So today is Tuesday and the referendum is on Thursday. So how are you going to vote? If you are one of the 25% of the electorate who apparently have yet to decide, don’t be nervous and I hope that these thoughts will be useful….
You will have read already, I hope, the article published by The Archbishop of Canterbury on the question of the EU Referendum, which I published on this website a few days ago. He makes clear that: ‘There is no official Christian or church line on which way to vote. Voting is a matter for each person’s conscience. Two things are sure. Each of us should turn out and vote if we can. And after the referendum we must come together as one people to make the solution we choose work well‘ but he does say ‘The vision for our future cannot be only about ourselves. We are most human when we exist for others.’
It strikes me that we cannot possibly know the consequences (even the most significant consequences) of a decision to remain, or a decision to leave. And yet this is probably the most important political decision that any of us will take in our lifetimes. It will affect our children and grandchildren, quite apart from affecting us. It seems highly likely that there will be many consequences, including unintended ones, of the decision whichever side wins.
I believe that it is entirely rational and reasonable to vote either for Remain or to vote for Leave, there are some very compelling arguments on either side. The rubbishing of the character of those supporting one side by the other has been a undesirable feature of the political campaign and has, in my view, been unnecessary. Accordingly, anyone who votes either way can hold their heads high, particularly if they have done so taking the Archbishop’s view that ‘the vision of the future cannot only be about ourselves‘. The difficulty is that that argument (taking into one issue only – that of immigration) can lead us to vote to Remain, if we consider those who want to start a new life here from within the EU, but can also lead to a vote to Leave, if we consider those of our fellow citizens who are most closely impacted by large scale immigration from the EU.
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) doesn’t lead us to a conclusive view on this issue, except that we should not, in our dealings with the world and particularly those in need, give priority to ‘us’ over ‘them’. Who are the ‘us’ and who are the ‘them’ in this situation? The case can be argued either way.
What happens if the referendum is won by Remain or by Leave by only a few votes or even by just one? How will you feel about the way that you voted, if you voted with the winning side and there is then one of the terrible consequences projected by the exponents of the other side? Will you feel responsible? Will feel that friends and neighbours will look at you and say ‘You brought this upon us…’
I have a suggestion on how to address this terrible dilemma!
Spend Wednesday 22nd June in prayer.
Ok, so you have to go to work, take the children to school etc. I know, I know. But whenever you have a brief moment, ask God which way you should vote! Approach Him saying (and believing) that you are entirely willing to vote according to His direction and disregard any already settled opinion before you start.
If you feel you need to do this in church – please do so – our four churches are open during daylight hours. But God will hear if you pray to Him anywhere, even in snatched moments as you wait for the lights to change, as you drive the children to school or return home from commuting.
Ask Him to respond to this prayer by giving you a clear conviction on which way to vote on Thursday.
And then when you wake in the morning thinking ‘I must definitely vote Remain/Leave’ then you can have a clear conscience, whatever are the consequences, that you decided in line with the guidance given to you by the only Person who has an accurate view of the future….