ARPA Canada exists to bring a biblical perspective to our civil authorities. We give great attention to some issues – abortion, euthanasia, fundamental freedoms, Christian education, and gender and sexuality – a bit of attention to other issues – criminal justice, the environment, economics, and multiculturalism – and little attention to many other issues, such health care, poverty, and homelessness.
This organizational focus on some issues and lack of attention on others is not because only certain issues are worthy of Christians’ attention. We confess that God is sovereign over all things and that it is impossible for a government (or an individual) to be neutral, as their worldview affects their every decision. Christians must reflect this reality in their political thought and engagement. We must bring God’s Word to bear on every issue. As ARPA Canada grows and as you as a Christian develop in your knowledge of public theology, we are able to extend our political awareness and involvement to more and new issues.
At this point in time, we focus on a relatively narrow window of issues. A more pragmatic reason for this is that focussing on fewer issues allows us to go a lot deeper, providing more expertise and profile to these matters. Related to this, in a nation where there are numerous organizations (both Christian and secular) and a great deal of public funds devoted to many other topics (e.g. climate change, homelessness, poverty, refugees, indigenous rights), the same cannot be said of the issues on which ARPA Canada focuses. Contrary to secular public’s perspective, there are a tiny number of Christians who have a full-time job devoted to promoting a biblical perspective on life, family, and freedom. But our motivation goes beyond pragmatism. We focus on these issues also because we see them as the most egregious violations of God’s norm for society and government.
For instance, we give great attention to abortion, euthanasia, and other issues pertaining to human life because murder is the ultimate sin against our fellow man. Genesis 9:6 states, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image,” (emphasis added) and the sixth commandment says succinctly, “You shall not murder.” Christians and our increasingly secular culture and governments differ on how to promote human flourishing in many profound ways, yet a respect for life should be foundational to all public policy. When human life is not recognized as being made in the image of God but is discarded to prioritize the choice or autonomy, then the foundation of all public policy is cracked.
The protection of our fundamental freedoms – the freedom of religion, expression, assembly, and association – is also a core concern of Christians. God has given us numerous commands of what we ought to do (e.g. assemble for worship, preach the gospel, pray for our authorities), and we seek to stand for a society where those rights are protected so that the church may do as it ought in freedom. Our Charter’s guarantee of these fundamental freedoms is a basic method of safeguarding public order that protects “the church and its ministry in order that the kingdom of Christ may come, the Word of the gospel may be preached everywhere, and God may be honoured and served by everyone, as He requires in His Word” (Belgic Confession, Article 36).
Christian education is critical to the livelihood of the Church and the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, making it another priority in Christian political involvement. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” God entrusts children to parents and, if these covenantal children are to grow up in the fear of the LORD, Christian education is indispensable. Accreditation, independence, and funding of Christian schools and homeschooling by the government enables as many parents as possible to access an education for their children that is as biblical as possible.
Christians also give great attention to the definition of gender and sexuality, marriage, and the family. Many non-Christians condemn Christians for their fixation on gay marriage or gender transitioning and lack of attention to other issues in our society. To some degree, this criticism is warranted. But it is important to realize that we devote such great attention to these issues because, unlike other sins or actions, they are ongoing identities that shape our lives and our society. Theft is a grave sin, but it generally happens at single points in time; you rob a bank, or you shoplift. But same-sex marriage or a transgender identity aren’t one-time acts. They are full-time identities that rebel against God’s plan for humanity. A humanistic view of marriage also distorts the illustration of God’s relationship with His people throughout the Old Testament (see in particular the book of Hosea). Marriage also illustrates Christ’s love for His Church (Ephesians 5:25-33), when Paul says that the mystery of marriage “is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (v 32). Other sexual issues – prostitution and pornography – defile our bodies, the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 6:13-20).
As important as these issues are, they cannot be the sole issues of focus for followers of Christ. Christ is LORD over all, and a Christian worldview should inform our perspective on every aspect of public policy. This is why, when time allows, ARPA also researches and publishes policy reports on a wide variety of Canadian issues, including Elder Care, Surrogacy, In Vitro Embryo, Restorative Justice, Aboriginal Affairs, and Climate Change. It is also why we have published blogs or articles about safe injection sites, electoral reform, or organized labour. In the coming weeks and months, we hope to publish some new resources evaluating child care, palliative care, and environmental stewardship from a Christian perspective.
“As iron sharpens iron,” we value your thoughts and respectful critique as we strive to apply God’s Word in more and new areas of public policy. We have much to learn, and it means a great deal to know that you, our supporters, are willing to challenge us when you come across things that you don’t think measure up to God’s Word.
After much thought and work, we may have developed a well-articulated Christian response to issues where it is “easy” to apply the truth of Scripture. But there is always room for growth. Growing in spiritual maturity requires us to apply Scripture to “difficult” issues as well. Let each one of us mature in our political knowledge and activity, applying the truth of God’s Word to more and more issues, so that together we can grow the Christian influence in the public square, for the glory of God and the good of our neighbours.