As I write this, the outcome of Trinity Western University’s supreme court case is not yet resolved. I write this before the issue has resolved intentionally. No matter how this ends (though I hope for TWU’s success) there are some things I think we need to recognize.
First of all, for those not in the know, TWU’s law program has come under fire for allegedly being discriminatory against the LGTBQ2 (etc.) community. Students of the university are expected to comply with some standards of sexual conduct that reflect the beliefs and practices of Evangelical Christians and it seems that many vocal parties have expressed concern that this is discriminatory and wrong. The question then becomes this: do we accredit law graduates from such a controversial school?
This is what I gather from the various articles I’ve read and the issue is certainly far more complex than how I represent it but I don’t want to get lost in the details. I want to focus on some things that will remain important for Christians no matter how this resolves and that’s the condition of people’s hearts.
1. We must respond in love. As ambassadors of Christ, whatever happens to us, we must endure as he does. We love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who persecute us. This doesn’t mean that we do nothing. It means that we actively respond in love and in grace and in service to the world.
2. We have enemies. Whether or not TWU wins, we’re in this situation because there are people who hate the Church in their hearts. The outcomes of court cases doesn’t change hearts. Our work of loving our enemies doesn’t end if TWU wins.
3. We have an image to defend. In the eyes of many, one must either affirm all lifestyles or be guilty of hatred and malice. We need to work to embody and demonstrate a middle way, one that can disagree with a lifestyle while loving and serving a person. Like Jesus did. We should also acknowledge that people who come from this very binary angle aren’t insane. Church groups have done and continue to do some very non Christ-like things to all kinds of minority groups. This can reasonably create concern. We need to address this with truth and love.
4. What’s at stake. Surrounding this issue is a lot of talk about religious freedom. I’ve heard some politically right-leaning Christians express concern about “secular totalitarianism.” While I find such buzzwords tend to obscure the conversation rather than clarify it, there is an issue of tolerance here. How do we handle differences in worldview? Is there room for differing perspectives on sexual ethics? If it’s a binary choice as above between affirmation or hatred then probably not, but I think the issue is more complex than that. I hope we can find ways to have constructive conversation rather than trying to shut each other down.
5. What’s not at stake. We are not citizens of Canada. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. The homeland is secure. We don’t need to be worried about the future of our culture being defended by earthly policy. Deep breaths.
6. Nothing new. I am reminded of the stories of Shadrach, Meshackh, and Abednego, of David and the Lion’s Den, and of all the stories of early church persecution. And of course, I am reminded of Jesus. This may be a good time to read up on their examples.
As a final note, as a graduate from a private Christian university, this issue is very personal to me. I believe in the value of Christ-centered education and having more Godly lawyers in Canada could only be to our benefit. I do hope and pray that the Supreme Court finds favour with TWU and upholds their rights but this event is part of a larger story in which it is all of our responsibility to participate, no matter what happens.