During a pulpit protest during yesterday’s Sunday services, more than 4,000 pastors in both the U.S. and Canada, including California’s John McArthur, preached on sexual purity and warned about the anti-Christian implications of Canada’s new ban on conversion therapy for LGBT persons.
Bill C-4, which was passed by Canada’s Parliament without opposition and became law on January 8, claims that any effort to persuade a LGBT person to accept their biological sex or change their sexual orientation is “harmful” to LGBT people, while also claiming that any belief that being heterosexual and embracing one’s biological sex is preferable to being homosexual or changing one’s gender identity is a “myth.”
In its preamble, the bill states:
Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to the persons who are subjected to it; Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions; And whereas, in light of those harms, it is important to discourage and denounce the provision of conversion therapy in order to protect the human dignity and equality of all Canadians.
The law goes on to ban conversion therapy, defined as any practice, treatment, or service designed to:
Violation of the ban carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Pastors are highly concerned that the new law criminalizes Christian teaching. Jacob Reaume of Trinity Baptist Chapel cautioned, “The Biblical gospel is a message of conversion, whereby Christ causes sinners to be born-again, thus converting them from sinful propensities to godliness. The bill’s language is vague enough that many think it might criminalize a biblical call to (repent from sinful behavior) and embrace righteousness.”
Pastor Tim Stephens, who was arrested twice for keeping Calgary’s Fairview Baptist Church open during the COVID pandemic, said, “We’ve seen that the new prevailing worldview is totalitarian, seeking to define marriage, sexuality, and control health choices. It is absolutely intolerant to opposing beliefs. All socialistic and communistic movements hate the authority and law of God that Christianity promotes.”
Stephens also pointed to the harms of gender transitioning. “All societies that live according to the biblical ethic have flourished. This is now called harmful. Ironically, this law promotes a truly harmful type of ‘conversion’ using puberty-blocking chemicals, surgeries to remove functioning breasts and sexual organs, regular hormone treatments, and truly harmful counseling that has led to exorbitant suicide rates.”
Reaume stated that he will not stop preaching the biblical message, noting,
“I have a message from God, and He has called me to herald it. I am not my own, but He bought me with the blood of His Son. I am beholden to Him alone. By His grace, I will not stop speaking about God’s demands for holiness and His free offer of pardon. If anything, the legislation will motivate me to speak with more force and clarity against the evils of homosexuality and transgenderism.”
Reaume and Stephens also believe the conversion therapy ban will “make the preaching of the Gospel a criminal act.”
Stephens explained, “The law is overly broad in defining conversion therapy, (thereby enshrining) progressive gender ideology and queer theory as normative.”
This comes on the heels of the Canadian government jailing Stephens and other church leaders, for refusing to shut their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic and for speaking out against the government’s COVID policies.
“The ideologies of progressive gender ideology, queer theory, and critical theory have taken over education, corporations, entertainment, and the media. The United States is lagging Canada, but the ideas are there and will bear fruit unless the roots are pulled up,” Stephens said, calling on Christians to take back ground from progressive doctrine through church teaching. The U.S. Constitution will sooner or later prove “ineffective to stop the advance of these godless ideologies. Sadly, American evangelicalism looks a lot like Canada, with only a few voices sounding the alarm or speaking the truth to culture.”
The pulpit protest was organized by the Liberty Gospel Coalition and supported by Pastor John McArthur of California’s Grace Community Church.
“I am eager to support our Canadian brothers and to preach on biblical sexual morality on January 16, and I invite you as a faithful pastor to do the same,” McArthur wrote in an appeal to his U.S. colleagues. “Our united stand will put the Canadian and the U.S. governments on notice that they have attacked the Word of God. We are all well-aware of the evil power and destructive influence of the homosexual and transgender ideology. Our government is bent on not only normalizing this perversion, but also legalizing it, and furthermore criminalizing opposition to it.”
Language in the bill, such as the aforementioned “myths about gender identity” clearly shows that the bill’s language contains a metaphysical bias. Many Christian organizations rightfully feel that this overly broad definition of conversion therapy, “could lead to conversations between parents and children, or between pastors and congregants being criminalized.”
Furthermore, the proposed law also appears to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, as well as thought, belief, opinion, and expression. As a result, it is difficult to see how a charge against a pastor preaching on a biblical Christian ethic in terms of God’s design for marriage and sexuality could withstand a charter challenge, but as we have seen as Canada routinely jails pastors for holding services, the government has shown it is not afraid to trample the rights of the charter.
These ministers cannot comply with this order because, as Reaume said, the Gospel is nothing less than the message of conversion. The Gospel confronts mankind with the truth that each of us is a fallen sinner and our thoughts, motives, attitudes, and actions are all subject to sins corrupting control. This control darkens men’s minds and hearts, making them blind to the truth. Yet into a dark world, Christ stepped in to rescue sinners out of their bondage; bondage to specific sins such as adultery and homosexuality, lying and deceit, pride and selfishness, and hate and murder. Christ doesn’t just save from specific sins however, He saves us from sin itself, changing our hearts and converting us.
In Babylon, Daniel and his friends remained true to God despite the likely adversities they would face. Pastors, look to scripture for examples of boldness as you serve the God who placed you in the pastorate.