4 Things I Wish The Victorian Government Knew About Jesus

The Victorian Parliament recently passed laws that will heavily impact Gospel ministry in the garden state. The laws were passed under the laudable guise of stopping cruel and unusual gay conversion therapies, but they dramatically expand the definition of ‘gay conversion therapy’. Under the new laws, ministry to gender incongruent and same-sex attracted people will become illegal if it means encouraging them to live according to Jesus’ design.

And so, this got me thinking: what are some things that I wish the Victorian government knew about Jesus — the Jesus whose teaching on human identity they’re penalising?

Here are 4 things I came up with. These 4 things are not exhaustive: there’s a lot more I wish the government knew about God’s Son. But these 4 things speak to the way they’re treating the followers of Jesus.

1) Jesus Understands Human Identity Better than Any Government

Like any law, the Victorian government’s legislation is driven by a certain view of human identity. While most legislation in Western countries has traditionally been driven by a Christian-ish view of human identity, this new legislation is a radical departure from it.

This legislation imposes wide swathes of queer theory onto the people of Victoria. But beneath it all is the modern view that our inner desires — especially desires around sexuality and gender — are inherently good and should therefore have free expression if we’re to live a life of meaning and purpose. Individual human beings thus become their own arbiters and designers of a meaningful life — and woe to anyone (including Jesus and His followers) who think otherwise.

But does this individualistic view of human identity deliver what it promises? Not if the skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression are any indication.

As Martin Seligman, former head of the American Psychologist Association points out:

“[O]ne truth about meaning is this: the larger the entity to which you can attach yourself, the more meaning you will feel your life has… [Earlier] generations [who lived for God] surely felt their lives imbued with meaning. The individual, the consuming self, isolated from larger entities, is a very poor site for a meaningful life… the bloated self is fertile soil for the growth of depression.” [1]

Looking to ourselves and our inner desires for meaning in life doesn’t seem to be working. Mental health concerns are exploding in the West as we take on board this ‘self-based’ view of identity and meaning. [2]

Jesus, on the other hand, says that only when we put our trust in Him and live for Him rather than ourselves and our inner desires, will we find real meaning and satisfaction that is increasingly eluding our world (John 10:10). (Of course, this doesn’t mean that the followers of Jesus won’t have mental health concerns. However, depression and anxiety caused by feeling that life is meaningless and empty will be drastically reduced).

And so, wouldn’t a government that cared for its people want to keep the good news of Jesus and His teaching on identity unrestricted?

2) Jesus’ Design for Humanity — Including Our Sexuality and Gender — Is Good

Making the claim that Jesus’s design for humanity — including our sexuality and gender — is for our good may seem like a moral delusion to the Victorian government and its human rights apparatus.

After all, isn’t the very definition of repression the idea that people aren’t encouraged to express their inner sexual desires or gender identity? Hasn’t report after report from La Trobe University concluded that such teaching is harmful to vulnerable sexual minorities?

I realise that many people in the LGBTIQ community have been harmed by insensitivity by Churches and Christians. Conversion practices — while never commonplace in churches — did take place and harmed those involved. Christians can and should do better as we speak with our LGBTIQ neighbours, and care for those within our churches who are same-sex-attracted and are gender incongruent.

But what’s lacking in the government’s approach is the voice and testimony of those Christians who are same-sex-attracted, and are living fulfilled, ‘authentic’ lives, according to Jesus’ design for sexuality and gender. Their voices are effectively silenced due to the ideological blinkers on the Victorian government.

If the government would but listen to their voices, it would see that Jesus’ design for sexuality and gender is the way of true authenticity, rather than the way of repression.

Sure, not everyone will agree — and that’s their prerogative. But for the government to legally restrict the ability of people to encounter Jesus is to harm the very people they’re hoping to help.

3) There’s Sometimes a Difference Between What Jesus Commands, And What His Followers Do

This is crucial. It’s understandable that people judge Jesus by the actions of His followers. In fact, Jesus Himself expects this will happen (Matt 5:16).

But to use a musical analogy, anyone willing to take the time to meet Jesus through the Bible will see that He played a beautiful tune: a tune of caring for the marginalised, dispossessed, and that society had left behind. A tune climaxing in the giving of His own life to save us from the judgement that we all deserve. A tune that has woven itself into civilisations like ours, making us more caring, humane and just. [3]

Sadly, and sometimes tragically, followers of Jesus haven’t always played this tune well, even though we’re commanded to do so. Sometimes the way we related to our LGBTIQ neighbours was less (at times much less) than what Jesus commanded.

But just because a musician plays a tune badly does not necessarily mean the tune itself is bad. (Just ask any parent whose child is learning the violin!)

And so, if only the Victorian government understood and appreciated this harmonious, life-affirming tune that Jesus plays, rather than misunderstanding and condemning it. If they could see how good it is, they may just start weaving His tune through more of their policies.

4) The Government’s God-given Purpose is Not to Muzzle the Gospel

But to build a platform that advances it.

The Victorian government is not a law unto itself. As strange as it may sound, it’s authorised and put there by God (Rom 13:1,4). As such, the government has a clear purpose: to uphold justice (Romans 13:3-4), which includes the freedom to proclaim the gospel (1 Tim 2:1-4). By muzzling Gospel proclamation through its legislation, the government is acting above its paygrade. It’s going beyond its God-ordained limits. It’s tearing down the platform it’s meant to be building.

To say this is disappointing would be an understatement.

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If you’re an Australian Gospel worker, the Victorian Chapter of The Gospel Coalition of Australia is running a training webinar on ‘Being The Bad Guys In Victoria’, where you’ll be informed on what the new conversion law means, and how to do ministry faithfully in the midst of it. Thursday 11th March 2021, 9.30 am — 11.30 am AEDT. Register HERE.

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[1] Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D, The Optimistic Child — A Proven Programme to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007), 42.

[2] At this point, some might argue that depression today is just being diagnosed more than it was before. But as Seligman points out: ‘You might wonder if this explosion of depression is just an artifact of labelling. Maybe our grandmothers suffered as much as we do but didn’t call it ‘depression’. They just called it ‘life’. Maybe the grinding misery that we call depression used to be an acceptable, inevitable part of the human condition. Now it has become a “disorder,” and a treatable one — one that we believe we can and should get rid of. These factors are valid considerations, but they do not explain the explosion of depression. The interviewers [of the major studies that show a massive increase in depression] did not just ask “Have you ever been depressed?” They asked about the occurrence of each symptom over a lifetime.’ Seligman, 38-39.

[3] I took this musical analogy from The Centre For Public Christianity’s documentary, ‘For The Love Of God: How The Church is Better + Worse Than You Ever Imagined’. You can see my review of it here.

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Originally published at AkosBalogh.com
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By |2021-03-15T18:44:19+11:00March 17th, 2021|Australia, Faith, Freedom, Sexual Integrity|3 Comments

About the Author:

Akos Balogh is the CEO of The Gospel Coalition Australia. He is married to Sarah, with three children. Akos was born in Budapest, and was blessed to be able to come to Australia as a refugee in 1981. He came to faith in late high school, through the influence of friends, family, and school Scripture. He went on to study Aerospace Engineering at UNSW, before working in the RAAF for five years. After completing his B. Div. from Moore Theological college, he then had the joy of serving with AFES for six years, at Southern Cross University in Lismore. Akos serves an elder at Southern Cross Presbyterian Church, also in Lismore, and blogs weekly at akosbalogh.com. You can reach him on twitter via @akosbaloghcom.

3 Comments

  1. margaret Watterson March 19, 2021 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Perhaps it is the ultimate irony, that set into the tiles of the vestibule of Victoria’s State Parliament are these words ‘Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety’ (Proverbs 11:14) Thanks for your wise counsel, Akos!

  2. David March 19, 2021 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I am very encouraged by your Biblical comment. We also need to find a way of communicating this to the politicians. I am doing this through Dealing with Diversity at the Federal level, but we need a group in the State of Victoria to do this.
    In His great Name, David C

  3. Anna Soh March 20, 2021 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Christian Ministry isn’t dependent on the government under which they operate if they are doing Christian Ministry for the right reasons and that is to introduce Jesus to those who do not know Him and then to let Jesus do what Jesus does best … let Jesus save people who are attracted to us because of the way we live and how the Prince of Peace shines through us and not because we were able to convert them!

    The 1st church had the Romans and Nero burning Rome and blaming the Christians and yet Paul asked them to pray for their leaders and government and Christianity did not just flourish because of their prayers but today we have the Roman Catholic Church!

    Just think about it and stop complaining and go about doing your life God’s way as see what God can do! When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees and Pilate He didn’t have to say anything but He did everything for us. I hope we don’t think He did it so we could have an easy life and everyone will say yes three bags full to us then what we want is what Daniel Andrews gets from very scared Victorian who were made scared by virtually all governments in this world today and Daniel Andrews is just one of many politicians reaping in their harvest of compliance through fear … I guess they learnt it from our forefathers and many churches still do this … scare the living daylights out of them with tales of burning hell to gain repentance and compliance!

    Christian Church leaders have taught our politicians well so don’t get upset when they use our own tactics on their constituents that our church leader had trained their congregation to surrender our lives to Jesus so that we can become subservient to Jesus and the Church leadership!

    When the church leadership learns that God loves them no matter how poorly they lead their flock and still loves them no matter what they do wrong they will learn to love their congregation and be real about helping people than trying to con people to serve in their churches. It’s not about serving it’s about loving one and another … Jesus’ one and only commandment was to love one and another like Jesus loves us … Jesus never set word traps to make people follow Him and when they walked away it saddened Him but never stressed Him out that His numbers were dropping! Let’s stop making our service teams count heads for statistics during service and actually be more concerned about prayer and healing and fellowship not gossip groups but true caring fellowship that helps and supports each other!

    This should be our answer to what governments are doing rather than complaining that they have stolen our tactics and are now using it against the church! If you have any expectations for our government pray sincere heartfelt believing prayers starting with the healing and complete recovery for Daniel Andrews and in that time of healing Jesus to pursue him like Jesus pursued Saul and many great leaders of faith like CS Lewis! If you have any expectations of how our Prime Minister and Premiers should lead pray and ask God and then live exemplary lives so others will want what you have and you don’t have to force or con anyone to follow Jesus!

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