May 22, 2007
Debate over sexual orientation dividing Christians
By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD AND MICHAEL COREN -- Sun Media
The Anglican Church votes in June on whether to allow the blessing of same sex unions. The debate leading up to the vote has exposed deep divisions within the Anglican church. Sun Media columnist Christina Blizzard, an Anglican, says it's time to move in this direction. Fellow columnist Michael Coren, a Roman Catholic, is firmly against it. Their differences led to a heated exchange of e-mails.
Blizzard: I suppose there's delicious irony that the Anglican church, a faith founded on the adultery of Henry VIII, is agonizing once again over whether the church should bless same sex marriages. A schism has opened within the church that could, ultimately, destroy it. My views have changed over the past 10 years. I think it's time Anglicans embraced gay unions.
Coren: Yes, Anglicanism began when that murdering thug Henry VIII wanted to get rid of his loyal wife Catherine and marry the manipulating seductress Anne Boleyn. Now in its dying stages, it once again attacks genuine marriage. This time it is not raven-headed beauties but homosexual activists who are pulling the strings.
Blizzard: The Anglican church has always recognized the frailty of the human condition. Do you exclude from God's love everyone who doesn't fit your view of worthiness? Many gay and lesbian couples are faithful Christians who do a great deal of work for the church. Isn't Christianity supposed to be about compassion?
Coren: My view of worthiness is irrelevant, as should yours. It's God's view that matters when we discuss Christianity. He indeed loves everybody, but he also condemns sin. True love doesn't mean encouraging what is wrong, and the Bible and 2000 years of church teaching are abundantly clear about homosexuality. Remember, compassion isn't liberalism.
Blizzard: I'm not sure 2000-year-old rules are relevant today. The world has changed and the Anglican church has changed with it. Twenty years ago, we didn't ordain women as priests. Now we do. That's a good thing. Let's not confuse archaic church rules with Christ's teaching. Nowhere in the Bible does Christ condemn homosexuality.
Coren: 2000-year-old rules such as loving one's neighbour and turning the other cheek? Either Scripture is eternal or it isn't. As for Jesus not condemning homosexuality, nor did He condemn bestiality and necrophilia. To observant Jews of the era these truths were self-evident and to fail to understand that is to misunderstand the entire Christian message.
Blizzard: Well, bestiality and necrophilia are both still offences under the Criminal Code. Homosexuality isn't. Gay couples aren't asking the church to put on a display of sadomasochistic sex in the cathedral. Loving gay Christian couples want the simple dignity of having their union blessed before God. With so many young people turning to civil marriage ceremonies, I find that refreshing.
Coren: But you were referring to the Bible. I was showing that Christ did indeed condemn homosexuality, as does the Old Testament, St. Paul, the church fathers and all Christianity until a few liberal Protestants in the last decades of the 20th century who, frankly, are more concerned with political correctness than truth.
Blizzard: The nature of Protestantism recognizes that faith, morals and ethics are an evolutionary thing. We are not stuck the Middle Ages. We don't burn heretics at the stake any more -- a huge relief to me in light of these e-mails. What irks many Anglicans in North America is that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has caved to the African church -- which condones polygamy -- in this latest edict against same sex blessings.
Coren: Calvin and Luther founded Protestantism and they thought the opposite, as do most of the world's Protestants. It's only the dying churches -- Anglican and United in particular -- that obsess about homosexuality. If ethics evolve, why believe anything? As for Africa, you're being unfair. Their bishops don't support polygamy and it's the only place where Anglicanism is growing.
Blizzard: If obsessing over homosexuality means Anglicans are engaged in a vigorous debate about how to include a group that has been dismissed as not worthy by the Catholic church, then yes, I will proudly thank God for a church that allows that discussion to take place. I am equally not ashamed if Anglicans choose not to parse every archaic letter of church law in favour of embracing the loving, compassionate, inclusive spirit of Christianity.
Coren: All people should be welcome in church but not all behaviour. Invite the sinner, but don't encourage the sin, even if it is one that is fashionable. Christianity is inclusive in that it welcomes all, but exclusive in that it requires belief in God and obedience to His loving commands. Otherwise it's just a secular hugging club.
Blizzard: A church shouldn't be some kind of snobby golf club that only lets you in if you play by their rules. If two people of the same sex love one another, are committed Christians and would like their union acknowledged before God, is that a sin? I think a greater abomination is turning your back on the faithful.
Coren: It's the liberals who are the snobs. They want to edit rather than follow Jesus and impose their views on others. What arrogance to think that every other Christian in history and even Christ Himself got it wrong. As for love being the only criterion, this logic would allow incestuous marriage.
Blizzard: Of course Christianity is about love -- and not just sexual love. Wasn't Christ's example to eat and drink with outcasts and sinners? Wasn't His greatest commandment that we love one another? And haven't we all, like sheep, gone astray in one way of another? Yet many churches are elitist cliques that cater only to the self-righteous.
Coren: Yes, love. And God says He cannot love what is not good. Anything that contradicts His most fundamental teaching cannot be good. Christ is quite explicit when He deals with sinners. He tells them they are forgiven but, vital this, they must not do it again. Love of people is not blindly accepting their every desire.
Blizzard: I find the Catholic church's view on homosexuality hypocritical. They condemn as sinful decent, faithful people in committed, openly gay relationships, yet for decades turned a blind eye to horrific abuse of altar boys and other children in their care by their own priests.
Coren: You lose the argument so you bash Catholics. But you're right that the scandal was largely homosexual, with 80% of the victims being boys aged between 13 and 18. Blind eye? Certainly gross incompetence. Just like every other church, and every other profession, where the abuse rates were identical. I'm glad you now acknowledge the reality of sin.
Blizzard: You spend nine e-mails bashing Protestants and Anglicans and take offence when I mention one Catholic scandal? Consensual sex within a loving relationship is not a sin. Abuse of a child by a trusted elder is. Michael, I think we need to close this exchange in a Christian fashion. I don't think we can agree to disagree. But let's at least agree to go in peace.
Coren: Genuine Christianity and homosexual behaviour are incompatible. Gay people can do what they want but have no right to demand that Christianity transform itself merely to accommodate them. I wish you peace, from the bottom of my heart. As I do those Christians currently being persecuted throughout Canada because they dare to remain faithful to the truth.