Canadian pastors are warning that a new “conversion therapy” bill, just passed by parliament, will likely ban them from teaching that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins according to the Bible.
The bill in question, known as C-4, unanimously passed both the House of Commons and the Senate before receiving Royal Assent on December 8, meaning it will officially become Canadian law on Jan 8. On the surface, it’s meant to outlaw “conversion therapies”— that is, psychological treatments intended to re-train same-sex attracted people to prefer the opposite sex and individuals who believe they’re transgender to embrace their biological sex. When approached in a coercive or abusive manner, nearly all mainstream Christian denominations also condemn such therapy.
But critics say C-4’s language is so broad it also effectively bans preaching and teaching based on biblical sexual ethics. For instance, it could prevent counseling that references the many Old and New Testament passages that demonstrate God reserves sex for one man and one woman within the bond of marriage. It could also criminalize any instruction that confirms human beings are created as indelibly male or female from birth (the Bible has no category for transgender other than to condemn men dressing like women and vice versa in verses like Deuteronomy 22:5).
Even further, the bill makes it a crime for parents to provide Christian therapy to their children suffering from gender dysphoria and prevents pastors and other religious leaders from offering biblical counseling or advice to same-sex attracted individuals who desire to obey God’s commands to repent from the sin of homosexual practices. Violations carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.
In response, John MacArthur, longtime senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, is asking for ministers across the U.S. to join him in preaching about God’s standard for sexuality on Jan 16. MacArthur’s statement, issued Dec. 28, calls for a show of solidarity that will “put the Canadian and the U.S. governments on notice that they have attacked the Word of God.”
In his appeal, MacArthur quoted Canadian minister James Coates (who was jailed earlier this year for keeping his church open in violation of government Covid restrictions), saying the bill could be used to “criminalize evangelism.”
“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,” MacArthur wrote, later adding, “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.”
He then went on to point out that similar laws have made their way through state legislatures in the U.S.
In 2012, California enacted a law that prohibited conversion therapy, though it’s purview is much more limited than C-4’s. New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, and a number of other states passed similar bills soon after. On a national level, the Democratic Party included banning “harmful conversion therapy practices” in its platform at its convention this past August.
At the same time, as The Daily Wire has previously reported in numerous stories, school districts across the U.S. have grown much more aggressive in teaching students that they may be gay or transgender and that identifying as such is good for children’s mental health. Countless videos posted on social media accounts like Libs of TikTok have gone viral in recent months for showing LGBT educators and their “allies” insisting they have a right to indoctrinate children with the idea that characterizing homosexuality or transgenderism as sin is hateful. To date, there are no laws that prohibit teachers, counselors, or clergy from proselytizing for homosexuality and transgenderism. C-4 is no different.
As Anna Nienhuis of Canada’s Association for Reformed Political Action has pointed out, while the bill bans any attempts to help someone turn away from unwanted homosexuality or transgenderism, it imposes no limits on attempts to “counsel a cisgender or heterosexual individual to become transgender or homosexual.”
In his open letter, MacArthur, whose daily Bible teaching program, “Grace to You,” is one of the most popular radio ministries in the world, quoted Andrew DeBartolo, teaching elder at Encounter Church in Ontario. DeBartolo stressed the importance of pushing back against government authoritarianism on this issue and thanked his American brothers for their willingness to stand alongside him:
In the Preamble of the Bill, it says that the belief 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” is a “myth.” According to Canadian law, as of January 8, 2022, the belief in God’s design for marriage and sexuality will now be seen as a myth…
On January 16, 2022, faithful men across this country (and many in the United States as well) will be preaching on God’s design for marriage and a biblical ethic of sexuality. We will be doing so illegally, declaring to the State that there is one God and one Lord over His church, and that Christ alone gets to both define marriage and dictate what is required in the pulpit. We are honored that our American brothers will be joining us in this.”
Hours after MacArthur posted the letter to social media, hundreds of pastors affirmed that they had signed it and will be joining him in preaching about biblical sexuality in defiance of C-4 and similar U.S. laws on Jan. 16.
Nate Pickowizc, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, said, “I signed, and I’m committed to standing with our Canadian brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
Corey Smith, senior pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, tweeted, “Let’s stand with our brothers in Canada in proclaiming the saving and sovereign grace of God in the Lord Jesus to radically transform the lives of those enslaved to the sins of homosexuality [and] transgenderism.”
“We need to stand with our Canadian pastors who will likely suffer for their unwillingness to compromise truth!” said Tom Buck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas.
Finally, Brandon Byler, pastor of Calvary Byler Church in Cortland, Ohio, commented, “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Signed and thinking through how to pray for our faithful brothers and sisters in Canada, as well as how to continue to prepare my people for when it hits our shores.”