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More than Our Feelings

California Bans Reparative Therapy



Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Today it’s “I feel, therefore I am.” And both are wrong. BreakPoint is next!

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John StonestreetThis 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.

Further Reading and Information

A Battle I Face, an interview with Vaughan Roberts
Julian Hardyman | Evangelicals Now | October 2012

Reparative Therapy: To Cure or Not to Cure, Comments
John Stonestreet | The Point | July 3, 2012

Same-Sex Science
Stanton L. Jones | First Things | February 2012

Battles Christians Face
Vaughan Robberts | Authentic Media | 2007

California Is First State to Ban Gay ‘Cure’ for Minors
Erik Eckholm | New York Times |September 30, 2012


Comments:

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Good commentary!!

Seriously, if "feelings" apply here, then where does it stop? If we are to justify our actions by what one feels... then molestation is ok, then murder is ok, then an affair is ok, and the list goes on. All these vial actions started with a thought/feeling!!

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
New International Version (NIV)

4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Praying this law is revoked!!
Excellent commentary, John. Last time I checked, you're absolutely right that there's no consensus about homosexuality, be it the ability to change or how ingrained it is.

As a matter of fact, it wasn't that long ago that it was widely accepted that molestation could play a role in confusing a person. You don't hear that so much anymore, probably because it flies in the face of being born that way.
Who's insulting whom?
I remember having a discussion with an associate of mine, probably in the mid 1980's, about a proposed law or something (I forget the details) that would have required teaching school children that homosexuality was okay, or that homosexual teachers be hired, or something along those lines. People would compare discrimination against gays with racial discrimination, and that is just what my associate did. Christians like us, of course, consider such comparisons to be insulting to racial minorities, because it equates sexual lusts with skin color and other biological characteristics people are born with. Unfortunately, my associate was not a believer so I couldn't just quote a Bible verse to settle the matter. I didn't know what to say when he replied to my remark that some parents might not want their children exposed to gay teachers and teaching by saying the same thing is true of parents who don't want their children to go to school with students or teachers of a different "race". Now we have a president from a minority group advocating for same-sex marriage. It seems hopeless.
Good point William. My personal problems have been communication and anger. I guess I should just continue to bottle up my thoughts and anger until they all explode... like I used to do. I don't think my husband and kids want me to go back to my old ways.
Wow. I suppose I shouldn't be...but I'm surprised. I can't help but wonder, what does this mean for the Pastor or lay ministry leader who is asked to help someone struggling with homosexual feelings? How far reaching is this law?
Gimme a drink!
So if someone has a feeling about homosexuality what about alcohol? I was born an alcoholic so Alcoholics Anonymous should be outlawed from changing me! All my so called friends should stop telling me to stay away from bars! I was born this way!

Just in case anyone has any doubt about the above comment, it is meant as a sarcastic statement. But it fits with the illogic of the idea that we should not encourage homosexuals to change.
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