Prominent California pastor John MacArthur is asking American pastors to join in solidarity Jan. 16 with their Canadian counterparts to preach a message on God’s plan for human sexuality.
MacArthur’s call, which includes a statement that pastors are encouraged to sign, went out via Twitter on Dec. 29 following a letter MacArthur received from a Canadian pastor lamenting Canada’s broad new law banning so-called conversion therapy. The language of bill C-4 potentially threatens parents and churches that proclaim the Gospel message, which includes the call to repent of sin and turn in faith to Jesus Christ as the first step of Christian discipleship.
In a statement titled “A Stand on Biblical Sexual Morality,” MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, calls attention to an “urgent matter in which the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is under attack.” In his statement, MacArthur describes communication he received from Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church of Edmonton, Alberta, and Pastor Andrew DeBartolo of Encounter Church in Kingston, Ontario, warning of the impending law.
In writing to MacArthur, Coates said the new law “directly comes against parents and counsellors who would seek to offer biblical counsel with respect to sexual immorality and gender” and could “criminalize evangelism” if a person turns from homosexuality or transgenderism or is encouraged to do so.
DeBartolo wrote: “On January 16, 2022, faithful men across this country (and many in the United States as well) will be preaching on God’s design for marriage and a Biblical ethic of sexuality. We will be doing so illegally, declaring to the State that there is one God and one Lord over His church, and that Christ alone gets to both define marriage and dictate what is required in the pulpit. We are honored that our American brothers will be joining us in this.”
MacArthur added: “Our calling as gospel ministers is to preach the truth, confront sin, and call all men to repentance and obedience to the Gospel—the Good News that achieves soul conversion and saves sinners from eternal wrath.
“Will you stand with me and our Canadian brothers and confront, in a spirit of love and mercy, the damning sins legalized in our culture? And will you join the nationwide effort to preach on a Biblical view of sexual morality on January 16, 2022 and proclaim the gospel of salvation that is now criminalized?”
“Conversion therapy bans prohibit Christian pastors and leaders from teaching a foundational part of discipleship— the Biblical definition of marriage and family, and the call to turn from any deviations of that definition,” said Joe Dallas, a Christian author and counselor who has spent three decades helping people overcome sexual addictions. “These bans won’t just apply to counselors or parachurch leaders, but to all pastors as well. We are the light of the world, but we’re now in danger of allowing the world to become the light of the church.”
Specifically, C-4 amends the Canadian criminal code to include anything deemed conversion therapy. It also states that “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 law defines conversion therapy as “a practice, treatment or service designed to (a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual; (b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender; (c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth; (d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour; (e) repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or (f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.”
A person who “causes” another person to undergo anything deemed conversion therapy could face up to five years in prison. A person advertising or promoting such practices or therapy could face up to three years in prison.
The bill is set to become law on Jan. 8.
Photo: Courtesy of Grace Community Church