Get Angry! the State of California identifies Sexual Orientation with Sexual Activity
There’s a lot of hullaballoo in the news about CA SB-1172, a bill recently signed into law with the ostensible purpose of preventing licensed mental health providers from trying to turn their gay clients straight. In reality, it goes much further. It defines sexual orientation in such a way so as to include behavior and expression.
I don’t want to talk about the benefits of reparative therapy, which I am not qualified to comment on. I am qualified to note that Catholic moral teaching is such that it separates and distinguishes between attractions and actions, between temptation and sin. For a Catholic, one can feel attracted to a person of the same sex and yet not sin, as sin comes when the will and intellect are engaged. When one chooses to act upon one’s attractions is when the moral dimension. If I look upon a woman who is not my wife and find her attractive, there is no sin. If I keep looking out of lust, or encourage impure thoughts about her, or seek to start an affair with this other woman, THAT is where I sin. The initial attraction is not the sin.
So, back to this overreaching bill. It states:
” Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age.”
“Sexual orientation change efforts” means 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.
Do you see what they did there? If a counsellor attempts to change a client’s behaviors or gender expressions, whatever they may be, they will be in violation of the law. This does not include “sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices,” Which is a nice thought, but insufficient to protect religious freedom rights. Unsafe sexual practices do not include having sex if/when you’re ready, if I remember anything from my public school sex-ed classes. So, so long as it is consensual and not violating any laws, and so long as you use a condom and don’t get the girl pregnant (pregnancy is unsafe, dontchaknow), so long as you are only taking informed risks of infection and disease, that’s behavior that your counselor cannot discourage you from.
This is a problem. Not just for ministries for people with same sex attraction like Courage, which help people to live chaste lives despite same-sex attraction, but it is a problem for any family counselor or psychologist or etc. who takes a traditional stance toward morality and discourages premarital sex, or immodeset clothing, or whatever. Sure, you can tell the guys to stop pressuring girls to have sex, but you can’t tell the guys (or girls) to stop trying to have sex, stop looking at pornography, or stop masturbating. All these things deal with behavior or gender expression, which according to the state of California are included in sexual orientation, and therefore sacrosanct. Maybe that’s not the intention of the lawmakers, but that’s the result the people of California have to deal with.
The good news is that a)the bill is being challenged and b) catechists and priests and pastors and bishops and church ladies and parents can still do their job in forming the consciences of children… so long as they aren’t doing so in the therapy room.
Sexual orientation does not include sexual activity. The desire is not the action. The impulse is not the action. The compulsion is not the action. Those with temptation can still live lives of virtue. But now, according to California law, you can’t encourage teens to change their behavior.