California to Ban Books? Or Just Christian Speech?

The California State Assembly has passed a bill that would outlaw “the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that “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.”

Assembly Bill 2943 now needs the approval of the Senate and the signature of Governor Jerry Brown to become law.

So what kind of “goods” are capable of changing behaviors”?  Wouldn’t that have to mean books?

The purpose of the bill is to criminalize “conversion therapies” that purport to cure homosexuality.  It would also seem to outlaw every kind of counseling–psychological, medical, or even pastoral–that seeks to help people struggling with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.

What about people who want to suppress their sexual desires?  Or adolescents who want to clear up their gender confusions apart from getting sex-change operations or identifying as a member of the opposite sex?

Will this law be used to persecute–I mean, prosecute–pastors who are counseling the souls in their care to avoid sin?  What books will be banned in  California?  Where does this leave the Bible?

David French says that the law would prohibit the teaching of orthodox Christian morality:

The California State Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would actually — among other things — ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality.

Yes, ban the sale of books.

Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

The bill then defines “sexual orientations change efforts” as “any practices 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.” (Emphasis added.)

This is extraordinarily radical. Christian orthodoxy is simple — regardless of a person’s desires (their “orientation”), the standard of right conduct is crystal clear. Sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. When it comes to “gender expression,” there is no difference between “sex” and “gender,” and the Christian response to gender dysphoria is compassion and treatment, not indulgence and surgical mutilation.

Put another way, there is a fundamental difference between temptation and sin. California law would intrude directly on this teaching by prohibiting even the argument that regardless of sexual desire, a person’s sexual behavior should conform to Biblical standards.

Christians find their identity in Christ, not in their gender and not in their sexual orientation. The state of California says no. Your gender and your orientation are your identity, and you should engage in actions that celebrate and ratify your alleged essence. The state is creating a new religion of sexual libertinism, declaring that religions opposing it aren’t just false but harmful, and then prohibiting contrary religious exercise.

No one doubts that Christian orthodoxy is contentious. No one doubts that its teachings on sexual morality are increasingly unpopular. But they remain constitutionally protected, and no state legislature should be permitted to ban a “good” (such as a book) or a “service” (like counseling) that makes these arguments and provides them to willing, consenting consumers.

 

Photo:  Berlin Book Burning 1933, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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