'OK, but when the Bible says that "you shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination", you don't have any problem with that?' . . . 'So personally, as a Christian, you believe abortion is morally wrong?'
So asks the young news anchor on Channel 4 News, UK, of Tim Farron, the recently elected leader of the Liberal Democrat party.
With the usual agenda of a media interrogation, the torrent of questions force Farron round in circles, later labelled as an 'ilLiberal' from his comments. His apparently conservative and outdated views reinforcing the seemingly commonly-held concept that politics just can't be mixed with religion.
Live on air Farron doesn't answer directly—instead coming back with what the Christian faith does believe in. In some ways, this is commendable, but the non-answer leaves a gaping hole of suggestion.
Yet Farron knows that his true free voice has long-since died in our generation. Unless his personal belief system fits within a politically correct box, his 'opinion' will be mocked, scorned and sent right back to where it came from.
What does this look like for us?
Faith and politics. Faith and media. Faith and sport. Can any other area of our lives be mixed with faith outside of a Sunday morning church service and our own personal time with God?
The office daily grind. As soon as we walk out of the lift into the office space, the mention of God becomes cringe-worthy and irrelevant (although we were just singing alongside to Hillsong on the car stereo).
We pray God would make us salt and light to our workplace but we'd prefer to do it without anyone publicly noticing. We'd like to pray for people, as long as it's in the comfort of our own home. We don't want to have to answer any quirky and awkward questions, or 'have a theological debate' in our lunchbreak, because we have a deadline looming.
Do we care so much about our reputation that we won't stand up for what we believe? Sometimes, whatever you are asked, you'll be led round in circles (take Tim Farron).
There will be the usual 'God botherer' referrals or the heavily annunciated 'born-again Christian' labels. We are so concerned with blending in; we won't answer the hard questions. Those questions might be totally off our radar in terms of what our faith looks like on a day to day basis. But if we are not answering the questions that people are asking, how can what we believe be a solution?
Your questioners will probably disagree with your answer anyway. Sometimes it may just be that they actually want a straight answer. Not a non-answer, evasive lecture about all of us 'being sinners'. This is only a relevant answer if your audience actually believe in a concept of sin.
The writer of a Spectator blog commenting on Farron's response, being pushed awkwardly around in circles likes a gazelle hopping out of the lion's path writes, 'He [Farron] clearly believes in the literal truth of Leviticus and thinks homosexuality is a sin, but lacks the guts to say so openly'.
What I'm interested in here is not the continuance of the same old homosexuality debate, but whether we will stand up and be counted for. Will we say what we actually believe when we are continually pushed into a corner?
Tim Farron's way of responding to the question is like a typical politician—he skirts around the issue and won't answer directly—he behaves exactly like a politician usually does! And so in that respect blurs the lines between his work and his faith.
If he stood up and faced the inevitable questions straight on, which are always going to be designed to catch him out, I believe he'd be separating his politics and his faith, and behaving as a man rather than a politician, not wanting to give a soundbite to be quoted in the future, out of context.
Stand and testify
Can we stand and say, when backed into a corner, that we will testify to what we believe? I ask this question of myself too. Instead of muddying the waters, diluting our beliefs, do we actually have the guts to stand for one thing or another?
For example, Bethel Church Pastor, Kris Vallotton (US) will openly make brazen statements via his social media, and his response to 'haters' will be to say for them to 'unfollow' on Facebook him if they don't like what he says.
What if we lived as if nothing else mattered? Perhaps then we wouldn't hold back. People will always pick apart the word of God and start conveniently quoting Leviticus verse by individual verse.
If we believe the Bible is God-breathed we must start living this way, letting it breathe into every sphere of our lives, and not conveniently leaving it on the rugby side-line, outside the bar with the bouncer or in the lift at work.
Having said all this, I respect Farron: at least he stands for something. He's a rare influencer standing bare in a public sphere championing for God and for faith—and for genuine equality.
Originally from the Lake District in the UK, Amanda works in publishing in Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html