In February of this year, a bill was introduced in the California assembly that has caused quite a bit of controversy. The bill is intended to strengthen existing legislation which prohibits mental health professionals from performing ‘sexual orientation change efforts’ (SOCE) on children under the age of 18. The law defines SOCE as: “any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” The proposed legislation would extend the prohibition to all ages, not just those under 18 and prevent mental health providers from advertising such services. (Source: Snopes online article, ‘Would a Proposed Law ‘Ban the Bible’ in California?’)
Some critics have stated that this is a way to ‘ban the bible’, that is, to prevent the use of the bible as a means of counseling someone that homosexuality is morally wrong. Proponents say that this is not a part of the legislation: Sacramento attorney Anthony Samson stating, “It does not apply to the sale of books or any other kind of goods, and it does not prevent anyone from speaking or writing on the subject of conversion therapy in any forum.”
Perhaps saying this bill would ban the bible is taking it a bit too far. But to not see this as a step in that direction is short-sighted. Efforts to change such fundamental rights as religious liberty usually don’t happen overnight. They usually happen as a result of a slow erosion, where the overall purpose is masked by deceit, misdirection or obfuscation. By the time the true intent is discovered, we’re already well down the road towards total loss of liberty, with 20/20 hindsight bringing the entire process into sharper view.
But what’s getting lost in the whole debate is the clearly stated intentions of the legislation. California lawmakers are outlawing the practice of trying to persuade someone that identifying yourself as another gender or engaging in homosexual behavior is wrong. While banning the bible is not explicit in the legislation, what is explicit is an undermining of a basic principle of Christianity. It’s not a far reach from here to an all-out ban of a core Christian value, once the precedent has been set and the implications entrenched in the legislative culture and judicial review.
The bible makes it very clear that those who engage in alternative ‘gender expressions’ and homosexuality are sinning: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10-emphasis added). So while civil governments are chipping away at religious doctrine in the name of intellectual advancement, the word of God remains constant and far wiser than the doctrines of men.
I fear that we, as a nation, are on a course that will one day lead to the abolishment of religious freedom. Its one thing for citizens to sue each other in civil court over whether a bakery should be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding. It’s quite another to criminalize expressions of religious beliefs. But for the Christian, in the face of an ever-increasing assault on religion, the choice is easy: ‘We will obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).