Saturday, 18 July 2015

It's a Sin

The answer to this question is... not relevant.

As an evangelical Christian, his private position is almost certainly that the act is sinful, not the inclination. Christ hates the sin, but loves the sinner. I know this, as it used to be what I believed.

But whatever, he can't say that - it sounds trite and patronising.

And it's not relevant.

Tim Farron's personal views on sin are - and should remain - his own. Sin is not a concept recognised in law, nor should it play a part in political debate. Sadly, Cathy Newman chose to concentrate on this, rather than issues such as Welfare changes, Greece, Syria (on which she spent 40 seconds) or any one of a number of issues that could have yielded more information on the tone our new leader will set.

And if you're going to fixate on someone's personal views on sexuality, the question should be "If you believe that homosexuality is sinful, how will this affect your policy positions."

It's true that there have been concerns over Tim's voting record - and it's obvious that his desire to ensure some protections for those religious organisations that oppose Same-Sex Marriage did cause him to be less enthusiastic than I would have liked our (then) Party President to have been.

But a quick look at They Work For You reveals that as well voting for the second reading of the Marriage Bill, he has also separately (subsequent to having been absent at the third reading) voted to allow same-sex marriage for armed forces personal.

So his own view on whether or not gay sex is sinful has not actually stopped him voting in favour of same-sex marriage.

He has, of course, expressed concern over whether Christians and other religions were adequately protected by the Same-Sex Marriage act. This is his stated reason for absenting himself from the third reading - which he says he now regrets.

It was similar concerns that led him to vote against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2008. 

Now, we may take different views on these things - but how to balance the competing needs for protection of minorities in our society are legitimate areas of debate; and legitimate areas of concern for Liberals. We must always ensure that in correcting one wrong, we do not create another. Judgements on these things will vary, of course, but the principle is sound.

The fixation on his views on sexuality are a side-show, just as much as the sexual preferences of an unmarried public figure would be, or whether a female politician has had a family.

We cry out for politicians from every walk of life, with differing backgrounds and interests - and then we decry them when they step outside of the model that suits the intellectual, small-l liberal elites. Sometimes with good reason (David Tredinnick) and sometimes not.

Tim has been elevated to be leader, not vicar; to the platform, not the pulpit. I expect him to motivate, not moralise and deliver speeches not sermons.

I expect the press and media to continue to fixate on this issue for a while  and there's a sense in which there is no good answer - a "yes" would cause furore, a "no" would seem inconsistent with his professed faith. I hope Tim gets better at answering - perhaps not by calling us all sinners. Beyond that, I look forward to a gradual return to focusing on substantive issues such as the EU, Housing and rebuiliding our party as a Liberal voice for a liberal country.


Raybeard said...

(Even though I watch Channel 4 News I missed this because of its nightly clash with Radio 4's 'Front Row', so thanks for the link).

Must say I'm disappointed at Ms Newman obsessing about the matter, which was making me squirm almost as much as Mr Farron was. She's usually much shrewder in her questioning than here. We can take issue with Farron's particular views formed out of his Christian perspective (though not ALL Christians would agree with them, something which is all too often overlooked) but as long as he refrains from Papal-style finger-wagging then I'm happy to allow him a fair shot rather than knocking him before he even stumbles - and he's going to have more than enough chances of doing that anyway. I agree with you, Andrew. The subject has dropped way down the list of priority matters and, unless there are reasons to resurrect it, and there currently aren't, let it go.

Jennie Rigg said...

There is, of course, also the point that any definitive answer to a question like that would merely have led to questions about what else he considers sinful until every potential sin under the sun had been discussed.