Outraged? Good! But Where’ve You Been?

By Joe Dallas Published on August 19, 2023

Barring a tsunami-like miracle, the state of California will soon dictate what you may or may not teach your children about sexuality, by what moral standards you will raise them, and how you will respond if your child says, “I’m Trans.”

Check the Trends

AB-957 will advise judges in custody cases to consider which parent “affirms” a transgender child’s preferred identity. Refusing to call a male child a female may constitute “child abuse.” And Gov. Newsom has clamped down on those uppity Chino School Board members who defied his mandate that children learn about homosexuality, transgenderism, and gay historical figures.

Glad you’re mad. Glad, also, for the pastors, parents, and leaders who’ve squared off with Sacramento, voicing their commitment to parental rights. God bless all of them; may plenty more be added to their ranks, and soon.

German citizens in the 1930s and 40s saw their Jewish neighbors starred and stigmatized, maligned, arrested, deported. Yet when it was all over, they expressed stupid and needless shock when they learned about Auschwitz. “We never thought,” they gasped, “it would come to this!”

But what we protest today raises the uncomfortable question of what we ignored yesterday. Specifically, where were today’s angry Christians a decade ago, when laws paving the way for these atrocities were passed with little incident, and minimal protest?

Been There

In 2012, the California Senate passed SB-1172 which made it illegal for any mental health professional to provide “conversion therapy” to any minor, regardless of the minor’s wishes, or the parents.’ Despite the bill’s misleading title “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts,” it not only prohibits counselors and therapists from providing treatment to change sexual feelings (from gay to straight) but also outlaws “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.”

Hope you caught that. The State told mental health professionals they may NOT counsel a minor to NOT engage in homosexual sex, or transgender expressions. So, if a teenager said to a counselor, “I’ve been having gay sex, but I feel it’s a sin and I want to stop,” the counselor would be in violation if he helped the teen abstain.

True to form, California led the way on this one. Soon similar bills were passed, and remain in place, nationwide.

Cue the Church

Some Christian response could be expected. After all, how many pastors refer parishioners to Christian therapists? Surely, they’d realize that under these bills, parents in their own churches wouldn’t be able to find the professional help they needed when homosexuality or transgenderism hit home. And surely (hopefully?) they’d realize the dangerous precedent the bills were setting — one by which the State would now override parents when it came to critical questions of how you’ll guide your children’s sexual identities and behaviors.

Well, as a corny line from a cornier movie goes, “Don’t call me Shirley!” I remember all too well the fear this bill provoked a decade ago among those of us in ministry to same-sex attracted people; those of us branded with the ominous “Conversion Therapist” label.

We feared for parents, teens, and religious liberty in general, but it seemed we feared alone. The silence from the general Christian population was deafening.


It didn’t get much better in 2018 when Assemblyman Evan Low, no doubt emboldened by SB-1172’s passage five years earlier, authored AB-2943 which would have classified “Conversion Therapy” (as defined earlier) as a form of “consumer fraud.”

Some prominent Christian voices objected — Pastors Hibbs and McArthur come to mind — as did some bold souls who converged on the State Capitol to testify of their own freedom from homosexuality.

But the broader church seemed quietly apathetic, even when the Chaplain from Azusa Pacific Christian University actually voiced support for the bill in a newspaper editorial.

Were We Cowards?

No, I doubt it’s that simple. I think naïve is the better word. We seemed naïve, as people facing evil often do, assuring ourselves that either “That can’t really happen,” or “It won’t go further,” or “It will affect THEM, but not US.”

That last one really gets me. I think a number of pastors, in particular, have been susceptible to thinking these Conversion Therapy bans will only affect professional counselors, but will never crash their way into the Sanctuary.

Big mistake. Just ask any Bible believing Pastor in Canada, where the National Conversion Therapy Ban passed two years ago criminalizes anyone — pastors included — from counseling a homosexual to go straight, turn, repent. Canadian pastors now choose between excising I Corinthians 6:9-11 from their Bibles, or facing prison, fines, or both.

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Or ask Matthew Grech, the young Malta citizen who, in violation of Malta’s ban on conversion therapy, now faces criminal charges for publicly testifying to overcoming homosexuality.

Conversion Therapy Bans, like leaven, know no boundaries. Nor will charges of “child abuse” when levied against parents in custody cases who refuse to call their transgender boy a girl.

If such parents are considered child abusers in custody hearings, is anyone naïve enough to think all parents who aren’t “affirming” won’t eventually be charged as well? If something is considered “child abuse” in custody cases, then of course it will be considered child abuse in all cases, all contexts. It takes radical simplicity to think otherwise.

Radical Simplicity is Evil’s Welcome Mat

German citizens in the 1930s and 40s saw their Jewish neighbors starred and stigmatized, maligned, arrested, deported. Yet when it was all over, they expressed stupid and needless shock when they learned about Auschwitz. “We never thought,” they gasped, “it would come to this!”

Maybe not. But if you’re silent when someone’s dignity and autonomy are being overridden, you play a part in the injustice which follows. And while the Holocaust is its own horror which can’t be compared, its principles can be learned from and applied to lessor evils.

Like the ones we’re facing today. If government tyranny comes in ways we cannot foresee, then we’re blameless when it comes. But if we see it yet refuse to name it (much less resist it) then we play a role in what follows. The unpreventable is excusable; the preventable is not.

California’s government tested the waters a decade ago and learned, to its probable delight, that we would roll over and allow parental rights to be stripped. No doubt we thought it would end there; no doubt we thought it would end with others.

But there’s also no doubt that a window of opportunity for godly resistance is still here, open and waiting. It’s an invitation to prayer, boldness, and a willingness to stand when the very act of standing is branded hatred and bigotry by the voices we too often listen to, and needlessly fear.

Ten years ago they told us to roll over. Now they’re telling us to play dead.



Joe Dallas is an author, conference speaker, and ordained pastoral counselor. He directs a biblical counseling ministry for those dealing with sexual and relational problems, and with their families as well. He is the author of Desires in Conflict, The Game Plan, When Homosexuality Hits Home, Five Steps to Breaking Free from Porn and his latest, Speaking of Homosexuality.

Originally published at joedallas.com. Reprinted with permission.

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