'I Feel, Therefore I Am'? California's Ban on Reparative Therapy

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | Thursday, October 04, 2012
'I Feel, Therefore I Am'? California's Ban on Reparative Therapy

'I Feel, Therefore I Am'? California's Ban on Reparative Therapy


This past weekend, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a ban on so-called “reparative therapy” for minors with same-sex attraction. In other words, counselors will not be permitted to help young people change their sexual orientation or behavior. Well, the law stinks on multiple levels.

First, what if the minor wants to change, as many do? Doesn’t this violate the supposed liberal cardinal tenet of “choice”? And it’s a troubling precedent to nail an identity on an entire segment of the population with the stroke of a pen.

Second, the law claims scientific consensus when there is none. Gov. Brown said the law would consign reparative therapies “to the dustbin of quackery,” banning “non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide.” But the governor failed to note the high rates of depression and suicide among active homosexuals with or without therapy.

Folks, what we have here is ideology disguised as science. We’re telling young people who may want to change that they should live a lifestyle that statistics say is a dangerous one. And then we’re telling their parents and counselors that if they help them escape that lifestyle, they are breaking the law. That is not loving.

But most importantly, this California law codifies into law an awful tendency in our culture to deify feelings. To be “true to yourself,” we’re told, we must obey feelings, because that’s who we are.

This law makes it illegal to try to alter sexual orientation or sexual behavior, as if they’re the same. Why? Because it’s widely assumed and held as ideological dogma that homosexual feelings determine identity and demand behavior.

But isn’t the right question with any sexual feelings we experience, what should I do with these feelings? Should I obey them or not? Why in this area, am I thought to be the victim of my urges and attractions? The funny thing is, homosexuality is one of the few areas in life where we use this “I feel, therefore I am” standard.

Urges towards co-workers do not justify adultery. Strong feelings of love and attraction toward siblings do not justify incestuous behavior or “marriage.” Adults are expected to govern their sexual behavior. But if you struggle with homosexual feelings or attractions, you should act on them because you simply “must be gay”? It’s cultural schizophrenia!

The fact is, feelings are caused by a wide variety of influences, and many people, no matter what help they seek, will have to live with strong feelings all their lives. But God has very definite things to say about sexual behaviors, including homosexual behavior, which, thank God, can be changed.

I’m not saying this issue is easy or cut and dry; it’s not. Feelings can feel quite overwhelming at times, but what makes us human — what sets us apart from the animals — is the ability, with God’s grace, to resist urges that would harm us or others.

Vaughan Roberts, rector of St. Ebbes Church in Oxford, England, has written a book called Battles Christians Face, in which he admits struggling with same-sex attraction. Yet Vaughan embraces biblical sexual standards — sex between a married man and a woman, or celibacy. His is not a grim, lonely march of obedience, but a bracing discipleship of hope. Vaughan says, “Very often God’s power is seen, not by him removing our temptations and difficult circumstances, but by giving us the strength to persevere and live for him in the midst of them.”

Friends, whatever this week’s headlines say, Christ gives us the power to live above our sinful inclinations.

As the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, John Stonestreet provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: October 4, 2012

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