It takes courage to admit a mistake and a big man to apologise publicly. But Tim Farron MP, the former Liberal Democrats leader, did that yesterday. He was being interviewed on Premier Radio’s breakfast show by presenters John Pantry and Rosie Wright and was asked whether he regretted what he said during the last General Election about homosexuality. The bottom line is, he said, of course, I did (feel pressured) and there are things - including that - that I said that I regret. … All they (the secular press) wanted to do was talk about my Christian beliefs and what they actually meant. … Foolishly and wrongly, (I) attempted to push it away by giving an answer that, frankly, was not right.
Back in May 2017 I wrote an article about Tim Farron under the headline Dear God, Tim can’t take your calls any more — he’s got five seats to win. At the time it was the run up to the General Election. Tim Farron MP was leader of the Liberal Democrats party and was working hard to get their message across to the British public. All that the media seemed to be doing was hounding him about was his views as an evangelical Christian about homosexuality. Buckling under pressure, Tim Farron said in a BBC interview I don’t believe that gay sex is a sin.
Yesterday he expressed his regret for that statement, using words such as foolish, wrong and the answer was not right. He was asked to describe sin. His response was it is falling short of the glory of God. Later he stated sin is something we are all, Jesus excepted, guilty of. Listening to his 17-minute interview on Premier Radio, a number of points stand out.
At one stage he comments that in America politicians invent a faith to be taken seriously. In the UK politicians have to pretend not to have faith. Being a Christian in politics in the UK is not easy. How we need to pray and encourage Christians in politics. He used the word isolated to describe how he felt as leader of the Liberal Democrats, and commented that he only aware of one other Christian in the Liberal Democrats team around him. Leadership in politics, and the secular world, as well as in the Church, can be a lonely position. The challenge to all of us is to seek to build bridges with those around us in leadership and know when to listen and advise, and how to pray.
Perhaps the most amazing thing from Tim Farron’s interview yesterday was the way that he talked about himself. He used words such as regret, foolish, wrong, the answer was not right. It is never easy to apologise. Politicians just don’t do it! And if they have to, they don’t do so publicly. Tim broke the mold yesterday.
Thank you Tim Farron for your example to all of us. We pray that the Lord will use you greatly in the political arena in the future.