This is an email I sent to my congregation this week, concerning Canadian bill C-4, which essentially makes the Christian faith illegal in Canada.
Last Sunday, Canadian bill C-4 forbidding "conversion therapy" for homosexuals and transgenders was mentioned in Sunday School, the opening exhortation, and the pastoral prayer. I wanted to follow up on that and give you a little more information and provide you some direction about how we as Christians should act in light of changes taking place in the civilization of which we are a part.
- Here, here, here, and here is some background on the bill, and the call for churches to preach on it last Sunday. Many pastors in Canada and the US focused their sermons on these issues last Sunday, including many in the CREC (check out these sermons by Doug Wilson and Bill Smith for examples). A Canadian bill obviously does not impact us directly here in Alabama. But many American states already have similar laws banning conversion therapy. And as we have seen over an extended period of time now, wherever progressivism makes the most "progress" in implementing its agenda, it tends to spread to other places. This is a cancer that will not be contained to Canada.
- The Canadian bill forbids Christians from calling on homosexuals and transgenders to repent of ways their actions and desires violate God's design for human life. It essentially forbids Christians from evangelizing these classes of persons. The law is vague in some ways, but many believe it would apply to pastors, counselors, and even private conversations. It threatens imprisonment and fines on those who preach the gospel to gays and transgenders. In other words, this is the moment you've been warned about many times over the years: biblical Christian faith has been effectively outlawed in a Western nation.
- The Canadian bill obviously represents full-on rebellion against God and his design for human life. Those leading this rebellion will be held to account. But there are other dimensions to consider. I believe it is entirely possible God is afflicting Western Christians with things like bill C-4 as a form of judgment against us because we have tolerated sexual sin in our own lives and churches for far too long. In pushing back against the Canadian bill, it would be easy to focus on the sins of homosexuality and transgenderism. But what about fornication, pornography, adultery, unjustified divorce, and other sexual sins that are all too common among evangelical, conservative, traditionalist churches? What about abdicating husbands and unsubmissive wives? Those are also violations of God's design. We should certainly speak to the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism, applying Scripture to these particular sexual perversions. But we must make sure we repent of our own sexual perversions as well. It is always easy to focus on the sins of other people, but we must resist this Pharisaical tendency. Make sure your own sexual and Spiritual house is in order. Make sure you are converting your own heart continually to the Lord's ways before calling on others to convert.
- Whenever we address sexual sin, we must remember the Lord is merciful and forgives all who repent. Homosexual acts can be forgiven. Transgenderism can be forgiven. Abortion can be forgiven. Pornography, lust, fornication, immodesty, and adultery can all be forgiven. Christ suffered and died so sexual sinners can be cleansed. Forgiveness does not cancel out all the temporal consequences of our sin. But we can know that our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, has rescued his bride and will bring her home to live with him in glory for all eternity. Do not wallow in guilt for sexual sin, or any other kind of sin. Live in the joy and freedom Christ won for you at the cross. He purchased forgiveness for you; enjoy this glorious gift!
- Our confidence is always in the gospel, not politics or anything else. Canada's ruling class might try to silence gospel preachers but they will not stop, and cannot ever stop, the advance of the gospel. They can pass bills forbidding the converting of sinners, and yet God will convert them anyway. They can put preachers in chains, but they cannot chain the gospel. They can pretend their word is sovereign over creation, but all the power of all the Caesars in the world is nothing compared to the power and glory of the true and living God. The gospel makes us triumphant, even defiant, in the face of those who attack God's law and the messengers of God's gospel. The gates of hell will not stand against the victorious onslaught of gospel preaching -- not in Canada, not in America, not anywhere.
- I have addressed these issues, of course, in the past at TPC in sermons and in other ways. This sermon, this one, and this one address homosexuality. This paper was written in response to the Obergefell ruling on same-sex "marriage." This sermon deals with transgenderism. This essay addresses the Revoice movement. More resources are available on our website.
- I like Brian Mattson's assessment of the bill: "Here in Montana, we are used to Arctic blasts coming down from Canada this time of year. And boy, was there a chilling blast this week. It wasn’t a weather event, though; rather, it was the passing and implementation of their brand-new law banning “conversion therapy.” It is now a crime to “provide or promote services intended to change or repress a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression.” Does that mean if someone comes to a pastor and wants help struggling with, say, same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, the pastor could be jailed for offering biblical counsel? The answer is very much yes...This might be the most breathtaking arrogance I’ve ever seen displayed. A grown adult cannot consult someone about their own feelings of discomfort regarding gender and sex, because the “experts” at the Almighty State have decreed that those feelings are illegitimate (you shouldn’t have them), and that there cannot possibly be any help for you (it’s all fraudulent). Interesting take from people who have been telling us that a person’s feelings about sex and gender are the only thing that is real. I guess that’s only if you have the proper State-approved feelings. Pray for churches in Canada. They’re going to need a lot of it. I recommend that this Sunday every pulpit in the land preaches on the Bible’s view of sex.
- In Sunday School, Alastair mentioned that he is working on a book that could serve as a Protestant version of Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." There is much in the "Theology of the Body" that is commendable, though there are some weaknesses as well. I really appreciate the work Christopher West has done to popularize some of the best aspects of the "Theology of the Body." West's work has influenced a good bit of my preaching and teaching on these issues, particularly when I was working through 1 Corinthians in 2010-11. Some insights from the "Theology of the Body" can be found in this sermon, this sermon, and this sermon. As Alastair pointed out in his Sunday School, we need the medicine of exposing error (especially since we live in a very sexually sick culture), but even more than that we need the nourishing food of God's beautiful creation design. I would especially recommend West's book "Theology of the Body for Beginners" if you want to explore this in more of a "What are we for?" rather than "What are we against?" kind of way. While West does not adequately develop an understanding of masculinity and femininity, he has a deep grasp of the symbolic and Spiritual meaning of sex itself. The "Theology of the Body" rightly aims at articulating a positive theology of sex, rooted in God's design for our bodies and for marriage.
- If you are interested in reading on the rise of transgenderism, I recommend Ryan Anderson's "When Harry Became Sally." Carl Trueman's "The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self" tackles the philosophical and cultural background that got us here. Abigail Shrier's book "Irreversible Damage" is not written from a Christian perspective, but sounds the alarm about the rise of transgenderism as a social contagion among teenage girls.
- Pray for pastors in Canada, that they will be faithful to God's Word even at great personal risk and cost. And pray for American pastors, that we would stand in solidarity with our Canadian counterparts, as we boldly declare the whole counsel of God.