Pilgrimage, Citizenship, and Ordinance 31-21

by Abraham Cremeens

 

Over the holidays, some fellow pastors in our city reached out and made us aware that the West Lafayette City Council was considering Ordinance 31-21.  

 

Ordinance 31-21 is a proposed ordinance sponsored by Council members James Blanco and David Sanders. 31-21 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."

 

The above paragraph is taken directly from the website Lafayette Citizens for Freedom, a group helping churches and Christians in our city navigate this proposed ordinance. I encourage you to check out their website for more information. 

 

Now, to be clear, conversion therapy that uses methods of harm (such as shock therapy) has no place in care for a minor (or anyone, for that matter). No one disagrees with banning such practices. But, as you can read above, this ordinance is too vague and would undoubtedly lead to restricting pastors, mentors, and even parents from opening the Scriptures and lovingly leading our young people toward freedom in Christ.

 

The City Council has tabled the discussion until February and is reconsidering its language. However, that this ordinance almost went to a vote is quite alarming. It is a sign of our times.

 

At the same time, I found it encouraging that we began studying Hebrews in parallel to this very matter. While we do not yet face persecution as the original audience did, it reminds us we are pilgrims in a world not our own. We don’t belong here and shouldn’t be surprised when governments or city councils determine to pursue a path contrary to God’s Word. But how should we respond?

 

PRAY
Don’t underestimate the value of such a practice. Prayer is powerful because God is sovereign and loves to answer prayer. God explicitly commands us to pray in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV):

 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

 

God is not surprised by this proposal, and somehow it fits into his overall plan for the world. Further, since he involves our prayers in bringing about his plan, I would encourage you to pray that the ordinance would be dropped entirely or that a more specific language would be adopted that exempts those desiring to speak God’s truth on the matter. Pray also for our Canadian brothers and sisters who are facing a similar law that was recently passed in Canada.

 

DISCERN
We are stewards of God’s Word. We study it daily and apply it to life. But we must also be discerning of culture as we live as pilgrims here. Invest time to understand what is going on in our world to equip you in prayer and, since we are a democratic society, even to speak into the ordinance. Take a look at the website above. I would also encourage you to listen to the first eighteen minutes of this episode of “The Briefing” podcast by Albert Mohler.

 

Don’t remain in a vacuum. Make yourself aware as you pray and ponder. Further, beware of an "us vs. them" mentality. We were once lost and embedded in the very culture that now concerns us. We were only brought out of it by God’s grace. As you discern the situation, always remember that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Keep pointing culture to that very Savior who loves to save sinners.


TRUST GOD
This is what I have valued most from Hebrews so far. God reminds us that we are pilgrims who do not belong in this world. We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Yes, we need to pray for our governing officials to make wise and moral laws. Yes, it is good to steward our democratic role by influencing policies toward what honors God. But, at the end of the day, this world rejects God, and we shouldn’t be surprised at ungodly outcomes. We should grieve, yes, but not panic.

 

The Jewish Christians addressed in Hebrews endured all sorts of anti-God situations. We get a hint of it in Hebrews 10:32-34 (ESV),

 

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

 

No matter what happens in our country’s future, there should always be joyful acceptance on our part. That doesn’t encourage passivity, but it does lead us into deepening trust in our God who oversees all things in the world he has made.

 

We are in this together as the Kossuth family. We also have solidarity with God’s larger global church family. And we are on the winning side. God will bring all things to their intended aim. In the new heavens and earth we will finally fit in a heavenly society that perfectly aligns with God and his ways. In the meantime, let’s pray, discern, and trust our good God.