The Mustard Seed Project
As a pastor who resides in Columbia, SC I wish to express my concern about the possible tabling or voting down of a ban on the dangerous practice of conversion therapy within the city. From what I understand, this comes under the pressure of those —
who mostly reside outside the city of Columbia
— decrying the auspices of religious freedom.
First, conversion therapy is a barbaric and terroristic process, in an attempt to force children to choose a life-identity that is not where their psychological, body, hormones, and chemical makeup is leading them. A few years ago Reformation took a group to watch “Boy Erased”. It was a movie based off a true story about a boy who was forced by his family, especially his pastor father to enter a Conversion Therapy program. These so called “therapies” used biblical text to attack, harm, and dehumanize this young man, “God will not love you the way you are.” So they could rebuild him into their perception of what a “biblical” male should be. It was horrific.
Second, religious freedom is not the freedom to attack a person’s humanity, and misuse biblical text as a weapon to psychologically harm anyone who doesn’t conform to a said religious belief. I say misuse because I believe the Bible is an honest record of God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of disobedient and wayward children. It is not a document to reverence such human behavior. In fact when Jesus was asked about the law of Moses, when it was going to be used as a weapon by the teachers of the law, “He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted...’” But because the interchanged I reference started with the Pharisees question of divorce, those of the “conversion ilk” are quick to point out Jesus’ reference to male and female becoming one flesh to prove their heterosexual point. But... the question was not about their sexual relationship, rather it was about the absolute power of the male gender, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" Any cause?! That is a question of one gender’s absolute power over the other. Jesus shoots it down with one flesh language, which in the light of the question asked, is an answered of full equality.
I fully believe this theological exchange was not about sexual identity because a few verses later, Jesus finalizes their gender misconception with, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." Eunuchs are those who were described as sexually defiled by the Levitical laws, but as early as the prophets, the use of that law was being called into question... by God!
“...and do not let the eunuch say,
‘I am just a dry tree.’
For thus says the LORD:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give, in my house and within my walls,
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.”
Yes, Isaiah is so sure of this inclusiveness of God’s message, he puts it into a poem or song. Yes, God’s righteousness calls all of us to be that inclusive. I believe this barbaric conversion therapy is completely opposite of where God’s righteousness is leading us, and has nothing to do with religious freedom.
My prayer is that Columbia’s City council will all vote to uphold the ban so that this city will continue to grow as an open and inclusive city.
PS. Some contacts to express our concerns:
Mayor Benjamin's office
Councilmember Sam Davis
Councilmember Tameika Isaac Devine
Councilmember Howard Duvall
Editor's Note: This edition is revised with the correct spelling of the first name of Councilmember Tameika Issac Devine.