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Yes, People Can Change


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/10/26

In the morning reading of the newspaper, I came across another straightforward newspaper article, as one expects within the Canadian landscape. One about Christians, or Christ, or a church, or some Catholic scandal, or — good Lord — the death of the former Queen, und so weiter.

One feels compelled to query one’s self about something more novel, less trendy, of value. I have Sam Samson to appreciate for this news item. It deals with the change in perspective or convictions. A former pastor, Scott Gillingham, spent years describing homosexuality as immoral from the lofty transcendentalisms of the Pentecostal faith.

He was elected to Winnipeg’s city council in 2014. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada 2018 general constitution and bylaws claims the leaders cannot engage in “sexual immorality”. This may be a vague reference to the Greek word porneia as a biblical term used by Jesus for any and all sexual immorality. Specifics differ by interpretation and translation.

Samson quotes the 2018 general constitution and bylaws saying, “Sexual immorality shall be interpreted to mean common-law marital relationships, premarital and extramarital sexual relationships … and all forms of homosexual activity, along with other practices deemed inexcusable for Christian conduct.”

This is contemporary Canada. Gillingham, after a significant period of years denouncing one of the large hunks of the LGBTI+ umbrella, has made an about-face. He intends to make the city more inclusive. He wants to have the public make this a moment of seeing someone change in public. “There’s someone who’s committed to equality,” as he said.

His most recent pastoral position was the Grace Community Church in Headingley, Manitoba for over a decade. At the time of writing, he supports same-sex marriage. The 2005 decision of the federal government on same-sex marriage changed his views on the subject. Over time, he has come to accept it Most Canadian newspapers with postsecondary journalist graduates are ensconced in “LGBTQ”; I use LGBTI based on the task force from the U.N., while adding a “+” for simplicity.

In Gillingham’s defence, Christians have been under a solid decade-and-a-half of solid cultural battering on LGBTI+ issues. On a personal level, it must be terribly uncomfortable. While, on a communal level, it must be difficult seeing the cultural changes and the — let’s call it — rub with the speech from preachers against features of sexuality and sexual orientation of the LGBTI+ communities and efforts towards equality.

On the front of — that which don’t exist in fact, but in normative universalism — secular human rights, any efforts toward equality in treatment regardless of differences amongst people will require cultural change from multiple lines: cultural conversation, education, law, media, politics, socialization, and transformation of mass psychology.

That’s being done. It has been done for a long time. Realistically, it’s always been that way, especially from the churches for more conservative movements a century ago and beyond in the backwoods of history. As I have observed elsewhere, the lines of change have been between compatible ethics, while only in a unidirectional mesh form. Transcendentalist traditional religious ethics, oft parochial while perennial, and secular international human rights, as the two. Religious ethics from a deity or a theity as taking greater authority than human rights.

The religious ethic asGod’s Law, as one can hear ad nauseam in many sectors of Canada. The (de facto) secular human rights ethics seen in international bodies such as the United Nation as enveloping Member States’ constitutional language and commissions. The former claiming to reject the latter or supersede in more proud moments; the latter claiming to respect the right to those religious ethics, while tipping the scales to balance and respect for individuals to hold the beliefs — not to necessarily respect the religious beliefs. Secular human rights respect the right to religion, belief, and expression; religious ethics haven’t always been used likewise, whether in hermeneutic theory or communal practice.

Samson’s piece, as with many others, seems like a great piece, to me, as it highlights change in individuals who held prior limiting views of the world. While, in sympathy for Gillingham, it, likely, wasn’t an easy transition.

With files from the CBC


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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