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Understanding Our Times

January 21, 2022

Anti-Conversion Law in Canada

If you haven’t heard it yet, clearly you have not been paying attention.  Bill C-4 was passed unanimously by all parties. As far as I know, no MP stood against it. This is now law. The Senate, I understand, has passed this in record time.  It is the bill that bans Conversion Therapy, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Before the bill came to the floor, Christians tried unsuccessfully to refine the wording. It was of no avail.

Although there has been a therapy called “Conversion Therapy”, clearly this bill has done far more than target this seldom used practice. The bill specifies that Conversion Therapy is any practice, treatment or service designed to

a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual

b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender

c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth

d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour

e) repress or reduce a person’s non-cisgender gender identity


f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned at birth

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada says Justice Minster Lametti was asked if it would be legal for religious leaders to speak about homosexuality in a sermon.  After all, what is a practice to deter someone from repenting of homosexual expression?  Can that practice be a teaching, a conversation with a youth pastor, or a conversation in a family?  What if someone brings charges against a pastor for what he said in the pulpit?  Minister Lametti replied that was an open-ended exploratory conversation.  My perspective tells me that he meant “yes, but I don’t want to talk about that yet.” (I hope I am wrong.) It seems to me, that the new law will attempt to limit, not only Conversion Therapy, but any attempted conversion of anyone in the LGBTQ community.

At any rate, Christians in Canada must now face the real possibility, that when speaking on bible texts about what constitutes sexual morality, they could be imprisoned for up to 5 years. Again, I stress, we don’t yet know.

I hope I am wrong about this possibility. Wyatt Graham from the Gospel Coalition Canada hopes that cooler heads will prevail and that clear parameters are placed around this now law.  He hopes that religious rights and freedoms will be protected. I concur. May cooler heads prevail! But, at present, we have no assurance that it will be such.

In the meantime, what are we to do? My word is for parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and many more.  Continue to speak biblically. I am not here, speaking about the specific practice of Conversion Therapy, but the practice of leading people to repent and believe the good news. Let no one dissuade you from doing that which our God and King has commanded of us. Study 2 Timothy and learn well Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:8,

Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.”

And if it should so come about that some of our confessionally faithful brothers or sisters in Christ are charged and even imprisoned, let us take seriously the words of Hebrews 13:2.

“Remember those in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in one body.”

Let’s determine we will never be ashamed of those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  Let them always have a Christian community that expresses their support and care for them.  Let us never be ashamed of them.

I pray that my words are overly alarmist. Surely, some would say, we can’t be persecuted in Canada! Do we not have a bill of rights, guaranteeing our religious freedom? Hopefully, my blog is overly alarmist. I pray that, as time goes by, it will be clear that I have overreacted. I would most happily apologize for having done so.

But if this is not an overreaction, let us determine in advance, that we will not divide amongst each other. And if some are imprisoned, let us visit them constantly, giving them our encouragement, our prayers, and any helpful literature to encourage them in their faith. But let us determine we will not be ashamed of the gospel, including the call for all men and women to repent of their sins and entrust their souls to Christ. Let us not fail to continue to do the work of the great commission. Let us pray for a faithful church of Jesus Christ.


Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.


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