I’m still in shock after waking-up, having “forgotten” about the referendum, to hear on the radio from Chris Evans that Britain has voted to Leave the EU.

So, possibly this is a rather forlorn call, but could we have a National Government of Unity until 2020?  I’m absolutely sick of all the vitriol, back-biting, character-assassination and angst that has been caused by our politicians trying to advance their own careers, rather than serve the people of the United Kingdom.

If we go to the polls again for a General Election, we’ll just return another group of very similar politicians who’ll have spent even more time trading insults, rather than fixing the real problems this country faces.  We need a kinder, more conciliatory, responsive, mature democracy where everyone is working together for the common good.  We need more unity, not further division.

Culture shapes behaviour

Following on from the shocking murder of MP Jo Cox, we must face the facts and see how easily a toxic debate can create a poisonous culture that leads to an utterly appalling outcome.  How we discuss issues and describe those we do not agree with can have serious, life-threatening consequences.  Freedom of speech must always be exercised responsibly and with consideration for our fellow-citizens.

Imagine the situation.  You’re a lonely middle-aged man who for many years has nursed a grievance against a world that seems stacked against you.  Distressed by how quickly your country is changing, you feel adrift and helpless, increasingly sceptical of those who promise so much, yet deliver so little.  Much of your view of what is happening outside is shaped by snippets of news and complaints you consume online, divorced from context and frequently reflecting embittered, angry prejudices.  Slowly, your thinking is being warped and you start to believe that “something must be done” to fix all these problems that never seem to be sorted out.

Suddenly, a new group of mavericks and wannabe revolutionaries appears and seems to offer an answer to all your gripes – one swift, simple solution that will transform Britain for the better.  They accuse those who disagree of being liars, scaremongers and traitors.  As these rhetorical flourishes trip off their tongues, they fail to consider how others will follow through on accusations, reaching with a twisted, sickening logic, fatal conclusions.

Those who live on the edge – unbalanced and isolated from human society – need to be remembered.  Their frail mental health is all too easily shattered by seemingly respectable politicians pandering to prejudice, justifying their grievances and whipping-up their passions.  Here’s the crux of this matter:

There are those who say we must “take our country back”, who castigate those on one side of an argument as an “elite”, in the pay of an establishment, in it for themselves and detached from the real world. Those people have to realise that their aggressive words and dangerous rhetoric have consequences. If you try to light a fuse, you can’t be surprised when it catches.

The Internet enables small groups of individuals to coalesce and whip each other into a frenzy over perceived injustices.  Whilst the vast majority can sustain such passions without breaking into physical violence, there are a (mercifully) small number who cannot cope with the deluge of despair and crack.  We might breathe a similar cultural air but what mildly irritates some can infuriate others, until breaking point is reached.

We must learn to watch our words carefully and engage in civilised debate, rather than the dialectic equivalent of bare-knuckle boxing.  Life is too precious, the bonds of community too important, to be jeopardised when it feels like we’re losing the argument.  Mutual respect – treating one another as we would like to be treated – is the cornerstone of democracy and true freedom.

God’s good gift

We need to realise and combat the dangers of sexual permissiveness and pervasiveness.  Sex is a good gift from God and works wonders within the safety of the male-female marriage union.  However, when divorced from this context and running riot across society, this blessings becomes (ultimately) a curse, destroying the possibility of real, wholesome relationships.  Soon, nothing is free from erotic undertones, even male or female toilets.

There are no safe places for individuals to develop natural, healthy bonds that can improve one’s mental well-being, without worrying about simmering sexual tensions.

How can this world be saved, or even just improved?  Not by obsessing over one’s identity and being recognised as gay, queer, trans, lesbian, bi-sexual, pansexual…!  What a waste of time and energy when drought-stricken villages are starving, enslaved children are trafficked and our wonderful world needs a great big clean-up.  We need to discover our identity, not in trying to work out who exactly we are attracted to, but in caring for and serving people, regardless of who they are – just like Jesus Christ demonstrated.

He hung-out and even partied with the “outcasts” of his day – prostitutes, tax collectors and those seen by the Establishment as morally reprehensible.  Yet, He did not adopt some sort of reverse snobbery and sneer at the upper classes.  Instead, He consistently showed them love by warning of the consequences of their actions and calling them to repentance for their hard-heartedness, teaching patiently all those who came to Him.  He reached out to touch lepers, who were seen as unclean.  Rather than being contaminated by such contact, as His contemporaries would have supposed, He actually healed these socially ostracised individuals and enabled their rehabilitation into community.

Of course, Christ was content to be “single” because He was fully satisfied in close union with the Father through the Spirit, and strove to share this grace with His followers.  He is the most amazing role model, Saviour and Lord we could ever wish for.


EU: Should I Stay or Go?

I read Joe Boot’s article with interest, but I’m afraid I’m still unconvinced by his case for “Brexit”.  He argues that so much of the “Remain” case boils down to the economy and that money should not be our primary motivator, but that’s misleading.  We must be concerned about the health and well-being of our fellow citizens.  If Britain votes to Leave, many thousands of jobs will be lost, the nation will be plunged into another recession and those who will suffer the most will be the poorest, most vulnerable in our society.  They will face welfare cuts as the state will no longer be able to afford the vital safety net that keeps so many from destitution.  Is this really what we want? Why would we vote for to hurt ourselves and our fellow-citizens, just to recapture the illusion of British supremacy?

As with other Brexiteers, Boot’s arguments are long on “what ifs” and broad sweeping generalisations about “control”, but there are very few, if any, examples, of where EU membership has compromised Britain and forced through laws that are anti-Christian.  It was the UK Parliament that voted on “gay marriage” and, actually, the fact many other EU countries, especially in the Eastern bloc, are more morally conservative than Britain is surely a plus point.

There was no discussion about security – Putin’s motives in trying to divide and conquer Europe.  No acknowledgement that the Bible advocates prudent planning and concern for one’s neighbour, which is certainly expressed in the fact that the no EU countries have warred with each other since its foundations.  Conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Eastern Ukraine are happening to nations OUTSIDE the EU where our capacity for response was more limited, though still inexcusable.  Moreover, improved connections between EU nations – such as those fostered by the exchange of Erasmus students – help to solidify the bonds between our countries.

Obviously, any future attempted “power grabs” by the EU, whether compelling Britain to bail out Greece/Spain/Italy, or permit a dictatorial, Islamic Turkey to join, should be resisted.  This can happen through influencing the discussion at the table, with our veto, and (should all else fail) voting in another referendum to leave.  But we’re not at that stage.  There are just too many benefits to being “In” and far too many risks and real, chilling consequences to being “Out”. A vote to “Leave” is final and irrevocable – I do not believe we’ve reached that nuclear option.