In praise of conversion

Oct 28, 2021 by

by Matthew Roberts, The Critic:

In a garden in Milan, a young man is weeping. The reason for his anguish is not immediately obvious: he has experienced no personal tragedy, his career is progressing well to the level of minor local celebrity, he is good looking and healthy. More importantly to 21st century Western tastes, he is a man whose voracious sexual appetites he has never had trouble finding partners to satisfy. And yet he weeps. For he has discovered the emptiness of endlessly chasing pleasure, the futility of looking for answers inside himself; and he stands on the brink of a transformation which will make him into a wholly different man, and ultimately one of the most significant figures in the history of Christianity. The year is AD386; the man is Augustine, later Bishop of Hippo; and this is the day of his conversion.

One of the current fixations of LGBT campaigners is that governments need to act to ban “conversion therapy”. Boris Johnson’s government, responding, included in the most recent Queen’s Speech a commitment to put this into law. A consultation on how, not whether, to do this, is planned for the end of this  month. So what is this “conversion therapy” that so desperately needs to be banned?

It has become clear that the campaign is a Trojan horse. The phrase “conversion therapy” conjures up images of quack faith healers shrieking and wielding electrodes; images reinforced with regular references to “abhorrent practices” (a phrase used twelve times in the Westminster Hall debate on “conversion therapy” in March), including something horrifically called “corrective rape”. If such things exist, and in this sad world they probably do, they have nothing at all to do with Christianity or conversion, and Christians are the first to condemn them. But thankfully they are already illegal, and so are clearly not the intended target.

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