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"David and Jonathan", c. 1505, by Cima de Conegliano: A re-reading of the Bible can bring radical new conclusions


For the last few years I have often been asked to give speeches in the United States. I usually begin with an un-characteristic modesty, along the lines of: “You might not have heard of me but I’m pretty well-known in Canada.” It usually gets a laugh. Yes, pretty well-known in Canada: as a television and radio host, columnist and author. And in that capacity I was renowned as a social conservative and someone who opposed, among other things, same-sex marriage. Good Lord, I even won a national broadcasting award for my part in a radio debate on the issue. But then last year, after a long process of unwinding and unfolding, I came out as an advocate of equal marriage.

The process was obviously incremental and also impossible to detach from my faith. I’d based my previous view on Christian teachings, the procreative aspect of marriage and the uniqueness of the genders. So the first wedge, the first opening of the door, was faith-based. A radical re-reading of Scripture can be an uncomfortable thing. Jesus never speaks of homosexuality, Paul seldom mentions it, the Old Testament devotes a tiny amount of space to it and never even refers to lesbianism, while modern interpretations of the story of Sodom and even the Pauline letters lead to some very different conclusions about their meaning.

It’s generally accurate to say that the Bible is not positive about same-sex attraction but goodness me do David and Jonathan have a lot of explaining to do, and you can throw in Ruth and Naomi, Philip and that Ethiopian eunuch on the Jerusalem road, and the centurion who so loves his slave that he will do anything to have him cured. Read the Hebrew and Greek originals for all this and you’ll be stunned.

Layered onto this were the books of numerous Christian writers, many but not all of them Anglican, such as Bishop Alan Wilson and Canon Jeffrey John and at the very least what had been a rock of certainty became a cloud of unknowing. I could no longer reconcile the pristine gentleness and tolerance of Christ with the harshness of the anti-gay Christian Right.

As for the secular and political context, the procreative nature of marriage had always been a stumbling block for me. Of course, I knew that some couples couldn’t conceive and others didn’t want to but the norm for straight marriages was still children. Here was where experience came into play. In the past two years I have met so many gay couples with children — mainly through adoption — and the degree of sacrifice and commitment drowns any natural law argument. More than this, the children adopted are often those far from top of the list for other couples; it might sound clinical but it’s true.

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TonyH
November 23rd, 2015
3:11 PM
How refreshing it is to hear that Mr. Coren is learning to think for himself rather than take all his life lessons from dusty old parchments based on late Bronze age sensibilities and mythology. Part of me wants to laugh at him for all the time he has wasted railing against something as innocuous as same sex marriage, but the more grown up part of me wants to -- and will -- wish him luck with his newfound emancipation. He might almost be ready for a tv show on a real network because, despite his past association with mean-spirited bigots, he's always struck me as an intelligent and articulate (if misguided) man. Best of luck!

AnGiogoir
November 23rd, 2015
3:11 PM
I'm a secular conservative who values the institutions and beliefs that created Western culture and kept it flourishing for so long. However, I, like the author, also voted in favour of gay marriage. However, the main reason why many of us, who aren't social radicals, voted yes, is not because we fully endorse gay marriage as marriage, but because the concept of marriage itself has been undermined. Who cares who can get married or not, if you no longer believe in the importance of the institution. This view of course, ignores the evidence of the instability of non-married relationships and the need for a child to have a mother and a father.

Alpha Gamma
November 12th, 2015
5:11 PM
Based on his radical re-reading and reasoning, I expect Mr. Coren to come out in favor of slavery very soon since Jesus does not explicitly condemn it in the Bible.

Aslan
November 8th, 2015
5:11 PM
Poor Micheal. He seems rather confused. It's all rather sad. As a Canadian, I followed Coren in the media --his columns for Sun Media, then his talk show on a small television network, followed by his show on the now defunct Sun News Network. While I wish him well, I'm afraid that his opinions no longer matter to me.

Swiss Guardsman
November 6th, 2015
4:11 PM
Sacred scripture is quite clear about homosexuality: It is wrong. Michael Coren's attempt to besmirch David and Jonathhan and Ruth and Naomi are both disgusting and a wilful misinterpretation of scripture. Look it up and see for yourself. Coren apostasised and left the Catholic Chrisitian faith a year ago. We do not change. Neither does the truth. Marriage is between one man and one woman and illustrates the marriage between Christ and his church.

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