Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Via : Michael Coren: My unlikely sermon at the Metropolitan Community Church
There she goes: plump, porky and with wings. Yes, pigs can and do fly. Or to put it another way, we now have undeniable proof of climate change because hell has frozen over. Michael Coren, long a public opponent of same-sex marriage and certainly not considered a friend to the gay community, is asked to preach at Toronto’s Metropolitan Community Church.
MCC is not exclusively gay but its central theme, its charisma if you like, is outreach to LGBT people and in all of its many international branches it is at the heart of the struggle for full equality. Indeed in Toronto its leader, Brent Hawkes, is one of the most high-profile, visible and eloquent leaders of the gay community.
It was Brent who invited me. I have written before about how in the past two years I have undergone something of a conversion on the road to Toronto, left the Roman Catholic Church, abandoned social conservatism and become one of those liberal Christians I used to mock. It’s been a pilgrimage and one that — while coming with a heavy professional and personal cost — has made me a better person and a better Christian.
I came to realize that anywhere there is love there is God, that judgmentalism is vehemently anti-Christian and that I had, well, got it wrong. In one of those glorious paradoxes my feelings were confirmed by the sweeping, organized and vicious campaign against me by social and Christian conservatives. By their lack of love you will know them. Which is when Brent approached me and asked me to speak. We have known each other for years because we often appeared on opposing sides on television and radio; neither of us ever thought we’d be embracing, close to tears, in front of the altar of his church.
I’ve spoken to hundreds of groups and haven’t felt nervous for decades. Yet suddenly this 56-year-old man who hosted a nightly television show for 16 years was most definitely nervous. How many of these people had I hurt, how many had lives made more difficult by my writing and broadcasting? I’d never hated but I had given an intellectual veneer to the anti-gay movement, had enabled — even unintentionally — some muddy bigotry.
There were two services, with a combined congregation of around 700. And as I walked in on that hot, rainy morning I was drenched in love and acceptance. No condemnation, no cynicism, no grudges. As a constipated Englishman I was several times close to weeping as I witnessed a sense of authentic Christian community that I have, with all due respect, seldom found in mainstream church settings. I saw collectives of warmth and support, groups of people from various ethnicities, backgrounds, sexualities and experiences united in acceptance. After three months of abuse, accusations and firings from men and women who claim to be Christian my sense of liberation was exquisite. A dawn of the miraculous after the dark night of the cruel.
I told them that as a straight man who had reversed his position on gay rights and marriage I had recently experienced a glimpse of a shadow of a whiff of what it must be like to be a gay Christian. I said that some of the finest Christians I had ever met had been gay Christians. I said that remaining Christian in the face of hostility and even vitriol was an indication of enormous depth of faith and a living, fleshy example of a glorious mystery. I spoke of unconditional love, of what Scripture actually said about sexuality rather than the popular and misguided caricature of Biblical truth, I said that the only absolutes were grace and love.
The point is that in the 200,000 words of the New Testament perhaps a mere 50 in any way concern same-sex attraction, yet tens of thousands speak of charity, care for the poor, forgiveness, love, empathy, gentleness and kindness. At its best the church has led the way for the state but on this issue the contrary is true, as we witnessed with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. There is still time to do the right thing however. As I said, pigs can fly and Michael Coren can speak at the Metropolitan Community Church.
Michael Coren can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org