EU Referendum - a balanced viewpoint


EU UK flags 3a summary of Grove Ethics: The EU Referendum by Andrew Goddard, provided by Anne Sentance of Orsett, Horndon & Bulphan Benefice 

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

The EU is not Europe so to leave is not anti-European or anti-internationalist. It can reflect a different conception of European co-operation and of our nation’s role in the world.
Guidance from Commandment: Love of neighbour
  1. Self-serving and self-seeking is wrong for individuals and nations
  2. Vote for common good
  3. Should not seek solely national interest without thought for impact on others - both Leave & Remain: can problems be fixed?

Major Issues


Biblical drama
  • Humans - social beings formed in community :)
  • Go forth and multiply. After flood God works through descendants of Noah (Gen 10) :)
  • Humanity’s pride led to different languages (Gen 11) :(
  • Abraham chosen to found nation through which will bless all others (Gen 12:2-3) :)
  • Israel exalted and idolised itself and chosen status (Luke 3:8; John 8:39), plus forgot God’s work among other nations (Is 19:25) :(
  • Agent of our redemption is Jesus Christ :)
  • People of new covenant drawn from all nations - Day of Pentecost :)
  • Paul insists Israel cannot insist on its own supremacy. Ultimate goal of redemption is multi-national, people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 21:26; Is 60) :)
Varied Conclusions from Biblical narrative = Remain & Leave
  1. Self-exaltation contradicts and limits God’s purposes
  2. Nations have, and always will, rise and fall
  3. Good to love one’s own culture etc. and understandable to fear destruction by uniformity
  4. Should strive for common humanity amongst national diversity by appreciating good in others
  5. Like life of church (ideally!) should work in co-operation and fellowship across boundaries.
  6. While governance & justice should not necessarily be sole property of nation, supranational political structures need to respect national identities and political structures and to have a sufficient supranational identity among the peoples they govern if they are to be recognised and respected as representative.
  7. Babel illustrates dangers in world’s peoples uniting in a common project without reference to God (militarily, economically, commercially) but EU is democratic and should not be identified with beast of Rev 13 or Antichrist.
Should instead evaluate:
  • EU geographical and political expansion = good or bad internally and externally esp. poorer nations
  • EU’s neglect of Christian heritage in favour of eg. economic importance
  • Do members have sufficient shared identity for successful overarching political representation?


  • large scale migration to EU countries of people from conflict zones
  • EU citizenship = freedom of movement which possibly increases terrorist threat
    • OT law projects an ethics of compassion
    • NT teaching is to love outsider and be hospitable
                   = be gracious to the immigrant in the name of God and Christ

Should EU immigration be judged differently from rest of world?
  • EU membership means Romanians should have as much right as Scots to come to London
  • Economic advantages of freedom of movement cf legitimate fears of cultural changes it might cause


  • Peace
  • Solidarity
  • Economic benefits of single market
  • Stability - financial & economic
    • Do these encourage ‘idols’ such as consumerism/materialism/secularism? But would these lessen if we left?
    • Christians need to act as ‘watchmen’ (Ezek 33) and salt & light (Matt 5:13-16) within both nation and EU.


  • Do we REMAIN, and retain the ability to influence issues of justice, peace and solidarity, including current crises eg. refugees; jihadist threat; Russian chauvinism; technological threats to individuals and companies; structural deprivation; environmental degradation; regional and global peace-making etc?
  • Do we LEAVE, and (allegedly) regain more control over these decisions.



EU vision, shaped by Christianity has led to much good. Therefore continue to work at and influence future direction.
Membership does not mean accepting Euro or all other recent developments.
Commitment to work with neighbours to seek shared common good
Whereas if we LEAVE...
  • Diminish our input and influence in negotiations which will nevertheless continue to impact us
    • EU regs for selling to EU
    • If part of European economic area still need to make contributions to EU budget
    • Large no. of immigrants from outside EU [last 12 months: 184,000 EU/188,000 non-EU]
  • Fuel nationalistic and xenophobic attitudes
Future Implication
On surface no change
... BUT...
UK opted out of ‘ever closer union’, so not committed to further political integration which might apply to other states leading perhaps to a more pliable EU re new legislation - OR - nations that are not ‘at the heart of Europe’.


Past successes no longer working eg peace
‘Idols’ becoming too powerful eg Euro and no respect for national integrity - attempts to caution against and reform these have failed
Due to EU expansion, even less unites us. Is unity desirable anyway?
Free movement fuelling tension rather than solidarity
Despite huge financial cost, would creative thinking to reshape structure benefit UK, EU and wider world?

Future Implication

Major step into the unknown.
  • Need to renegotiate relationship with EU
  • impact on trade with other countries if lose our access to EU market
  • political isolation
  • negative consequences for financial markets
  • renewed call for Scottish independence?

Whichever result…

  • Debate fuelled irreversible antagonism
  • Christians divided - need to model good practice before and after
    • Christians need biblical & theological rationale
    • Must respond to those reasoning from different perspective
    • Is there a common vision, but corrupted by incorrect facts and interpretations?
    • Massive political decision, but not in eschatological realm!
    • Need to disagree harmoniously, accept outcome and work together
Can encourage ourselves that...
  • God is and always will be ruler of the world (Ps 2:4)
  • Neither EU or UK can bring about or prevent final coming of kingdom  (Ps 2:6-7)
  • All Christians united in belief that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ and that have ‘inheritance of nations and possess ends of earth’ (Ps 2:8-9); also ‘All authority in heaven and earth, therefore go and make disciples… (Matt 28: 18-19)
Overarching vision must remain that we are God’s ‘international’ people, sent into every nation to warn rulers of earth (Ps 2:10), to declare that Jesus is Lord, and to promise that “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:12)

>>> Read what the Archbishop of Canterbury has to say on the subject...

See also:


Anne Sentance, 12/06/2016

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