Five reasons why Christians should consider voting Remain on 23 June

To be honest, I hesitated before writing this blog. As a Bible-believing Christian, my first question when confronting any controversial issue is: what does Scripture teach? And we must admit that the Bible does not, for obvious reasons, have anything explicit to say about membership of the European Union. For this reason, I want to be clear that I have the utmost respect for those Christians who argue on moral and theological grounds that we should vote to leave the EU in the Referendum on 23 June. I am sure such convictions are deeply held and genuinely rooted in a prayerful reflection on Biblical teaching and Christian ethics. But in this blog I want to give five reasons why, from my own Christian and Biblical perspective, I would respectfully disagree with such sentiments.

1.    We should not idolise the nation state

I am a patriot but I am not a nationalist. Patriotism is love of one’s country, while nationalism means promoting one’s country at the expense of others. The Leave campaign argues that our future as a nation is more secure outside the EU, but only as a result of viewing the issues of economy, immigration, sovereignty and security through the narrow prism of national self-interest. Boris Johnson has described the vote on 23 June as ‘Independence Day for Britain’ and that is clearly a nationalist rallying cry. But it seems that Leave supporters are making an idol of the nation state and of ‘taking back control’ (the strapline for their campaign). This is potentially dangerous territory for Christians. In his book The Four Loves, CS Lewis wrote that love of country ‘becomes a demon when it becomes a god’. And of course we are urged by God in the Ten Commandments to ‘have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). I worry that some people wanting to leave the EU may have made an idol of the nation state and of ‘British sovereignty’.

2. Indeed, we are obliged as Christians to think how our actions will affect others

The implication of a nationalist approach to EU membership is that the rest of Europe can go hang. We’ll do our own thing in our own interest. But is this a Christian attitude? In Philippians 2:3 Paul encourages us: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ This verse was of course directed primarily at the community of believers, but it should make us think: how would Brexit affect our European partners, or the continent more widely? Many believe the cause of European solidarity will be shaken to its core, perhaps even fatally so, if we vote Leave on 23 June. Other EU nations may hold their own referenda. Some in Central Europe, particularly Hungary and the Czech Republic, seem to be veering back towards the Russian sphere of influence, which hardly bodes well for democracy on the continent. What will the collapse of European co-ordination mean for the European economy, or for security collaboration, or for the environment, or for a co-ordinated response to the refugee crisis?

3. We should recognise God’s hand in the creation of the EU

Some Christians at the crankier end of the spectrum would argue that the EU is the devil’s work. The Oxford academic and Tory parliamentary candidate Dr Adrian Hilton wrote a book almost 20 years ago suggesting that the EU is a Papist plot to undo the Reformation and establish Vatican control over Britain. However, most serious observers acknowledge the Christian (Catholic and Protestant) origins and inspiration of the European project after 1945 and the EU’s benign role in preserving peace in a continent which has been tragically prone to the most devastating wars. The EU has also had a prominent role in establishing employee rights, which I believe is a Biblical principle (‘Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven’, Colossians 4:1). However, the fact that God may have had a hand in the establishment of the EU should not blind us to the weaknesses of the EU and its institutions, nor to its democratic lacunae. But if the EU is God’s handiwork, then surely our calling is to remain inside and try to improve it, rather than to flounce off stage left (or more probably stage right) in a huff? Paul’s words in Romans 13:1-3 are relevant, even if the context is slightly different: ‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.’

4. Community and solidarity with others rather than going it alone is Biblical

God created us to be in community. At the beginning of the Bible God said of Adam, admittedly in the context of marriage rather than international relations: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). But the general principle of solidarity and ‘stronger together’, and good neighbourliness, is a constant theme in Scripture. In the Proverbs (27:17) it is noted that ‘as iron sharpens iron. So one person sharpens another’. In Ecclesiastes (4:9) there is the famous aphorism that ‘two are better than one’. Jesus himself taught that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbours as ourselves. A key pillar of Catholic social teaching is that we are not simply autonomous individuals, but social creatures who live in community with each other and who should contribute to the common good. If this is true of individuals, is it not also true of nations? This is not to say that all forms of international collaboration are positive (who laments the passing of the Warsaw Pact?), but it does suggest that we should only break bonds of community in the most extreme circumstances, and certainly not out of what Paul would call ‘selfish ambition’.

5. Divorce is not God's ideal 

Our leaving the EU after 43 years of membership would in effect be a divorce. We entered into a contract when we acceded to the Treaty of Rome on 1 January 1973, and now we want to exit the contract. Divorce is a tragic reality in our modern world, and it happens for all sorts of reasons, but that does not make it God’s ideal. On the contrary, he wants us to do everything we can to honour the contracts we freely enter into. ‘When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). The leave camp argues that the EU has morphed into an undemocratic monolith which is a totally different beast from the loose ‘Common Market’ which we joined in 1973. But this a specious argument. As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU. If a marriage is struggling, our first duty as Christians is to work to save it, not to rush headlong for the exit. So too should be our attitude to membership of the EU.

As I say, many Christians will take a different view from mine. But what is clear is that our membership of the European Union has a moral and theological dimension as well as an economic and political one. Christians must consider this dimension before they cast their vote on 23 June.

Jeremy Moodey attends an Anglican church in Chesham, Bucks, and is Chief Executive of the Christian charity Embrace the Middle East. The views expressed here are his own and do not in any way represent the views of Embrace.

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Showing 18 reactions


commented 2016-08-09 16:09:13 +0100 · Flag
The eu effectively replaces Parliamentary democracy with unelected civil servants where national and constituency accountability is totally removed from the electorate.The globalists see this as the golden opportunity to re order both the economical and political world to a pattern of its own choosing.Internet control of every facet of our lives will ensue and lay the fabric of Dictatorship of the Chinese elite.Biblically that foreshadows control by The Beast with the 666 applied to everyone.Dissent spells despatch and none more so than Christians.
Does anyone seriously think God simply endorses this for the good? Rather we must see this device as a concession to The Devil…to whom we have allowed the most awful antiChrist morality to grip the nations.
We need to pray for this opportunity to reach people with the good news of salvation and deliverance of the faithfull to Gods eternal Kingdom.
commented 2016-06-16 22:29:21 +0100 · Flag
Thank you for that Jeremy.The mistake is in replacement theology methinks.May God have mercy on all of us and may we align with his purposes for our nation at this crucial time.
commented 2016-06-16 21:30:16 +0100 · Flag
Hi I’m not sure how Romans 13:1-3 suggests that its an act of rebellion to vote on how we are governed?
commented 2016-06-16 21:28:32 +0100 · Flag
Hi Rod. I respect your views but don’t personally believe that there is any connection between God’s plans for the End Times and the State of Israel. It is a common mistake to conflate the ethnic Israel of the Hebrew Bible with the modern state created in 1948 and where an estimated 50% of the population do not even believe in God. John Stott once gave an excellent sermon on the different meanings of Israel which I commend to you: http://www.stephensizer.com/2011/07/john-stott-the-place-of-israel/
commented 2016-06-16 20:44:46 +0100 · Flag
Hello Jeremy,how interesting that as someone connected to the middle east you make no mention of the increasingly hostile attitude of the eu towards Israel.You must surely be aware of The Lord’s end time purposes regarding
that special nation and our part in it.The eu is based on atheist ideals and is fundamentally undemocratic ,given time will erode all our Christian values and heritage.It beggars belief that any Christian would vote for such a system
commented 2016-06-08 10:39:51 +0100 · Flag
If you are referring Rimet to the reference in 2 Thessalonians 2, then the simple answer is that none of us knows who the Antichrist is or when he will come. Some see it as a preterist reference to Nero or Caligula, others (futurists) to the Pope or Putin, still others to the EU. They can’t all be right! All are speculation. And we are told not to speculate on these matters (Jesus himself in Matthew 24:36). In my view it is reading way too much into the Books of Daniel and Revelation to see any allusions to the EU.
commented 2016-06-08 10:11:51 +0100 · Flag
Jeremy – What do you have to say about the end time prophecies in the Bible and how this is all leading to revealing of the Man of Lawlessness who will eventually cause destruction
commented 2016-06-04 13:33:32 +0100 · Flag
oops. I think my most recent ‘Hi Jeremy’ should have read ‘Hi Jon.’ Sorry!!
commented 2016-06-04 12:53:20 +0100 · Flag
Hi Jeremy. You make so many points which in my mind raises at least as many responses which would I am sure prompt you to further respond, with each round spawning off secondary issues without limit and at the same time shedding less and less light due to correspondingly less and less coherence and focus, leading inevitably to benefits being dictated by the law of diminishing returns. Thank you for this, your most recent round. I hope you will not mind me mentioning that my policy in general is that the original writer of an article [yourself, in this instance] should be respected enough to be given the final word at the right time, even at the risk of that writer thereby assuming he has the greater logic. I sense that now is that time. My very best wishes to you in Christ, Geoff.
commented 2016-06-04 11:13:22 +0100 · Flag
I am grateful for the comments from both Geoff and John. There are good points in both responses. As I say in my blog, I have complete respect for those Christians who take a different position from mine.
commented 2016-06-04 09:49:40 +0100 · Flag
Hi Jeremy,

Many thanks for your post. It is great to see Christians such as yourself really engaging with this EU referendum, and seeking to engage others.

My aim is for my response to be academic, and not personal, but please forgive me in advance if anything I share does veer on the “personal”.

In response to your 5 points:

1) “We should not idolise the nation state”

None of the many dozen people who I have spoken to who are voting ‘out’ are doing so out of any sense of idolatry for the nation state. Quite the opposite. The sound bites coming from the top of the ‘traditional three’ British political parties frequently cite the enormous success of the EU, how it would be such a risk to not be a part of the EU, how we must cling on to the EU, and how our lives would be so miserable if we did not have this ‘thing’ that so many people insist we need and lust after – the EU. So on this point I concede there are many in the ‘Leave’ campaign who may be idolatrous, but idolatry goes both ways and we are all sinners. We are called to neither “worship nor serve” (Exodus 34 v 14) any other Gods / idols – whether this be in the form of a any governance model, even the European Union.

As regards the political examples of the economy, immigration, sovereignty and security, I’m not sure the millions of Christians, and / or the millions on the left who will vote ‘Leave’ are viewing these through the “narrow prism of national self-interest”. Indeed it could be argued that such concerns are weighed after prayerful thought and consideration; Regarding the economy (EU nations propped up by huge American multinational banks), immigration (concern at our current immigration policy which discriminates against non-EU citizens, and refugees), sovereignty (concern at the EU installing unelected Brussels technocrats in Italy to force in policies which were rejected at the ballot box at a national level), and security (is it idolatrous to wish that we live in peace amongst men from all nations, whether we are ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EU?) – all of these I have attempted to view through both a biblical lens, and a global lens.

2. “Indeed, we are obliged as Christians to think how our actions will affect others”

On this one, we totally agree! I would be interested in your thoughts about a ‘non nationalist approach to EU membership’, that the many millions aforementioned in 1) who will vote ‘leave’ are part of?

Your supposition “if we vote Leave on 23 June. Other EU nations may hold their own referenda.” implies this is a negative thing? I’m wondering how scepticism at national referenda be compatible from the many in the ‘In’ camp who argue for “more democracy” in the EU?

As regards your point about the refugee crisis, the approach from the EU towards refugees, and generally towards immigration from non-EU citizens is in my opinion appalling. There has been a steady growth of protectionism and insularity which has risen up in the European Union, mainly down to the shrunken European economy, which has manifest itself in some very unsavoury ways – namely the EU’s treatment of refugees.

3. “We should recognise God’s hand in the creation of the EU”

This is an interesting one. I’m not sure whether the EU is “God created” or “man devised”. I would argue the latter, in the same way the USSR, and the United States of America etc .

What we do know is “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.” (Isaiah 40 v 15). With this in mind, I’m always very wary of theocratising any political system.

Another thing we do know is the rather uncomfortable situation we have in the EU with the “The Council of the (Catholic) Bishops’ Conferences of Europe”. This can be viewed as a great work, Bishops uniting to advance the gospel of the good news of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray they do. The problem I have with the CBCE is mercifully in democracies where the “church and state” are bound, it seen as bad form for the ‘state’ to lean on the ‘church’. However in the EU the issues regarding the European Commission leaning on the CBCE (including practices that are not uncommon with those seen in bribery cases) are very troubling. Pope Francis even recently the Charlemagne Prize. Was this for services to mission? Was it for services to evangelism? No, it was “for services to European integration.” (see this excellent blog here http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2016/05/12/why-bishops-love-the-eu/).

4. “Community and solidarity with others rather than going it alone is Biblical”

Again, on the headline, we agree!

The United Kingdom has shown more community and solidarity with nations across the world, long before the formation of the European Union, than many others. The UK is widely acknowledged as “the birthplace of democracy”, and will continue to be so. I wonder to what extent democracy (and all that brings) is hamstrung by being in political union led by the European Commission.

I’m not sure we need to be in political union to be compassionate, to welcome the alien, to clothe and feed him. In fact I would argue that at State level we could corporately be more compassionate, more generous, and more welcoming to the alien if we were able to steward our money ourselves.

5. “Divorce is not God’s ideal”

Again we agree on the headline, although I’m not sure Moses had the EU referendum in mind when wrote Numbers 30 v 2.

I rejoice in the fact we have this referendum. In fact it could be argued scripture if being fulfilled, by man ‘taking the oath’ (of allegiance to the European Union) – something man (or woman) has never had the opportunity to do before in the United Kingdom.

You assert “As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU”. Who voted for this? Did you? Did I? No. but we are voting on this now.

Again Jeremy, I thank you for your engagement with this. May the Lord’s will be done, and may the name of Jesus be lifted higher – whether the outcome of the EU referendum vote is ‘in’ or ‘out’
commented 2016-06-03 13:05:45 +0100 · Flag
Hi Jeremy.

1. The terminolgy of ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’, the borders between the two and judgements as to what constitutes decent, humane and righteous conclusions from them are subjectively complex concepts rather than easily defined absolutes, and as such can lead to infinite degrees of analysing. Within reasonable limits there ought to be room for people of good will to respectfully disagree over some of the finer nuances. I would see you as being a little to the left of the political/sociological centre as perhaps you might see me to the right.
2. We are the fifth largest economy in the world and the EU needs us more than we them. There is EU scepticism to a greater or lesser degree throughout Europe and to suggest that the Commonwealth wants us in the EU is a gross and misleading generalisation. You play down the significance and potential of the UK by what I would see as your defeatism of the Remain campaign to which you subconciously hint at in your approach to your point 1.
3. The EU is unreformable and wishes to stay that way. God ‘…involving Man in putting things right…’ is a phrase that I would take issue with, seeing it at variance with Jesus’ comment that we are not of this world.
4. I refer to my previous comments under point 5. There are limits beyond which man is not obligated to maintain various communitarian ties, based on man’s perception of the degree of Godliness inherant within those groupings that one is considering having solidarity with.
5. Your use of the word ‘covenant’ implies God orientated commitments and guaranteeing to agreements that would be a foreign language to the architects of the EU’s political union and which would not be present if understood anyway. A ‘covenant’ thereby assumes a degree of Godliness, conspicuously absent from EUSpeak as demonstrated by the EU’s lies when those old enough to vote in the 1975 EEC referendum were specifically promised that it was a trading block only and will never become a political union.

Regards Geoff
commented 2016-06-03 12:18:35 +0100 · Flag
Sorry, my hyperlink did not work on this website.

Para 2 should read:

Our other partners, including the Commonwealth, want us in the EU as this Telegraph article confirms:

http://bit.ly/1NxjDLU

Jeremy
commented 2016-06-03 12:16:12 +0100 · Flag
Thanks for your comments Geoff. But in response:

1. I am not questioning the Biblical rationale for nation states, but rather the Biblical basis for a narrow nationalism which seeks preference for one’s nation at the expense of others.

2. Please point me to another country which wants us to leave the EU so that they can negotiate a separate trade agreement with us. Our other partners, including the Commonwealth, want us in the EU as this <a href=“”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12154630/Why-Australia-wants-Britain-to-stay-in-the-EU.html">http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12154630/Why-Australia-wants-Britain-to-stay-in-the-EU.html">Telegraph article</a> confirms. Bilateral deals are history; it is all about trading blocs now.

3. I agree that man often messes up God’s plans. That is the essence of the Fall. But God also involves Man in putting things right. That is how he used the disciples and early church leaders to spread the Gospel. So we should address the EU’s flaws by staying in and working to change it.

4, This is a good point which I partly accept. But God created man to be in community, even if not all men and women are Godly. Community and solidarity are like marriage, God’s ideal for all of His created beings even when they don’t accept His ways.

5. God hates divorce and people who break covenant. The Bible is full of covenant-breakers paying the price for their disobedience. I believe we will pay the price if we break the covenants we have consistently entered into since we joined the Common Market in 1973.
commented 2016-06-03 10:32:34 +0100 · Flag
1. The Bible acknowledges nation states by its many references to countries by name.
2. ‘Others’ are being adversely affected by the EU’s protectionist trade barriers and tariffs and also by it forbidding the UK to strike up its own trade agreements with the Third World.
3. God allows sinful man to go his own way and so to devise his own schemes. The world is full of examples of this Godly ‘permission’ and the havoc it has caused. It is not right to equate that with ‘God having a hand in [something].’
4. ‘Community and solidarity’ are Godly when the basis of such is itself Godly. Hence Biblical themes on eg ‘coming out from amongst them.’
5. God hates divorce because He instituted it. I assume that the article does not seriously suggesting that God instituted the European Union.

Consequently, what the article refers to as the ‘moral and theological dimension’ of this current debate would itself lend support to the view that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.
commented 2016-06-02 14:09:10 +0100 · Flag
thankkyou for this very thoughtful article. Iespecially applaud the reminder that this vote isn,t just about politics and economics. I confess that although in past years i was I think ,up to speed, with quite a few political issues mostly due to friends in government , I feel that somewhere over the years i ‘fell asleep’ and have wakened to a completely d ifferent world to that i grew up in. These friends alerted me to the way our power was being handed over almost unnoticed to Brussels and in many cases eroded altogethser, We cannot disagree that God hates divorce but if we are going to use scripture to argue our points of view we need also to be aware that there will probably almost certainly be a scripture that can be used to defend another position. for example when i read the section about God hating divorce , all the time my mind was answering’yes but do not be yoked with unbelievers’ and if you are in a position of slavery and u have opportunity for freedom, come out from under the yoke. My mind has formulated a decision based on my understanding of scripture but i am aware that logic and reasoning arre not just the way forward in this vote. I have set my face to seek the Lord at this time andared not formulate an answer until i feel sure in my spirit that I have the mind of Christ. I confess i have been very lax of praying for government for which i am repenting now and am humbly on my knees now. do u know if there is a day of prayer being organised for the nation before the vote/ many blessings to you
commented 2016-05-31 20:22:25 +0100 · Flag
We pray “Thy will be done”.
commented 2016-05-31 11:09:14 +0100 · Flag
Jeremy you are right in many ways. I believe that as we continue to seek the Lord, he will send us guidance as to how to vote. Thanks again