People following the debacle between various law societies and the nascent law school of Trinity Western University have a new discussion topic this week. After the Nova Scotia Barristers society decided to deny all graduates of said law school the ability to article and join the law society in Nova Scotia, because of Trinity Western’s mandatory code of conduct. That code of conduct states that students at the school cannot engage in sexual activity outside of marriage, and marriage is defined as between one man and one woman.
Of course, it has already been accepted in some quarters that to deny sexual expression to a sexual orientation is to be discriminatory against that sexual orientation, and so several provinces (Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario) went on record as saying that they’ll not support this discrimination by TWU, and to do that they used the strongest weapon they had, they decided to deny any person who graduates from that law school the right to be considered as graduates of a law school. Note that they are not actually saying that TWU graduates substandard people, or that the people who go to TWU are somehow less capable lawyers. The reason was to try and force TWU to go back on its code of conduct.
For some reason, the law societies missed that this is, in itself, a form of discrimination against a minority group (in this case, conservative evangelical Christians). It isn’t surprising, then, that Trinity Western went to court to get judgements to say that the law societies are going outside their authority (since, y’know, they control access to status as officers of the court in their varied jurisdictions). The first of the resulting decisions comes in the brilliantly-written 132 page decision of Justice Campbell.
Of course, before Evangelicals break out the champagne, remember that this is only one jurisdiction in Canada, and it is possible that there will be an appeal to reverse this decision (though given precedent in Canada, I can’t see how, unless our judges are just trying to get the result they want).
But this decision also underscores another point that we Christians in Canada need to remember. While we are to vote our consciences, and we are to live in the world according to the truth God has revealed to us, let us remember to never use the instrumentalities of the state to force others to act contrary to their beliefs (insofar as that is possible). Let us remember to love those who may want to use the instrumentalities of the state to silence and exclude us. After all, Our Lord was pretty clear about that.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45, English Standard Version)
Today we can be happy that at least some of our legal profession have understood the need for true tolerance in the administration of justice. This may not always be the case. Tomorrow we may face persecution again, or we may be placed as the arbiters of the gates of authority. In either case, let us remain true to our faith.
Soli Deo Gloria