Trinity Western University has another court battle on its hands, saying it will launch legal proceedings against the Law Society of British Columbia for reversing its approval.
Both the Law Society of British Columbia and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education originally approved TWUâ€™s School of Law.
The society changed its decision and the province said the school would not be open before its approval expired in December 2016. The plan was to open in September 2016 but legal wrangling will likely delay plans.
â€œWe have no choice but to proceed legally,â€ said Bob Kuhn, president of Trinity Western. â€œBy prejudging our future law graduates not on their qualifications but the Community Covenant they agree to abide by while students at TWU, the law society has infringed on the human rights of TWU and its students.â€
The law society based its decision not on academics bt on TWUâ€™s views, he said.
Members of the TWU community must sign a document that says, among other things, that sex belongs within traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
â€œThe Supreme Court ruled in its 2001 decision involving approval of the TWU education program that, just as is the case with respect to the law school, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the religious views of TWU graduates lessen their competence to practice their profession in Canadaâ€™s pluralistic society,â€ Kuhn said.
He noted that the covenant calls for students and staff to love and respect others regardless of their backgrounds or personal characteristics.
â€œTWU is a community of diversity and acceptance,â€ he said. â€œThis campus is a Christian home for four thousand students with an array of opinions and beliefs.â€
The law school has been approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, as well as the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon. Additionally, both the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Archdiocese of Vancouver support TWUâ€™s right to open a law school.
TWU was in court in Nova Scotia starting Dec. 16 as it challenges the Nova Scotia Barristersâ€™ Society for not providing approval.
Ontario also said no and TWU heads to court in January 2015 for more legal proceedings in that province.
THE Trinity Western University Community Covenant
Community Covenant Agreement
Our Pledge to One Another
Trinity Western University (TWU) is a Christian university of the liberal arts, sciences
and professional studies with a vision for developing people of high competence and
exemplary character who distinguish themselves as leaders in the marketplaces of life.
1. The TWU Community Covenant
The Universityâ€™s mission, core values, curriculum and community life are formed by a
firm commitment to the person and work of Jesus Christ as declared in the Bible. This
identity and allegiance shapes an educational community in which members pursue truth
and excellence with grace and diligence, treat people and ideas with charity and respect,
think critically and constructively about complex issues, and willingly respond to the
worldâ€™s most profound needs and greatest opportunities.
The University is an interrelated academic community rooted in the evangelical
Protestant tradition; it is made up of Christian administrators, faculty and staff who, along
with students choosing to study at TWU, covenant together to form a community that
strives to live according to biblical precepts, believing that this will optimize the
Universityâ€™s capacity to fulfil its mission and achieve its aspirations.
The community covenant is a solemn pledge in which members place themselves under
obligations on the part of the institution to its members, the members to the institution,
and the members to one another. In making this pledge, members enter into a contractual
agreement and a relational bond. By doing so, members accept reciprocal benefits and
mutual responsibilities, and strive to achieve respectful and purposeful unity that aims for
the advancement of all, recognizing the diversity of viewpoints, life journeys, stages of
maturity, and roles within the TWU community. It is vital that each person who accepts
the invitation to become a member of the TWU community carefully considers and
sincerely embraces this community covenant.
2. Christian Community
The Universityâ€™s acceptance of the Bible as the divinely inspired, authoritative guide for
personal and community life1 is foundational to its affirmation that people flourish and
most fully reach their potential when they delight in seeking Godâ€™s purposes, and when
they renounce and resist the things that stand in the way of those purposes being
fulfilled.2 This ongoing God-enabled pursuit of a holy life is an inner transformation that
actualizes a life of purpose and eternal significance.3 Such a distinctly Christian way of
living finds its fullest expression in Christian love, which was exemplified fully by Jesus
The Biblical passages cited in this document serve as points of reference for discussion or reflection on particular topics. TWU
recognizes the necessity of giving careful consideration to the complexities involved in interpreting and applying biblical passages to
contemporary issues and situations.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Psalm 19:7-11; 2 Timothy 3:16
Matthew 6:31-33; Romans 8:1-17; 12:1-2; 13:11-14; 16:19; Jude 20-23; 1 Peter 2:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1.
2 Peter 1:3-8; 1 Peter 2:9-12; Matthew 5:16; Luke 1:74-75; Romans 6:11-14, 22-23; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, 4:3, 5:23-24; Galatians
5:22; Ephesians 4:22-24, 5:8.
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Christ, and is characterized by humility, self-sacrifice, mercy and justice, and mutual
submission for the good of others.4
This biblical foundation inspires TWU to be a distinctly Christian university in which
members and others observe and experience truth, compassion, reconciliation, and hope.5
TWU envisions itself to be a community where members demonstrate concern for the
well-being of others, where rigorous intellectual learning occurs in the context of whole
person development, where members give priority to spiritual formation, and where
service-oriented citizenship is modeled.
3. Community Life at TWU
The TWU community covenant involves a commitment on the part of all members to
embody attitudes and to practise actions identified in the Bible as virtues, and to avoid
those portrayed as destructive. Members of the TWU community, therefore, commit
â€¢ cultivate Christian virtues, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, forgiveness,
peacemaking, mercy and justice6
â€¢ live exemplary lives characterized by honesty, civility, truthfulness, generosity
â€¢ communicate in ways that build others up, according to their needs, for the benefit
â€¢ treat all persons with respect and dignity, and uphold their God-given worth from
conception to death9
â€¢ be responsible citizens both locally and globally who respect authorities, submit
to the laws of this country, and contribute to the welfare of creation and society10
â€¢ observe modesty, purity and appropriate intimacy in all relationships, reserve
sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage, and within marriage take every
reasonable step to resolve conflict and avoid divorce11
â€¢ exercise careful judgment in all lifestyle choices, and take responsibility for
personal choices and their impact on others12
â€¢ encourage and support other members of the community in their pursuit of these
values and ideals, while extending forgiveness, accountability, restoration, and
healing to one another.13
In keeping with biblical and TWU ideals, community members voluntarily abstain from
the following actions:
Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Peter 5:5; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 4:7-10; Philippians 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:8a; Romans 12:1-3, 9-
10; John 15:12-13, 17; 1 John 3:10-11, 14-16; Ephesians 5:1-2,21.
From TWUâ€™s â€œEnvision the Centuryâ€ Strategic Directions Document, p 5 (â€œEndsâ€).
Galatians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:12-17; Isaiah 58:6-8; Micah 6:8.
Proverbs 12:19; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:25; Leviticus 19:11; Exodus 20:16; Matthew 5:33-37.
Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 25:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Genesis 1:27-28; Psalm 139:13-16; Matthew 19:14; Proverbs 23:22.
Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:5-8; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9.
Genesis 2:24; Exodus 20:14,17; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5; Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:15-19; Matthew 19:4-6; Malachi 2:16; Matthew
Proverbs 4:20-27; Romans 14:13,19; 1 Corinthians 8:9,12-13, 10:23-24; Ephesians 5:15-16.
James 5:16; Jude 20-23; Romans 12:14-21; 1 Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 3:13.
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â€¢ communication that is destructive to TWU community life and interâ€“personal
relationships, including gossip, slander, vulgar/obscene language, and prejudice14
â€¢ harassment or any form of verbal or physical intimidation, including hazing
â€¢ lying, cheating, or other forms of dishonesty including plagiarism
â€¢ stealing, misusing or destroying property belonging to others15
â€¢ sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a
â€¢ the use of materials that are degrading, dehumanizing, exploitive, hateful, or
gratuitously violent, including, but not limited to pornography
â€¢ drunkenness, under-age consumption of alcohol, the use or possession of illegal
drugs, and the misuse or abuse of substances including prescribed drugs
â€¢ the use or possession of alcohol on campus, or at any TWU sponsored event, and
the use of tobacco on campus or at any TWU sponsored event.
4. Areas for Careful Discernment and Sensitivity
A heightened level of discernment and sensitivity is appropriate within a Christian
educational community such as TWU. In order to foster the kind of campus atmosphere
most conducive to university ends, this covenant both identifies particular Christian
standards and recognizes degrees of latitude for individual freedom. True freedom is not
the freedom to do as one pleases, but rather empowerment to do what is best.17 TWU
rejects legalisms that mistakenly identify certain cultural practices as biblical imperatives,
or that emphasize outward conduct as the measure of genuine Christian maturity apart
from inward thoughts and motivations. In all respects, the TWU community expects its
members to exercise wise decision-making according to biblical principles, carefully
accounting for each individualâ€™s capabilities, vulnerabilities, and values, and considering
the consequences of those choices to health and character, social relationships, and Godâ€™s
purposes in the world.
TWU is committed to assisting members who desire to face difficulties or overcome the
consequences of poor personal choices by providing reasonable care, resources, and
environments for safe and meaningful dialogue. TWU reserves the right to question,
challenge or discipline any member in response to actions that impact personal or social
Wise and Sustainable Self-Care
The University is committed to promoting and supporting habits of healthy self-care in
all its members, recognizing that each individualâ€™s actions can have a cumulative impact
on the entire community. TWU encourages its members to pursue and promote:
sustainable patterns of sleep, eating, exercise, and preventative health; as well as
sustainable rhythms of solitude and community, personal spiritual disciplines, chapel and
local church participation,18 work, study and recreation, service and rest.
Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:31.
Exodus 20:15; Ephesians 4:28.
Romans 1:26-27; Proverbs 6:23-35.
Galatians 5:1,13; Romans 8:1-4; 1 Peter 2:16.
Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:15-16; Hebrews 10:25.
– 4 –
People face significant challenges in practicing biblical sexual health within a highly
sexualized culture. A biblical view of sexuality holds that a personâ€™s decisions regarding
his or her body are physically, spiritually and emotionally inseparable. Such decisions
affect a personâ€™s ability to live out Godâ€™s intention for wholeness in relationship to God,
to oneâ€™s (future) spouse, to others in the community, and to oneself.19 Further, according
to the Bible, sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman,
and within that marriage bond it is Godâ€™s intention that it be enjoyed as a means for
marital intimacy and procreation.20 Honouring and upholding these principles, members
of the TWU community strive for purity of thought and relationship,21 respectful
modesty,22 personal responsibility for actions taken, and avoidance of contexts where
temptation to compromise would be particularly strong.23
Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
The use of illegal drugs is by definition illicit. The abuse of legal drugs has been shown
to be physically and socially destructive, especially in its potential for forming life-
destroying addictions. For these reasons, TWU members voluntarily abstain from the use
of illegal drugs and the abuse of legal drugs at all times.
The decision whether or not to consume alcohol or use tobacco is more complex. The
Bible allows for the enjoyment of alcohol in moderation,24 but it also strongly warns
against drunkenness and addiction, which overpowers wise and reasonable behaviour and
hinders personal development.25 The Bible commends leaders who abstained from, or
were not addicted to, alcohol.26 Alcohol abuse has many long-lasting negative physical,
social and academic consequences. The Bible has no direct instructions regarding the use
of tobacco, though many biblical principles regarding stewardship of the body offer
guidance. Tobacco is clearly hazardous to the health of both users and bystanders. Many
people avoid alcohol and/or tobacco as a matter of conscience, personal health, or in
response to an addiction. With these concerns in mind, TWU members will exercise
careful discretion, sensitivity to othersâ€™ conscience/principles, moderation, compassion,
and mutual responsibility. In addition, TWU strongly discourages participation in events
where the primary purpose is the excessive consumption of alcohol.
When considering the myriad of entertainment options available, including print media,
television, film, music, video games, the internet, theatre, concerts, social dancing, clubs,
sports, recreation, and gambling, TWU expects its members to make personal choices
according to biblical priorities, and with careful consideration for the immediate and
long-term impact on oneâ€™s own well-being, the well-being of others, and the well-being
1 Corinthians 6:18-19.
Genesis 2:24; Exodus 20:14,17; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5; Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:15-19; Matthew 19:4-6.
Matthew 5:27-28; 1 Timothy 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Job 31:1-4; Psalm 101:2-3.
1 Peter 3:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:9-10
1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 4:7.
Deuteronomy 7:13, 11:14, Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 25:6; John 2:7-11; 1 Timothy 5:23.
Genesis 9:20-21; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4; Isaiah 5:11; Habakkuk 2:4-5; Ephesians 5:18.
Daniel 1:8, 10:3; Luke 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:3,8; Titus 2:3.
– 5 –
of the University. Entertainment choices should be guided by the pursuit of activities that
are edifying, beneficial and constructive, and by a preference for those things that are
â€œtrue, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy,â€27 recognizing
that truth and beauty appear in many differing forms, may be disguised, and may be seen
in different ways by different people.
5. Commitment and Accountability
This covenant applies to all members of the TWU community, that is, administrators,
faculty and staff employed by TWU and its affiliates, and students enrolled at TWU or
any affiliate program. Unless specifically stated otherwise, expectations of this covenant
apply to both on and off TWUâ€™s campus and extension sites. Sincerely embracing every
part of this covenant is a requirement for employment. Employees who sign this covenant
also commit themselves to abide by TWU Employment Policies. TWU welcomes all
students who qualify for admission, recognizing that not all affirm the theological views
that are vital to the Universityâ€™s Christian identity. Students sign this covenant with the
commitment to abide by the expectations contained within the Community Covenant, and
by campus policies published in the Academic Calendar and Student Handbook.
Ensuring that the integrity of the TWU community is upheld may at times involve taking
steps to hold one another accountable to the mutual commitments outlined in this
covenant. As a covenant community, all members share this responsibility. The
University also provides formal accountability procedures to address actions by
community members that represent a disregard for this covenant. These procedures and
processes are outlined in TWUâ€™s Student Handbook and Employment Policies and will
be enacted by designated representatives of the University as deemed necessary.
By my agreement below I affirm that:
I have accepted the invitation to be a member of the TWU community with all the mutual
benefits and responsibilities that are involved;
I understand that by becoming a member of the TWU community I have also become an
ambassador of this community and the ideals it represents;
I have carefully read and considered TWUâ€™s Community Covenant and will join in
fulfilling its responsibilities while I am a member of the TWU community.