Oh, That Will Never Happen in Canada!

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Recently my wife and I were having a discussion over grammar. Not the most exciting of conversations, and perhaps a sign that we are older than we think we are. The point of contention was the phrase “you’ve got another thing coming” vs. “you’ve got another think coming.” I prefer the former (I’ll leave all of the grammar Nazis out there to contend with who you feel is correct).

But it got me thinking about the many times I’ve had believers in Canada object to the logical conclusions I had made in one of my presentations over the last 20 years—that if the assault on biblical authority (founded on Genesis 1:11 as the seedbed for all Christian doctrines), and the current assault on Christian values and freedoms continues in Canada—eventually the Bible and the Gospel itself will be outlawed.

That Will Never Happen

Many times you could see a wry smirk, a veiled eye roll and/or a look of incredulity on their face as they would say something to the effect: “But that would NEVER happen in Canada!” Well, if you were one of those who still think that’s the case, you’ve got another thing/think coming!

I’ve noticed that many Christian Canadians still aren’t able to see the clear connection of what is currently happening in our country to where we are headed if we don’t make some drastic changes immediately in our churches and communities. To put it simply, it all boils down to the lack of submission to the authority of God’s Word, both in the church and without. But that didn’t happen overnight.

The Slippery Slope

Years ago, naturalists began questioning the authority of the Bible in regard to the age of the earth, where life began, whether humans evolved from ape-like creatures vs. Adam and Eve, and they used concepts like dinosaurs having existed supposedly millions of years before the biblical timeline to undermine confidence in Genesis. Because their arguments claimed to be scientific, many people accepted them as truth, including many Christians.

When Christian leaders began accepting evolutionary ideas and submitted to the authority of secular science over the plain reading of Genesis, they signaled that the Bible did not have to be taken as plainly written. By setting that precedent, it didn’t take long for the culture both inside and out the church to logically recognize that if the “earthly things” the Bible spoke about weren’t true, why believe the “heavenly things” either?

Sliding down the Hill

The culture began to ask questions like; Why should marriage be only between one man and one woman? Why should human life be considered special? On what basis do you determine right from wrong? Whenever a Christian would try to defend these ideas biblically, their opponent could always just point to Genesis and ask, logically, “Well if you don’t have to believe this part of the Bible as plainly written, why should we have to hold to this part?”

Even so, the church, because it was well established and embedded in the fabric of society, continued to hold some sway over public policy. People would refer to concepts like “common sense” when discussing issues like gender, sexuality, marriage, and life issues. But common sense only makes sense when there is a commonality among people! As the children (even the majority of those from Christian homes) were educated for the most part in a continually increasing secular school system, the divide between the generations became wider still.

As the highly influential atheist Charles Potter said way back in 1930,

Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday School's meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?1

Hanging off the Edge of the Cliff

Today, the idea of biblical authority has not simply been abandoned in Canada: it is actually under vicious attack. Take a recent CBC article titled “Residential schools cast long shadow on LGBTQ2 community in northern Ontario.” for example. In it, they attribute increasing youth suicide in aboriginal communities in Northern Ontario as the result of the clear teaching of Scripture by a local Christian ministry.

An evangelical Christian group, which operated some of the last Indian residential schools in Canada, continues to run youth programs in northern Ontario that members of the LGBTQ2 community say convey a harmful message and may be costing lives.2

The article fails to mention that in 2016 (according to Sol Mamakwa, the NDP member for the Kiiwetinoong riding), the suicide rate for children under the age of 15 in First Nations he represents was 50 times higher than the national average in 2016.3 And Statistics Canada has published data that suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit, between 2011 and 2016 were far beyond the national average in all categories, often attributed to a wide variety of socioeconomic situations.4

Also, as the analysis of the COVID-19 situation effects are now showing, youth suicide during the shutdown has increased across the nation beyond the typical statistics, but none of that was mentioned. The only cause of increased suicide in this article was ascribed to the teaching of Scripture in the area of sexual ethics and identity.

Criminalizing Sharing of the Love of God?

But the most insidious part of the article comes about 1/2 way through when it asks, “Is it conversion therapy?” Here is the argument in the words of Kristopher Wells, Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at MacEwan University:

Telling LGBTQ2 people that homosexuality is a choice and a sin is an attempt to fundamentally deny or change who they are, Wells said, and that could be construed as a form of conversion therapy, a practice that is against the law in Ontario when it involves minors. Conversion therapy is any attempt to fix, change, repair or repress a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression," Wells said. It has been classified as torture, banned by professional organizations, restricted by governments and outlawed by several countries around the world.5

Well, Canada’s Justice Minister introduced a bill to ban conversion therapy on October 1, 2020. If passed, the bill would create five new Criminal Code offences relating to conversion therapy. Advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy and receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy are two of those offences.

It could easily be argued that churches do one or both of the above. But the issue that affects the gospel directly, of course, is that the definition of conversion therapy includes efforts to repress or reduce sexual behavior. And although the Justice Department said the legislation would not “criminalize private conversations in which personal views on sexual orientation, sexual feelings or gender identity are expressed such as where teachers, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, faith leaders, doctors, mental health professionals, friends or family members provide support to persons struggling with their sexual orientation, sexual feelings, or gender identity,” how many of us seriously believe that would be upheld for long?

For example, when our Justice Minister, David Lametti, was asked (during a previous Q&A dealing with these issues) whether it would be legal for religious leaders to speak about homosexuality, he replied that “it’s an open-ended and exploratory conversation.” He went on to say, “What is covered by this legislation are practices that attempt to change one’s orientation towards a predefined goal.”6

Connect the Dots

The gospel says that we are all sinners that need to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. To repent is to “turn from sin” and practice it no more. Sin is defined in Scripture, which includes sexual sin very clearly. The gospel is by definition a plea for individuals to change their sinful orientation (on many things besides sexuality, too!) towards a pre-defined goal!

Brothers and Sisters, what is actually in play here in our courts in Canada is the criminalization of the great commission. That commission and the definition of sin are clearly laid out in the Bible, and once the actions commanded to Christians to perform are declared criminal, the source of those actions will also be criminalized!

Only a return to the authority of God’s Word in all areas will bring about a reformation in our country, and that will only happen over time as biblical authority is brought back through the teaching of God’s Word and bold gospel proclamation. It’s time to get active in our prayer, private, and public life. And it’s time to stop compromising on the Word of God. As Mathew 10:28 reminds us,

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Footnotes

  1. Charles F. Potter, Humanism: A New Religion, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1930).
  2. CBC investigates: Thunder Bay, “Residential schools cast long shadow on LGBTQ2 community in northern Ontario,” September 16, 2020, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/northern-ontario-evangelical-christian-group-anti-lgbtq2-1.5722906.
  3. CBC News: Thunder Bay, “'This is a health crisis'- Ontario MPP calls for action after Bearskin Lake youth suicide,” September 20, 2018, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/mamakwa-bearskin-lake-suicide-1.4831913.
  4. Mohan B. Kumar and Michael Tjepkema, “Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016): Findings from the 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC),” June 28, 2019, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/99-011-x/99-011-x2019001-eng.htm.
  5. CBC investigates, “Residential schools cast long shadow.”

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