Blogs Blogs > Why Tim Farron has yet again got it wrong on gay sex

11 January 2018 | by Clifford Longley

Why Tim Farron has yet again got it wrong on gay sex

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Tim Farron, former Lib Dem leader and devout Evangelical Christian, has decided that gay sex is a sin after all

Tim Farron, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and a devout Evangelical Christian, has decided that gay sex is a sin after all. Repeatedly pressed about his beliefs on homosexuality before last year's general election, he ducked the question. But eventually, under pressure, he declared that gay sex was not a sin. In an interview with Premier Radio, however, he now says he regretted saying that. It was not true to his beliefs. He was simply trying to change the subject.

He did himself no favours by such shilly-shallying last year. He does himself no favours now by stating his answer then "frankly, was not right". But more to the point he will have confirmed many people's belief that Christians in general are homophobic bigots, even if they pretend they're not. And that politicians will say anything to get elected. Well, maybe that last bit is true.

Tim – there is only one answer to the question "Is gay sex a sin?" and it was given by Pope Francis. It is the five simple words: "Who am I to judge?" 

I would recommend that he rereads the story in St John's Gospel, chapter 8, about the woman caught in adultery who was taken before Jesus in an attempt to discredit him. His crucial words to her were: "Then neither do I condemn you".

If one wished to elaborate, one could refer to a statement by Cardinal Basil Hume some 20 years ago, who declared: "Love is never wrong, including love between two people of the same sex."

It is a human instinct to want and need loving intimacy with another human being, and we literally die inside without it. It is a human instinct to want to express that intimacy physically, including sexually.

That does not make it right on all occasions, regardless. There are plenty of occasions when sex is automatically wrong, and criminal as well as sinful. Incest, sex with children, sex without full consent, sex as manipulation or exploitation, sex you pay for... And it is never right to break one's promises and commitments. But consensual sex between adults of the same gender is not on that list. God made gay people. And God made gay people gay. That is all we need to know.

There is a long tradition in Christianity that distrusted sexual activity of all kinds. This was magnified at the time of the Reformation by the Protestant and Evangelical doctrine that human nature is "utterly corrupt". That meant that actions which stemmed from our human nature, like actions expressing our love for another and fulfilling that need for intimacy, cannot have value in the sight of God. But if all human activity is worthless because of our utterly corrupt nature, what is the point of being good? Of all the mistakes that the Reformation gave rise to, this was surely the worst.     

Homosexual men and woman have suffered severely down the ages at the hands of Christianity of all stripes, both Protestant and Catholic. It is surely time to make peace, and as far as possible repent and remedy the heartbreak and cruelty, the exclusion, the mockery and hatred – all the injustice that has been done to them. Perpetuating that injustice and prejudice by word or deed is gravely wrong.

Just as down the ages there has been a strand in Christianity that picked on the Jews, so there was a strand that picked on gay people. One could select quotes from the Bible to justify both forms of bigotry and persecution.

But they are entirely contrary to the fundamental spirit of the Christian (and Jewish) principle of loving one's neighbour as oneself, the second Great Commandment. "Judge not, lest ye be judged," said Jesus, as reported in Matthew chapter 7. That was all Tim Farron ever needed to say on the subject.

(Pic: Tim Farron by PA)



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