A Big Christian Victory in California With a Concern and a Caution

By Michael Brown Published on August 31, 2018

Make no mistake about it. The news from California is very big and very positive. As reported in the LA Times, “California legislator shelves bill to ban paid ‘gay conversion therapy’ for adults.”

In a somewhat unprecedented move in the history of gay activism, Assemblyman Evan Low, himself gay, has withdrawn AB2943 from a final vote.

The bill, which would have made it illegal for people of any age to receive professional help for unwanted same-sex attractions, was almost certain to pass the Assembly, having been approved by the Senate 25-11. But to Low’s credit, he took the time to meet with faith leaders across the state, hearing their concerns.

In his own words, “I knew this was an emotionally charged issue, so I spent the past few months traveling up and down the state meeting with a wide variety of faith leaders.”

This is what can happen when Christians seek to be the salt and the light, even when it’s outside our comfort zone.

It appears he was sensitive enough to the concerns of these leaders that, for now, he withdrew the bill.

That is certainly commendable on Low’s part, and he deserves our utmost appreciation. How many legislators would do what he has done?

There is also a massively important lesson to be learned, so let all of America (and the world) take notice: This is what can happen when the church gets mobilized, even in hyper-left California. This is what can happen when Christian leaders decide to take a moral stand on controversial social issues. This is what can happen when we seek to be the salt and the light, even when it’s outside our comfort zone.

Why Has the Church Been Silent?

But that leads to a major concern. Why did it take so long? Why did we largely sit on the sidelines until now? And isn’t it ironic that we are rejoicing over the withdrawal of a bill that should never have seen the light of day?

Having been on the front lines of these issues since 2004, this is a truth that stings deeply: We are only in this moral and cultural morass today because the church has been so silent.

I say that with shame and with pain, not with condemnation. Surely I could have done better too.

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California has passed bill after bill mandating the celebration of LGBT history in America, with no one allowed to opt out, including both teachers and students. This is mandatory for all public schools, grades K-12.

One of the worst of these bills, SB777, became law in 2007. Where was the Christian outcry over this? Where was the concern for our children?

Speaking of our children, where was the Christian outcry in 2012, when California passed the virtual equivalent of AB 2943, barring minors from receiving professional help for unwanted same-sex attraction?

And for those throwing stones at the church of California, where were the rest of us when similar bills were passed in a dozen other states? Are we that unconcerned with the wellbeing of our kids?

So, as much as I rejoice over this major victory in California, I do so with reserve: We have been asleep in the light for far too long. Today, we are paying the price for convenience store Christianity.

Still, We Must Be Vigilant

There’s also a reason to be cautious in our celebration. AB 2943 is not going away. It’s just being reshaped.

To quote Assemblyman Low again, “I believe we are on the side of the angels on this issue,” he said. “Having said that, in order to get it right, why wouldn’t we want to engage in meaningful, thoughtful, transformational relationships and conversations?”

What, exactly, does it mean to “get it right”? Is not the whole premise of the bill that there’s nothing wrong with being gay? That all attempts to change sexual orientation are harmful and abusive? That any professional services offered to produce change are fraudulent?

While there is much cause for celebration in California, there remains serious cause for concern.

But there’s more — and be assured that the impact will be major. There are two brand new movies that will be highly touted by Hollywood (just wait for the praises and awards to flow), and both seek to expose “conversion therapy.”

One, called Boy Erased, “follows the son of a Baptist preacher who is forced to take part in a gay conversion program.”

The other is called The Miseducation of Cameron Post, telling the story of “a 12-year-old Montana girl who is discovering her own homosexuality” and is subsequently sent to a “conversion camp.”

It is difficult to describe just how much anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-change sentiment will be stirred up by these films, which in no way, shape, size or form will be fair or balanced, let alone biblical.

So, while there is much cause for celebration in California, there remains serious cause for concern.

May this victory be a wake-up call and a starting point rather than a time to sit back and rest on our laurels. To do so would be to make a very serious mistake.

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  • The Evangelical

    This is good to hear: people peacefully and legally voicing their concerns over a bill. And all done without civil disobedience…

    • Up_Words

      And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

      Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
      (2 Timothy 3:12-13)

      Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Christian history (a la “Foxes Book of Martyrs” etc.) orthe Bible knows that what we have been experiencing within the US is NOT a right, but an anomaly and exception. If the above comment, regarding effecting change “without civil disobedience” implies that we, within the US, are to expect to be immune from serious persecution, or that we can relax with an assurance of freedom to worship as in the past, I must inform you on the authority of Scripture (and current events!!), that you are in for a rude awakening.
      — Please consider re-reading Dr. Brown’s closing arguments regarding remaining (or becoming) vigilant. This is NOT hyperbole, or a hysterical rant: it is reality. The days of laying back and EXPECTING true religious freedom to be GUARANTEED (or even accepted) within this country are numbered. Even if we do not engage in “civil disobedience” it is (way past) time to embrace militant Christianity within our hearts (Matt. 11:12)!!

      • The Evangelical

        “Militant Christianity”? I think you are ignoring God’s clear commands in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. And yes, persecution is coming, as scripture promises, and we are to face it as Christians: run or suffer for the Lord’s sake. Not rebel.

        • Up_Words

          You misunderstand my use of the word “militant.” See Ephesians 6:12-18

          • The Evangelical

            I see. Thank you for the clarification. I recommend not using the word “militant” in that context since spiritual warfare is normative in the Christian life. “Militant Christianity” tends to be used by theonomist or dominion theology adherents to justify unbiblical political acts.

        • Andrew Mason

          Perhaps you should ask Up-Words to define militant Christianity before suggesting such a notion is contrary to God’s clear commands?

          • The Evangelical

            I tend to think that words have meaning and there is little ambiguity in the term “Militant Christianity”. Using the term to refer to spiritual ware, as he defines below, is redundant since that is part of the normative Christian walk. If you are modifying Christianity with militant, then it must be something that isn’t normative and is related to the military or warfare in a civil sense.

          • Andrew Mason

            I agree words have meaning, but disagree about militant Christianity being unambiguous. Publicly visible Biblical Christian could fall within the concept of militant Christianity. For others – militant Christianity means something like the IRA or the Lord’s Resistance Army, groups they insist are Christian and violent. Not trying to argue such groups are Christian, just that it depends on whether militant means violent as to what you think of.

        • Will Winn

          You misunderstand the intent of the NT writers when they encourage us to obey “worldly” government authority. In no way does Biblical “obedience” to human/civil or even ecclesiastical governments tell us to do so when it violates God’s Word. Acts 5:29 says, “We must obey God rather than men.” Whenever a government violates biblical teaching, Christians are obligated to disobey that government. You would obviously object to the Declaration of Independence.

          • The Evangelical

            Acts 5:29 must be reconciled with Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. And yes, there is nothing in the Declaration of Independence that justifies civil disobedience and rebellion from a Christian perspective. It was sinful.

        • m-nj

          As God determines where and when all people live, including His people, I agree we can be “militant” to the extent that is morally and legally allowed in our given country during our lives. In the US, that means we can petition our government agressively when laws or bills are against the clear teaching of Scripture. I think we can also take part in civil disobedience, and we certainly have the right to defend ourselves if threatened with harm. That being said, some will certainly read the idea of “militant” as something far more violent and un-Biblical.

  • JP

    Evan Low needs to go.

    • Andy6M

      Right, how dare he do anything to halt the leftward march.

  • Paul

    Yes, it will be back

  • Patmos

    “Surely I could have done better too.”

    I suppose this is technically true, but I think it’s safe to say you’ve carried more than your share of the weight, and have done so with a admirable balance of compassion and uncompromising faith.

    I honestly believe there is a position that can be reached where religious beliefs are respected without any sort of degradation to those who don’t believe, though that position largely relies on those pressing for these types of measures to realize there is no intent to degrade in the first place.

    Jesus never forced belief on anyone, and you don’t see the modern church do so either, though there may be an exception that pops up from time to time. Any such exception though is not acting in faith. It’s not too much to ask for this type of respect in return.

  • Chip Crawford

    I’ve known there are strong Christian churches in California. It’s good to know they have had an effect on something. Maybe they and others will be stirred to not just be responsive to inquiry, but proactive with truth on these and other matters the culture is batting around and actually implementing on their children in schools and every medium. We are called to affect the culture, not be marginalized by it.

  • Jami MacPherson

    During the past 44 years, at various times I have often wondered about the degree to which God’s people within a given nation might be responsible for the various choices made by those holding positions of power in that same nation.

    • Joanne13

      Christians along with unbelievers in the U.S. are equally responsible for the state of our nation’s immorality today. Too many Christians simply won’t vote… and it’s been that way for decades. I refer to the ‘sleeping church’ and put much responsibility for the state of our nation upon those Christians that felt they were to separate themselves from the political in our country and therefore didn’t become informed about or bother to go and vote for those running for offices. Too many sat back (and still SIT back) believing they had (have) no responsibility (or even believing they shouldn’t be politically active) because we’re told in scripture to ‘come out from among them’. They were wrong then and wrong now. Consequently we have been and are now reaping what we sowed (or more correctly didn’t sow) in our nation. Putting salt in a cabinet and allowing it to sit there doing nothing only serves to let it ‘loose it’s flavor’ and thus become pretty useless. I pray for God’s mercy towards us and that The Church will wake up before it’s simply too late.

  • kanban1982

    gоs︀h︀, f︀оu︀n︀d m︀y yо︀ut︀h c︀оl︀l︀е︀c︀ti︀о︀n w︀it︀h m︀y n︀ud︀е s︀еlfiе︀s – t︀hа︀t︀s th︀е аlbu︀m ̩
    S︀i︀n︀g u︀p an︀d ad︀d m︀e︀: i︀︀a︀︀l︀︀m︀︀a︀z.︀c︀o︀︀m︀/︀a︀︀l︀b︀︀u︀︀m︀︀9︀9︀9︀7︀0︀︀1

  • Irene Neuner

    Ten years ago, in California, I remember listening to radio talk show host Dr. Laura saying in response to a desperate mother loosing her daughter to secular, liberal ideology (aka mental disorder), “Dr. Dobson and I have been telling parents to get their kids out of the public schools for 20 years.”

    I think fervent prayer, staying informed, and being active in the community are powerful and important but the Church has no business letting the government (schools) “train up our children in the way that they should go.”

    To put a 6th grader or a 10th grader in a godless educational system expecting them to be ‘salt and light’ is something that God didn’t do with his own son.

  • Royce E. Van Blaricome

    The activism and influence being made by Hollywood should not be overlooked or underestimated. One would need completely blind not to see the active & intentional efforts that Hollywood is making to further the LGBTQABCXYZ+50 agenda. Their appetite for sexual immorality is becoming increasingly more extreme and insatiable.

    For more on why see Pastor Ric Fritz 4-part series on “The LGBTQ Movement and Christianity” at Christian Headlines.

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