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.” 
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. 
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.
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. 
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.
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.
 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.
 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.
 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.