At a blog called Above the Law, which presents itself as a site for serious news and commentary on legal affairs, blogger Joe Patrice opines that Trinity Western University in British Columbia should not have its new law school accredited by the powers that be in Canada who are responsible for such an imprimatur (the Federation of Law Societies of Canada). The Council of Canadian Law Deans has come out against TWU Law’s accreditation, and Patrice thinks the deans got it right. So what’s the flap about?
Trinity Western is a Christian university that takes its Christianity seriously, and expects students to do likewise. The university requires all incoming students to sign a “Community Covenant” in which they agree to regard “the Bible as the divinely inspired, authoritative guide for personal and community life.” They agree to refrain from lying, cheating, stealing, and harassing one another, to treat one another with respect and dignity, and not to possess or use alcohol or tobacco on campus. Could any of these be cause for alarm among TWU’s critics? Nah. So what is it? It won’t take you three guesses. It’s the expectation that they shall
observe modesty, purity and appropriate intimacy in all relationships, reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage, and within marriage take every reasonable step to resolve conflict and avoid divorce.
And the requirement that they shall voluntarily abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
It’s obvious that this traditional Christian sexual ethic makes demands on everyone’s sexual proclivities, especially those of the many young law students who are not likely to be married during their studies. But predictably, this is read through just one lens these days, and the cry of “homophobic bigotry!” goes up.
Blogger Patrice is just another mindless minnow in this current, writing that TWU seeks to “ban” gay students from studying law there. And, he says, it’s not “anti-Christian bigotry” to oppose TWU Law’s accreditation because—ready for this?—no one is proposing to disenfranchise Christians, or physically assault them!
This is setting the bar for decency pretty low, don’t you think? As long as Christians aren’t being hunted down, rounded up, and fed to lions in the arena for the amusement of the crowd, they have no cause for complaint. (Seriously, Patrice himself uses exactly this example.) Now I know that we Christians look back to the early martyrs for the faith—or the modern martyrs being persecuted in other parts of the world today—and marvel at their courage and their witness. And who among us has not wondered whether he would crack, and betray the faith, if martyrdom were the only road that Truth offered? But it’s interesting to see a calm statement–on a website devoted to the law!—that essentially says “as long as we are not killing you or sending you into internal exile in your own country purely for your beliefs with which we disagree, quit yer bitchin’.”
Trinity Western University has a calm, rational FAQ page devoted to patiently explaining why it is not “anti-gay” to ask students choosing the university to be, well, Christians. But for the leading lights of the New Toleration, a simple question about the law school’s accreditation is in order: Can you explain how it is that dedicating oneself to the moral teachings of Christianity is inconsistent with pursuing a career in Canadian law?