This week the ugly face of modern British bigotry was exposed. And again the intolerance came, not from Christian quarters as we are led to believe, but was aimed squarely at them. How the media gunned for Tim Farron over his personal views on sex. He was hounded aggressively until cornered then given a clear ultimatum: publicly endorse the moral values of the sexual revolution/gay lobby or face the consequences and be damned.
The witch hunt was the more alarming given that Farron’s voting record proves he is no threat to LGBT causes. This was not about his being problematic but a test of his orthodoxy; when push came to shove would he side with the teaching of the faith, that sex has a procreative purpose and belongs in marriage, or concede to the secular consensus that sex is for gratification with no questions asked? The message is crystal clear; a luke warm faith that bends to secular will is, just about, acceptable but a strong Christian faith is now anathema and will not be tolerated.
In the Early Church Christians were persecuted if they refused to bend the knee to the prevailing culture. The authorities tested commitment to inclusivity by demanding sacrifice on the altars of false gods. Today the test has resurfaced and Christians must bend the knee to the inclusivity of the sexual revolution or be shamed and excluded. Thus we have seen bakers, teachers, nurses, adoption agency workers, registrars, and now politicians, suffering if they refuse to submit. It isn’t edifying or very caring of Christians.
It was politically astute of Farron to concede but it deals another blow to Christian culture and the liberal health of our nation. A liberal country would be mature enough to foster a culture of respect in which people of different values work together despite disagreement. Space for mutual flourishing would be made. Instead we witness Christians frozen out unless they ‘get on message’. What an impoverishment as regards genuine diversity!
Of course a liberal society would also tackle bigotry. There can be no place for those endorsing hatred of either homosexuals or Christians. But just because a Christian believes sex cannot be divorced from the natural law/ its procreative purpose doesn’t make them a hater. Some Christians are gay themselves incidentally. So why take private matters into the public square? Why shame and exclude people of faith? Why do the very voices which would so strenuously denounce a Christian media which cornered homosexuals and demanded they endorse the biblical view only fall silent when the tables are reversed?
I am genuinely worried about liberal values in modern Britain. Increasingly we see bully boy tactics deployed and nothing is done when people of faith become the victims of hate. The media loves to suggest bigotry belongs with the Christians but reality looks different. Thirty years ago I would have laughed at the notion Christians would find it impossible to work in the public sector unless hiding their beliefs. Today it seems to be true. How illiberal certain liberals prove to be.