Q&A with Dr. Scott Masson

Dr. Scott Masson

Dr. Scott Masson

Dr. Scott Masson is an associate professor of English at Tyndale University College in Toronto.  He was the founding chairman of the Westminster Classical Christian Academy. His articles and commentary have been published in numerous journals, newspapers and magazines. Dr. Masson will soon be launching a news aggregator website at veracrux.ca. He is a husband and father of two.

Campaign Life Coalition interviewed him in February.

 Campaign Life Coalition: How would you explain the incredible cultural and legislative shift that has taken place in Canada in the past 20-30 years, from legalizing abortion, to same-sex marriage, to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights to euthanasia?

Dr. Scott Masson: Well I think it has two roots. One of them is the acceptance of abortion in Canadian life, and the acceptance that these were not people that were being aborted. That may seem like it doesn’t really connect to the issue of same-sex “marriage,” but the idea that the sexual act has no specific purpose and the consequence thereof, could be aborted, I think, leads to the idea that the marital act also could be divested from the same sort of teleological intentions. So between marital couples there was already a devaluation of what actually happened in marriage and the significance of children as the fruit of that and so that’s part one.

The second part is the influence of what I call Cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxism is the attempt to bring about Marxist ideals not through violent revolution, warfare, or that sort of thing, but to do it instead through various cultural institutions such as the entertainment industry, television, music, and through the education establishment and so forth. In the 1960s, this was connected with the sexual revolution. In that, there was an attempt to normalize homosexual behavior by the deliberate attack on Christian norms for marriage, for sexuality, and to put them in the language of oppression and the idea that the Christian family was fundamentally repressive. There was a recognition by those in the Marxist movement that they have to first undermine those institutions if they really wanted to bring about a political revolution. And so, combined with the technological advances and the ability to actually induce abortion through medical intervention, those two things have brought about a huge transformation in our culture.

CLC: It’s interesting that while people in Eastern Europe were fighting and rejecting communism, the masses in the West began to embrace Marxism.

Masson: Right, because in Eastern Europe it was directly imposed from on high whereas here it was presented in popular culture and was far more attractive and far more subtle. People had their guard down because the communists were out there and not in our midst. Right? In the eastern bloc, they recognized the political threat and because of that they were on guard against the propaganda that came with it. We weren’t. And so you notice the effect of this cultural Marxism, also politically in the conservative movement where it has increasingly moved away from the social conservatism. To say, “oh I’m a fiscal conservative but I’m not a social conservative,” well that’s where cultural Marxism has taken its hold even on those that are allegedly within the ranks. They make you look like you are crazy to hold on to social conservative positions though they actually undergird the fiscal conservative positions as well. They are part and parcel of the same philosophy really.

CLC: It seems most anti-life, anti-family pieces of legislation are usually pushed forward by a minority of politicians and special interest groups. And yet, over the past several decades they have gained a lot of ground. Do you think, that the majority is actually with them on these issues or are too many good people just silent and indifferent?

Masson: I think it’s because we have failed across the board to present the winsomeness of Christianity, instead we have largely been fighting a defensive war. And the progressives and the cultural Marxists have managed to portray conservative Christians as a bunch of negative and abstemious people and that there’s no delight in the Christian life. Even though, if you look at the 20th century, look at the writers from Chesterton to Lewis to Tolkien and on and on, they all present the most delightful, joyous, rejoicing views of human life that you could ever find and yet we find there are very few contemporaries in our generation that speak with the same joy and recommendation of the Christian life in all its goodness.

CLC: In Ontario, Bill-28 recently passed, with absolutely no challenge from the Progressive Conservative opposition. You recently wrote that “according to this Bill this new legal family can only exist if the traditional natural family unit is destroyed.” Can you elaborate?

Masson: The family is an institution that pre-exists politics and society. It’s something that God Himself creates and defines, just as he creates and defines human nature so he creates and defines the family. In the beginning God created the male and female and He told them to be fruitful and multiply. So it’s a pre-political order that God himself defines. It is not only God’s institution but it is an inherent hedge against the totalitarian state and the state in its technocratic desire to conquer and to bring under human control all areas of life. The state seeks to destroy (the family), because it’s a ground of resistance to its attempt to bring everything under its vision for life, which is the liberal scientific culture. Transhumanism is the term that I use for it. So to do that it needs to redefine the terms. So in Bill 28 they get rid of the terms father and mother, and it’s not incidental. The terms father and mother, even in the roots of the word, have the idea of begetting and procreation. There were suggestions by some of the opponents that we include along with parent, the terms father and mother. They refused to allow that to be the case and that’s because, again, they have the natural connotations of giving birth, and that suggests that we have a power that the state doesn’t. In the Brave New World, they also abolish the terms father and mother. They render them effectively obscene so that it’s not that you can stop people from saying it per say but you can create an atmosphere and a climate in which people don’t want to use those terms because it sounds like you’re being exclusive or your being derogatory. Since the 1980s, there’s been a movement in political correctness to rebrand our terminology to get rid of the gender specific terms like mother and father and even he and she in the third person pronouns. They are trying to rewrite the grammar of creation and the grammar of creation suggests a Creator and the totalitarian state wants to get rid of the idea of the Creator. Bill 28 has done precisely that, and I think the hedge of protection for the individual is there within the confines of the family institution. Everyone believed throughout human history, that parents have the right to educate their children against any claims upon it by the state. Well now, if the mother and father don’t even exist in family legislation, they have no natural means, and apparently no legal means of resisting the state’s intervention. So I find this is a terrifying state of affairs and it effectively makes everyone wards of the state.

CLC: If Bill 28 aimed to redefine the family as motherless and fatherless, Bill C-16, which is currently in the federal Senate, aims to redefine gender. What are your thoughts on that?

Masson: God created man in His image, male and female He created them. Personhood is sexually specific and also complementary. To be a human being or a person is to be either male or female and it also means that we need those who are sexually complementary to us in some way to make up our human personhood as well, so there’s diversity and unity in that. This legislation (Bill C-16) effectively robs me of the capacity to identify for myself another party without that person revealing his or her identity to me. So it severs logic from something that words identify, it’s an attack on words and language. It fundamentally disrupts our ability to understand one another and the world.

CLC: What do you tell parents who are anxious or fearful of the Canada that their children will live in 5-10-15 years from now?

Masson: First of all children are not meant to be culture warriors. Children need to be nourished, they need to be recognized at the age and stage that they are at. I encourage people to take their kids out of the public school system because I don’t think that children are there to be a salt and light in a system where reality is being bent to conform to radical intentions. I don’t think children are able to stand against that and they weren’t made to do that at that age. I would encourage people to consider that seriously. Secondly, I do think there is a great need for churches and for parents and families to present a very positive view of the body and its connection with our human identity and to seek genuine fulfillment in that, in a way that those teaching radical gender ideologies are simply not demonstrating. I think parents need to be very, very wary about what comes into their homes, and you can’t keep the world out entirely, but you can at least limit it. You have to present the light and you have to present a view of the family that is winsome and positive and you have to do that constantly. You have to model it to your children because children learn by example. If the parents love one another and the children see that the father really gives himself for his wife and the wife really gives of herself for her husband and they prioritize their own families, and they belong to communities that do the same, then they make it so powerful and attractive that people don’t want to stray outside of that.

CLC: We’ve gone down the slippery slope from abortion to euthanasia. What happens next?

Masson: Well again we’re dealing with a whole worldview here and what constitutes human life whether our life is our own or not, or is it a gift from God. I think the culture of death, which has been creeping in and taking the lives of the youngest and the most vulnerable for 40 years, is now going to creep in at the other end and it’s going to become not just a creep but it’s going to become a torrent. It’s horrifying. The only thing that differs between abortion and euthanasia is that with the latter, these are people that you can see and are easier in some ways to identify and defend than those you can’t see and who are done away with in the quiet of the operating room. I think for a time this is going to become more and more dark and more and more wicked and I don’t think the battle is quite done yet, but when these legal activists are able to turn the judiciary the way they have done, all that says to me is that the whole culture has embraced an antichristian view of the body and of human nature and of the integrity of the person and we have done, once again, a terrible job of speaking to that. Now this may sound odd because it sounds like a very dark conversation but I think the anti-life culture has spent itself and exhausted itself and it has nothing left and all it has left now is hostility and anger. People are being turned off by it.

CLC: How can the pro-life movement and faithful Christians respond to this madness?

Masson: We’re a bit like the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings, in that we’re not made for great battles. Let’s be humble and let’s recognize who we are. We’re able to take care of what’s in our neck of the woods, we can work together through political organizations to fight the big battles but ultimately we don’t have control over that. But we can take care of what’s on our patch. Beginning with our own minds we need to recognize where our ideas are at odds with the Christian faith and we need to rectify that and we then need to live it out. I think that’s the beginning for a lot of people. Some people really need to re-think what they’ve been assuming to be true. Once they’ve done that, then they need to get involved in their local communities. You need to start with yourself rather than trying fix the world. The big problem starts right here, right here in my house, with myself. I’ve got to inform myself and until I do that, how am I going to persuade somebody who is opposed to this? To believe it, I’ve got to walk the walk myself first.

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