Trinity Western and the Fight for Religious Freedom

Perhaps you have not heard of the bad news on the religious freedom front, this time from out west, but it comes with a tinge of hope: two weeks ago, Friday, Trinity Western University, an evangelical Christian institution in Langley, British Columbia, was denied by the Supreme Court of Canada the right to offer law degrees, due to their discriminatory (in the eyes of seven of the nine Justices) “covenant” policy, which requires students to sign a pledge that they will refrain from sexual activity, except that which is within a marital covenant.

Now, by “marital covenant,” the evangelical Christians at TWU mean heterosexual marriage, which one must specify nowadays, for in the modern mind, marriage, and sexual activity in general, have a rather broader scope than the so-called “cis-gendered” procreative variety that has ensured our survival since that rosy dawn in Eden, which may be your cup of tea, but for others is so bourgeois.

This really is the nub of the problem, for in the mind of the Court, which is by and large the modern “enlightened” mind, homosexuality is now perfectly normal, and discrimination on that basis is unjust and illegal.

Of course, discrimination on some basis is requisite for any society; otherwise everyone would belong to everything, which is pretty much where we’re headed.

Discrimination occurs differently in the two basic domains of society, public and private. The former, more or less the State, must have a broad notion of “who belongs,” stipulating certain requirements for citizenship, with its rights, duties, and obligations, but not too many. Normally, these include: birth within the border; allegiance to the sovereign; agree to obey the laws; pay your taxes; defend your nation, and so on. But as we have seen of late, even these are being watered down to insignificance; make it across the largely unguarded border, and you’re more or less in like Flynn.

All private societies, on the other hand, which make up the bulk of what we join and do in that adventure called “life,” are free to have more specific discriminatory policies as they see fit, seeking those qualities in people that help fulfil their more specific purpose or mission, and refusing membership to those who do not.

Hence, rugby, football, and soccer teams discriminate based on athletic prowess, strength and fleetness of foot; at lower beginner levels, they may just want five-year olds willing to run around and chase a ball. Orchestras require that you are actually able, and want, to play the violin or clarinet.

Schools, colleges, and universities discriminate based on academic aptitude, again depending on their specific purpose or mission. Kindergarten has fewer requirements than high school, which in turn has fewer than law school, although one wonders sometimes. Discrimination on the academic level is like an inverted funnel, getting ever stricter as you move up.

So far so good, one might think. But what of a specifically Christian school, which brings us to the nub of the problem? For if Christianity means anything, it at the very least implies adherence to a certain belief system and code of moral behaviour based on the revelation of Jesus Christ. Any activity that violates this “system” in a grave and lasting way cannot be tolerated, without undermining the society itself.

This is where we run into problems, as the moral basis of societies, both public and private, now dissipate into a vast, marshmallow soup of moral and intellectual relativism, and those that resist this must be, well, assimilated.

To be sure, the modern ethical system is not entirely relativistic, and there are behaviors still considered taboo and off-limits: paedophilia, and perhaps even polygamy come to mind; also, paradoxically, anything seen as Christian intolerance.

Homosexuality was “depathologized” by the psychiatric community in the third edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) a scant four decades ago under editor Dr. Robert Spitzer. Now, along with many other proclivities once considered moral and psychological pathologies, homosexuality is seen as normal and Canadian as maple syrup and hockey, establishing a loving and faithful basis for marriage and the rearing of children (at least, since May 2005 in Canada), which even the most degenerate of past civilizations did not envisage.

The secular magisterium of the high priests of medicine have spoken, and the halls of law, the Justices, parliament, the mainstream media, as well as most of the educational establishment have all followed suit. Dissenters are seen as archaic, censorious, and inquisitorial—veritable Torquemadas forcing their sexual hang-ups on everyone else; in this case, compelling homosexuals to live a life of enforced continence and celibacy, a policy condemned as inhuman, a violation of their rights, and a patent and clearly unjust discrimination.

Of course, those inclined to engage in pre-marital sex of any variety could go elsewhere than TWU; there are 19 universities in Canada that offer common-law degrees, three of them in British Columbia, and six that offer civil varieties in Quebec, all publicly funded and open to any qualified applicants. But to the socialistic modern mind that is not the point. Once something has been decreed legal, and therefore acceptable, discrimination on this basis is verboten. In this case, diversity should not include a Christian university. Although, as they see it, a certain class of people, for no just reason, is being denied access to this university. In their minds, TWU might as well have excluded left-handers, asking all students to write, to use the original Latin term, dexterously.

This is all of a piece with other legislations of late: gender fluidity; the abortion attestation of Prime Minister Trudeau, requiring businesses to sign a pledge supportive of “reproductive rights,” which includes abortion, in order to receive student subsidies for employment; the obligation for physicians, regardless of conscience, at least to offer referrals for murder-suicide euthanasia, if not carry it out; and, now, the enforced acceptance into even private colleges of those who live a degrading lifestyle inimical to Christianity. All have been supported by the Supreme Court, who are legalistically twisting the vague and inchoate “Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” our own milquetoast constitution put in place under Prime Minister Trudeau, Sr., to mean whatever they want it to mean, and discovering some new “right” or another that further dissolves the Christian moral tradition which has so far held everything together.

Of the nine Justices on the Court, six were appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper under his Conservative leadership, such as it was. On a more hopeful note, these appointments included the two Justices who wrote the dissenting opinion, Suzanne Côté and Russell Brown, who argued that a diverse society should make room for those who hold Christian values. As they put it in more technical language:

The state and state actors (like the law societies)—not private institutions like TWU—are constitutionally bound to accommodate difference in order to foster pluralism in public life… Equating approval (of Trinity Law) to condonation (of the covenant) turns the protective shield of the Charter into a sword by effectively imposing Charter obligations on private actors.

Even here, however, they still see the Charter as requiring protection of the homosexual lifestyle (and all acts that go along with it) by public policy, and admit only that private societies should be offered an exemption. The Trinity covenant continues to be seen as an unjust imposition, for those backward types still willing to sign and live by it.

The other seven Justices would not even offer this sop. Everyone, even “private actors,” such as self-funded universities, colleges, high schools, and even, we may now predict, all private and home-schoolers, must be made to conform. Such is the dogma of relativism, as Pope Benedict perspicaciously foresaw, which will continue its long slow crouch towards a new kind of Gomorrah and moral anarchy.

But have hope: There will be pockets of resistance, first by the moral dogmatism of Islam, which will be interesting to watch, especially as liberal elites continue their moral lassitude and submissive course to the slow creep of sharia.

More significantly, centres of truth will coalesce, holding out valiantly, if humbly, and in a way hidden from the Sauron-like eye of the panoptic State. Again, to return to Benedict, who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, said in a speech he offered, aptly, in the Jubilee year 2000:

From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much.  She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges.

In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members… But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church.

And what applies to the Church applies to all those societies and persons who remain faithful to the fullness of truth of what it means to be virtuously human, and live a life that is a true preparation for heaven, which in the end is the only thing that really matters.

So gird up your loins, remain sober and alert, and para-bellum, for the spiritual and cultural battle has just entered a new phase.