In 2015 Tim Farron (pictured) was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats. Straight away journalist Cathy Newman was interviewing him for Channel 4 News about his Christianity generally, and his thoughts on sexual morality in particular. Does he regard gay sex as a sin? “To understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners,” he said.
Newman pursued the point – both during that interview and in a recent rematch – and in a way she has a point. The Bible says: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” That is an uncomfortable position for a Lib Dem to champion. Farron could point out that as a politician he supports gay rights (including gay marriage). Yet he does not seem allowed to hold a personal position of conscience.
But then there is a lot in the Bible that many Christians – whether Lib Dems or otherwise – find difficult. After all, even the apostles were a bit of a disappointment at times. Those of us who made it to Church on Sunday were reminded of Doubting Thomas – “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
How many practising Anglicans really manage to believe (for instance) that our planet was created in six days? What about resting on the seventh day for that matter? Christ once healed a woman on the Sabbath and when he got some backchat gave a robust response. (“The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?”)
Christianity does teach us that gay sex is a sin. (Not that being homosexual is a sin, a distinction which Farron made.) But then it also teaches us that sex outside marriage is a sin. My own suspicion is that God is probably most offended by promiscuity (whether of the homosexual or heterosexual variety). He is probably also dismayed that the Church of England keeps banging on about gay sex while ignoring the vastly more serious issue of abortion.
It is great sport to tease a Lib Dem about all this stuff, of course. Or really to tease most Englishmen with our natural reserve about discussing sex, religion and politics – let alone a combination of all three; a combination for agreeably excruciating viewing. Of course Farron didn’t help himself by his desperate evasiveness.
Yet the cowardice of Newman, and the rest of her mob of media colleagues, comes in their double standards.
Would Newman demand of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, (or Sajid Javid, the Communities and Local Government Secretary) to explain whether as a Muslim he regards homosexuality as immoral?
Would Mayor Khan expect to have the Koran quoted at him – “For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower of brimstone.”
Would Newman say: “Mr Khan, as a Muslim do you regard gay sex as a sin or not? Will a shower of brimstone be rained down? Or is what the Koran says just a load of
Well, that would make for lively television too. But, of course, it’s not going to happen. Newman would be off the air and sent packing to some diversity awareness course, after which she might be allowed to do some local radio late night phone-in programme if her apologies were sufficiently abject.
In this politically correct age, the one group that can be vilified for their beliefs with complete impunity is Christians. Either Muslim politicos must be asked the same questions on homosexuality as Farron, or these questions simply shouldn’t be asked at all. Cathy Newman cannot have it both ways.