The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

It is now fashionable to ‘do God’ in Scottish politics!

Many years ago, Tony Blair’s right-hand man, Alistair Campbell, famously said, “We don’t do God”, although Blair somewhat changed his mind when he left No 10, converted to Roman Catholicism and said that faith is an important part of our public discourse.

Well, it seems that not only God, but actually being a ‘Christian’, is now very fashionable at Holyrood – as long as you are a certain sort of Christian, namely one that keeps your mouth shut on biblical values, or lives in an entirely contrary way.

This past week, at least two high profile MSPS have claimed during a speech in Holyrood that they are Christians, although the fact that they have done so raises some serious concerns that need to be addressed, not least because one of them was John Swinney, the new First Minister.

All of this came about because of the appointment of Kate Forbes to the position of Deputy First Minister, a fact that has enraged the Greens and not a few others. Kate, who is clearly a very competent and talented politician, is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, but that isn’t the problem for her enemies. It’s not the fact that she is a Christian – after all they have just appointed a professing Christian to be First Minister. The problem is that she is a certain sort of Christian who has spoken in the past of her commitment to Christian values such as the sanctity of life and marriage.

But this past week, Ross Greer, a prominent and outspoken member of the Scottish Green Party, testified in Holyrood that he had a “deep Christian faith” like Kate Forbes but couldn’t support her appointment because she was against same-sex marriage and had said that children being born outside of marriage was wrong. Ross Greer is a member of the Church of Scotland and this week in his speech in Holyrood appeared to affirm that he is gay. He is proud that the Church of Scotland accepts and recognises same-sex marriage and supports Pride events with Church Ministers taken part. He is a strong advocate of LGBTQ indoctrination in primary as well as secondary schools, supports transgender ideology, abortion on demand and assisted dying – all, he says, not despite the fact that he is a Christian but actually because he is a follower of Christ.

While disparaging Kate Forbes’ views and values, he held up Iain Blackford as another well-known member of the Free Church of Scotland, Iain Blackford, former leader of the SNP party in Westminster as “a fine example of a Free Church member”, by contrast with Forbes. This is the same Iain Blackford who was rebuked by his church for his support of imposing abortion in N Ireland, who was a strong advocate of introducing same-sex marriages in the UK and who earlier this year abandoned his wife of many years to begin an adulterous relationship with another woman. Clearly, for Scottish politics, that sort of Christian is acceptable and lauded

Then we have our new First Minister, John Swinney, who, in the same debate in Holyrood said, “I have a very deep Christian faith”. Mind you, just a year ago, he cast doubt on whether Kate Forbes would be acceptable as First Minister because of the Christian values she espouses. This is the same John Swinney who, though a member of the Church of Scotland, regularly attends the Roman Catholic Church and had his first marriage annulled by the Pope so that he could marry a Roman Catholic and bring his child up as a Catholic. The same John Swinney who promoted the introduction of graphic pornographic material into schools under the guise of sex education and who championed the notorious Named Person policy which would have taken away parental rights from children and given them to state recognised individuals and authorities. The same John Swinney who was described as a “scoundrel” in the House of Lords and less than honest by a Judge in Court. Clearly, for Scottish politics, that sort of Christian is acceptable and lauded.

The Scriptures clearly state that a true Christian and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is not simply someone who says they have a deep faith but someone who “practices righteousness” (1 John 3:7). The Apostle goes on to say, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil; whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (3:10).  Jesus himself said, “you will recognise them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20).

But does all of this really matter in the sordid world and murky water of politics? Absolutely it does. In fact this is a Gospel issue, and let me explain why.

First, it bring great shame on the cause of the gospel and on the name of Christ when you can claim to be free to do evil because you are a Christian. There can be no doubt that homosexual practices, abortion and the LGBTQ indoctrination of our children in school is an utter abomination in the eyes of God, but such is the state of the ‘Land of the Book’, that now, in the nation’s Parliament, you can say that such things are not just acceptable but to be commended in the name of Christ.

Second, it causes great confusion among the public in general. How can Kate Forbes, Ross Greer and John Swinney all be deeply committed to their Christian faith and yet hold, apparently, such conflicting views and positions?  It reinforces the view that it doesn’t matter what you believe as a ‘Christian’ and that the Church is indeed ‘broad’ enough to accommodate these mutually exclusive positions.

I often hear people say that what we need is more Christians in politics in order to influence policy. I am far from persuaded. The system is massively stacked against us.  And what about such Scriptural injunctions as, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14), or “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins” (Revelation 18:4).  

What we really need in Scotland, and in the UK as a whole, is more pray-ers, not more politicians. Pray-ers like Habakkuk –

“O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (3:2).

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