I am not a political animal, but the wall to wall scare-monger filled broadcasting from either side of the EU debate is frustrating me! There are arguments to say we should stay, fears about leaving, those who are convinced we can be great “on our own”, and those who feel the “EU project” is collapsing under the weight of a struggling Euro and a migrant crisis shuffling this way from other parts of the world.
In listening to the various arguments can I make a few observations, in the hope it will help my thinking re: the EU Referendum? Please do add your comments below as we all need all the help we can get!
Here’s my thoughts:
- A vote to stay, is a vote for the status quo. Really? Firstly, we could stay as we are. A vote to stay is a vote to remain. Now while life may be difficult for some in the UK, as someone who has travelled the 3rd world I would say life is, over all, pretty good in Britain right now, in spite of all our large contributions to the EU and rules about the shape of bananas! I think the EU has spread money to projects and parts of our nation that Westminster seemed not to, and for that I am grateful. But does that mean it will always be? Is the EU showing signs of unhealthiness? If we gave the EU a health check, listening deeply to its heart beat, we have to ask, is the EU about to collapse? Are we growing too quick too fast? Can the EU project work with such vastly different nations? What underlying agenda’s are at work in the corridors of power? Hidden heart defects come back to bite you if not dealt with. I guess the truth is that there is no such thing as remaining the same, so there is no vote for the status quo…. Things are going to change whatever we decide.
- Are Economics a good basis for a godly decision? Some would say there are BIG risks to leaving. But it appears that most of these risks are financial, and since when has making the most money been the primary factor for a moral, just, right decision? Economics are important, but not ultimate TRUTH. In fact the Bible warns that there are some evil sides to money that bring out the worst in us. Self-Enrichment is not the best basis for decisions, even though we need prosperity to run a good nation.
- Is short-term pain that bad, if something is right? Some have said we could have up to 5 difficult years after leaving the EU, as everything is renegotiated. But if this is a decision that will affect a century or more, 5 years of difficult adjustment is nothing if we do set our nation up for blessing and strength that lasts generations. We would be thanked by our grandchildren! Pain now for gain later is an attitude of maturity. All great nations, business leaders and heroes take risks and endure pain – but we have to ask if it is worth it. And, is it RIGHT? Would we be leaving a failing project or missing out on future blessing? I don’t know … so I pray for God’s wisdom.
- It’s about truth and value, not personality. Some seem to be backing the opinions of which ever politician they personally “like”. But this is a “value decision” about truth, mercy, justice, how God designed nations to operate, good and godly leadership, not the X Factor! It is ridiculous to refuse to vote for something because you don’t like a character on either team. I also personally think it’s not a “right or left” issue. Christians…let’s be prayerful about gaining God’s wisdom and try to cut through the media and personality issues.
- Are the political and business elite simply protecting their own economic stability? Many of the business, finance and political elite are saying we should stay. Their reasoning seems to be a worry over financial instability and its clarion call is using fear, a nasty, ungodly communication technique, whoever employs it. But is it simply the rich protecting their empires? Global finances hate insecurity and love the status quo (I don’t mean the band). So can we trust these opinions?
- Brussels is ungodly, Westminster divine? Really? Some talk of Brussels as the devil and that everything would be fine if we only had “control” back at Westminster. Firstly, while there are many good people in our places of power, there’s no doubting that there are plenty of self-seeking, narcissistic leaders too! Controlling “everything” sounds good, and it’s true that we can at least vote poor leaders out in a democracy, but I think we know Westminster is not a “cure all”. At the end of the day, a bad system filled with good people can be OK, but a good system filled with bad people, will always be bad. I would encourage the church to rise up and fill our places of power with the good (Support those who are already doing this – there are many!), and the good, godly people – whether in Brussels or Westminster, will have hope of putting any system to good use. But it’s difficult which ever way we choose – so pray for those in power, where ever they are. Remember Christian you have a power greater than a vote – it’s called prayer. Believe that.
- Why do we have to be “IN” to be friends? Many have said, and I agree, that this is a time for nations to come together. It is the global shift of our times. And I think it’s good. Closer ties, joining forces, friendship is good. But there is a difference between unity and uniformity. Can’t we be best friends without marrying?! Isn’t true friendship about embracing diversity, not controlling each other? There has to be more than a “bond with me” or “hate me” choice, surely?! – True friendship gives freedom – great leadership offers free will (Ask God!). It is crazy to think that we can only trade, travel, have our armies work together, protect each other, influence each other or enjoy each others nations, by becoming a Siamese twin – Surely two great friendly nations choosing to ENJOY (Not endure) mutual benefit is what unity is about?! This is what we should seek! My real friendships are about enjoying each others diversity, difference, opinions – without feeling the need to control or coerce. Somehow the EU project is losing the joy of friends choosing to protect, share, help each other. Why is that?
Prominent evangelist J.John states “I must acknowledge my personal unease about the European Union. Something has gone very badly wrong with it. We have somehow – largely without consultation – acquired a massive, faceless and impersonal bureaucracy which straddles our continent and entangles it with red tape“.
I’d agree with J.John there. Europe is becoming a worrying, over sized, law making, undemocratic project, as we try to bolt vastly differing people, economies and ways of life together in a way that is painful and ultimately abusive. The Bible shows that God gives free will – our leaders should do too. God is into “nations”, “tribes”, “people groups” and “kinds”… and He’s happy with diversity because only in our differences can we express His fulness. He loves the unity of diverse individuals, not coerced uniformity.
So after all this you’d think I’m going to vote to leave right?
Mmm I wish it was that simple.
I want a 3rd choice!
My problem is, I LOVE Europe! And the truth is that I don’t like either choice offered me. I want a 3rd choice: I want to be in Europe… (I grew up in what we used to call Continental Europe! I LOVE Europeans because I AM one!) But I also want our nation to govern itself, to have the wealth and ability to care for itself, the poor, and to reach out in care to other nations. I deeply want our nation to be multi-national, but not so densely populated we implode in a smog of over crowding. The British colony I grew up in (Gibraltar) is very worried an exit will lead to border closures leaving them locked into a 3 mile long peninsula. So I am torn, confused, irritated and frustrated at my two measly choices. I want a reformed Europe, and I want a Great Britain. And I just wish Europe and Brussels would offer its people that. The ability to be friends, allies, to trade and travel, to protect and co-operate, to laugh with each other (even at each other!), and to live together in a beautiful corner of the world.
Someone, somewhere .. reform Europe .. or else nations will leave, or it will collapse any way. Give us leaders who want to put people first, a Europe that is free, fun, friendly, godly, diverse, merciful, righteous, prosperous. For me, a Europe that is filled with God’s Kingdom at work among us. That would be a Europe I could enjoy.
I pray God gives you wisdom as you vote on the 23rd. And remember, it doesn’t end there, whatever the outcome. Commit to pray for Great Britian, Europe, our leaders, that God’s Kingdom would sweep our nations and our places of power. Truly, it’s our only hope to give us the land we dream of.
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”
1 Tim 2:1-3