Banning Healing

On September 29, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill banning “reparative” or “conversion” therapy for minors.

The law will take effect on January 1, 2013 and states that “no mental health professional will be able to provide to anyone under the age of 18 therapy that seeks to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex regardless of the willingness of a patient or a patient’s parent. Mental health providers who violate the law will be subject to discipline by whatever group regulates and licenses them” (religiontoday.com).

The bill’s sponsor, California State Senator Ted Lieu, said the therapy amounts to nothing more than “psychological child abuse.” Governer Brown previously tweeted that conversion therapy “has no basis in science or medicine and they will now be regulated to the dustbin of quackery” (ideas.time.com/2012/10/09).

On October 1, 2012, two days after the bill was signed into law, Brad Dacus, president and attorney for the conservative Christian Pacific Justice Institute (CPJI), asked a federal judge to prevent the law from taking effect. Three individuals filed a lawsuit: college student Aaron Blitzer, Donald Welsch, a licensed family therapist and ordained minister who operates a Christian counseling center in San Diego, and Dr. Anthony Duk, a psychiatrist and practicing Roman Catholic. Both Welsch and Duk have used conversion therapy successfully with their patients and state in the lawsuit that the law intrudes on First Amendment protections of free speech, privacy and freedom of religion. Both also believe that the ban is a violation of private relationships between youth, families and their therapists who believe this therapy would be beneficial. Blitzer, who is studying to be a therapist in conversion therapy, alleges the law would prevent him from pursuing his career. Blitzer also states that he once had same-sex attractions but became heterosexual after participating in conversion therapy. The lawsuit names as defendants California Governor Jerry Brown as well as 21 other state officials including members of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Mental Board.

In addition to concerns that the law violates the constitutional and civil rights of young people and their parents, the law poses other problems for Blitzer, Duk and Welsch, as well as the others who stand behind them.

One, the bill assumes that homosexuality is embedded in the DNA of these individuals, thus ignoring the thousands of people who have successfully completed conversion therapy and are now in happy and healthy heterosexual relationships.

Two, it is believed that banning conversion therapy is opening the door for those young people who feel same-sex attraction as a result of sexual abuse – which has been shown to often be the major underlying cause of same-sex attraction – to become victims once again, as the ban denies them the counseling and healing that conversion therapy provides. This could then lead to greater confusion for the teen, cuasing depression and an increase in the likelihood of the teen attempting, or committing, suicide.
Three, while there is debate about the effectiveness of conversion therapy, there are several other types of therapy and rehabilitation programs with known failure rates that have not been banned. Some of these include, but are not limited to: “rebirthing” therapy. “recovered memory” therapy, the Scared-Straight program, adolescent boot camps, and the DARE anti-drug programs. If the government is going to begin banning therapies because they are harmful or ineffective, neither of which can be empirically proven in regards to conversion therapy, then all should be banned.

“This legislation is a classic example of psychiatric ignorance combined with political neglect,” says CPJI presidentDacus. “They clearly say that one size fits all and ignore the complexity of same-sex attraction and varying degrees of such attraction, depending on age and background, It’s out of place for the legislature to put such restrictions on it” (gma.yahoo.com). Dacus and the three plaintiffs aren’t the only ones who feel this way. In an August 2012 open letter to bill sponsor Lieu, the organization Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, stated, “As parents of gays and ex-gays, we are ashamed of your willingness to take action against parents, children and the family in order to support gay activists. California is not a socialist state and our children do not belong to the government, subject to the ideology of the state over the objections of their parents” (religiontoday.com).
All legislation aside, the important thing here to address is what God says. The Bible clearly states what God intended, and still intends, for human sexuality: a blessing between a man and a woman within marriage; all sexuality (heterosexual or homosexual) that is outside of marriage is outside of God’s will.

I Corinthians 6:9-11 tells us, “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Is change possible? Yes. “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26). Change in every area of our lives is possible when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and trust him to heal those areas of our lives that cause same-sex attractions. He alone is the Great Physician. Isaiah 53:4-5 says, “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”

Banning conversion therapy is not the solution and will only cause more harm than good. The only guaranteed, permanent solution for these teens, as well as adults who are seeking to change their homosexual attractions, is found in Christ. He offers hope and healing to all, and no government in the world can ban his conversion therapy.

Misty J. Grimes is a freelance writer who lives in Milledgeville, Georgia. You can contact her at [email protected]

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