Tying to think about the EU as a Christian might feel a bit like trying to understand the Trinity: Impossible to fully grasp and easy to stop trying.
There’s the European Commission, which runs the show. The European Parliament, which you vote for, and the European Court of Human rights, which you don’t. Then there’s the European Council, which is made up of the leaders of EU countries. But don’t confuse the European Council with the Council of Europe, or the Council of Europe with the Council of Ministers; they are all separate bodies.
Are you keeping up?
It's tempting to give up at this point. You can even make the easy option sound godly: 'I can’t possible understand it all and so I’ll just leave it to God’s sovereignty.'
But Romans 13 says, '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.'
Our government, which God has given us, has delegated the decision of EU membership to us, the citizens. Suddenly it doesn’t sound so Christian to ignore the issue.
Start with Christ
To make an informed choice on EU membership does require a little bit of research into the institutions of the EU. There’s no dodging it, by polling day you should know the difference between the Commission and the European Parliament. However, the real difficulty is not that we find the EU confusing or know so little about our MEPs. The reason so many of us find this decision difficult is that there are far bigger issues at stake than we normally care to think about.
For example, what should Christians think about government and the role of nations? Should we enjoy being British? Could the Christian option ever be to go it alone?
There is no specific endorsement of Brexit or remaining in the EU from the Bible.
Whenever we think about any issue we should always start with Christ. We are united to Christ through the Holy Spirit. We should remember that our primary allegiance is not to any country or superstate but to the Kingdom of God. That's not to say that we aren't part of Britain or the EU or that we don't have to obey their laws, but these allegiances are always secondary to our worship of God.
Secondly we need to be honest about our preconceptions. If you think that the EU has our best interests at heart then you will probably want to stay. If democracy is important to you then you might want to go. But many of our underlying reasons have no biblical basis. There is no specific endorsement of Brexit or remaining in the EU from the Bible. There is no affirmation of democracy or of globalisation, nothing to say that we must be citizens ‘of the world’ first and British second, only that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and that we must obey our government.
In this referendum we are the government. We must make the decision whether to remain part of a political union of European nations or to remove ourselves from it. We must choose what is right for our country.
However, we shouldn’t worry too much about the outcome. Take the long view. In 1000 years, the EU probably won’t be around anymore, Britain, as we know it may not even exist and God’s purposes will be worked out anyway.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the EU is the saviour of mankind or that Britain’s exit will cause a revival. None of these things will happen apart from the sovereign will of God.
All of this should be liberating. You are free to make a decision as a human being made in the image of God. You can use your reason, logic and intuition that God has given you safe in the knowledge that he is in control.
Read the Bible. Think through what it says about government and politics and then question your own ideas. Chat to Christian friends about the issue and go to a local debate. God’s given you a brain and a choice and as Christians it's important that we take that seriously.
David Scullion is a freelance journalist who comments on politics and the EU. He lives in York with his wife Lydia and is a member of an International Presbyterian Church