Disclaimer: if you think this article is going to tell you how you should (have) vote(d) regarding Brexit, you’ll be disappointed.
Jesus’ disciples included a (former) tax collector for the Roman overlords (Levi/Matthew) as well as a (presumably non active) Zealot (a nationalistic Jew who wanted to overthrow the Romans- Simon “the Zealot”).
In other words, Jesus has always run a “broad church” in terms of political spectrums. There’s room for Brexiteers and Remainers in the kingdom of God.
But we can’t help but ask WWJD if there was a referendum for Palestine to leave the Roman Empire?
For enthusiasts about politics like me with my degree in International Relations, the Bible can sometimes seem enigmatically apolitical.
I suspect that to those who would want His opinion on Brexit, Jesus would opaquely reply, “Give to Brussels what is Brussels; and to God what is God’s”.
To be honest, Jesus had a pretty ambivalent relationship with the politics of His day, to say that the Romans would eventually crucify Him for claiming to be the King of the Jews- apparent blasphemy.
In fact, when the Jews tried to get some treasonous response from Him on paying taxes to Caesar, He simply replied, “Give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”.
Let me think outside of the Biblical box for a moment though. If money has Caesar’s face on it- then Caesar should get the money. Pay your taxes, and stop moaning about it, Jesus would say. But pounds sterling have the Queen’s face on, not some faceless eurocrat, so why should we pay Brussels any money (asks the eurosceptic in me).
It goes back to the old American revolution: “no taxation without representation”! But Biblically, whether we as Christians feel represented by the powers that be or not, we should still pay our dues.
Let’s flesh this out a bit with Romans 13.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.
Romans 13:1-7 ESV
How do we Brexit Biblically? Firstly by obeying the powers that be. Didn’t German Lutherans use this to justify obeying the Nazis? Well okay, we should obey the powers that be insofar as they allow us to live as good Christians.
So as long as we’re still subject to Brussels, we should be good European citizens. And if we ever finally leave we should be good citizens of the United Kingdom.
Bear in mind that Paul was writing about the tyrannous Roman Empire that would probably have him and most early church leaders martyred. He wasn’t calling for an independent Judeo-Christian Judea; he was calling for obedience to the pagan Roman overlords.
Our kingdom is of heaven, not of earth. The new testament calls us to be circumspect and philosophical about perceived political problems we may face.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 13:8-10 ESV
Secondly, we Brexit Biblically by loving our neighbours, whether they’re Brexiteers or Remainers; Polish or Pakistani! A good neighbour doesn’t constantly berate his neighbour about who he is or his lifestyle choices, he’s just kind, friendly and helpful whether he agrees with him or not.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Romans 13:11-14 ESV
Finally, we Brexit Biblically by getting things in perspective. The dawn of heaven breaks, so we need to be holy as God is holy. Would Brexit or remaining in the EU make us more holy? Well neither to be honest, so let’s focus on the things that matter- salvational things.
If we’re proper Christians, we believe we only get into the kingdom of heaven through the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what we should be telling people, not whether or not they should have voted for Brexit!
Peace out, to Britain, the EU, and the world!