Almost a year ago, I wrote an article titled “They’re Coming for Us,” and argued that the COVID-19 pandemic gave governments across the U.S. and the world an excuse (and a poor one, at that) to either 1) shut down churches, or 2) made churches as hard as possible to operate. I made the point that there is a concentrated and concerted effort to quash Christianity through various means, the most radical of which being The Equality Act.
I won’t say any more about that article that I wrote, but if you have not read it yet, I would encourage you to do just that because this article will be very closely related to it. To be more specific, what I said was in the process of happening a year ago in the U.S. just recently happened in Canada, our northern neighbors, and is likely coming for us in the near future. We’ll start by looking at the bill that was passed and what it means, and then we will move into reflecting on its implications biblically.
On January 7th of this year, a new bill went into effect in Canada, Bill C-4. If you’re able to comb through the legal weeds and get to the heart of what the bill does, you will see that it outlaws all forms of “conversion therapy.” You may be wondering what seems so bad about this, since “conversion therapy” has been identified with the cruel practice of electric shock therapy, where LGBT individuals were essentially tortured so that they would change their minds and not be LGBT anymore. But if you look at the text of the bill, we are actually told how the Canadian government defines “conversion therapy”:
Conversion therapy means a practice, treatment or service designed to (a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual; (b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender; (c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth; (d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour; (e) repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or (f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.
This is astounding. The Canadian government has actually broadened the definition of conversion therapy in two ways. First, conversion therapy is no longer just the specific act of trying to change someone’s gender identity to cis-gender or non-heterosexual attraction, because it now includes acts that even try to repress such beliefs of behaviors. So even if you are not trying to outright change someone’s non-traditional gender identity or sexual attraction (yes, I say non-traditional intentionally), but if you “repress” that or speak against it in any way, you are now guilty of breaking this law.
As a side note, notice that this bill only outlaws trying to “convert” LGBT persons into embracing traditional beliefs on gender and sexuality. Meanwhile, there is a full-fledged push and recruitment scheme to bring those of traditional convictions into the LGBT camp. It’s perfectly fine to shove the LGBT agenda down the throats of everyone, but the second you even attempt to do the opposite, you’ll now be punished under this new law.
Second, and this is the most significant change to the definition of conversion therapy, it has now been broadened so that it is not just some cruel “treatment” such as electric shock that is outlawed, but it now includes any practices or services that attempt to change or repress non-traditional gender identity or sexual attraction. Make no mistake, this bill is directed specifically at churches and Christians, and in particular, those that uphold traditional sexual morality.
Consider an example. You have a friend who identifies as gay or transgender. As a Bible-believing Christian, you know that the Bible clearly teaches that same-sex sexual relationships are sinful (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27), as is claiming to be of a different gender than God has created you as (Genesis 1:27); God does not make mistakes with his creation. Being a good friend, you lovingly meet with your friend to confront them in their sin and warn them that if they persist in their sin and do not repent, they will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And of course, you make them aware of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that is found in Christ if they confess their sins to God (1 John 1:9). But if you’re in Canada, you have violated the law because you have just provided the practice or service of biblical counseling, and you have tried to change or repress their non-traditional gender identity or sexual attraction, and you are now subject to no more than 5 years in prison.
Again, this is not an accident. This is an intentional move by the Canadian government to criminalize Christianity in their country. Now, I do realize and affirm that holding to traditional sexual morality is not at the heart of the message of Christianity, and simply being straight or non-transgender is certainly not the message of the gospel and does make one right with God; that only comes through the repentance of one’s sins and faith in Christ. But, at the same time, left unrepented of, engaging in non-traditional sexual beliefs or behaviors, or encouraging others to do so (Romans 1:32), places one outside the saving grace of God, and condemns them under the judgment of God.
The job of each individual Christian and church is to be a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:16-17). We are to model Christ-likeness and holiness to the world, as well as those who profess to be part of Christ’s church. But when we affirm the sinful beliefs and behaviors of others as good and even worth celebrating, we are not just ceasing to be a light, but we are actively promoting the very wickedness that God himself has spoken against and are helping pave their road to hell, and potentially even our own. This is why it is so important for those who profess to be Christians to be aware of and speak the truth about what God has said in his Word, and especially so of the hot-button issues of our time.
Along with this, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) as our highest authority is another area in which Christians should not waver. The moment we let Scripture plus the cultural tides, or Scripture plus our own personal feelings guide what we believe, we will very quickly begin to slide down the slope of modern-day liberalism and moral relativism, neither of which can claim to be “Christian” in any sense. In other words, the moment we create a category in our minds and accept that the Bible really doesn’t teach that homosexuality is wrong, or that men cannot become women or vice versa, it will not be hard for us to rationalize any number of other modern-day liberal takes on what the Bible teaches, which can eventually lead us into apostasy.
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, a young pastor of this same thing almost 2,000 years ago, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Not only was Timothy to guard himself personally against falling into sin, but he was also to “guard the good deposit entrusted to [him],” as he is told in a second letter (2 Timothy 1:14). The vast majority of us are not, and will not be pastors like Timothy. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility to “[hold] fast to the word of life” (Philippians 2:16).
The West used to be a beacon of light for freedom, particularly religious freedom. But those were the days when people realized that true political freedom was dependent on people having a baseline and shared view of morality and virtue. We are seeing in real-time what happens when people on a large scale reject God and go their own way. They don’t just become apathetic towards Christianity; they become actively militarized against it. It has happened in Canada, and it will soon come to the U.S.
The point I want to make with this article is simple: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). Watch and be aware of what is going on around you so that when the temptation does come to bend beneath the weight under cultural or political pressure, you are ready. And pray as a means to be ready and have the strength for that day when you will have to decide whose priorities you will serve: those of God, which are eternal and fulfilling, or those of the world, which are short-lived and yield no profit.
Yet, we know that there is still hope in what may seem to be a bleak situation. Christ himself promised that “the gates of hell will not prevail against” his church (Matthew 16:18), his bride that he has purchased with his own precious life and blood (Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 1:19). He will not ultimately let his church be crushed by Satan’s power, whether it be here in the States, or in Canada, or anywhere else across the world, as he will hold fast to the end all those who belong to him. Not only that, but we also know that the gospel will continue to advance throughout all the world so that one day, people from all nations, tribes, and languages will be gathered before the throne of God (Revelation 5:9; 7:9), and we will together sing as one the praises of the Savior who rescued us from the evil of this present age (Revelation 14:1-5).