Note: This article is from the Spring, 2022 issue of Jubilee. Visit Ezra Press to purchase a Jubilee subscription.
The ‘ABC’ cultural front of Anything but Christianity has made further advance. Camouflaged with rhetoric and innuendo, and making strategic use of the pandemic, Bill C-4, the so-called Conversion Therapy Bill, has made significant headway into the religious freedom territory of our country – and as go religious freedoms, so goes all freedom. Though our constitution and system of jurisprudence are founded upon Biblical principles, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes the supremacy of God, and even our National Anthem derives from a Christian hymn of praise, the priorities of our government seem bent in diametric opposition to the Word of God, and our heritage as a Christian nation seems to matter little.
With the passing of Bill C-4, our government leaders, both Liberal and Conservative, have unanimously agreed that Biblical teaching in reference to gender identity and sexuality is a myth that causes harm. With the passing of this legislation, our Canadian leadership has brazenly rejected the one true and living God, and in particular, Christ’s call to repentance from sexual sin. As a result, this legislation brings into striking range the heart of Christian witness. From faithful preaching of the Word, to compassionate counsel, and even private family discussions, Bill C-4 criminalizes Christian communication. Anything spoken or written, and deemed as meeting the legislation’s vague definition of “conversion therapy,” can potentially come under attack with penalty of jail. The ambition of this article is to bring some clarity to what this legislation actually is, and what it isn’t, and to outline some of the dire implications this newly enshrined law will have on numerous vulnerable groups within our society – including those who identify as LGBT – as well as on the remaining freedoms of our nation.
The use of the term conversion in Bill C-4’s title is intended to strike a dissonant chord. For the Christian, conversion to faith in Christ is a positive thing, representing the climactic event in their personal testimony; for the majority in our secular society, conversion is an ugly thing, synonymous with proselytization, and holds only negative connotations. Rather than being a wonderful memory of when we responded to the gospel’s call on our lives, repented of our sins, and placed our faith in Jesus, conversion is considered a form of manipulation and coercion. As a result, Christian missionary outreach of yesteryear has been shamelessly demonized. The sharing of the gospel in the developing world has been equated with Western oppression, cultural suppression, patriarchy, white supremacy, and racism. As a result, contemporary Christian outreach organizations have taken steps to distance themselves from this past, many even changing their names to avoid conflict. The former Evangelical Medical Missions Aid Society, for example, known for their worldwide medical excellence and Kingdom work, has rebranded themselves with the secular designation, Education Medical Aid Service, and simultaneously erased all identifiable Christian links and language.
We have already seen in Canada vague euphemisms like Compassionate Dying, Death with Dignity, and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) make more palatable the idea of a doctor intentionally killing a patient. Similarly, the negative undertones of the term conversion make more seemingly necessary the bill’s criminal code amendment. After all, just as we would all want to receive a little compassion when facing palliation, and some assistance in our dying moments, who would want to be subjected to coercion and strong-armed bullying about something as personal as gender expression and identity? It’s nothing short of a manipulative manoeuvre on the government’s part to set the bill up for a slam dunk. And dunked it was, passing through both Houses of Parliament in record time, and without a peep of protest.
The expression “Conversion Therapy” used in the bill’s description adds an additional emotive punch. It brings to mind certain medical practices, such as lobotomy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and aversion therapy, formerly used in some instances to treat certain individuals with unwanted homosexual desires. Understandably, the very idea of these interventions is unpalatable to our contemporary sensibilities and sparks indignation. For the uninitiated, it sounds like the stuff of mad scientist laboratories and torture chambers. And that’s exactly how LGBT lobby groups want to keep it – lobotomy likened to Dr. Frankenstein operating on his monster, electroconvulsive therapy equated to forcible restraint and electric shock as depicted in the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and aversion therapy to movie scenes from A Clockwork Orange with the compulsory viewing of Nazi atrocities.
These deliberately implied associations are intended to stir up a visceral response. Such unthinkable torments then get lumped in with legitimate reparative therapies enlisted for unwanted homosexual desires, as well as professional counsel for gender dysphoria and parental advice on sexual identity, all mixed together to help make the case for Bill C-4. As per his victory message sent out on Twitter, Justin Trudeau leaned into this emotional appeal with his choice of adjectives:
“It’s official: our government’s legislation banning the despicable and degrading practice of conversion therapy has received Royal Assent – meaning it is now law.”
This same rhetorical tactic was employed by our government to get euthanasia decriminalized in 2015. It’s a simple formula, and one that effectively poisons meaningful dialog. Once emotions get inflamed, lucid discussions fall apart and rational debate ends. The cross-country Town Hall meetings arranged to discuss doctor-assisted suicide fell prey to this scheme. Despite the presentation of numerous articulate, well-reasoned arguments persuasively countering euthanasia, the gatherings were hijacked by emotional stories of loved ones dying in agonizing pain with doctors standing by helpless. Recognizing that the desire to avoid pain runs deep in our race, the euthanasia lobbyists chose pain relief as their primary persuader, holding up MAID as the solitary solution. Although it was often claimed that euthanasia would be reserved for terminally ill patients suffering from extreme pain, nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a general misperception that patients die in inexorable pain, but this simply isn’t the case. Interviews conducted with family members of patients in Oregon who opted for a lethal dose clearly demonstrated that the patient’s decision to proceed with suicide was not because of poor pain control or suffering. Of the list of symptoms on the survey to assess degree of suffering, none were graded at higher than two out of five on the severity scale, pain included.
This has certainly been the case during my 30 years of practice in cardiology, during which time I’ve witnessed more than my fair share of dying patients. Outside the fluster and flurry of in-hospital cardiac arrests, the deathbed is not a place of torment, but rather a sacred space with tender family farewells, encouraging last words, timely moments of reconciliation, songs of praise, prayers, and even some gentle humor. Instances of “irremediable suffering” expose substandard palliative care provision rather than underscoring the need for lethal injections. In fact, we’ve never been in a better position to provide compassionate pain control for the dying. The timing and urgency of adopting euthanasia as a viable option for Canadians wishing to die had more to do with the spirit of our times, influenced by the ideal of autonomy, rather than for any medical indication. But now, thanks to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to allow MAID, Canada has the most permissive laws for doctor-assisted suicide of any jurisdiction where it’s practiced.
Just as the Canadian public were deceived by emotional appeals in order to get euthanasia legalized, so too, are they being sold the false narrative of LGBT oppression in order to shut down Christian witness. The contemporary practice of medicine, for example, is anything but LGBT hostile. If there was once a time in Canada when discrimination was shown towards non-heterosexuals by healthcare practitioners, those days are long gone. In rhythm with the spirit of the times, the pendulum of medical practice has swung entirely away from any semblance of LGBT stigmatization, and towards full acceptance and affirmation. This is in part because of pressure exerted from above by special-interest groups on healthcare authorities, but in part, as well, because of the increasingly recognized health disparity that exists within the LGBT community.
Taken as a whole, this diverse group are at a substantially higher risk for poorer health outcomes as compared to the general population. Not only do they suffer from higher rates of depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a startling 20x increase in suicide rates; LGBT people are more likely to experience sexual abuse, intimate violence, homelessness, and be involved in prostitution. As such, significant efforts have been made to reduce this care gap by ensuring a welcoming and sensitive clinical environment that will better attract and not dissuade LGBT patients. Single-stall, gender-neutral washrooms are commonly available, patients are addressed with their preferred name and pronoun, and chaperones are provided for those who wish. Current patient registration forms are culturally-sensitive and include separate questions for birth sex and gender, and medical histories are undertaken using an LGBT-inclusive format, taught ad nauseum to all medical students and continually reinforced throughout their clinical training.
In fact, the only “despicable” and “deplorable acts” which LGBT patients are subjected to in medicine these days are being driven by their own lobby groups. These include the provision of ethically-questionable puberty-delaying hormones for gender-confused children, and sex-reassignment surgeries, which represents nothing short of the mutilation of hitherto normal human anatomy, and results in avoidable long-term harms, including increased suicide rates.
As for the alluded-to medical interventions used in the past to address unwanted homosexual desires, Bill C-4 is a moot point. These interventions were never part of mainstream Canadian medical practice for the purposes of targeting gender dysphoria or “converting” homosexual inclinations, and certainly pose no threat to LGBT people today. Lobotomy, for example, was a procedure used to treat a wide variety of mental illnesses and conditions, with varying levels of success, from personality disorders and schizophrenia to depression and even chronic migraines. This surgical procedure, which involves severing connections in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, was undertaken at a time when neuropsychiatry was in its infancy, predating modern pharmacotherapy, which later eclipsed the intervention and revolutionized the specialty.
Although crude by contemporary standards, frontal lobotomy provided ground-breaking insight into neuroanatomical/clinical correlations from which contemporary biological theories of behavior have developed. Aversion therapy has also had a broad application of use in the treatment of addictions, from substance abuse to behavioural obsessions. Employing various noxious stimuli to create unpleasant mental associations, this form of behavioural psychology makes use of negative reinforcement to help break addiction cycles. The fact that it was historically employed to treat non-heterosexual inclinations should be of no surprise; homosexuality was officially considered a mental illness up until the early ‘70s, before LGBT lobby groups pressured for it to be de-pathologized. As for electroconvulsive therapy, it too, has been used to treat a wide variety of mental illnesses. Although it’s undergone some refinement over the years, ECT continues to be used in modern psychiatry, and remains the most proven-effective intervention for treating certain illnesses, including catatonia and refractory depression.
The timing and urgency of criminalizing conversion therapy had nothing to do with protecting LGBT persons from historic medical interventions, nor contemporary discrimination, but everything to do with protecting the LGBT narrative – a fragile “happiness is” storyline that attempts to challenge the reality of God’s created order, and is utterly dependent upon the artificial supports of rhetorical terrorism, cancel-culture censorship, and deceptive legislation like Bill C-4. The pandemic served as the perfect distraction to minimize opposition. With all attention drawn to COVID case number reporting, little bandwidth was left to push back on the advancement of the liberal agenda.
The same cheap opportunism worked effectively for the expansion of abortion services during the COVID crisis. Despite the plummeting number of surgeries during the initial waves of the pandemic (with resultant unwieldly lengthening of surgical waitlists), the number of abortions actually saw an increase. By deeming abortion an “essential service,” the government was able to not only release the heretofore controversial do-it-yourself abortifacient, Mifegymiso, onto the market, but make it easily available by telephone consultation. So too, for doctor-assisted suicide. Despite the steady increase in euthanasia deaths in Canada, as well as the climbing number of suicides occurring during the pandemic, the passing of Bill C-7 under the pandemic cloak effectively expanded the indications for euthanasia by removing the safeguards of foreseeable death, waiting period, patient consent, and even mental competency.
The anti-conversion legislation simply followed suit. As we’ve experienced repeatedly in the past two years, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” So, despite the myriad problems created by the pandemic’s handling in our nation, our newly elected government snapped into action by ignoring them all, and instead made criminalizing “conversion” its top priority.
Bill C-4’s legislation is unashamedly aimed at the last remaining opposition to the LGBT movement, namely the church and its saints. As gay columnist, Paul Varnell, aptly summarized, “The chief opposition to gay equality is religious. We may conduct our liberation efforts in the political sphere and even the cultural sphere, but always undergirding those and slowing our progress is the moral religious sphere. If we could hasten the pace of change there, our overall progress would accelerate – in fact, it would be assured.”
The other major obstacles have already been steadily removed. The Canadian legal system caved to LGBT activism first with Pierre Trudeau’s Bill C-150, resulting in the 1969 removal of sodomy from the criminal code. Then in 1973, opposition from the medical community collapsed when the American Psychiatric Association removed the diagnosis of “homosexuality” from the second edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-II), leaving followers of Christ as the lone voice to counter LGBT invasion into our culture. In Rev. John MacArthur’s sermon criticizing Bill C-4 (that was later banned by YouTube as “hate speech”), he predicted that “Ultimately, the dissenters, the ones who will not cave in, are going to be those who are faithful to the Bible.” And they are precisely the ones the government is hoping to target.
By defining conversion therapy as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual… or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour,” the legislation renders religious freedoms wide open to legal attack – from compassionate Christian counsel offered to consenting adults with unwanted same-sex attractions, to faithful preaching of the full counsel of Scripture, including the portions deemed inflammatory and politically incorrect, to parents explaining to their own children concepts of basic biology regarding sexual function and purpose according to God’s design. It’s nothing short of a grotesque governmental overreach. The Bill’s vague wording makes the legislation broad enough to reach into not only the clinic or counselor’s office, but the sanctuary, prayer chapel, youth room, and even our kitchens and living rooms. While Pierre Trudeau maintained that, “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” his son is ensuring that with Bill C-4 in effect, there is no safe space from state scrutiny.
The legislation isn’t limited to restrictions on verbal communications, but targets any use of materials that might be construed as countering the LGBT narrative, as well – conceivably even the Bible. In particular, Bill C-4 makes “providing, promoting or advertising conversion therapy” a criminal offence, with penalties of two to five years in prison. Since the Bible clearly contains verses that denounce homosexuality as sin, it’s a short step, and perhaps even an inevitable one, to see how this newly enshrined law not only directly counters the Bible, but may prohibit its very distribution and use.
Curiously, this amendment to the criminal code was inserted next to the management of obscene materials. Specifically, management of materials deemed to endorse conversion are placed in Chapter 24, Subsection 164, along with details regarding the disposal and deletion of materials on child pornography, voyeurism, intimate images, and sexual service advertisement. This bizarre juxtaposition is analogous to the criminal code amendment for doctor-assisted suicide, placed in Section 7 which addresses “life, liberty, and security of person.” It’s a bit like storing the multivitamins in the same cupboard as the rat poison and insecticides, and betrays either a partiality for the ironic, or just plain disdain of all things sacred.
As a result, the biblically faithful are under the gun in Canada, pastors and parents in particular. Legal precedents have already been established which render the conversion legislation no idle threat. In 2005, for example, Sweden’s Supreme Court charged that Pentecostal pastor, Aka Green committed a hate crime under Swedish law by preaching on 1 Corinthians 6, which includes homosexuality in Paul’s list of sinful behaviours. As the pandemic has made clear, our government has no qualms about imprisoning pastors, either. Pastors James Coates and Tim Stephens were both put in jail, and their respective churches forced shut, for the misdemeanor of gathering their parishioners, as biblically commanded: “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Heb 10:24-25).
Bill C-4 now gives teeth to our governing authorities to censor so-called inflammatory preaching, order the shutdown of dissenting churches, and perhaps even remove their charitable status, all in the name of enacting justice against hate crimes. Parents need to be prepared for LGBT attacks as well. As evidenced by the 2019 debacle, for example, when the Supreme Court of British Columbia charged a father with child abuse for the “hateful act of misgendering an adult male,” when he refused to privately refer to his teenage daughter as a boy, and raised concerns about her taking puberty-blocking hormonal therapy.
In addition to directly sanctioning persecution of the biblically faithful, Bill C-4 is poised to harm numerous vulnerable groups within our society, including LGBT persons. By criminalizing Christian witness of the gospel in the important sphere of sexuality and gender identity, and simultaneously encouraging “the exploration or development of an integrated personal identity – such as a practice, treatment or service that relates to a person’s gender transition,” this legislation condemns those who have been caught up in the pagan ideology of the LGBT narrative to continue to struggle without remedy or redemption. Three groups, in particular, will be most negatively impacted by this legislation.
First, it will harm those who are struggling with their sexual identity, and in their confusion have been lured into exchanging objective reality for subjective feelings. They buy into the Gay Script, which states that a person’s same-sex attractions are natural, and indicate one’s core identity, and that sexual behaviour is the primary means of finding fulfilment, conflating sexual attraction, sexual behaviour, and core identity, all to their own detriment. The second group are the children who have been immersed in LGBT ideology in their formative years (thanks to liberal school curriculums), and have come to believe that the sexual characteristics of biology, gender identity, expression, and sexual attractions all operate on a spectrum, and that they must define these terms for themselves.
And the third group are those who have transitioned to the opposite sex, and in the process, have come to realize their vast mistake, and deeply regret their decision. This de-transitioning group are the most to be pitied, as they continue to experience levels of stigmatization from the heterosexual community, while being simultaneously shunned from the LGBT community, which accepts gender transition as a one-way street only. Bill C-4 will effectively hinder these groups from having gospel truth spoken into their lives, and understanding the critical truth that sex is not ultimate, that sexuality doesn’t define us, and that our true identity needs to be formed around a personal relationship with Christ.
Canadian liberties are in jeopardy. Despite the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees our freedoms of religion, conscience, thought, belief, expression, and association, the government’s severe measures enforced during the pandemic have shown just how fragile these freedoms are, and how easily they can be stripped away. From lockdowns and provincial border closures to mask mandates and mandatory vaccinations, as well as the unilateral enactment of the War Measures Act in response to the Freedom Convoy’s peaceful protests, our once “True north strong and free” has quickly become a bastion of woke Western oppression.
The passing of Bill C-4 is one more step in this wrong direction. By insinuating that the Bible is myth, this legislation targets the very roots of our Canadian liberties, since it is the Christian worldview, centered on the authoritative Word of God, that provides the foundation for making sense of human freedoms. The Bible represents the very foundation of freedom, without which, the idea of freedom merely floats as an ethereal ideal, subject to redefinition by whoever is in power. Even the non-Christian Jordan Peterson recognizes this weight of Scripture, saying in an interview with Joe Rogan, “that the Bible is the precondition for the manifestation of truth, which makes it way more true than just true… It’s a whole different kind of true.”
If Scripture is maligned and reduced to myth, our freedoms also get maligned and reduced; as evidenced by Justin Trudeau’s shameful dismissal of the grassroots Freedom Convoy as representing “a fringe minority with unacceptable views.” If vaccines of questionable benefit and documented harms can be mandated for an entire population – from high-risk elderly to low-risk young adults, to no-risk children – then any matter of state decree can follow, including the control of all thought, words, or deeds, as is being attempted with Bill C-4.
There is no neutral ground on which our government operates. As such, it’s important for us to realize the reality of our situation. This is not peacetime. We are in the throes of a battle and under ever-present hostile attack. With the passing of Bill C-4, biblically-faithful Christians have come into the crosshairs of our governing authorities. Those Canadians who laud and support the legislation will soon realize their mistake when their own freedoms are whisked away with no “normal” to go back to. As the remnant Christian church, we need to be aware of the implications of this anti-Christian legislation, and steel ourselves for potential persecution, understanding that the greatest danger facing the Canadian church is not that we might face criminal charges, but that we compromise our teaching of the Word of God, or fall silent in our proclamation of the gospel.
With the passing of this bill, increasing challenges to the visible church will undoubtedly mount, but there is strength in numbers. As our faith gets tested, we need to heed the words of Isaiah who said, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isa. 7:9).
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