Last month on my television show an evangelical guest insisted on describing homosexuality as sodomy and gay people as sodomites; he also argued that two gay people could not be in love as we know it. I strongly objected, said that the terminology was ugly and archaic and the sentiments un-Christian and worse. There are extremists on both sides, I continued, but we must not allow these zealots to define and decide the debate or the language of discourse. As a Christian in media, I told my guest, I could tell numerous stories of threats and attempts to have me fired simply because I uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Those haters will no more change me than will the fundamentalists on the other side who seem obsessed with homosexuality and show no compassion or grasp of life’s realities
I also said that while I did not believe that there was such a thing as a gay gene or that people were born gay I did believe that gay people felt same-sex attraction from a very early age and that the vast majority of gays, and gay men in particular, did not choose their sexuality. Also, we don’t describe heterosexual couples merely by the act of sexual intercourse and nor should we similarly describe gay people.
To reduce love and commitment to the mere act of sexual intercourse is banal and crass and accepts the secular deconstruction of humanity far more than it embraces the Christian approach to humanity’s sexual complexity. Any Christian who uses a cruel or dark word to describe a gay person should ask themselves how they would feel if such a term were applied to their son or daughter. Shouting around this so delicate issue will achieve nothing, speaking just might.
What has happened since has, frankly, shocked and sickened me. After this disagreement on television, a subsequent monologue and a further column I was inundated with e-mails and tweets. Most were in my favour but a substantial number were abusive, accusing and threatening. Almost all from alleged Christians, both evangelical and right-wing Catholic. I was told I was a heretic, a sell out, a closet gay, a disgrace to Catholicism.
A couple of blogs virtually declared war on me. One of them announced a long diatribe with “Michael Coren Complicit In Destruction Of Souls Who Practice Homosexuality Pt 1.” Part one indeed; goodness knows what part two has to offer but I must admit I am anxious to see. It’s a bit like Christmas morning when I was a little boy.
Another, the self-proclaimed and unintentionally funny Heresy Hunter, opined: “Michael Coren a neo-Catholic demagogue” and “The voluble tripe Coren has been dishing out lately really needs to be called out. It’s now time for Canadian Catholics of traditionalist propensity to stop biting their tongues whenever he broadcasts his version of Catholic-lite from whatever rostrum.” I don’t think he knows what voluble means but that appears to be the least of his problems.
The hatred was palpable, the ignorance of the context of Scripture and genuine Church teaching astounding, the distance from Christ’s love terrifying. I can do little for these sorry legalists but I do have to thank them for what they have done for me. I am used to venom and filth from gay fanatics, but this episode demonstrated that intolerance and anger are not confined to any one group. Jesus would weep, but I can merely frown and remember that what does not kill me will make me stronger in my love of God.
I will never deny my faith and for that reason will defend marriage as well as human dignity, whatever its sexuality, until I take my final breath.
(Coren’s latest book is The Future of Catholicism. His web site is www.michaelcoren.com.)