What is the future of Christian marriage in Canada in light of the recent decision handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada against Trinity Western University‘s proposed law school? Dr. John Neufeld discusses the possibilities and ramifications.
I have been thinking about marriage for all manner of reasons. For one, my wife and I are celebrating 40 years of marriage. I love to jokingly say that I’m surprised anyone would stay with me that long. But in truth, staying together that long is less about our commitment to each other. It is true that we deeply love each other and would choose each other if that choice were to be made tomorrow. But our marriage is about so much more than just our love; it’s supremely about our submission to the covenant of marriage as defined by God. God commands Kathy and me to be faithful to one another until death separates us. Neither of us can imagine faithfulness to Christ apart from faithfulness to the covenant that holds us together.
I am not surprising anyone when I say that this is foundational to Christian belief and practice. Husbands are to love their wives in the way Christ loves His church. Wives are to submit to their husbands in the way the church submits to Christ. In the wider discussion of this ideal, Ephesians 5:32 says, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the church.” That is to say, no Christian marriage is ever just about the couple in question. The marriage is about Christ and His church, and the meaning of covenant.
The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding Trinity Western University’s proposed law school is significant for this reason. Whether TWU ought to have a law school is the subject of another discussion. But the reason for denying the request is of great interest when it comes to considering the future of Christian marriage in Canada.
Whose rights are the right ones?
In a recent article, Vancouver Roman Catholic Archbishop J. Michael Miller stated the matter concisely. “With this decision, the court has moved away from [Canada’s] historic tradition of reconciling competing rights, and closer to a prioritization of rights, essentially ruling some are more important than others.” It’s sadly difficult to imagine that he is not right. The Supreme Court of Canada appears to be saying that the right to insist on a Biblical view of marriage will now be considered to be less important than the rights of the LGBTQ community.
We need to be clear: evangelism is central to the goals of the Christian faith. We want men and women to come to Christ. Furthermore, we believe that essential to saving faith is the act of surrender to Christ. Every true believer prays, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Therefore, the way in which we deal with our own sexuality is done in submission to Christ. TWU is within its rights to insist on a covenant that lives in respect to Christ’s demands regarding our own sexuality.
Let me return to Archbishop Miller. The Court is allowing governments and government-mandated regulators to decide which beliefs and values are favoured in society. If he is right in his assessment, we must then assume that the Supreme Court has ruled that an LGBTQ view of sexuality and marriage is to be preferred to a Christian view of sexuality and marriage. In short, it is not about balancing these two views, but rather of preferring one over the other.
But, I remain optimistic. Christ is more beautiful than all competitors. The life He offers promises greater joy and lasting satisfaction than that which is offered by others. In the end, Christ always wins. In the meanwhile, let us be in prayer and not give up.
Dr. John Neufeld