Americans and others across the West are increasingly seeing their religious freedoms and freedoms of speech being quietly stripped away by legislation. And, more often than not, this legislation is somehow related to an LGBT issue. The so-called rights of a very small (but vocal) minority are being used to slowly remove the freedoms of all Americans.
And this appears to be happening yet again in the state of California.
Banning “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts”
“Assembly Bill 2943 Unlawful Business Practices: Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” passed the House last week (with eight votes yes and only one no) and has been read to the Senate for the first time. This bill amends parts of the Civil Code relating to unlawful business practices. The bill begins,
Existing law, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, makes unlawful certain unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result, or which results, in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.
Existing law prohibits mental health providers, as defined, from performing sexual orientation change efforts, as specified, with a patient under 18 years of age.
This new bill would bring these existing laws together to ban commercial services from “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” The wording of the bill focuses largely on what is called “conversion therapy.” They claim this method of “converting” people from homosexual to heterosexual has been shown to be harmful and dangerous to those with same-sex attraction.
There is concern that it could be interpreted much wider than what is traditionally considered conversion therapy.
The wording of the bill, however, certainly allows for a loose interpretation of what “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” means. There is concern that it could be interpreted much wider than what is traditionally considered conversion therapy.
No “Efforts to Change Behaviors”
The wording of the bill defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as
“Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
“Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.
Could “efforts to change behaviors” include Christian counselors looking to the Bible when they have a patient struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction? Could it include that counselor or a pastor sharing the message of the gospel with a homosexual? Or what about a book or DVD explaining a biblical view of sexuality, that God created male and female (Genesis 1:27) and that sexual relations are to be confined to marriage (Hebrews 13:4)? Could these things be considered “efforts to change behaviors”? It seems likely the law could be interpreted that way.
This means that Californians with an unwanted same-sex attraction may find it hard to get access to a counselor or even a resource (if books, even the Bible, and DVDs are included as “goods”) that will help them think and act biblically. Even something that offers the gospel as hope for those with unwanted same-sex attractions may be banned from sale.
“A New Religion of Sexual Libertinism”
Writing on this bill for the National Review, senior writer David French says,
Christians find their identity in Christ, not in their gender and not in their sexual orientation. The state of California says no. Your gender and your orientation are your identity, and you should engage in actions that celebrate and ratify your alleged essence. The state is creating a new religion of sexual libertinism, declaring that religions opposing it aren’t just false but harmful, and then prohibiting contrary religious exercise.1
French is right. The state is trying to impose its views of sexuality—really a religion of Sexual Humanism—on the population and squelching any alternative view. It’s the state establishing a state religion and silencing those who disagree.
As believers, we must continue to offer gospel hope to everyone, no matter what the state says. While we are to obey the government (Romans 13:1), when the government goes against the laws of God, we obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).