Canada is known as “the True North, strong and free,” and the national anthem asks God to “keep our land glorious and free” as Canadians stand on guard to preserve that freedom. But it seems that many in positions of government or policy-making seem determined to undermine the very first human right and the “fundamental freedom” protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—the freedom of conscience and religion.
Alberta School Division Bans “Offensive” Bible Verses
The Battle River School Division, a school division in the western province of Alberta, has ordered Cornerstone Christian Academy “to refrain from reading or studying ‘any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals.’” One chair member claims that “human rights legislation prevents religious schools from teaching what a child, or a parent, might find ‘offensive.’”
However, according to the justice center representing the school, two of the civil and human rights documents Canada has signed state that governments must respect a parent’s right “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions” and that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Therefore, shouldn’t parents have the right to choose a Christian education for their children that uses God’s Word—all of it—as the basis for their thinking?
I Don’t Like This Verse . . . Or This One . . . Or This One
There are significant problems with telling a school they can’t use certain Bible verses.
- The school division now becomes the authority on which parts of God’s Word can and can’t be used.
- Anything in the Bible could be considered “offensive” to somebody, so you would have to throw the whole Bible out. For example, children might find Ephesians 6:1 offensive, an evolutionist might find Genesis 1:1 offensive, and an atheist might find Psalm 14:1 offensive. Indeed the Bible itself says the Christian message is offensive (1 Peter 2:8).
- Not allowing a Christian school to base its handbook on biblical teaching takes away from their distinctiveness as a Christian school. Suddenly they are using secular ideas to frame their thinking instead of biblical ones—how does that make them a Christian school?
- The school division is taking away the right for parents to choose a wholly Christian education for their children. Parents put their children in a Christian school because they want their children to learn biblical principles, not because they want their children to learn secular ones! If they wanted a secular education, they can send their child to any public school.
Ignore Scripture Because of “Today’s Legislation and Sensitive Environment”
The school district pointed to two verses in the school’s student handbook that were deemed “offensive”:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21)
A spokeswoman for the school division said,
perhaps use a different piece of Scripture. . . . There is a lot of love in the word of God. . . . We were concerned about that specific piece of Scripture, given today’s legislation and sensitive environment.
Basically, this woman is saying that we must alter or ignore God’s Word depending on the culture. Our culture doesn’t like to hear about the concept of sin—especially sexual sin—so they suggest that we should just focus on the verses about love and ignore the ones about sin and God’s wrath against it.
God’s Love, Our Sin Problem
What this woman fails to recognize is that our sin problem is integral to the message of God’s love for us! It is because we were lost in sin, with no hope of saving ourselves, that Jesus came and died on our behalf. Romans 5:8 says,
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The two passages that the school division opposed hold incredible truth. We are sinners who have broken God’s standards—yet we can be washed, sanctified, and justified through Christ! There’s no greater love than the love of the one who died to redeem lost sinners.
“Inclusion and Diversity” Means You Must Agree with the Federal Government
Canada’s Senate recently passed a bill which “adds protection of gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Code and includes them within the protections provided by the hate-speech and hate-crime provisions of the criminal law.” The Justice Minister says,
In Canada we celebrate inclusion and diversity, and all Canadians should feel safe to be themselves. . . .Trans and gender diverse persons must be granted equal status in Canadian society, and this bill makes that status explicit in Canadian law. . . . The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that everyone can live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose. It will protect people from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes.
Now what do “discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes” mean? The Ontario Human Rights Code mandates “the use of genderless pronouns on request.” Does this mean those who do not agree with transgender ideology and decline to use genderless pronouns will be convicted of hate crimes? If a pastor quotes from Scripture and condemns homosexual behavior as sinful, as the Bible does, is that a hate crime? Is it “hate propaganda” for someone to share God’s truth that we were created male and female (Genesis 1:27) to a friend who is thinking about transitioning from one gender to another? Telling people they are wrong can be offensive, even if done in the most gentle and loving way possible. Will offense be the standard by which we judge hate crimes?
Telling people they are wrong can be offensive, even if done in the most gentle and loving way possible.
Groups against this new bill claim this is “government mandated speech” and that “this law will not be used as some sort of 'shield' to defend vulnerable transsexuals, but rather as a weapon with which to bludgeon people of faith and free-thinking Canadians who refuse to deny truth.”
The Justice Minister claims “we celebrate inclusion and diversity” but what this bill shows is that the government celebrates inclusion and diversity for those who agree with the government’s views on gender and sexuality. Canada’s government has adopted a secular view and seeks to impose this view on all Canadians. This isn’t a celebration of diversity—it’s one moral view being celebrated over all others.
If You Don’t Affirm Gender Identity and Sexuality, Ontario Will Take Your Kids
In the central province of Ontario a new provincial bill that recently passed allows the government to seize your children if you “refuse to accept [their] chosen ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression.’” The Minister of Child and Family Services believes its abuse for a parent to not affirm a child’s chosen gender or sexual orientation. This poses a threat to all parents, particularly Christian or other religious parents, as well as those who wish to foster or adopt.
And if it sounds far fetched that the government might take away your kids because you don’t approve of your child transitioning to the opposite gender, think again. Similar cases have already been seen in Europe, and a Christian couple in Ontario claims their foster children were taken away because the foster parents refused to lie and tell the children the Easter Bunny was real.
“Strong and Free” for How Long?
Sadly, these bills are a sign of the times we live in. Gender and sexual orientation ideology have swept through governments around the world, and many new laws put religious freedom in jeopardy. These laws won’t be going away any time soon. If anything, they will only increase as more and more people accept transgender and homosexuality as right and good. So what do we as Christians do?
We look to God’s Word and refuse to compromise truth regardless of the cultural climate.
We look to God’s Word and refuse to compromise truth regardless of the cultural climate. Deciding the fight isn’t worth it, many churches have sacrificed biblical truth on the altar of cultural correctness and claim that they want to be “accepting” like the world.
But we have been called to live differently (Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:19–24; Philippians 2:15; 1 Peter 2:9). We don’t just go along with the culture. Since the time of Jesus and the apostles, biblical Christianity has been radically different from the culture—and it should be now. No matter what our culture says, we must boldly stand on biblical truth and deliver the gospel—the whole gospel, including our sin problem—to a lost world.
We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)