This was my oral submission to the Justice Select Committee yesterday – not sure how deeply they read the written version, but I’m grateful for the 5-minute opportunity. You can watch the whole thing on their livestream here (my submission starts at 47:23). Thanks for all of you who prayed!
Tēnā koutou katoa, thank you for the opportunity to present my submission in person. I come as a Christian, and as a pastor of a church, and a member of an ethnic minority in New Zealand. I hope you’ll see that I haven’t “come to make war” as Shaneel just mentioned [32:46 on the video]. I trust you’ve been able to read my written submission, so today I just wanted to share the story of two of my brothers.
First is A, my brother from birth. I’ve loved him since we were kids, and still remember the day he shared with me that he was gay. Since then our paths and passions in life have diverged, but through the years it has been a joy to love him. He and his partner both know they are welcome to our place for dinner anytime. As a Christian, my deepest belief is that his biggest barrier isn’t his same-sex attraction, or his lifestyle as a gay man, but his unbelief in Jesus the true King. So on the one hand (as I submitted) as a follower of Jesus I’m also rightly concerned with the use of “reparative therapies” that are hurtful and, so welcome the broad aims of this Bill in deterring unwanted, coercive therapies. Hearing Andrew Miller’s sorry was so heartbreaking – as a pastor I would never wish to do that. Because my brother’s biggest need is not to be straight, it’s to find his true self in Christ.
But let me also share a bit about B, who is also my brother, but in Christ. We both walk the Jesus road imperfectly, and for several years now since he shared his struggles with same-sex attraction, it’s been a joy and privilege to pray for and with him, and to support his desire to NOT pursue a life as a gay man, but as a Christian called to chastity in singleness. And while I’ve been called (for now) to faithfulness in marriage, we are both in pursuit of holy sexuality. Yet if this bill is passed as it is, my biggest concern is it would put the kinds of conversations we have, and that I have with others with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria as a Christian pastor, into the category of criminal offence.
So my request would be that as a Select Committee you’d carefully consider the three recommendations I’ve laid out in my written submission: to change the unclear and unhelpful term “Conversion practices”; to add a clause to exclude respectful and open discussions about sexuality and gender from prosecution; and, if you’re brave enough! – to remove Section 10 (Consent not defence) to honour people like B and others who would like pastoral care and counsel.
Thank you for listening.