Saturday, 25 June 2016

Leavers, I need your help: A Christian Remain Response to the EU Referendum

I woke up yesterday morning not remembering what news I had been waiting for in my sleep. What I have felt since then resembles the stages of grief: shock, denial and anger. I cried for a long time when I found out the news that we had voted to leave the European Union. I honestly feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, anger, bewilderment, betrayal, desperation, and powerlessness.

And yet. And yet, I totally believe with my heart and my head that God is in control; yes, indeed, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). I know my citizenship is not of this earth; I know that God is sovereign; I know that my primary concern is the spread of the Gospel and his Kingdom, not earthly principalities.

But does all that mean that as Christians we shouldn’t feel emotions about this? I think not and I’m here to express that. This post is written out of a heart in turmoil, a head that aches from thinking about all this and a desire to try and struggle through these issues and come out the other side with grace and love. I’m trying, and praying, but it’s hard. I need help, and I imagine a lot of Christians are feeling like this too.

When someone endures a loss such as a loved one dying, getting a cancer diagnosis or becoming bankrupt, do we glibly tell them it’s ok and not to worry because “God knows”? No… at least I hope not. Yes, we use the Bible as a means of comforting them but in the context of offering support, love, compassion and understanding.

God cares deeply about our membership of the EU (or not). That’s not to claim I know his opinion on it. I just know that he cares. His sovereignty does not preclude sadness, anger or pleasure at earthly actions. Quite the opposite; who cares more about injustice and poverty than the Lord our God? Whose heart breaks more than his at needless death, greed and violence? (Proverbs 6:17 – “The Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood”; Psalm 10:17 – “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted”). So God himself, who knows that all things are bound together for his pleasure, purposes and glory, feels pain and anger and devastation at the events that happen on this earth.  

I have seen many Christians post verses and quick-fire responses that seem to reference God’s sovereignty as a reason for not having strong feelings about the referendum. And I find them very hard to accept because I am struggling. I’m struggling to wrap my heart around the truths of God’s word, and I am clinging onto them, but just as in any other crisis you are still buffeted around by grief and anger while you hold onto the anchor, and I need help.

So, Christians who voted Leave, and those who voted Remain but weren’t all that bothered about the vote, I am asking you 5 favours:

1) Please accept and acknowledge that a deep Christian belief in God’s sovereignty is not incompatible with deeply negative feelings about this decision. Please do not gloss over these legitimate feelings or assume we are responding unchristianly because we are going through them.

2) Please show compassion to us and allow us to feel what we need to feel while we struggle to hold onto God’s promises through this. Yesterday it had been literally HOURS since the decision was announced,  we were all still reeling, and my feed was full of people telling us to “stop whinging”; “suck it up”; and other less wholesome language. I’m fully aware there were Remain voters also coming out with some nasty stuff and that’s not on either but I’m not speaking specifically to them in this post.

3) Please try and understand that you really don’t understand how this feels, and that’s ok, but it needs acknowledging. If you voted to Leave, or voted to Remain but didn’t really feel that passionate about it, it’s impossible to understand why we are feeling genuinely awful about it. It’s not at all the same as how the Leave voters would have felt if they’d lost, because a) that wouldn’t have been a shock and b) that would have meant a return to the status quo. This is a seismic shift and one that’s very much full of uncertainty and turmoil.

4) Please talk to us. I am sensible enough to be deeply concerned that the referendum does not come between Christian brothers and sisters! But a lack of grace in any situation, from either side, is more difficult to overcome. I am a flawed person and I struggle to be fully gracious when it comes to political issues, but I am desperately trying! As the winners, I need the help of Leave voters to be magnanimous in victory!

5) If you’re a Christian and not bothered about politics, please question why not. I have more empathy for Leave voters who were passionate about their belief for the right reasons than Remain voters who aren’t bothered. The Christians of the past – the Wilberforces, Booths and Frys – they were at the forefront of social change because of their Christian beliefs, not in spite of. And if our minds are on heaven, we will act on earth.

You might sense that this isn’t written as a wrapped-up, perfectly-packaged piece but a whole load of scrambled emotions…. And you’d be spot on. I am aware, and sorry for, any ungracious attitudes to those who disagree with me and don’t empathise with my feelings on the matter throughout this campaign. Some may think that enough is enough and one more opinion piece on the EU is one too many, but I hope by writing this it may help some and at least explain my seemingly nonsensical reactions to some of my friends.

In Christ, who will indeed one day stand upon the earth – Amen!


  1. What a heartfelt, excellent piece. Thank you so much. It totally expressed how I feel. I share your struggle to respond in a Godly way to these events. I really value what you wrote about deep grief not meaning we don't trust the Lord's sovereignty.

  2. Really well said. Thank you for your honesty and for expressing what so many of us feel. I'm still reeling myself, feeling like I've been bereaved almost. My head says God is sovereign and this hasn't taken Him by surprise but my heart is struggling to catch up.

  3. Thanks for your your honesty on all of this. I have felt shattered by the result. The comfort is that God is on the throne in complete control, his methods and ways maybe a mystery to us but, we know he is wiser than us.
    It still hurts though

  4. Thank you for your kind comments. Praying your Sundays bring healing and not hurt.

  5. I'm a Christian that voted leave.

    I found this blog a good review of reasons to vote leave.

    1. Hello, thanks for your comment. As a leave voter, what did you think of this blog then? It' s not really about the argument as the referendum is over, it's about how we deal with each other with as much grace as possible in the aftermath. :)

  6. I have also been upset. I voted Leave. Some of my Remain friends have insulted me. I am not stupid. I thought very hard about my vote. I care greatly about the outcome. But I find it hard to understand the intensity of some Christians feelings, such that they feel devastated, angry, and scared. It all matters. God is in control, but that does not make us robotic compliers with His will. However, surely there should be a little less fear? This debate is good and necessary, thank you for blogging.

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry you have been treated ungraciously by some people. I hope that my blog post got across sorrow, but not fear. I don't think we are meant to fear, even while we grieve. However, I'm sure we would all be compassionate as Christians towards the fact that although we are told not to worry and fear, sometimes we all do! It's part of living in a broken world. The good news is coming to God calms our fears.
      I think what I want to get across is for Remain voters who are shocked and working through the emotions, it's messy, but we are trying. Sometimes I think as Christians we expect people to get over things because of God's promises. On the contrary God gently comes alongside us and helps us in our mess, he doesn't expect us to snap out of it, but he does want us to cling to Him through it, and not despair.
      I think what is so hard for Leave voters to understand is the depth of emotion for us, as you yourself have pointed out. But I would beg that you try and sympathise, if not empathise. I have struggled with the fact that some Christian friends don't understand how personally affected we feel. That doesn't mean we are necessarily scared, it just means we're sad. And, I think that's ok.

  7. I've tried to respond to your post. Follow the link to read it.

    1. Hi mike, I've only just seen this. I've read the blog and will respond after mulling!