Most people agree that there is such a miserable representation of the real issues we should be considering regarding the “Leave” or “Remain” question that will face all of us UK citizens in three weeks time. It’s surely time to think beyond “how will it effect my mobile roaming charges” and “will I still be able to go on holiday to France” or even “how will it effect my pay packet.” There must be better questions?
I’ll post a few of my guiding thoughts over the next 3 weeks, with the aim of – if you are a follower of Jesus – helping us make a decision based at least on an attempt to be consistent with a Biblical world view on God & government.
For now, consider this: Are there any Biblical principles and values that will guide your decision, even beyond your own preferences? Could you write these down? Give it a go, and let me know.
Here’s a good article by J John to get you started on thinking a bit differently and more clearly.
9 thoughts on “My 1st thoughts about the coming EU referendum”
The first principle is ‘love your neighbour’
Thanks Nyamazela. Can you elaborate how this principle will guide your voting decision?
The way we treat refugees and immigrants should not be anger, isolation and refusal to integrate with them …. Are we feeding them? Clothing them? Considering the needs of those less fortunate?
agreed. but how does that effect my vote? who will be better at making sure that happens, the EU or UK? Biblically, whose responsibility is that?
Awesome question Wolfi!
I’m going to get the ball rolling with a verse from Malachi, if I may, and then suggest two themes of relevance that arise from it. (OK, call me un-original, both themes were alluded to by J John as well):
‘ “I will be quick to testify against … those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.’ Mal. 3:5.
A lot has been said about getting immigration “under control,” and I think that this verse in Malachi is important to consider in working out how to do that. Given that 1.3 million refugees arrived in Europe last year, and assuming they should be shared between each European country on a per capita basis, then the UK should admit 165 thousand new refugees. That said, given that the UK is the 5th richest country in the EU, we can probably up that to a few more, and (because it would be unfortunate to be outdone by secular countries like France) we can up it a bit further still. I grant that no one in the UK seems to be even close to discussing a number like quarter of a million refugees per year, but I would at least ask, which of the options (Leave or Remain) would seem to best set the tone for the UK stepping up to the plate and embracing an *appropriate* level of immigration?
(As an aside, I am in Austria this week, and it is awesome to see what is going on here. Churches are providing German lessons, practical assistance to help refugees get a home set up, and fit in with life in Tirol. There are full banner adverts on bill-boards about how good it is to have refugees. Awesome.)
A second point (which is intimately related to the poor, and for which, again, I am taking J. John’s cue) is care for the environment. The Paris climate deal last year was a huge step, as much as anything because people finally seemed to wake up to the moral component of climate change: in London we can build bigger flood defences, but in Tuvalu they have literally no-where to go. It is the poorest people of the world who will suffer most from climate change, and (for that reason among others) we need to seriously change our general attitude towards our use of creation. I would therefore ask, which option (Leave or Remain) sets us on a better path to looking after the planet with which God has entrusted us?
For what it’s worth, a significant contributor to climate change is domestic electricity usage. Dyson has lead the way in making energy-efficient vacuum cleaners, but other companies did not want to follow suit until legislation required them to be less wasteful. Contrary to reports in the popular press, the EU has not banned high wattage kettles, but it is looking at how kettles can be made more efficient. For a country that drinks 60 billion cups of tea a year, that may not be insignificant. Just saying.
Good thoughts Mike, but this is still limited to specific issues rather than the big question of “what biblical principle guides the way a people are ideally governed.”
The Bible recognises national sovereignty, rather than alliances of nations, by naming nations?
There are two slightly different questions you have now posed:
– Are there any Biblical principles and values that will guide your decision?
– What biblical principle guides the way a people are ideally governed?
My post addressed Q1, and I would seek to clarify my answer to Q1 before even considering opening can of worms #2.
Although my post applied the principle to two specific issues, both trace back to a principle that I think can help guide a decision in general. Even without specifying what a government should ideally do (Q2), there is a litmus test that helps guide a decision as to which kind of government we might chose, if given a choice (Q1): Does the governing authority promote protection of widows and orphans? More generally, does the governing authority ensure that the defenceless are defended? If it does not, there would seem to be a problem.
There are lots of ways a government might see to it that widows and orphans are cared for.
The prevailing culture may be such that within families and communities people look after widows and orphans of their own volition. (Some Asian countries take, or took, this approach.) The government may then take a light touch approach, but in whatever power it has (through setting the tone of social discourse, through education, by whatever means) help to cultivate a society in which the defenceless are defended. And I am OK with that.
Alternatively, the government might levy a tax and pay for the protection of the weak to be “outsourced” to professional carers or a welfare system. And I’m more or less OK with that too.
If, however, a government promotes, accepts, or allows to exist a system in which each man is for himself; where the strongest, richest, or smartest survive at the expense of others, then this raises a red flag that something has gone wrong.
One could multiply concrete examples of how this works out in specific instances (the various possible acceptable ways of (dis)enfranchising prisoners, for example) but the principle is general: does the governing authority ensure that the defenceless are defended? I would say that a situation in which it does not, is a situation which Christians should neither embrace nor accept.
I think something close to an ideal is how God did things in the book of judges. There was a great deal of freedom for each tribe until they tried to sort out their problems by having a king over them. (a centralised dictatorship). God warned them of the dangers of this and they did it anyway. God calls us to live in freedom. Centralised human power and taking decisions from smaller people groups has generally been at a cost but the israelites abandoned the freedom God called them to in order to be like other nations and carry more international weight. I see that as quite similar to the decision we are being pressured to make. It’s interesting that the European parliament does not have the legislative authority of the UK parliament. That is handed to unelected officials. I think a biblical principle here is to be against too much authority being given to too few. Human nature is sinful and as such absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. It was Saul who centralised the tribes of Israel into one nation. It generally went downhill from there. The people were blinded by their problems. They didn’t realise how much worse it could be when they sold their sovereignty and freedom.