These reflections are the personal opinion of the author, and not the position of A29 Europe.
Whatever your political opinion, whatever your point of view on the pros and cons of staying in the European Union, if you are a Christian, then the priority for you is the spreading of the gospel in Europe, the planting of Gospel-centred churches across the continent and the glory of God in the salvation of many Europeans and refugees. You might even think that the refugee crises are, amongst other things, opportunities for the church to bear witness to people we typically can’t impact because of geographical distance.
As a British citizen living and working for church-planting in France, and travelling around Europe as A29 Europe Director, here are six reflections:
- Being part of the European Union makes it far easier for a British citizen to live and work in fellow member states without endless, time-consuming and stressful bureaucracy.
- Being part of the European Union has enormous financial advantages, as health-care, national insurance and child-benefit are granted without discrimination to tax-payers from other European member countries.
- Being part of the European Union increases solidarity with nations across the Old Continent. It should matter to us how countries fare economically, because countries are people, and people go to churches, and churches in Spain and Greece are decimated even more when economic help is slow to come in time of need. The link between evangelical faith, employability, upward mobility and then economic migration is anecdotally important in my experience, as I travel round Europe. If I could choose, I would rather indigenous Greek evangelicals stayed in their churches to work for the gospel in Greece.
- Being part of the European Union increases influence across the countries who join in. I much prefer the idea of a European Union with Turkey and Ukraine in it sharing even the vestiges of Western Christian values than any of the alternatives. Maybe our partners in Turkey could at last buy land and own buildings as churches. And complaining that Christian values are threatened by an undemocratic, liberal EU (which in some ways they are) isn’t as pertinent as it seems, because it was a conservative British government, which, without any external pressure, changed the definition of marriage unilaterally and undemocratically.
- It is hard to separate anti-EU feelings and arguments from selfish and sometimes racist reflections. Attitudes which are sinful and egotistical at the individual level (me first!) remain sinful at the family level (my family first!) and at the country level (my country first!). This is not to say that all who would prefer to exit the EU would do so for these reasons (and often the reasons for staying in are presented just as selfishly) – but we need to reflect seriously on this aspect of the question.
- A final reflection – God uses circumstances and orchestrates opportunities. It would seem, from our standpoint in history, that Pax Romana and the Viae Romanae constituted ideal conditions for the spread of the gospel in the early years of the Christian Era. The advent of the printing press served a similar purpose around the time of the Reformation. The internet and social media offer opportunities today. None of these things was or is perfect, none of them offered only positives, all of them were and are abused and misused. But it seems to me that the EU, for all its myriad faults, offers more gospel opportunities and therefore church-planting opportunities than it denies, and that Britain remaining in offers British citizens and British churches more scope and ease for their work than an exit.
Obviously I am not claiming in this personal post to have a monopoly on gospel thinking, nor am I unaware that godly people can and do think differently from me. And if anyone wanted to reply to this post with gospel considerations that push them in the other direction, we would be happy to consider posting it. But the essential plea I am making is that we vote according to gospel priorities, and not any other priorities.
We need to vote according to gospel priorities, and not any other priorities.
That seems to me to be indisputably the Christian’s duty, and we are to bring any other thought and all other thinking captive to the priority of the glory of God in Europe.