05 July 2015

It's Only a Matter of Time

I've previously posted about the travails of Trinity Western University, a Canadian Christian University. TWU's offense is its Community Covenant that limits sexual intimacy to heterosexual marriage. (See a few of those posts here, here, and here.) One might think such a proscription is unremarkable albeit a bit unusual in these contemporary times. One might even think this policy is particularly prudent given the numbers of female university students who are victims of sexual violence. But, then, one would not be familiar with how the Ontario Superior Court views the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights.

You can read about TWU's latest setback in the courts here. The three-judge panel held that prohibiting TWU law graduates from practicing before the bar in Ontario clearly violates the institution's freedom of religion. Nonetheless, a policy against same-sex sexual intimacy might cause some students to “essentially bury a crucial component of their very identity, by forsaking any form of intimacy with those persons with whom they would wish to form a relationship.” And when these two rights collide--freedom of religion and the freedom of maximal sexual autonomy--religion loses.  (To be fair to Canada, you can read my comments about the contrary decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia here.)

No matter that there are plenty of law programs at universities other than TWU, programs that have no problem with the conduct that so excited the Ontario court. On the contrary, the court wrote, uniformity of toleration of perversion is “a value of fundamental importance to our country. It is a value that state actors ... are always entitled to respect and promote."

But, "It's only a matter of time"?

Before the same result obtains south of the border, that is. Contrary to my earlier insouciance, it won't be long before non-ecclesial Christian organizations in the United States are faced with the choice between foregoing prohibitions on non-marital* sexual conduct and accreditation or other forms of state licensing necessary to carry out their activities. When that happens, we can expect a swift and significant reduction of the vibrant pluralism that for so long characterized American educational, social, and business forms of communal life.

*I continue to use marital to refer to the long-recognized and relatively permanent natural relationship of male and female and "marriage" to what the Supreme Court and many others mean by it.

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