In her play, The Man Born to Be King, Dorothy L. Sayers places these words in the mouth of Herod as he talks to the Magi, “You cannot rule men by love… Only three things will govern a people–fear and greed and the promise of security.” In the current debate on the EU referendum on June 23rd these words seem to me to be particularly apt; especially for Christians as we consider what our vote will be, whether ‘in’ or ‘out’.
This post is not a political one, in the sense that I will not be saying which way I think people should vote – or disclosing how I will be voting. Rather, it is a plea for Christians to think about the issues from a biblical rather than an economic or other angle.
Both sides in the debate have concentrated on the three areas mention by Herod in the quote above. Whether we are being told that leaving the EU will make us more open to terrorist attack, or that staying will bring an increased threat from economic migrants; whether our jobs are more secure through staying or leaving; or whether we will be better off – and by how much – if we stay or if we go the arguments have circled around the three areas of fear, greed and security. The areas which Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew describes as “the management principles Satan operates by.”
It strikes me that there must be a different way. And I think there is. If we are Christians, we should have a higher purpose than whether I can travel to Spain for my holidays, or whether my salary will be higher, or whether the value of my home will go up or down if I vote one way or another.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Paul urges Timothy to encourage prayer and part of this is that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” I can hear people from both sides of the argument saying, “Yes, so vote In/Out.” But Paul goes on to say that, “This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” In other words, peace and safety are not the aim (he doesn’t even mention economics) what matters is that the Good News of Jesus can go out; that people may hear of the salvation that is on offer through Jesus. This is the only thing of any import in the whole of this debate.
So, when standing in the polling booth in three weeks time, ask yourself this one question, “Which of these options will mean that the Good News is most likely to be free to spread throughout this country and the rest of Europe?” And then vote accordingly.