Pursuing Godliness in California

A bill in California would ban “sexual orientation change efforts.”

There has been a lot of talk about California Bill 2943. The California Policy Council is working diligently to protect the people of California by preventing it from being passed. Focus on the Family, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Coalition, and David French at the National Review have all written clearly in opposition to this bill and about the consequences it would have on religious liberty. Dr. Russell Moore wrote a letter to Governor Gerry Brown urging him to oppose the bill.

This bill would be a violation of our Constitutional right of Free Speech as well as a violation of our Free Exercise of Religion. It would silence pastors. It would even threaten to bar the sale of books according to analysis from Alliance Defending Freedom!

I cannot improve on what they have written so clearly. So, rather than going over the text of the bill and its impact on religious leaders in California, I will write about its impact on men like me.

Men like me have sexual attractions for other men – in my case, since I was twelve years old. Men like me do not embrace those attractions, but instead “take every thought captive” and live in obedience to Christ. Christ calls us to live differently.

California’s potential law is based on the idea that “sexual orientation” is a fixed and immutable part of who we are. The law is nonsensical if you do not accept the ideological–and even religious–premise that our sexual attractions and romantic feelings are central to our identity.

I reject that ideological dogma. My identity is centered in the fact that I was created. My Creator determines my identity.

I am a man, made in the image and likeness of God. Sin has distorted that image, though, and I experience attractions which are not accurate reflections of the image of God.

Redemption from that sinful distortion was accomplished for me by Christ, who has changed my identity from “sinner” to “son.” I am a son of God through the work of Christ. That is my identity.

The underlying premise of this bill is based on a false understanding of our identity. Its effect is to totally prevent men like me from getting help from Christian pastors, speakers, and even from books. Of course, no one should be shamed or electrocuted because of who they are attracted to! That’s silly. But neither should they be banned from getting help in pursuing godliness.

Elders in the Church throughout history have encouraged younger men to be steadfast, resist temptation, and to flee from wickedness. Sometimes this encouragement has come in the form of Biblical counseling, attending conferences, or listening to a pastor talk at a special event about how to maintain sexual purity and grow in our love for Christ.

This bill continues to promote the false idea that one’s identity – as recognized by law – is based on “sexual orientation.” This bill directly conflicts with Christianity and is incompatible with religious liberty.

I’m very glad that Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates defeated a similar bill this year. It represented only one of many attempts in recent years to insert the concept of “sexual orientation” as an identity into Virginia’s laws. There will be more attempts, and we at The Family Foundation will continue to oppose them.

Religious liberty must be protected, not merely as a principle, but because men like me need the support of the Church as I deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Christ.