In July 2015 Tim Farron was elected to become leader of the Liberal Democrats. Less than two years later he resigned. In the weeks leading up to his resignation Tim Farron was publicly hounded for an answer on one question. No one seemed to care about his policies or whether he could have been a good leader. There seemed to be only one question he needed to answer, and based on his answer to that question society would decide whether or not he was fit, not only to continue in his job, but whether he would be allowed to have a voice in the public sphere at all. The question, as many of us will know, was “do you think gay sex is a sin?”
Eventually, Tim Farron resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats. In his resignation speech he said “to be a political leader […] in 2017 and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”
The message was clear; just to hold a belief, even privately, that is out of step with the progressive, liberal, secular society that we are means that you are not welcome in the public sphere.
Our society has moved a long way over the last few decades. As Christians seeking to live true to Jesus’ teachings, we increasingly find ourselves living at odds with our society. When I was in school that may have meant I was laughed at for believing that God created the world, but I would otherwise be accepted, it was thought of in some ways as a bit naïve or quaint. Today our beliefs are no longer seen as naïve but rather as dangerous and harmful, no more so than in the area of human sexuality.
Over the next two Wednesday evenings we are going to be teaching on the whole area of human sexuality; what does the Bible have to say on it? How do we seek to obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbour in highly sensitive matters such as this? How do we navigate holding our beliefs in an increasingly hostile society? These are some of the questions we will seek to address. None of us will be unaffected by these issues, perhaps intensely personally, perhaps through family, friends or colleagues, all of us by what happens in the public sphere. I hope these evenings will serve us well. Come along and be equipped.