They are not words we are accustomed to hearing, particularly in public from a writer famous for regularly expressing his strong opinions in print.

They are not words one expects to hear expressed on a much-debated controversial issue that has bedeviled social discourse for the past half century, especially when the writer has weighed in on the topic with such vehemence writing,

As for Jesus not condemning homosexuality, nor did He condemn bestiality and necrophilia…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. (The Sun 22 May 2007)

But, Michael Coren has rethought his position and wrote in that same Sun Newspaper this past Friday:

I have evolved on this single subject because I can no longer hide behind comfortable banalities, have realized that love triumphs judgment, and know that the conversation between Christians and gays has to transform — just as, to a large extent, the conversation between conservatives and gays has.

I am not prepared to throw around ugly terms like “sin” and “disordered” as if they were clumsy cudgels, or marginalize people and groups who often lead more moral lives than I do. I am sick and tired of defining the word of God by a single and not even particularly important subject.

If we live, we grow. The alternative is, of course, death.

Whether or not one agrees with Mr. Coren before or after admitting he “was wrong”, it is a bold and noble gesture to publicly utter the three words, “I was wrong.”

Ironically Mr. Coren’s change of mind did not come about largely due to intellectual argument, biblical exegesis, or new scientific evidence. His about-face came because of the attitudes he encountered from the side of the argument with which he had previously been associated. Coren explains,

I have been parachuted into clouds of new realization and empathy regarding gay issues, largely and ironically because of the angry and hateful responses of some people to my defence of persecuted gay men and women in Africa and Russia. I saw an aspect of the anti-gay movement that shocked me. This wasn’t reasonable opposition but a tainted monomania with no understanding of humanity and an obsession with sex rather than love.

Love it seems has the power to open our hearts to a truth that is deeper and more profound than all the intellectual, scholarly, doctrinal, textual arguments ever mustered on either side of any controversy. This may be why Paul wrote,

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

It is hard to know what argument love would bring against a gay person who says, “I love this person; I want to commit my entire life to this person in faithful loving relationship and build a life together with this person to the exclusion of all others.”

Where does love figure into the equation for the Archbishop of Canterbury? It is reported he speaks from “an evangelical tradition” and has believed that,

the key issue … was the authority of Scripture. He acknowledged that sometimes the Church had been captive to non-Christian views, foolishly trying to defend slavery or apartheid from the Bible, for example. Nevertheless, he observed that in the great periods of renewal in Christian history, the call was always “back to the Bible”.

He said: “The Bible is actually clear that homosexual practice is not permitted, is against the will of God.”

Mr. Coren seems to have discovered the authority of love and it has convinced him of the error of his previous opposition to people seeking to live in loving relationships. Perhaps Justin Welby may open to the logic of love in spite of what his Bible might appear to say and may find himself able to join Mr. Coren and say, “I was wrong”.