Canadian Christian leaders are trying to understand all the implications of Bill C-4, which became law at the end of 2021. Supporters (and many opponents) of the legislation applaud the efforts to protect people from coercive practices connected to conversion therapy.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has said this about Bill C-4: “Coercive or abusive efforts to a person’s change sexual orientation or gender identity have no place in our communities. However, we have serious concerns with the legislation as worded.” The concerns come from vague definitions of certain words in the legislation. Whether it is now illegal for church leaders to have biblical conversations and teach on gender and sexuality is a question.
As a ministry leader, you know how important the issues of gender and sexuality are for men. Most men do not have a biblical understanding of what it means to be a man. Their definitions come from social constructs like “real men” love sports or “real men” go hunting. Sexuality is one of the core discipleship needs for a significant number of men – whether that’s dealing with pornography, same-sex attraction, or sexual intimacy in their marriage.
In the preamble of the legislation, we read: “Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, including the myth 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.”
The use of the word “myth” is interesting. The Bible does not distinguish between biological sex and gender. The preamble of the legislation would indicate the belief that the teaching of the Bible is a myth.
So, where do we go from here? How do we talk to men about sexuality and gender when at best, it is a “myth” according to culture, and at worst, it is potentially illegal to do so?
Stay on Mission
The temptation for some will be to make this a significant issue of how the government exists to persecute Christians. It has the potential to stir up anger that already exists for many. In these moments, our attention goes to the problem with the government instead of the issues in our hearts. At the core of our mission, we are a good news sharing, disciple of Jesus making movement. Guard your heart against getting caught in the vortex of anger and stay on mission.
Equally, guard your heart against getting caught in fear. We should not be hiding our convictions. If we believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life – then we must double down our commitment to helping people experience the gift of gender and sexuality according to God’s design.
Know Your Bible
If you do not have a theology of gender, you need to dive into the Bible and figure it out. Men need you to guide them into understanding God’s vision and design for them. You also need to understand what the Bible teaches about sexuality. Study God’s Word. Knowing what the Bible teaches will help you have the courage to teach what goes against the culture but in a way filled with grace and truth like Jesus is.
Rest in Jesus’ Promise
At the very end of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 is a promise of Jesus we often overlook. After calling us to go and make disciples of Jesus, he promises, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” As we live on mission to make disciples of Jesus, the idea is that he is always with us. If you want to experience the presence of Jesus in your life and ministry, stay on mission. When Jesus is walking with you, he will help you speak with grace and truth.
There is no guarantee we will avoid persecution. But then again, the Bible tells us to expect persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We have an opportunity to show others what it looks like to be shaped into the image of Jesus even if we do face persecution.
A Final Thought
I am praying for you. These are challenging days, but they are also historical moments and opportunities to bring clarity and the hope of Jesus to the men around us. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)