Liberalism has been very good at expanding the list of things we must tolerate. But, as we saw with the demolition of Tim Farron, a politician of utmost integrity, they have been hopeless at teaching tolerance itself.
Tolerance does not come naturally to us flawed human beings. It needs to be cultivated. And while Liberalism appears intent on stamping out Christianity, the development of tolerance and magnanimity is something Christianity helps us do.
Yes, it is true that Christians regard homosexuality as a sin. So is sex outside marriage, so is hating Sophie Walker, so is being impatient with our loved ones – things that we all regularly do.
Wondering what God makes of our different behaviours helps to develop mindfulness, but as we saw in the repeated bullying of Tim Farron, it is not the Christians, but the liberal interviewers who have a problem with sin.
In fact, Jesus tells us repeatedly to not worry about anyone else’s sin – only our own. If only Liberals would look at the plank in their own eye, their own persistent intolerance, they might be a bit more circumspect about throwing the first stone.
Not only that, but when it comes to other people’s behaviour Christianity constantly reminds us that we are not in a position to judge: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.”
It is God who knows the full facts and only he can really take that call.
So while the likes of Polly Toynbee are intent on portraying Christians as intolerant – liberals would do well to take a leaf out of our Holy Book.
Part of the liberal hostility towards Christianity may be because they don’t want to recognise their large and unacknowledged debt.
For while Christians recognise the family as God’s holy institution, and Jesus was very clear on the sanctity of marriage, it was Jesus, not the liberals, who freed people from potentially stifling kinship ties:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
This message is challenging for us social conservatives, but is no doubt music to liberals’ ears. However, once upon a time the family was a dominant, all-encompassing institution, which effectively controlled the person. What Jesus was really trying to drive home is that we should put him first: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Unfortunately, the liberals were happy to go along with subordinating the family but have forgotten about the God bit. They have put the self-fulfilment and self-actualisation of the individual in his place.
This is unfortunate. The family can act as an everlasting boot camp for teaching tolerance (and patience), but not where it becomes so disparate and fragmented that its members no longer share common time and space.
But where they do, the family throws together different generations to learn each other’s foibles, and different ways of thinking, far more effectively than could be achieved if we spent all day at work.
It teaches us the difficulties of different cultures getting together where parents or in-laws are from different countries or even a different class.
It gives us contact with the high and lowly and with those who achieve differently. For example, my sister is the only businesswoman I have ever known.
We may be lucky and have family with whom we get on easily, but all too often our families contain people, who, if we had the choice, we would absolutely studiously avoid. Instead we have to manage to get along.
Jesus did help dethrone the family, but this was in a specific framework which ultimately helps preserve it. The liberals forgot about that framework and took that liberated individual which they build on now.
Also essential for the evolution of Liberalism was the separation which Jesus made between Church and State: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
This establishes the template for a private realm where we are free to believe what we want to believe as long as we pay obeisance to the State and the law.
This is the bread and butter of liberalism, and Jesus helped to establish this framework. No wonder Tim Farron described himself as “A liberal through to my fingertips”.
Liberals have a debt to Christianity which generally they studiously choose to ignore.
It is precisely Liberalism’s Christian roots that make it such a thoroughly idealistic, possibly naïve philosophy. Only where liberals at least attempt to practice Jesus’s teachings, can liberalism as a political philosophy possibly survive.
(Image: Lib Dems)