It can seem as though the progressive steamroller is unstoppable. Whenever they take on traditional Scripture-based morality, the mainstream churches and the political establishment regularly collapse like leaky balloons. However, it is possible to fight back and begin to win, especially when Christians organise and work together.
Last year Justice Francesca Marzari of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, declared a father guilty of ‘family violence’ against his 14-year-old daughter.
For a father to be convicted of acts of violence upon his daughter is exceedingly serious. What was the nature of the violence? Did he beat her? Make her walk to school barefoot in the snow? Was it perhaps even worse, sexual abuse? None of these. The father had referred to his daughter as a girl.
Previously the British Columbia Supreme Court had ordered that the girl, who wanted to transition, could receive testosterone injections against the wishes of her father. Accordingly, the girl began regular injections at British Columbia Children’s Hospital.
The father sought a reversal of the lower court in the BC Court of Appeal. Hoping to raise awareness of his case, he gave a number of interviews to media outlets. In these interviews, he referred to his daughter as a girl, stating that ‘she is a girl. Her DNA will not change through all these experiments that they do’.
Judge Marzari, who has a history of LBGT and transgender activism, found that the father had engaged in ‘expressions of rejection of [her] gender identity’ and that this constituted ‘family violence’.
A ‘protection order’ was issued preventing the father from speaking to journalists or the public about the case. He was also forbidden from ‘exposing’ his daughter to any materials that might make her ‘question whether [her] gender identity is real or the treatments [she] seeks are in [her] best interests.’
A subsequent court order authorised police to arrest the father without warrant and charge him with contempt of court if he did any of the above.
Thus the father was in effect forbidden to speak in public about the case, because whenever he spoke to reporters about his daughter he naturally referred to her as a girl. Had he spoken of his daughter as a boy and used masculine pronouns he might not have been guilty of family violence and so not subject to the restraining order. He would, however, have been guilty of going against his conscience and the truth.
The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada agreed to help the father in his case. ARPA Canada is a grassroots Christian political advocacy organisation. Believing that Jesus Christ is sovereign over all and grounded in the truth of the Bible, it sees part of its task as assisting in court cases where biblical principles for life are under threat.
Aided by ARPA, the father appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. On Tuesday the court released its judgment overturning numerous orders made by Judge Marzari. Crucially, the court concluded that the father had not committed ‘family violence’ by opposing his daughter’s proposed gender transition by the administration of testosterone.
The Court of Appeal struck out the protection order threatening the father with immediate arrest if he tried to persuade his daughter to abandon testosterone treatment, if he addressed her by her birth name, or if he referred to her as a girl or with female pronouns to her or to anyone, publicly or privately.
The court found that the father is ‘entitled to his views and he is entitled to communicate those views’ to his daughter. ‘[Their] difference of opinion alone cannot justify a finding of family violence.’
Unfortunately, it was not a complete victory as the court also found that ‘the evidence shows that [she] is a mature minor with the capacity to make her own decision about the medical treatment recommended at this stage’. Even with this setback, the court added: ‘Such capacity includes the ability to listen to opposing views.’ Importantly for free speech, the court concluded that disagreement is not violence.
Regrettably, a conduct order was issued restricting the father’s freedom of expression. He has been directed to acknowledge her as a boy, use the male name she has chosen, and refer to her as ‘him’. He is not, however, prohibited from discussing her medical decisions with his daughter, as the previous order had done.
The conduct order was issued in the context of a lengthy and emotionally taxing disagreement between father and daughter, in which the father made what seemed to the court in these circumstances to be poor judgment calls.
It is unfortunate that the court has restricted the father in this way. His daughter is fully aware of her father’s opposition to her change of gender identity and it does little good to attempt to force him to use words which he believes to be false.
Although only a partial victory, we can take heart that even in one of the most progressive nations it is possible to fight back. We cannot trust mainstream denominations to struggle for biblical truth in society, but that does not mean we give in.
Christian organisations such ARAP Canada, Christian Concern, The Christian Institute and CARE in the UK do uphold Christian values and deserve support. No one is going to win the war in one blow, not even a major battle, but it is possible to win the skirmishes and gradually build ability, strength and confidence. The battle is only beginning.