrimination ordinance. The subpoena was subsequently overthrown, but all three of these situations (and there could be dozens more) are not the final battle against a biblical understanding of sexuality and marriage. They are merely the first skirmishes in the long war against God and biblical truth about sexuality.
In support of the churches in Canada particularly, and the potential suffering they may be facing, many pastors around the United States are taking today to remind churches of our position on homosexuality and gender. Some churches are also calling for Christians to re-assert our right to free speech, religious liberty, and religious freedom. There is a place for those things, but we have talked regularly about sexuality and gender issues both from this pulpit and in our CBCD training conference. And earlier in 2021 we spent considerable time speaking about the role of government in the life of the believer. So I don’t want to revisit those themes today. We have a good base to think through those issues.
Instead, I want to take us to Paul’s last letter, 2 Timothy. In fact, it’s the next-to-last chapter in his last letter. These are his “final written words” on this earth.
In this chapter, the apostle reminds Timothy of what life will be like in the last days before Christ’s return, how believers ought to think about those last days, and what will sustain them in those last days. We can summarize what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3 this way:
We can always expect opposition of every kind;
the Bible is always adequate for both us and those in opposition.
As Paul considers the last days, he draws our attention to three realities of living in this world:
- The Reality of Opposition from the World (vv. 1-9)
- The Reality of Persecution from the World (vv. 10-13)
- The Reality of Hope for the World (vv. 14-17)
Download the rest of this sermon on 1 Timothy 3:1-17.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.