[‘encouragement’, ‘exhortation’, for life and ministry]
Those of us who live and minister in Victoria are facing increasing pressures from our society.
I heard recently from a doctor, that on the birth of a baby, its gender description is ‘Gender assigned at birth’. I understand that in some rare cases difficult decisions have to be made with a new-born baby, but to make this kind of statement a general policy is remarkably disturbing.
Equally disturbing is the message that now bombards our children. It comes in 3 clear commands.
- It’s your life, so you must choose your identity, your values, your rights, and your sexual identity. You must create yourself, and you have an absolute moral duty to do this.
- To make authentic decisions, you must reject the repressive ideas of your parents, your church, your culture, and conservative voices in your society.
- You must obey these instructions, or else you will be cancelled, shamed, or persecuted.
[You might notice that there is some internal conflict between commands 1 and 3!!!]
I think that requiring young children to make these decisions, and pressuring them to do so in a particular direction, puts scandalous and highly damaging psychological pressure on vulnerable people, and is a wicked practice.
Those who want to change their gender are supported and encouraged, while those who struggle to maintain their gender are ridiculed, and those who support them in this struggle act against the law.
I continue to provide the pastoral and prayer support I have always provided for those who struggle to maintain their birth gender identity [with of course, more nuanced support for the small minority mentioned above]. If that means going to jail, then I am prepared for that consequence.
We are discovering that post-Christendom is leading to anti-Christendom. Though, while many are being indoctrinated [!!!] with these ideas, some, praise God are turning to God amidst this confusion and evil.
However it does feel as if we are heading towards some kind of Western totalitarianism, with required indoctrination about what it is to be a human being as part of the package. Our experience is trivial compared to drastic persecution elsewhere around the world. But destructive views of humanity will cause deep personal and societal distortion and suffering.
I want to name our deep fear, and that is that we seem to be heading towards a totalitarian anti-Christian West. Though it will be equally opposed to anyone who takes more traditional views on these subjects, in the light of their religion, science, or common sense.
This is a very unnerving experience! And while it increases the pressure on all believers and especially on children, young people and parents, it also puts pressure on those engaged in gospel ministry.
There are three things to remember.
- God has designed Christianity to survive and flourish under Totalitarian regimes.
This was the situation of the New Testament church. It has been the situation of many churches over the last two thousand years. It is the situation in many places around the world today, in which there are totalitarian regimes, including those which are intolerant secularist, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Communist, atheist, or animistic, which persecute Christians. But remember that the fall of so many great world Empires in the 20th century is a reminder of God’s power to break human power … Germany2, Russia, Italy, Holland, Japan, Portugal, Belgium, Britain, Ottoman… God reigns, and the Lord Jesus is seated at his right hand, waiting for all his enemies to be put under his feet. Don’t depair!
- Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of evil.
Paul explains this in Ephesians 6:10-20, where he also tells us how God protects us with the gospel; the weapon he has given us ‘the sword of the Spirit, the word of God’; and encourages us to constant prayer.
Of course, in a democratic society, we will still try to change the culture, and the laws, when needed. We will do this for the benefit of everyone, and for our own safety and freedom, and for freedom for gospel ministry [1 Tim 2:1-3].
But humans are not our enemies: Satan is our enemy, and his agents are our enemies. Here is the big battle, in which God wants us to stand firm, confident in his protection, provision, and final victory through the blood of the Lamb. As Jesus taught us, Satan is the father of lies [Jn 8:44]. Fight the main fight, with gospel protection, the word of God, and prayer!
- God has told us how to conquer Satan in such situations.
We read in Revelation,
Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death [12:10,11].
Trust in the Lamb’s blood, speak the gospel, and face even death for his sake.
Don’t depair! Fight the main fight, with gospel protection, the word of God, and prayer! Trust in the Lamb’s blood, speak the gospel, and face even death for his sake.
May God bind us together as we face these trials and temptations, and may he protect us, our children and young people, from the lies of Satan, by the power of the blood of Christ.
Yours, in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and victory,
I take the precaution of asking a person who wants my prayers and support, for a request in writing one month before that ministry, and then again at the time of the ministry. I recognise this would make no difference if I went to court, but I do it to make it clear that I have not coerced the person. ↑