Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Favourite Share

Why Tim Farron's comment on gay sex lets the Church down

Having repeatedly refused to answer the question 'Is gay sex a sin?', Tim Farron has finally given in to media pressure and stated: "I don't think gay sex is a sin". David Robertson responds 

I feel real sympathy for Tim Farron. He is a decent man and a Christian who, whatever you may think of his politics, comes across as sincere, intelligent and passionate. Because of his Christianity he has been hounded for years. And although I profoundly disagree with his support of same sex marriage I have defended him many times – including on television and on this blog.

Overall he has acquitted himself well but this week he seems to have let himself down and those who were defending him. After years of deflecting the question of whether gay sex was wrong, he has now publicly stated that it is not. In doing so he has let himself, the Liberal party and the Church down. Why?

Farron's comments will not prevent the criticism or the attacks. Although it may make the news story move on – which was undoubtedly the intention. Before he looked evasive when he refused to say whether or not gay sex was wrong. But now he looks weak – giving into the media pressure or perhaps the media advisors in his own party: "Make it go away Tim". This of course may be grossly unfair – it is possible that all along he really thought that gay sex was not wrong and that it was some kind of principled evasion that he now accepts looks bad. But it is doubtful whether many will believe that he was that stupid.  

Farron's apparent U-turn is not helpful to the Lib Dems because it makes them look illiberal. I was a founder member of the Social Democrats – the 'Dem' part of the Lib Dems. Because I uphold the teaching of Jesus that all sex outside of marriage (which is between a man and a woman) is wrong, then I would no longer be welcome in my old party. Tim Farron tried to defend and exemplify the traditional liberalism that allowed diversity of views and freedom of expression. But by caving into this pressure one can sense that even the Liberals have headed down the increasingly totalitarian thought-police route of our culture.

Note that this was not about policy, or politics (Farron has repeatedly voted in favour of LGBT rights). This media storm was only about Farron's personal thoughts. So it seems unless our politicians think the right thoughts they can be outed and condemned. That's hardly the essence of a liberal society, is it?

Tim Farron has let the Church down. Now it's not just liberal clergy (who have never been too keen on Scripture anyway) but an increasing number of 'evangelicals' who are changing their view.  So whether it is the liberals who say that the Bible has got it wrong, or the post-truth evangelicals who say that we have got the Bible wrong, it leaves the rest of us being treated and viewed as some kind of out of touch Westboro Baptist group. It feels as though we're being picked off one by one.

I’m afraid that when I heard of Tim’s turnaround, the thought 'another one bites the dust' struck me. I say this with incredible sorrow because I can only imagine the struggle and pain that Tim has gone through – and I know how easy it is to snipe from the sidelines. I also know how easy it is to give in to the pressures.

So let's not be too quick to rush in to condemn or to justify. We need to pray for Tim as we do for all our political leaders. If our hearts are heavy because we regard him as an errant brother then we must pray all the more. And let us be aware of the price that Christians are asked to pay as they are increasingly targeted by the illiberal secular thought police. Channel 4’s behaviour in this witchhunt has been despicable but we can expect it to be repeated.

The Church needs to get its act together. If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, then little wonder that the troops are confused. When so many Church leaders are caving into the demands of contemporary culture it is hardly surprising that Christians like Farron follow. And its not enough for those of us who hold to the teaching of Jesus to expect others to be our martyrs. We need to be the salt and the light.

Let's not circle the wagons, retreat into the bunkers, or shoot our own wounded. But instead let's confess our own sin, look to the Lord and endeavor to serve him with new obedience. May the Lord raise up those who will stand in the gap, who will be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. And may he have mercy on us all. 

Click here to request a free copy of Premier Christianity magazine

comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Thoughts on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective.

You may also like...

Tim Farron was right to resign as Liberal Democrat leader because... More

UK

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has defended his successor... More

UK

Tim Farron has refused to say whether he thinks homosexuality... More

UK