Throw Back Thursday: Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada (Part Four)
Today’s Throw Back Thursday article is the final installment of the four-part series entitled “Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada,” originally presented at a 2005 Burlington Reformed Study Centre event. The series was reproduced in the January 6, 2006, issue of the Clarion magazine, and reprinted on ARPA’s blog on July 3, 2009.
Ron Gray was the leader of the Christian Heritage Party back in 2005, a position that he reliquished in 2008. He is the longest-serving leader of the Christian Heritage Party, with thirteen years at the helm. Ron Gray is currently retired but continues to periodically write for the CHP.
Influencing Society for Good
By Ron Gray
What is good?
If we want to influence our society for good, we need to answer the question: what is this “good” that we want to accomplish? The ultimate source and definition of “good” is what Jesus said, “None is good save One, that is, God” (Luke 18:19). The Bible further informs us that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights (James 1:17).
Our working definition of “good” is to be found in the oracles of God – and only in the oracles of God. Before we can hope to achieve any “good” in society, we must first acknowledge the sole author of all good: the God of the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.”
Let me state it flatly: we will not even begin to achieve any influence for good in this society until we take a firm and unshakeable stand for the only origin and standard of good: the God of the Bible. We must commit ourselves to the inescapable fact that we can make no progress towards influencing our society for good until and unless we are willing to lay that foundation stone and to defend its authority.
Many argue that politics is the art of compromise. That is true, but we must know when compromise is possible and acceptable and when it is not. If thirty of us were sitting around the Cabinet table at Ottawa, divvying up the $186 billion we had just collected from Canadian taxpayers – an outrageous $18,000 per household, by the way – we’d have to make some compromises between competing demands on the public purse; and we could do so by shifting a few million from this column to that, in response to the needs and arguments expressed. That’s an acceptable compromise. However, if we hope to influence our society for good, we have to be very clear about our standard of what is meant by “good” and we have to be prepared to defend that position without compromise.
We in the Christian Heritage Party (CHP) say that we cannot hope to achieve influence for good without a clear and strong commitment to immutable terms of reference. We must not be cowed by the refusal of others to accept those terms of reference. If I have a “life verse” from the Bible, it is Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. . . .” In that, I believe I stand closer to the Fathers of Confederation than most other contemporary politicians.
When they were drafting the British North America Act – our first Constitution, and still an integral part of the Canadian Constitution – the Fathers of Confederation debated what to call this new nation. One morning, Sir Leonard Tilley from New Brunswick came to the conference table at Charlottetown and said, “Gentlemen, this morning in my devotions” (which tells you something important about the Fathers of Confederation: they considered it normal for a man to begin his day with a devotional study of the Bible) “. . .this morning in my devotions, one passage of Scripture seized my attention; it was the eighth verse of the seventy-second Psalm: ‘He’ – God’s Messiah – ‘shall have dominion also from sea to sea. . .’” And Tilley proposed that the new nation be named “The Dominion of Canada,” to remind us under whose authority we govern ourselves. His proposal was unanimously adopted by all thirty-three Fathers of Confederation. In 1906, acknowledging the same Biblical source, Parliament officially adopted Canada’s motto, “A Mari Usque Ad Mare,” the Latin rendering of “from sea to sea.”
This brings me to a very important point I want to make before this evening is out: many critics of the CHP have accused us of wanting to use the power of government to compel others to believe what we believe. That canard is absolutely false. Rather, our goal is to stop governments and courts from behaving like enemies of the culture that has done more good in the world than any other.
Richard John Neuhaus, the editor of First Things, wrote in his book The Naked Public Square that, while many dreadful and unbiblical things have been done in the name of Christianity, “on balance, Christianity is the best thing that ever happened to this planet.” He’s right. The world is indebted to Christianity for universities, hospitals, the principle that all men and women stand equal before the law, the abolition of slavery, democracy as we know it, and many other benefits.
Once we have established our source and definition of “good,” and made a commitment to defend it unashamedly, where do we go from there? How do we make progress in our campaign to influence the nation for good?
It is a three-stage process. First, we must develop public policy out of the biblical criteria for good; second, we must articulate those policies in terms that are accessible to both Christian and secular audiences; and third, we must work to have those arguments heard, overcoming a media blackout that implements a distinctly anti-Christian agenda – if necessary, by becoming our own media. Fortunately, the Internet (for all its scummy underside) is also mostly exempt from the climate of censorship that afflicts the old media.
Public policy is developed out of biblical criteria, which precludes utterly the modern Liberal ideology that sets the government in place of God as the source of all good. The mandate of civil government (taken, again, from the Bible) is to be God’s minister – that is, servant – to you for good; it is to restrain evil and reward those who do good. This leaves a lot of scope for Sphere Sovereignty: the family is, by and large, to be its own arbiter of what is beneficial for its members; the parents, who are accountable to God’s overarching absolute sovereignty, make such decisions. Businesses are free (within the scope of what God allows as just) to determine their own best course of action. Private property (which, because of Mr. Trudeau’s socialist bent, was never included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) is protected by the commandment against theft. And so on. Yet the supremacy of God – which, happily and providentially, did make it through the Liberal/ Socialist screen and got into the Preamble of the Charter by one vote – stands over and above all these spheres.
Thus it is that we have arrived at fifty-six pages of policies designed to strengthen the natural, married, two-parent family; to protect children from so-called “education” that is really humanist indoctrination; to ensure labour peace; to eliminate the National Debt; to protect the sanctity of innocent human life and of marriage; to preserve a common day of rest; to protect the environment; to enable the military to defend national sovereignty and to assist in times of natural of civil disaster; and so on. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to articulate these policies in ways accessible to secularists as well as believers.
Same-sex marriage and civil unions
Let me cite a useful example from many recent exchanges about same-sex marriage and civil unions. From Scripture, we have a clear understanding that homosexual behaviour is a sin. Now, Scripture also tells us that we are all sinners, and that forgiveness and healing from the spiritual effects of sin are available through Jesus Christ if we repent. So we’re not saying that homosexuality is a worse sin than any other; and we emphatically do not condone those who attack, demean, or insult homosexuals. But we also understand from Scripture that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church and that conjoining it to something that God calls sinful is blasphemous. So we take the issue of same-sex marriage very, very seriously. However, when we articulate our opposition, we don’t refer to “blasphemy,” because that would be incomprehensible to most biblically-illiterate Canadians. Instead, we talk about public policy defects.
Official recognition of same-sex marriage or civil unions implies some degree of government approval for such relationships. That’s exactly why homosexual activists have demanded it. You can see it already in most government schools, where acceptance and even approval of homosexual relationships is now mandated from kindergarten to grade twelve. On university campuses’ approbation of homosexuality has attained the status of Holy Writ. Or more accurately, while Holy Writ is close to being banished on campus, it is being replaced by the homosexual agenda.
Any recognition or approval of homosexuality is bad public policy. As Christians, we must remember what our Lord said about those “who cause one of these little ones to sin”; we must warn them, whether they want to hear us or not.
So here is the CHP’s policy statement regarding homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and same-sex civil unions: “No government has the right to grant recognition or favour to sexually aberrant practices.” That’s a very simple policy statement, but there are volumes of information and wisdom behind it. The information behind the policy statement is part and parcel of our campaign to influence society for good. Nothing of lasting benefit will happen to society without policy-makers who consciously recognize and respect the only source of the wisdom that has shaped public life and western civilization for almost twenty centuries.
We must be clear, we must be open, and we must be bold. The times demand a clear voice. “For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle? (1 Cor. 14:8). Too many in the public policy arena have tried to be clever. They have tried to use secular labels and tactics and have given forth an uncertain sound. Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses” – those are the weapons, the strategies, and the devices of the world – “but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” That’s where the power is to influence society for good.
At a recent conference in Tumbler Ridge, BC, Tristan Emmanuel cited Jesus’ introduction to The Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given unto Me.” All authority means all authority. All power. Human cleverness and so-called “wisdom” mean nothing in this arena. Trust in God means everything. If we hope to influence this society for good, we’ll have to start by truly believing what we say we believe and then act as though we truly believe what we say we believe – without compromise.
 Update: while Ron Gray believed that the internet was mostly free from censorship that afflicted old media back in 2005, he is no longer confident that this is the case today, as evidenced by his perception of growing censorship of content by social media and internet providers.