Earlier today, the Supreme Court of Canada decided societies governing the legal profession have the right to deny accreditation to a proposed law school at Trinity Western University in British Columbia. This case has been building for some time and primarily revolves around a community covenant all students at TWU are required to sign. This covenant includes a commitment of sexual relationships only in the context of a marriage between one man and one woman. Law societies in BC and Ontario have refused to give accreditation to the school because they believe the covenant is discrimination against LGBTQ people.
I recognize a ruling like this will stir a wide range of emotions from multiple people – depending on what side of the fence you are on. One of my questions is what does this ruling by the Supreme Court mean for the average Christian in Canada? My thoughts are still being formulated, but here are some initial considerations:
1. Christian education may not be the place to be trained for public service.
I cringe just writing that statement. Hopefully, Christians will continue to attend faith based higher education institutions. I also hope we will continue to seek protection for our freedom of religion. However, the reality is the door is now open for any licensing or crediting group in Canada to deny acceptance of students who have been trained within a religious school for any number of careers. This could create a tremendous challenge for schools in the days ahead. However, it also creates an opportunity for more Christians to attend public universities or colleges and represent Jesus in that context.
2. Parents and local churches need to train young people to know what they believe and why.
This point is true no matter what the decision was going to be today. However, if more of our children are going to end up in public universities, we need to prepare them well to be ambassadors for Jesus in this context. Universities/colleges can be a very unfriendly place for people of faith. Students with a religious faith will be bombarded by human secularism. We need to give our students a firm foundation, and make sure we are supporting and walking with them in the intense environment they are facing.
3. Our mission to reflect Jesus is not over.
The Supreme Court may help the cause of people who want to prevent formal institutions from having religious faith as part of the post secondary experience. However, it is important to remember people of faith are everywhere. Christians are working as lawyers, doctors, nurses, plumbers, business leaders, politicians, and more. We are in every corner and sphere of society, and we have a responsibility to God to faithfully represent Him wherever we find ourselves. This decision by the Supreme Court may hurt our freedom of religion, but it does not have to hurt our commitment to the mission of Jesus. Let’s stay focused on what matters most.
4. We need each other and we need to stand together.
One of the most beautiful results of the TWU case has been the way so many in the Christian community have rallied together. I am saddened by the decision of the Supreme Court, but am very encouraged to see Christians across the nation stand together in prayer and support for TWU. I’m disappointed for leaders I know from TWU, but also grateful for the courage and perseverance they have shown through this whole journey.
In a time when fewer Christians are in regular community with other believers, we need to remember we need each other. God commands us to be together – encouraging one another, praying for one another, and helping each other stand firm in the faith.
Jesus once said the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. May we show the world we are different because of Jesus. May He be the one glorified with our attitudes and actions during moments like this.
Like I said, my thoughts are still being formulated, and I’m sure more will come over the next several days/weeks. If you have any thoughts on the implications of this decision for the average Christian, I would love to hear from you.