Tim Farron’s resignation – Christians are now the heretics

Tim Farron’s resignation – Christians are now the heretics

Why shouldn’t Christians be able to express a view on human sexuality they believe to be traditional and Biblical?

Why shouldn’t they be able to say they think the best environment for bringing up children is usually with a mum and a dad?

And why shouldn’t they be able to decline a request to bake a cake with a message supporting gay marriage?

What’s your opinion? (on second thoughts keep it to yourself)

Whatever your thoughts on any of these issues, (see news links below) we now live in a society where it is unacceptable to voice opinions that are traditional and Biblical. Views which just 20 years ago were regarded as normal are now abnormal. Moreover, you might lose your job or end up in court for expressing these views publicly.

Tim Farron has resigned from his very public role as leader of the UK Liberal Democrats. He makes the point that his Christian faith is in direct conflict with his role as a political leader in modern‐day Britain. During our election campaign Tim Farron was repeatedly asked by journalists:

Is gay sex a sin?

Now “sin” is a word that has lost its meaning in society so the question is dubious. The idea of original sin or everyone being a sinner is absurd to the vast majority of people. So, the journalist asking the question was almost certainly — and successfully — using “sin” as a blunt instrument to generate headlines, rather than a serious question about faith or sexuality, or life in modern society.

And of course the irony here is that Tim Farron is far from a fundamentalist or even conservative Christian. He supports same sex marriage and his views are (unsurprisingly) liberal. Even so Farron felt forced to say:

I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.”

secret Christianity

Are we kidding ourselves? (isn’t this just a bit of “PC”)

Secular commentators like to point out that faith presents a dangerous threat to an open liberal society. “Faith” may be tolerable at times of national ceremony (a royal wedding) or personal ceremony (births, deaths, marriages) but otherwise needs to be kept locked away from real‐life. It’s something you choose to do if you feel like it but in private please. They make the point that public faith is not only irrelevant but it is dangerous and intolerant. But they fail to see that their position is itself an intolerant faith position. It is a worldview, and it does not tolerate any other worldview. Some have remarked this is not so much secularism as “theophobia”.

 Secularism has become an intolerant faith position

A recent episode of the Premier Radio show Unbelievable featured a stormy debate between Canadian theologian Joe Boot and President of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson. With great insight and passion Boot reviews several recent cases where Christian opinion has been suppressed including those mentioned in this blog. Additionally, he describes the case of an (atheist!) Canadian academic being hounded for his refusal to use gender neutral pronouns such as Zir, Zim or Ne instead of the traditional him, her etc. Whereas we should honour the way people view their identity, the refusal to use these words doesn’t make you some kind of bigot.

Boot goes on to conclude:

  • Christians championing traditional Biblical views are now effectively regarded by society as heretics. They are stating views which do not conform to the politically correct agenda and they cannot be tolerated.
  • This criticism is directed at Christians who are regarded as “soft targets”. There do not appear to be similar complaints made against Muslims for example. Boot believes this is down to personal fear. Demanding that a Muslim baker bake a cake with a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed could put you in fear of your life.

 Christians with traditional Biblical views are now effectively regarded as heretics

faith in secret

How do we face the future? (rather than bemoaning a fading past)

We seem to be at a tipping point in public dialogue. Interestingly Tim Farron’s resignation may even help to alert our media and general public to this fact. In the meantime, a few remarks to end on:

  • Christians are in a minority and the church is on the margins of society. Get used to that. But it is not all negative. People are just as interested in “spirituality” as they ever were. They just don’t see that the church has relevant answers – and that’s down to us.
  • As Christians we need to learn to express our values and beliefs in ways that do not appear openly and overtly religious. With some humility, “more testimonial than dictatorial”.
  • And we need to defend the right of people of any faith and no faith to express their views sensitively, but without fear of immediate censure, in a climate of extreme political correctness.

keep your faith a secret

Cases referred to in this article: Ashers Bakery lose appeal; Christian parents told they are unsuitable because of views on parenting; and Tim Farron resigns.
If you enjoyed reading this, try Powers, Principalities, and the Internet.
This article also appears on The Baptist Times (edited) and Premier Christianity (edited) with feedback and comments.

Ashers Bakery – a quick summary

The Ashers are Christians and run a bakery in Northern Ireland. After consideration, they refused to fulfil an order from Gareth Lee. Lee is a member of Queerspace gay rights group and requested a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The Ashers stated it was incompatible with their religious beliefs. They were found by a court to have acted unlawfully and to have discriminated against Mr Lee. The case is currently in appeal.

Of course the Ashers would have taken the same decision had a heterosexual requested this cake. Freedom of conscience – the right to politely refuse something that is against our conscience — must come into this at some point.

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Jonathan Tallon
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Jonathan Tallon

A relatively full discussion of the Ashers Bakery case (including summaries of the legal arguments and judges’ reasonings on why the Ashers lost their appeal) can be found here:
http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2016/10/24/the-gay-cake-case-ashers-baking-loses-its-appeal/

Cathy Buntin
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Cathy Buntin

Hi Chris I am proud to stand up and be called a heretic for Jesus. We are here for such a time as this and we need solidarity as we stand up together for Biblical rights and truth. I was so angry with Tim Farron that I felt that I had to email him and challenge him rethink his position. I told him that God may have placed him where he is for such a time as this and I reminded him of Esther in the Bible. I’m not ashamed to stand up and be counted for my Jesus. I… Read more »

Paul ⠠⠇⠂⠅⠑
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Paul ⠠⠇⠂⠅⠑

⠠⠺⠑ need to be rigorous in our striving to be good witnesses. Using phrases like political correctness as a weapon to support what is usually a “putjing down” of a disliked position is dishonest and unhelpful. An over zealousness to portray something conservative about your brand of Christianity has led to major discrimination against gay people and other minority groups in society! Out of a sense of bigotry, we have brought the current situation on ourselves. There is no perfect theology so why can’t we have a view that shows humility and compassion to those on the margins whoever they… Read more »

sallysuccess
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sallysuccess

When I try to think of what Jesus would do, I’m tempted to say He’ll smilingly but bluntly tell them being gay is not His way, nor His father’s way. He’s tell them they can come back to His way, which is the right way, and that if they don’t, there’s another way they’d be choosing, which leads to eternal damnation. Jesus didn’t coax. He told them what He ought to tell them, irrespective of those around Him and of what they might think or say of Him. Only, He was led by compassion for the lost souls, and not… Read more »

Debbie Styles
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Debbie Styles

This one blog has literally given me a headache.
While I’m all for free speech, “views 20 years ago” are just that, 20 year old views.
We live in such a ever changing world, its scary how fast we are moving forward and even scarier to imagine how the world will be in years to come, therefore to hold on to views that were acceptable in society over 2000 years ago is ridiculous.
Be gay and be happy ✌

Duncan Curry
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Duncan Curry

Two key words in this piece“testimonial” and “dictatorial” — living by faith vs being religious impact those around us hugely — yes we live in an instantaneous world that blames just because one believes in something different to the secular ‘highly vocal and litigious society out there ’ that’s ready to put us on media crosses and blast into damnatin because we dare To believe in a principle that goes against the World… but that’s the point here… Jesus said this would be the case John 15:19 ” If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its… Read more »

exit83
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exit83

As a Christian who believes in Biblical truth , the answer to the article title question is yes. But it doesn’t overshadow the fact that absolutely every one of us is a “sinner” and have turned our backs on God . These timeless acts , all of them, will continue until the end of ages whether we keep them swept under the rug or affirm them on social media in 2017 . Each person has a choice to make regarding lifestyle and morality and as long as absolutely zero of these “sins” are forced upon us, no matter the perspective… Read more »

Sunil Raheja
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Thank you Chris for handling this in a helpful and sensitive way. The issue seems in my mind to be that the mainstream media has a particular fixed view on sexuality and anyone who disagrees with these views is bigoted or out of touch. Currently it is on gay rights, but in the past it was sex before marriage, the irrelevance of marriage as a meaningless piece of paper and how it is normal and natural to have multiple sexual partners. Any evidence or news that contradicts this is conveniently ignored or ridiculed as biased. Then it is largely forgotten… Read more »

MelMenziesMerrilynWilliams
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MelMenziesMerrilynWilliams

Your comment about the irrelevance of marriage is one of the issues raised in Glynn Harrison’s book, A Better Story (see my comments above) in which he says that marriage is now seen as a ‘wierd and irrelvant way of life.’ Glynn exhorts us to counter current culture with a positive take on traditional Christian belief.

Sunil Raheja
Guest

Apologies Chris! The link I sent while helpful is not the one I wanted to send! This one shows the slides Voddie Baucham uses better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uVezev5Tnw&feature=youtu.be

exit83
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exit83

Fantastic teaching !

MelMenziesMerrilynWilliams
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MelMenziesMerrilynWilliams

I have been horrified to see the way both Asher’s Bakery and Tim Farron have been hounded. We talk about tolerance in this country as if it were the god of our time, but the intolerance shown to those who disagree with popular minority opinion is dreadful. I’m currently reading Glynn Harrison’s book, A Better Story for the book club I lead, and it conveys such insight into today’s society, and in particular, the sexual revolution, that my notes are almost a book in themselves. It should be a ‘must read’ for us all. Brilliant!

sallysuccess
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sallysuccess

Very true, the intolerance shown to those who disagree with these popular minority opinions is really dreadful, and terrible. And to make things worse, the Church is quiet about this. Christians fight their battles alone. But when its about the “popular opinions”, they’re backed.
How I wish the Church could sit up as one. For only united can we stand!

MelMenziesMerrilynWilliams
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MelMenziesMerrilynWilliams

That, basically, is what this book is saying sallysuccess. The author shows how ‘radical individualism’, and the emotional support that should be the response of anyone with any compassion, shows those with traditional Christian beliefs to be bigots, and that the only way to combat this is not denounce this but to use *positive* stories to show the Way.

Peter
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Peter

Thanks. One criticism I have read is that there is a sense that Tim may have engineered his resignation by trying to make himself a victim or a rather modern martyr (after all the media interviewers were merely expressing their right to free speech to ask Tim questions). I do not agree with the this but I can see why the media are promoting it. We have a duty to argue a case in support of the Christian point of view and all Churches should get together to develop underlying principles on free speech and expressing Christian Faith. We always… Read more »

sallysuccess
Guest
sallysuccess

They shouldn’t do what they don’t want others to do. Rights are for all; if they be rights at all.

Dylan P
Guest

A. Farron was a poor leader had he been more capable he would have been able to be a Christian & a politician. B. In my view it’s a case of degrees , many middle road Christians are able to be inclusive to gays for example. And many other things. When people see ” Christian ” they read right wing extreme views, mainly through ignorance admittedly. If you portray your faith in a way that is true to your own beliefs and yet respectful of others you don’t need to be perceived as heretic to all. In the much discussed… Read more »