Like many Christians I was disappointed by Tim Farron's campaign for the Liberal Democrats. Not for the reasons that concerned the rest of the nation. Quite the opposite. I was disappointed that a man who believes the Bible to be the authoritative word of God was bullied into denying what it says about issues such as sexuality. I cannot imagine the level of the pressure that he was under. I suspect that behind the scenes the antagonism in his own party made the questioning of the BBC seem polite and mild.
That is why I was so encouraged by his resignation yesterday. Not because he resigned. But because he was open about why he was doing so. He said that his commitment as a Christian to what the Bible says had proved to be incompatible with leading a progressive liberal party.
Apart from it being ironic that being liberal no longer means that you tolerate the views of those who you disagree with, it is sad that biblical morality is no longer acceptable in public life.
Many of us have grown up in a culture that has paid lip service at least to the moral norms of the Bible. That culture has gone. What we are returning to is the far more normal situation of feeling like aliens in the world that we live in. Whether at work or amongst non-Christian friends and family, Christian's who take the Bible as authorative are finding themselves not just different, but often holding views that are despised.
This means that Tim Farron's experience is going to increasingly become the norm. We are going to face the proposition of denying what we believe or losing our job. It's why I am finding 1 Peter such an appropriate letter for our times.
Peter urges scattered Christians to be faithful to Christ as aliens and strangers in the world.
"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." (1 Peter 3:15-17)
That's the normal Christian life: Suffering for doing good. Determining to have Christ as Lord in our hearts so we don't compromise him. Being able to answer people's questions graciously. But not expecting people to speak kindly about us as a result.
So whilst I was disappointed with Tim Farron's initial failure to stand for what he believes, I am deeply humbled by his willingness to give up his career dreams, and even to hint that he regrets some of the things he said during the campaign, so that he is known first and foremost as a man who honours Jesus Christ.