Most of us would agree that those dealing with depression or anxiety would benefit from a large range of counseling options, including faith-based counseling or materials. In our free society, people struggling with psychological stress should be able to choose a counselor to suit their individual needs and goals.
But what about people struggling with same-sex attractions? Shouldn’t they have the same wide range of options available to them? Shouldn’t they be able to seek out faith-based counseling services if they so desire?
Legislation being considered by the state of California says “no.”
The California State Senate is considering AB 2943, a sweeping measure that would ban all paid counseling services that take a biblical approach to human sexuality when it comes to same-sex attractions and gender identity.
These are exactly the types of counseling services and materials that some Christians with same-sex attractions are looking for. Some Christians with same-sex attractions want to live a chaste life in accord with their religious beliefs and want support in doing so. Yet, AB 2943 precludes them from getting this support through paid counseling and resources. The bill therefore takes options away from people in the LGBTQ community.
But AB 2943 would not just affect Christians struggling with same-sex attractions or gender identity—it would affect all Christians who want to preach and run their church ministries according to the biblical view of sexuality. The bill would render any “claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices.”
This means it would be “fraudulent” for a paid licensed counselor to help a woman who sought him out to help her live chastely despite feelings for a close female friend. A religious ministry that holds a conference on maintaining sexual purity—including refraining from same-sex behaviors—would also be considered “fraudulent.”
This blatantly violates the constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion. Christians who believe that sexual activity belongs only in a marriage between one man and one woman will not be allowed to counsel, preach, and minister to people according to this belief. Christians with same-sex attractions who want to live chastely will not be allowed to purchase counseling and resources that are in accord with their religious beliefs. They will have nowhere to turn. This is viewpoint discrimination against the Christian view of sexuality.
Then again, California has a track record of discriminating against viewpoints it doesn’t like.
This past June, the Supreme Court ruled that another California law that discriminated against the pro-life point of view and forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for the abortion industry was likely unconstitutional. In his concurring opinion in NIFLA v. Becerra, Justice Anthony Kennedy reminded us that “[f]reedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief.”
It seems like those pushing AB 2943 want to outlaw certain beliefs central to Christianity. In particular, that the Gospel has the power to transform us through the power of Jesus Christ. But doing so limits the Church’s ability to preach the Gospel and teach biblical moral truths, especially those on human sexuality that are so relevant to our culture today.
If passed, AB 2943 would not only limit options available to the LGBT community, it would harm the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion for everyone. That is why churches, Christians, and Americans who care about preserving constitutional rights should oppose this bill.