A God-Given Victory for Biblical Counseling and Pastoral Practice
I rejoice and am thankful to be able to pass on this update from Kevin Carson.
Praising the Lord that the sponsors of WL Ordinance 31-21 withdrew their proposal. Thanks to the thousands of people who stood up for the truth of God’s Word and the power of the Gospel.We’re looking forward to pivoting back to positive community ministry, with another 31-21 in mind, “Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city” (Psalm 31:21).FREEDOMLAFAYETTE.ORG
We rejoice today over the sponsors of WL Ordinance 31-21 withdrawing their proposed ordinance. Thank you to everyone who prayed, signed the petition, sent emails, and shared this story. This proposed law would have had a devastating effect upon ministry in Lafayette, and it would have set a precedent for other cities all over the United States. As a father, pastor, and biblical counselor, I am so grateful for God’s providential intervention. Again, thank you to all who helped and participated.
The Previous Post with Explanation:
One of the largest biblical counseling ministries in the United States faces an unprecedented attack against its ability to offer counsel and do pastoral ministry. As those who want to help individuals in your homes, churches, and community who may struggle, you will want to pay attention to what is happening in West Lafayette, Indiana, and possibly stand up for and with biblical counselors and pastoral practice. Here are the important details.
West Lafayette, Indiana City Council Ordinance
The West Lafayette, Indiana City Council is proposing Ordinance 31-21 aimed at unlicensed counselors which if passed, would criminalize biblical counseling discussing human sexuality with minors with a threatened fine of $1000 per day.
Notice who it targets: unlicensed counselors. Who would fit this group? Pastors. Biblical Counselors. Friends. Parents. Grandparents. Church Youth Workers.
The ambiguity of the language in the ordinance would allow any prosecutor to hold criminally responsible people just like you and others who love Jesus, people, and the Bible for discussing what the Bible says about sexuality with any minor who is wrestling with sexual orientation or issues of gender confusion. This ordinance makes it illegal for those who desire to graciously and winsomely speak the truth in love to a minor regarding these issues.
If passed, anyone with an open Bible who reviews biblical passages with a minor wrestling with human sexuality could both become a criminal and help responsible for a $1,000 fine per conversation (if on different days).
This ordinance is specifically targeting the largest biblical counseling ministry in the nation, Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry. This ministry offers counseling in three different locations in both West Lafayette and Lafayette, Indiana. Teenagers, parents, grandparents, and others may come to this ministry to discuss issues of human sexuality. When they do, a certified biblical counselor will sit down and lovingly discuss what the Bible says about human sexuality. Although certified, biblical counselors do not get state licensed.
The History of this Ordinance and Ones Like It
Ordinances like West Lafayette, Indiana Ordinance 31-21 are becoming popular throughout the United States, and have existed for some time in other countries like Canada. These ordinances are supported by LGBTQ groups in an effort to criminalize any attempt to help individuals choose to live consistent with the Bible as it relates to human sexuality. Most laws target reparative therapy, as this map demonstrates. However, there are two key differences between most laws and this Indiana law. First, it targets unlicensed counselors in addition to licensed counselors. Second, it expands the definition of conversion therapy. Both of these issues are important for biblical counselors, pastors, parents, grandparents, and concerned followers of Christ.
Targeting Unlicensed Counselors
The ordinance, as written, is broad enough to include pastors, youth pastors, biblical counselors, parents, grandparents, other family, and friends. This ordinance addresses unlicensed counselors and further defines them as “any person who provides counseling and psychotherapy” (Section 2.b.).
You may immediately say, “Well, I am not a counselor. I am just simply a _______, talking with my _______ who is also a minor.”
Notice though how the ordinance defines counseling. Counseling consists of “techniques used to help individuals learn how to solve problems and make decisions related to personal growth, vocational, family, and other interpersonal concerns.”
What is parenting? …Gospel conversations? …Personal Ministry? …Speaking truth in love? It is helping an individual solve a problem, teaching to solve a problem, and specifically, in this case, helping them make a decision related to personal growth, vocational, family, and other interpersonal concerns.
This is written both carefully and deceptively. Does this reach over into religious instruction of all types? Absolutely. Can it be used to reach into individual parenting and grandparenting? Yes.
Targeting an Expanded Conversion Therapy
As written, the law targets conversion therapy and reparative therapy, which usually refer to the same practice. Please be careful to note that biblical counselors reject the psychological practice called reparative therapy. Again, as historically and typically used, reparative therapy and conversion therapy refer to the same psychological practice by licensed counselors. This practice we reject. As ACBC executive director, Dale Johnson wrote, “To be clear, the fundamental tenants, practices, and goals of reparative therapy/conversion therapy in no way reflect a biblical approach to counseling. But the intentional ambiguity of this ordinance would hold pastors and biblical counselors (both licensed and unlicensed) in violation of this ban if they attempt to counsel a biblical sexual ethic to a minor struggling with same-sex attraction or gender confusion.”
This ordinance expands conversion therapy to mean more than the psychological therapy known as reparative therapy.
According to this ordinance: “Conversion therapy” is defined as any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. Conversion therapy shall not include counseling that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition, or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual-orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as such counseling does not seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. (Section 2.c.)
Practices and treatments include conversations, journaling, Bible study, and specific Bible study methods. For instance, if a 14-year-old talked with you at church requesting biblical answers for same-sex attraction or gender identity, according to this ordinance, you would be breaking the law to discuss the issue from the Bible with him. Taking the illustration a step further: if you were to say, “Please read these three Bible passages this week and tell me how they apply to your thoughts, desires, and potential actions,” then you would break the law.
But this is simply Gospel conversation, personal ministry, and one-another ministry. All of these things are part of our religious beliefs and practices.
What Can You Do?
Faith Church and Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry have asked for our help.
Faith Church has worked with area churches, campus groups, and other concerned citizens to develop Lafayette Citizens for Freedom to help defeat this ordinance that threatens religious freedom, pastoral practice, and biblical counseling (in addition to the overreach potential of parenting and grandparenting). I am encouraging you to visit their website and take the following steps as soon as you can:
- Sign the on-line petition here.
- Email the 9 West Lafayette City Council members who have not opposed the bill to vote no on Ordinance 31-21. You can find the council member’s contact information here. The website also has an auto formatted email option.
- Share this message on your social media platforms and ask your friends, church members, and others to take the same steps here.
- Pray that the ordinance would be overturned and that the Lord would protect faithful churches and ministries in Lafayette.
Stand Up For and With Biblical Counselors and Pastoral Practice
This is the first of what could be many of these types of ordinances. As citizens and Christians, we must do our part to try to protect religious freedom. We are first and foremost followers of Christ regardless of local, state, and national politics. Our allegiance is totally to Jesus Christ. However, as citizens of the United States, we also practice a civil stewardship. Where the government seeks to limit free religious expression, we have both the right and responsibility to do what is within our power as citizens to address it. This action I commend to you.
*This post first appeared at KevinCarson.com