“The world behind me, the cross before me…” are stirring words in the song “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus”. It certainly underlines the boundaries in which we are supposed to make our stand. Do we stand on the side of Jesus Christ, or do we instead give in to all the glory and wonders of this world, only to lose our eternal inheritance? Tim Farron, an evangelical Christian, is also a politician, serving as the Liberal Democrat leader. He decided to step down from his position as the latter, citing that he has felt torn between his faith and serving as a political leader all this while. Hopefully this decision that he made will be one of the best ones in his life in hindsight.
Tim Farron has recently resigned as head of the Liberal Democrats, where he mentioned that it was beginning to be "impossible" to be a committed Christian while taking the helm of the party at the same time. The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP felt that this decision would be the right one, as questions continued to be put forward concerning his faith.
Mr. Farron addressed staff at the party’s London headquarters in a speech, saying, "The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment. To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me."
This particular announcement came across as a shock, that is for sure. It has been a few hours after the Liberal Democrats’ openly gay home affairs spokesman Lord Paddick made an announcement himself, citing that he was quitting, mentioning "concerns about the leader's views on various issues". How did Lord Paddick react to Mr. Farron’s decision? He shared with Sky News, "I'm very sad for Tim Farron. I had a long conversation with Tim yesterday and we have a lot of respect for each other."
Mr. Farron is an evangelical Christian who was the leader for the Liberal Democrats for more than a year now, and he was heavily criticized in the General Election campaign because he did not put forward a stand when it came to questions concerning his views on homosexuality. Mr. Farron did express support for equal marriage and LGBT rights, although in an interview, he did not mention whether he thought it was a sin or not. There was much pressure afterwards for the clarification of his stance, before Mr. Farron made it crystal clear that he did not think gay sex is a sin.
Mr. Farron further bared open his soul, "I'm a liberal to my fingertips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me. There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it - it's not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel. Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in."
The recent General Election saw the Liberal Democrats pick up another quartet of MPs compared to their 2015 result, which would see a dozen Liberal Democrats in Parliament this time around. Certainly, now that Mr. Farron is no longer involved in politics, he will surely find it easier to live out his faith, although it would have been a golden opportunity for him to shine for Jesus in the previous position. Perhaps God knows better, but we will continue to pray for righteous leadership across the political sphere.