Oregon legislators have proposed a measure that would ban professional counseling for unwanted homosexuality or transgenderism for anyone in the state.
House Bill 2458 amends previous legislation that prohibited such counseling for minors, extending the state censorship to all adults.
The bill bans “conversion therapy” – a meaningless term created by those who oppose anyone leaving homosexuality or transgenderism. There is no counseling or therapeutic model called “conversion therapy.”
HB 2458 proscribes “providing professional services for the purpose of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including attempting to change behaviors or expressions of self or to reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”
The measure was promoted by Saren Craig, who uses the pronouns “they/them” and is a professional counselor with Oregon SAIGE, the “Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities.” Craig specifically notes that she hears from people “who have had negative experiences at colleges, particularly those that rely on religious exceptions to discrimination.”
Craig is referencing Christian colleges and universities in Oregon. Any licensed therapists on staff with such schools could not help students with sexual identity confusion or same-sex attractions to resolve their thoughts, feelings, identity and behaviors in a manner consistent with biblical teaching.
The ban also means:
- A Christian woman who hates her femininity and fantasizes about living as a man could not receive help from a licensed counselor to help her embrace and celebrate her God-given body and femininity.
- A married, Christian man who is struggling with anonymous homosexual encounters could not seek help from a licensed counselor to help him change his behaviors and remain faithful to his marriage vows.
- A Christian counseling center, with a staff of licensed professional counselors, could not offer help to anyone struggling with unwanted homosexuality or transgenderism who wants to live by a biblical sexual ethic.
The bill stifles the free speech of counselors and clients. It is an assault on client autonomy and self-determination – the client’s right to establish the direction and goals for counseling.
Most importantly, the measure doesn’t just deny free speech and religious freedom, but it attacks the Bible’s teachings on sexuality and relationships: God designed humans to reflect His image and likeness as either male or female, and God instituted marriage to be a faithful, monogamous committed relationship between a husband and wife.
Marriage, the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians, has a deeper purpose: It is a picture of Christ and the church, His bride.
HB 2458 says people with these Christian beliefs and same-sex attractions are wrong and cannot receive counseling help to live according to their biblical values. It says a Christian with sexual identity confusion must not find hope and healing with a licensed therapist to live according to God’s design for human sexuality.
CHANGED was initially formed in 2018 to advocate against a California bill that would have used that state’s consumer fraud statute to penalize free speech on the issues of homosexuality and sexual identity. That measure would have subjected Christian counselors, schools, conferences and bookstores to consumer fraud lawsuits if they proclaimed a biblical view of homosexuality and gender identity, any time there was a monetary exchange.
Woning told us:
CHANGED believes that all people should have the freedom to pursue counseling and personal life goals according to their conscience and goals for life – whether a minor or an adult.
Counseling bans are particularly egregious because they stifle free speech, causing pastors to fear offering the gospel to people who identify as LGBTQ and disabling counseling professionals from offering the highest standards of care.
She added that such bans are harmful to Christians wrestling with these issues:
In addition, it is inhumane to disallow any individual from receiving professional mental health care to resolve trauma or mental distress simply because doing so could impact one’s sense of identity or sexual orientation.
As an example, Woning pointed to CHANGED Director of Civic Engagement David Reece, who “sought professional counseling to address a pornography addiction (gay porn) that re-emerged shortly after marrying his wife. He desired counseling to address years of childhood molestation that he believed was connected to his problem.”
This ban would deny men like him the right to seek the care of a professionally licensed counselor to address addictions if they expressed the goal of reducing or eliminating same-sex attraction.
Today, because David was able to receive the counseling he desired, his marriage is healthy and thriving, he no longer struggles with porn use and the associated attractions. David and his wife Leann have been married since 2010 and have 2 wonderful young children together.
David’s story is a testimony to the healing and transformation that can come through effective Christian counseling.
Oregon wants to prohibit this.
Related articles and resources:
- CHANGED: #OnceGay Stories
- Changed Stories Online
- Self-discovery: How childhood shaped our sexual identity
- Does Focus on the Family Promote “Gay Conversion Therapy”?
- Homosexuality Resources
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