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Let’s Ask a Question

Updated on September 2, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Introduction

Trinity Western is getting famous for its Community Covenant. This covenant tells students that to be part of the Trinity Western family, they must abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/july/secularism-and-diversity-lessons-from-canada.html).

Questions that must be answered

Our question is- is it right to make such demands of students who are merely attending the university in order to get a proper education? A follow-up question would be, is it right to force the university beliefs on its students? When we ask these questions we are not denigrating TWU although we have concerns about their demands because of possible hypocrisy in the ranks.

We know that some of their professors teach that evolution is true, at least in the micro sense of the application of the theory. Why is it so important for TWU to ignore one part of the Bible while holding to another? We have a problem with that position. Why is sexual intimacy more important than knowing how God created and how creation works correctly?

We had one pastor friend tell us that God sees sexual sins as more important than other sins. Yet after an examination of how God punishes sin in the OT and the NT, we found that is not so. Solomon had over 1200 women in his harem yet he was allowed to lead the people of Israel. Homosexuality and other sexual sins are listed equally with lying, stealing etc., when God tells people who will not make it into heaven.

So obviously, what that pastor said is not true and does not explain why TWU would allow sin in one area of life but not another. We must ask, is it right to deprive anyone of an education simply because they do not believe the same or have the same sexual preferences as the institution? After all, the makeup of the student body does not stop TWU from teaching Law and other subjects from a Christian point of view.

Christian schools must have Christian leadership

Allowing Muslims, Hindus and other religious believers as students also does not stop TWU from being a Christian University and providing a Christian education. They just have to let each student know where they stand and that they will not change their perspective if the students do not like it. The student acknowledges that they are attending a Christian University and understand the focus of the education.

If the education brought by the university is top-quality, sound, and on par with other academic institutions then there should be no complaint. The Christian university is free to teach Christ, the gospel and actually bring up the level of teaching with their perspective. It is not wrong to require students to not act in a manner that brings disrespect or disrepute to the institution.

We abided by that rule when we taught in Korea. The rule didn’t change our lives or alter our faith in any way. We do not think that allowing LGBTQ students will harm the school if the former conduct their lives in the same respectful manner. Of course, when it comes to leadership positions the school should be free to limit those opportunities to true Christians only. After all it is a Christian school and its leadership should remain Christian.

You cannot be a Christian school when you allow non-Christians to lead. It just can’t happen.

Now to address a couple of quotes or more from the article above

First, it shows how a country’s top court can render a verdict in favor of human rights but biased against religious freedom. When the two ideas butted heads, religious freedom was the loser.

We disagree. This is not an attack on religious freedom but a decision questioning the legitimacy of an item in the community covenant. TWU’s religious faith was not on trial and they were not ordered to give up their faith. If TWU offers on-campus student housing, we could understand that rule. But off-campus students should not be made to adhere to the rule.

Second, it makes short shrift of the model that within a diverse society a plurality of ideas and beliefs can exist together. This is a huge loss. And when Canada, known for its democracy and public fairness, takes this road, we lose an important example of how pluralism functions.

Again we will disagree. We have looked through the Bible and have found no place where God instructs his people to force his ways on those who reject him. If those outside of the people of Israel wanted to live with the Hebrews, they had to follow God’s rules but no society was forced to live by the Mosaic law. The secular societies had the example of the Israelites and could use their free will and choice to adopt God’s ways or not.

When Jesus was here both Hebrews and non-Hebrews brought their sick to Jesus and he healed them all. Should we deprive those who do not believe as us of a quality education and the opportunity to see the difference Christ makes? Should we create stumbling blocks and turn people off of Christ by demanding that they act like believers or they get nothing? That thought seems opposite of what Christ did.

Jesus fed and ate with sinners but still maintained his holiness. We can do the same with education. Nothing in the Bible tells us that if we educate LGBTQ students we will lose our holiness. We will lose it if we walk in their counsel

Third, it keeps faith from being public. I hear the justices saying something like, “Live out your faith within your churches, institutions, and private communities, but if you try to bring it into civic life, if we don’t see your beliefs as being inclusive with our values, we will prevent your faith from influencing our public spheres.”

Of course we disagree here because that is that author’s subjective interpretation and not fact. Again, the justices did not stop TWU from being Christian, they just objected to an unrealistic demand made by TWU. Why would TWU object to removing that clause when God can use that removal to bring the mission field to TWU? It is possible that the students God brings can still be redeemed and have an open mind and heart to Jesus.

Is TWU thinking that God only operates in one way and that they will not be blessed if they allow all students to attend their college? Allowing LGBTQ students into TWU is not supporting or legitimizing the LGBTQ position or preferences. It is allowing humans to be students and giving them a solid education from a Christian perspective. There is a difference.

Secular academic institutions upon allowing true Christians as students on their campuses does not change the secular institution into a Christian one.

Fourth, it assumes that Christian standards and beliefs for an institution are not essential to its identity, self-definition, or existence, but a preference.

This conclusion is just not true. No Christian standards have been attacked or demanded to be altered. TWU’s standard is under fire and questioned but not Christian standards. Jesus had a thief and betrayer as a disciple for 3 years, yet those facts did not stop him from teaching Judas his ways. Christians should pick their fights and for TWU changing this rule is not telling them to change their faith. The leaders of the school can still practice it and set an example for their students to follow.

It is wrong to force students to be a certain way just to get an education

Canadian universities that provide training for other kinds of professional vocations may now be under scrutiny if they don’t also adhere to what the court considers “values.”For those outside of Canada, Paul Marshall, professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University in Texas, notes that this ruling may present a challenge for Americans who want to practice law in Canada. Grads from socially conservative universities such as Baylor and Brigham Young may run into a headwind if provincial law societies disallow them from practicing law if they too have similar community standard such as TWU’s.

This is nothing but fear mongering.And Baylor should not talk right now as their scandals leave many questioning their Christian position. Christian standards include not lying, not stealing, not committing financial fraud, and so much more. Making a covenant rule to target one sin is not upholding Christian standards. Failing to teach the truth is more of an attack on Christianity, the Bible and Christ than letting students practice their preferences off-campus.

Besides, the covenant does not stop LGBTQ practices. They just go somewhere else and continue to live their lifestyle. But their hearts will be hardened to the gospel when they do. Christian academic institutions and other organizations need to re-examine what they consider to be Christian principles. They need to make sure that their rules line up with biblical teaching and not trying to force something God does not want to be forced.

Remember Jesus did not force anyone to follow his teachings. That attitude did not grant permission for the people to sin. It worked with God’s rule that we humans have free choice to obey him or not. Christian organizations should also re-examine their lifestyles to see if they are without sin before they demand unbelievers to follow their ways.

Jesus lived as he and God taught, we can do no different.


© 2019 David Thiessen

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