As I write this column, the Supreme Court of Canada has not yet ruled on the case of Trinity Western University. If they have come to a decision by the time this is published, I hope to God it’s the correct one. Because there certainly is a correct decision, and it’s the authentically Christian one.
The background is that the Langley, B.C., evangelical college proposes to open a law school, but the law societies of Ontario and British Columbia have said that they would refuse to recognize graduates as lawyers. This is because Trinity Western requires all students to sign a community covenant promising, among other things, not to have sex outside marriage. As the university also does not recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, this effectively prohibits gay relationships.
The Ontario government has argued that people “have a right to expect that they or their children can seek to become lawyers without facing impediments because of their religion, gender or sexual orientation.”
Trinity Western claims that its religious freedom is under attack. Yet nobody is trying to prevent Trinity Western from establishing a law school, or anyone from attending it.
The real issue is that while Canadian law recognizes same-sex marriage and the equality of LGBTQ people, a college that wants to educate the very people who are supposed to uphold that law does not.
In many ways, this is an even more clear-cut case than those bakeries that refuse to make cakes for gay weddings. The bakers are behaving dreadfully, but are, it could be argued, part of the private sector. Trinity Western is a private university, but the lawyers it graduates will operate within a distinct arm of public discourse and intersect with government and human rights.
Meanwhile, the cries of the Christian right cause enormous damage to the face of the church. Try telling a young gay person that God is love, but God’s church would rather that he or she didn’t exist.
We should know by now that homosexuality is hardly mentioned in the Bible. Jesus doesn’t refer to it at all; the Old Testament never mentions lesbianism; the story of Sodom is more about rejecting the stranger than gay sex. And let’s just say that David and Jonathan might have had a tough time becoming students at Trinity Western.
I wish I could claim that scripture is pro-gay and supportive of equal marriage, but I am not that arrogant or simplistic. Equally, however, nobody should claim that scripture is clearly opposed to same-sex marriage. It’s vague, partly because it was written a long time ago. It’s a living and breathing text, and should be read and understood through the prism of its central teaching: love. If we do that, so much that seemed muddy suddenly becomes as clear as bright, light truth.
One day, we will look back on Trinity Western and conservative Christianity’s obsessions with sexuality and wonder what all of the fuss was about. Pray that day is not very far away.
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