By Fay Voshell
When Chris Christie signed a law against conversion therapy directed at counseling teens experiencing homoerotic feelings, he probably didn’t think he had just put New Jersey on a path similar to countries like Saudi Arabia, which forbids conversion from the prevailing Muslim faith.
But forbidding efforts to convert is essentially what the governor did. He expressly forbade conversion from the prevailing progressive religion, whose chief doctrine is that sexual behavior, including the homoerotic behavior of some children, is a sacred, infallible, and therefore unchangeable indicator of what human identity entails.
He forbade moral suasion. He forbade attempts to persuade young people that another way of life is available. That other way that is forbidden is, of course, the way of Christian sexual ethics. Counseling a kid to follow the Christian way, to attempt to change his or her homoerotic behavior, is verboten.
It’s not put quite that way, of course. Supposedly the law is meant to punish abusive therapists. But laws against abusive counselors are already on the books. We can suspect that the real goal is to make sure no one other than progressive high priests of sex counsel youngsters about sexuality. The unstated companion goal is the elimination of Christian and other conservative therapists from the profession.
As is usual with progressives, they are dealing with a red herring while real abuse is going on right under their noses. Few seem to be noticing the reality of abusive “conversion therapy” going on elsewhere, including in our public schools. Have they noticed the abusive “conversion therapy” directed against little boys and girls who dare even to think about guns? Do any of them remember the little guy who, when he brought a cap gun to school, was interrogated for so long he wet his pants? How about the five-year-old girl who was charged with making a “terrorist threat” because she talked about shooting another kid with her pink “Hello Kitty” bubble gun? She had to undergo psychological evaluation and was handed a ten-day suspension, graciously reduced to two days. Her parents are fighting to have the incident expunged from the tyke’s school records.
Shall we talk about abusive conversion “therapy” directed at adults? Does anyone care to detail progressives’ abusive therapy sessions directed at males at our foremost colleges and universities? This is to say nothing about the “diversity and sensitivity” seminars in the workplace — seminars that amount to “conversion therapy” sessions. While the purported goal is to ensure no harassment in the work environment (“harassment” vaguely defined as whatever “offends” anyone at any particular moment), doesn’t everyone who has been forced to sit through the brainwashing know the intent — namely, to convert all workers to liberal progressivism by enforcing adherence to their zealously religious maze of rules and regulations?
In addition to overlooking the abusive conversion therapy already going on in our public schools and workplaces, the law also usurps the rights of devout parents to employ a licensed therapist who retains Judeo-Christian sexual ethics. The law ensures that if your kid has expressed homoerotic feelings, he will get a progressive high priest as his or her counselor — one who reinforces homoeroticism. There will be no licensed therapist who shares your religious views, because Christian therapists will lose their licenses. Your child will be the equivalent of a janissary, a forced convert to a religion not your own.
Further, the punitive law directed against counselors who seek to help teens work through a time of their lives which may include confusion about sexual feelings has broader implications for the church. Conservative denominations are in particular danger of overt persecution, including attempts to silence the proclamation of the gospel, which is never more than one generation away from extinction.
Why would conversion therapy laws imperil the liberty of churches to preach the Christian gospel? Because conversion to Jesus Christ entails conversion from lifestyles in opposition to what Christians see as against the commands of God. Commitment to Christ means the person accepting salvation is converted from former lifestyles into new ways of living.
There are multitudes of ways that must be forsaken for the straight and narrow. The Bible is quite clear about what the fuller meaning of the salvation is: namely, that a Christian must forsake all immoral lifestyles, only one of which is homosexuality.
Christian pastors and licensed Christian therapists counsel against ways of living that the Christian way regards as sinful. They try to convert people to Christian mores. But under this new law, preaching Christian sexual ethics will be regarded as hate speech, as it already is in countries like Sweden, whose “hate crime” laws were upheld by the European Court. Christian pastors and therapists can look for increased attempts by the left to forbid conversion to Christianity and its mores, as Christianity’s sexual ethics are considered inherently hateful and malevolently discriminatory by the left.
And there’s the rub. Progressivism, among other things, is really a competing religion, a sex cult founded on the tenets of the sexual revolution — a religion with its own doctrines and liturgies. “Howl” is the progressive equivalent of the Apostles’ Creed, and homoeroticism the mark of a youth liberated from conventional mores. “Coming out” is almost a holy ritual, very nearly the equivalent of a bar mitzvah or first communion in the Jewish and Christian faiths. Nothing should be permitted to interfere with those first sexual stirrings of youth. Certainly no therapist should attempt to “convert” any youth experiencing attraction to the same sex to heterosexuality. That would be abusive.
Churches need to wake up and see the implications of the new “conversion therapy” laws. They need to see that they are up against a deeply religious sex cult determined to exterminate Christian mores, attack religious liberties, and suppress free speech. If they don’t rise up to resist the inroads of radical progressivism, if they do not take measures to protect Christian therapists, pastors, and youth leaders, the Church will be increasingly be sidelined. The Church risks being eventually banned altogether from attempts to convert people to Christianity — just as in Saudi Arabia.
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the Charles Hodge Prize for excellence in systematic theology. She has contributed to online publications such as American Thinker, National Review, and Delaware Politics. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.