How should I vote on Thursday?
The answer is simple – prayerfully!
‘If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’
Although we need to be careful in applying this verse as a definite promise now to a specific modern nation, the principle of prayer changing a nation still holds. So let us use this referendum to pray for our nation. Our prayer should be for the Kingdom of God to come and if the Kingdom of God is ‘here’ & ‘among you’ we need to pray for the church and the gospel to bring revival to our nation. So set aside one hour this Thursday to pray!
As I think about how the Lord used the Greek empire and language and the Roman Empire(in many ways both ‘anti’ God empires) to be tools in his hands to allow the spread of the gospel, so I pray whatever decision this Thursday it will be a tool in the Lord’s hand to allow the further spread of the gospel.
However, that doesn’t help me as individual deciding how to use my vote. So I have been reflecting whether there are any Christian principles that I can prayerfully consider as I make my choice.
• 1 Timothy 2:1-4 – what outcome will allow me and all Christians to ‘live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ Will either outcome effect how I can live as a Christian? My conclusion is that in our secular society whatever decision, we will face challenges to living as Christians.
• 1 Timothy 2:4 – what outcome will allow more people to ‘be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.’ What impact, if any, will this referendum have on the perception of and opportunity to share the gospel.
• Luke 10:29 – ‘who is my neighbour?’ What outcome will be the most loving and compassionate for ‘my neighbour’ and our neighbour is anyone in need, whoever they are or wherever they come from? One concern I have is that we may leave for the wrong reasons. One of our tendencies as an island nation is to be suspicious or fear the foreigner. Whatever decision how can we ensure we are loving and hospitable to our neighbours. How can we show greatest love to the migrant and refugee?
• Romans 13: 4-8 – authority to rule is given by God for our good(again Paul is referring to the ‘evil’ Roman Empire) . How will the outcome of Thursday enable wrong doing and practices to be best outlawed and enforced? And be careful to heed the command – whatever the outcome let us ensure we give respect and honour.
• Revelation 13 – although Romans 13 tells us rulers are given by God and should be given honour and respect, Revelation 13 warns that the same rulers/empires can become like gods to us, that we worship and can lead us away from acknowledging God. I believe this is true for both sides of the arguments I have heard – those wanting the good old days of being ‘British’ & better than others and those seeing the union as answer to peace and prosperity in our world. Whatever we decide and whatever outcome let us be careful to ensure the Lord always has our worship and allegiance.
• One final principle that I found on the christianinpolitics.org.uk website (which on an initial browse does seem to argue/biased in one direction but is worth a look) can be summarised with the following quote
“Instead of the centralised and top-down management characteristic of Egypt and Assyria, the Bible reflects the idea that decisions should be taken at the lowest, most local level possible – closest to those affected by them, by people who understand their context best, and who have the most interest in their outcome. A task is only passed up to a higher, more central authority if it cannot better be addressed at a lower one. This is explored in the idea of Subsidiarity found in Catholic Social Teaching. The biblical approach to government is therefore ‘as large as necessary, as small as possible’.” – See more at: http://www.christiansinpolitics.org.uk/eufocus/eu-church-resources/the-bible-the-eu-referendum/#sthash.VLCT7tWf.dpuf
I am not convinced this can be concluded as a biblical principle (as the nation of Israel was a theocracy and not a democracy – and this is not an option for us!!) but as common sense seems good – then the decision is to decide when is it better to work together and when apart and how can this be best worked out and implemented – whether in or out!
As I weigh up all these considerations I am challenged to do this seriously and prayerfully because the words of my teenage daughter are ringing in my ears ‘you will make the decision, we will have to live with consequences’. It is the next generation, a definite postmodern generation, who will have to live with what we decide – perhaps I will go with my daughters view and trust her as a Christian young person and her generation to relate with our European neighbours in the way they will negotiate.
I am not interested in political or personal views but if you have found other biblical principles that we should consider for Thursday I would be pleased to dialogue with you. But whatever your view, as a Christian our primary call is to pray and to ‘give a reason for the hope we have’ which lies outside any political outcome or decision.