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The passing of Ontario’s Bill 89 Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017 has created intense reactions in the Christian community in both Canada and the United States. It is not every day that Al Mohler Jr. and Franklin Graham comment about legislation passed in the Province of Ontario, and their interest is one sign that this Bill represents a significant development.

A major concern is that the Bill seems to give the government the right to remove children from the custody of their parents, if it is believed that the parents are harming a child by failing to properly respect the child’s, “race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.” Although it is uncertain exactly how this Bill will be interpreted and applied, Bill 89 clearly presents new considerations (e.g. gender identity and gender expression) for the courts and children’s services to take into account when they determine what is in a child’s best interest and whether the child is being fully supported by their care-givers.

It seems that the religious beliefs of the parents are superseded by the child’s “creed,” and the child is the one who autonomously self-identifies both their gender and how they wish to express their gender. If the parents are deemed insufficiently supportive of their children’s decisions, they may risk having their children removed from their care. It is necessary for the followers of Jesus Christ to think carefully and biblically about the times in which we live. Although there isn’t space to present a thorough treatment of the issues, what follows are four points for preliminary reflection.

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

Removing children from parents in order to raise them in a better way is not a new idea. Plato discussed educating children apart from their parents; Robespierre wanted children to be forced to attend boarding schools; modern-day Germany has opposed homeschooling; and the list can be multiplied. John Dewey desired public education to mold children into the form the government desired, rather than the form desired by the parents. State indoctrination of the young is a well-trod path.

The New Atheists—who in many ways are old news—claimed that teaching children about some of the traditional doctrines of Christianity is worse than some forms of physical child abuse (and even sexual molestation). If we believe that children can be taken from their parents for physical or sexual abuse, it would stand to reason that children should be taken from parents who subject them to even worse abuses (like teaching them the truths of the Bible).

We do not know how Bill 89 will be interpreted and enforced, but its guiding logic is not necessarily as new as we may think.

Ideological Visions Are Self-Justifying

It is commonly charged that religion is evil and that religious people seek to impose their views on others, stifling the rights of those who disagree with them. But it should be clear that ideologies and metanarratives of all kinds can be enlisted for totalitarian purposes, backed up with the force of political power.

It should also be clear that many contemporary narratives are grotesquely unsubstantiated by empirical data. For example, what evidence is there that taking away a transgendered child from their parents and home results in a positive gain to the child’s emotional well-being? In fact, there is evidence that children who claim to be transgendered often change their minds about their gender as they grow older, as well as evidence that mental health issues get worse after gender “affirming” medical procedures.

Rather than allowing parents to help guide their children through gender issues, the state has arrogated the right to determine whether the parents are sufficiently supportive of their child’s autonomous perspective. This decision is ideologically-based rather than empirically informed or scientific; it is a vision of justice that doesn’t require factual support to be “true.”

Our National Future is Uncertain

From a Christian perspective, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are seeing in real-time the downward trajectory described in Romans 1:18-32. The Bible reveals that there are times when unjust laws and unjust rulers are themselves God’s judgments on a nation. Yet, wicked laws and wicked rulers—judgments of God—bring greater judgment in their wake. Tragically, sometimes nations get the rulers and laws that they deserve. With the prophet we need to cry: “in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2).

Nevertheless, we need to be careful about charting out slippery-slope arguments. (Such arguments tend to be more psychologically satisfying to their advocates than logically persuasive). The truth is that we do not know what the future holds for our nation, and extrapolating from current trajectories is not an exact science.

Pendulums swing and people can lurch from one extreme to another. One possibility is that our society will fragment into new depths of rebellion against God. Perhaps there will be widespread persecution in the future. Such talk of persecution does, uncomfortably, feel more plausible than it used to be. But if there is such persecution, should we be surprised? Any reading of church history, or any awareness of the world today, or even just taking the time to read the Bible, will show that persecution for God’s people is not abnormal.

Is such persecution, however, inevitable in this generation? It would be a denial of the gospel to believe so. In absolute sovereignty, God destroys nations, but he also revives nations. He hardens hearts and he grants repentance. We need to be aware of our culture and laws, but we must never forget that God is on the throne. The pollsters and pundits do not consult the One Who Sits on the Throne and the Lamb.

Our Eternal Future is Absolutely Certain

Rereading Revelation may help us gain a biblical perspective on our times, and provide us with strength and comfort. We may not be exempted from persecution, but the Lamb has triumphed through his blood, and the consummation is assured. Those who believe in the Lordship of Christ cannot be alarmists, even as we must engage all ideas and worldviews that oppose the truth of God. Our faith is in our covenant Lord, not in democracy, fairness, commonsense, or human wisdom. The ultimate outcome is not in doubt. No power in the universe can snatch the Father’s adopted children from his hand, and our eternal home is the place where righteousness dwells.

 

Steven D. West (Ph.D.) is the Lead Pastor at Crestwicke Baptist Church in Guelph, Ontario, as well as an adjunct professor at Heritage Seminary (Cambridge) and Toronto Baptist Seminary (Toronto). Steve is the author of Head, Heart, Hands: Life-Transforming Apologetics (2015), and Resurrection, Scripture, and Reformed Apologetics in the McMaster Theological Study Series (2012).


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15 thoughts on “Christian Reflections on Ontario Bill 89”

  1. Dennis Fisher says:

    Pendulums do swing and one would be tempted to think that our elected officials had learned their lessons from the harm caused by governments taking aboriginal children from their parents and putting them in institutions. No such protection for believers!

  2. Mary Fisher says:

    Steve, thank you for sharing your insights and pointing us to our hope and encouragement, God himself.

  3. Thank you Stever for this sober reflection and encouragment concerning Bill 89.

  4. Steve West has said what many in Canada believe. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Kevin Topalian says:

    ” For example, what evidence is there that taking away a transgendered child from their parents and home results in a positive gain to the child’s emotional well-being? In fact, there is evidence that children who claim to be transgendered often change their minds about their gender as they grow older, as well as evidence that mental health issues get worse after gender “affirming” medical procedures.”
    The politically correct absurdities are so pervasive that we Christians can slip unknowingly, as in the above quote, into thinking in false categories. “a transgendered child” is a category equivalent to “unicorn”. In the following sentence, you more accurately write “children who claim to be transgendered”. There never was a child who made such a claim before an sjw elementary school ‘teacher’ persuaded him to believe it. Parents have to wake up to the fact that the public indoctrination system is actively working to destroy the family. Check out the Ontario group “Parents as First Educators” to see what people are doing to expose this travesty and defend our children.

    1. Alexandria says:

      There have been alternate genders for thousands of years from multiple cultures across the entire world. What are you going on about?

  6. Caroline Medd says:

    “Is such persecution, however, inevitable in this generation? It would be a denial of the gospel to believe so.” To me that statement does not make sense – persecution is inevitable in every generation – including this one and especially as we move towards the 2nd coming of Jesus. How is this a denial of the Gospel? Things will get way worse not better before Jesus returns. Reading Daniel and Revelation and Matthew reveals this clearly. I find many Christians totally ignorant of what happens in the end times. Nothing that has been happening or will continue to happen should be a surprise to believers. “The truth is that we do not know what the future holds for our nation” – again – really? We do so know what the future holds for all nations – according to the scriptures. And we are seeing it played out daily in the world news.

  7. Concerned Mom in ONT says:

    I find it absurd since the govt tells me my 9 yr old cannot buy and drink alcohol or drive at this age. Yet he can decide to be a cat if he wants at this age and if I don’t agree then he’ll be removed from me? Gender Ideology is a mental disorder.
    Insane are running this asylum.

  8. Andre Perras says:

    In many respects this article has clear reflections of the various consequences for Christian families. What I find missing is that there was little to point out that the battle is the Lord’s and we as His people of Faith are called to cry out to him in our distress in regard to the grave apostasy that has slowly crept to the point of crisis over the last 100 years or more as God’s Word is not only disregarded but is now maligned aggressively. Let there be a call to corporate prayer for mercy and a great out pouring of the Holy Spirit This is the real battle, our Lord reigns forever and expects us to call upon Him for salvation of our children and grandchildren and a great repentance on the part of those who have turned so decidedly away from the truth and the One who is the truth, the way and the Life

  9. James Tuininga says:

    We must pray about this and never forget that God is in charge.

  10. Mike says:

    As Christians, we should be diligent in reporting or reposting articles that don’t reflect truth. After all, the truth will set (us) free. So often, well meaning Christians will listen to and transmit information that is akin to gossip. Gossip, in my opinion, is the number one destroyer of the church as it breeds insecurity and prevents growth and community.

    In the case of Bill 89, it appears that the Christian right has pushed the same rhetoric without investigating the facts. I’m unsure of why we do this but the effect is hysteria, something we need to guard against in the church. Hysteria promotes fear and fear is a snare.

    The bill, if one took the time to read it, is good and protective of children without undermining the rights and responsibility of the parent.

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/…/ontario-bill-89-gender…

    We have similar laws in the U.S. and specifically Nevada, where I live, NRS 432b, that protects children from emotional abuse. This abuse by the caregiver MUST be articulable. The state can’t remove a child or intervene based solely on the whim of the investigator.

    So too, the enacted Canadian bill is speaking for children who are already in the care of the government and protects the rights and beliefs of the child by “putting them in the least restrictive environment”, something we would all agree with.

    http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do
    109 (1) This section applies where a child is in interim society care under an order made under paragraph 2 of subsection 101 (1) or extended society care under an order made under paragraph 3 of subsection 101 (1) or clause 116 (1) (c).
    Placement
    (2) The society having care of a child shall choose a residential placement for the child that,
    (a) represents the least restrictive alternative for the child;
    (b) where possible, respects the child’s race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression;
    (c) where possible, respects the child’s cultural and linguistic heritage;

    As Christians, it is incumbent upon us to investigate prior to making a judgement. After all, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

  11. Crystal says:

    The government should have “NO” hand in this, its insane that a child no gender they “want to be” be puberty has set in. Their hormones are all over the place until then and even the teenage years are difficult navigate. If this what there stating then it does’nt just affect christian cultural it does every religion, that includes”Muslims”…so after they been pushing as this equality stuff, and Islamic hate crimes etc. where does this bill fit into “their” (government) scheme of things eh? Can’t wait until the Liberal party is out of the Ontario and Federal government geez…

    1. Declan says:

      A well made and thoughtful contributiion, Mike. I know of a situation where extraordinary physical, emotional and psychological abuse was inflicted on a child by a self evidently, mentally ill relative. The child was deemed possessed and the parent’s violence toward the child, a defence of the spiritual mission of the family. only when the child began to attend junior school did the abuse become aparent. this person and their “church” hid behind attacks on liberal Canada to defend this abuse. Religious obsesson can put a child in mortal danger. The relationship between aparent religious devotion and severe mental illness is still under-explored. To many churches denie the existence of mental illness at all. i am all for Bill 89.

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