Recently on my television show The Arena on Sun News I interviewed David and Jason Benham, the two brothers who were about to begin their own show on HGTV entitled Flip It Forward. The network cancelled the idea after a website called Right Wing Watch revealed that the brothers were evangelicals and opposed same-sex “marriage” and abortion.
Then we had football player Michael Sam who rather ostentatiously kissed his male partner after being drafted for the NFL – with various cameras rolling – and Calgary Stampeder Maurice Price who said that he objected. While he wished Sam only well, he continued, he believed in “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam.” The Stampeders immediately announced that they were, “outraged by the offensive comments made in tweets from Maurice Price’s (Twitter) account. The comments are repugnant and in no way reflect the organization’s views or values. The matter will now be dealt with internally.”
Oh please: he hardly called for genocide. Then Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones was suspended, fined and told he had to undergo “re-education” when he said he found the Michael Sam kiss to be “horrible.” Which is pretty sinister and worrying stuff.
I don’t agree with everything Maurice Price and Don Jones said, and while the Benham brothers seem to be pleasant, modest, and friendly I also disagree with some of what they believe. But this is not the point. Until and unless they call for violence against gay people or say genuinely dangerous things, their opinions are as much their right as are their politics, emotions or – yes – sexuality. Just as a gay person has a right to be gay, a Christian has a right to oppose same-sex “marriage.” Pretty simple really, if you seriously believe in a democracy and pluralism.
The argument for the Benhams having their proposed show cancelled or football players their careers retarded is that no employer has an obligation to pay someone whose opinions they dislike. But that’s actually not true, and if someone was fired for supporting same-sex “marriage,” for example, they could take their case to a court or human rights commission and almost certainly win.
The “right to speak but no right to work” defence is disingenuous and banal. You can oppose same-sex “marriage,” it runs, but you will be unemployed and poor and you and your family will suffer. How liberal. Remember, there is no such thing as free speech if only a small group of people have the money and power to speak out freely. It’s like saying we all have the right to run a race but some of the participants won’t be allowed on the track.
Anybody who thinks that the conversation between Christians and gay people is simple and straightforward and can be solved in sound bites and victories is missing the point.
There is context, nuance, and human frailty involved here and moral conservatives in particular have an obligation to be gentle and loving in this area. But too often those same moral conservatives are being victimized and marginalized by an extremist fringe in the gay community who embrace triumphalism and intolerance and as such shame other gay people and the Canadian value of free speech and respect for difference of opinion.
It’s not an easy time being a serious Catholic or an evangelical, not an easy time being pro-life or socially orthodox, but then I don’t suppose it’s supposed to be. Defined and refined by truth and courage – not a bad way to progress and mature.
I don’t watch football, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty, I wouldn’t have watched the Benham Brothers. But I have the to right to do so, just as others have the right to watch or not watch me.
Michael Coren can be booked for speaking at firstname.lastname@example.org.