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Legislation in an Age of Sexual Confusion

Our human sexuality—like so many other aspects of our humanity—has been damaged by Original Sin. In our own day, human sexuality has been distorted in countless ways: the general acceptance of contraception, unapologetic access to abortion, the rise of no-fault divorce, the fabricated right to so-called same-sex marriage, and the normalization of gender dysphoria. Our fallen state and its effect on our human sexuality plays out not only on the larger stage of culture but also on the smaller—yet vitally important—stage of the law.

On Thursday (Feb. 7), the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee considered a handful of legislative bills attempting to create special legal protections for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), most notably at the expense of people of faith. The legislative bills represent a larger “clash of orthodoxies” (as Professor Robert George calls it) between the Judeo-Christian worldview and a progressive, secular, and liberalized agenda regarding the nature of human sexuality. Specifically, two bills of problematic notoriety were considered.

Background on LB167, LB168. Introduced by Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha, LB167 and LB168 relate to the so-called issue of conversion therapy. Under the legislation, conversion therapy is defined as “practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

LB167 would ban such “conversion therapy” under three circumstances. First, it would prohibit any “licensed credential holder” in Nebraska from providing conversion therapy to any minor under 18 years of age.

Licensed credential holders include licensed counselors, nurses, doctors, psychologists—and even include cosmetologists, nail technologists, and massage therapists.

Second, it would prohibit anybody from providing conversion therapy to any person if it is done in exchange for money, as well as prohibit advertising for conversion therapy.

Third, the legislation prohibits local and state government entities from funding conversion therapy or contracting with entities that conduct conversion therapy.

LB168 would make exposing a child to conversion therapy child abuse.

Major Problems of LB167, LB168. LB167 and LB168 are highly problematic policies for numerous reasons, but it is important to begin with a few.

Extremely Broad. LB167 is an extremely broad bill that outlaws a variety of constitutionally protected activities. All forms of counseling, including talk therapy, group sessions, and even journaling, would be prohibited and outlawed if it helps a person address unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity issues. Conferences and retreats, such as marriage encounters and outreach ministries, that assist individuals or couples with such issues would be captured by the law. Even services offered by a religious school or college could trigger the law, including counseling services, classes, and even school policies requiring students to modifying their sexual behavior as a condition of enrolling in the school.

Undermines the Desires of Clients. A fundamental goal of counseling is to provide a client the opportunity to achieve self-determination during their therapy. When it comes to issues of human sexuality, many people want to live according to their fundamental beliefs, such as living an integrated human sexuality according to the norms of Scripture. But LB167 uses the coercive power of the government to deny people their freedom to pursue personal life changes in a way that brings them happiness and fulfillment. Such discriminatory action by the government undermines the real stories and experiences of countless people who have found peace by getting help and assistance from a counselor who can meet their needs.

Imposes Ideology on Youth. Under the faulty notion and guise that conversion therapy is killing children and adolescents, LB167 seeks to impose an ideological view about human sexuality onto society, particularly on youth. Rather than recognizing, for example, that studies demonstrate 80-90% of youth questioning their gender identity will grow out of these feelings over time, LB167 seeks to force counselors, among others, to encourage behavior that could negatively alter a child’s physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.

Take-Away. People who are seeking a positive change in their life—especially consistent with their sincerely held moral or religious beliefs—should have the freedom to seek services and resources to best help them achieve their desires. But this is not remotely possible when elected officials and government coercively chill and shut down those who have the capacity to assist and counsel such individuals. LB167 and LB168 do tremendous harm to the common good, and it is critical to ensure that these legislative measures are defeated.

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