In July 2016 our country, the United Kingdom, had a new government. There were also terrorist atrocities in France and Germany, and an attempted coup in Turkey. With the Islamist president and government there, things do not bode well for Christians in that country. But this we can leave with God. There was also a political party conference in the USA with the Christian runner-up, clearly out-of-tune with the powerful billionaire who is bidding to be the next president.
There were also meetings of the Church of England Synod, the Canadian church, the Methodists and the United Reformed Church, all of which have been pointing towards rejection of the Word of God and accepting of ‘same-sex’ marriage.
Indeed as lovers of the Lord Jesus, who will yet reign in righteousness, we can be restful. I was talking to a brother the other day. He has a high powered job bringing him into contact with chief executives of leading companies. He told me that there was a state of panic amongst many top people on 24 June, the day after the Brexit referendum. As the result was not what they were expecting: it seemed as if they were anchorless and rudderless. It gave him opportunity to witness that God was in control. So if in the next few lines I cite some areas of concern, we can be restful that for Christians there is always a way through. ‘Seeing no apparent issue, but our way not entirely shut up’ (1 Cor 4:8 Darby), or ‘perplexed, but not in despair’ (1 Cor 4:8 KJV).
As to the United Kingdom, Mrs Theresa May is now in charge. On the face of it she should be a practical leader, supported by some good ministers and civil servants. She should do well for the country, especially with all the ramifications of leaving the European Union. We need to pray for her in this regard.
Is she a true Christian? We would hope so. Certainly she goes to church, and is the daughter of a Church of England vicar. She admits that her Christian faith has influenced her politics and one of her favourite hymns is ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’. However, she supported David Cameron in the introduction of same sex marriage, something abhorrent to any bible-loving believer.
Her rival in the race to become prime minister was far more open about her love for the Lord Jesus, as was another contender who withdrew earlier. Both Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb opposed this and other ‘liberal’ moves. Thankfully Mrs Leadsom is still in the government as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
There is, however an area of concern, for which we need to pray. The Cameron government had been working on measures to curb extremism, especially in Islam. Radical teachers have infiltrated schools and universities, with dire consequences. This would appear to be a wise move. However some secularists, especially in the judiciary, have regarded adherence to the gospel as being extreme. As is the case in English law, wording is often deliberately vague, it being left to the courts to interpret it, and sadly many judges would appear to be set against the gospel and true Christian teaching. Christians are under pressure, with threats of losing their employment and worse. There is a danger that ‘Extremism Disruption Orders’ could be used to silence preachers, constrain Christian youth groups and even close churches.
Why I highlight this, is that as Home Secretary, Mrs May would have been the architect of this policy. We must pray that she modifies and clarifies her intentions as Prime Minister, protecting normal Christian activities. Significantly earlier in her political career (2000-2002) she voted against the promotion of homosexual practices and opposed children being placed for adoption by same-sex couples. Pressure to confirm to this world must have caused her to change her position on these matters.
Another legal attack on our young people is in Scotland. The nationalist government under Nicola Sturgeon proposed that every child in Scotland was to be assigned a named state guardian to monitor their ‘wellbeing or happiness’. In this way the rights and responsibilities of parents would be seriously undermined, and the state would have a right to obtain the closest family secrets. Moreover, these proposals would promote an anit-Christian secularist agenda. It was opposed by many Christian organisations. Mercifully the Supreme Court has deemed this unconstitutional and contravening article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Supreme Court justices observed: ‘The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world.’ We can expect the Scottish government to continue is line in a modified form.
Another area of concern is in the area of education. There is a proposal that Sunday schools and other gatherings where young people are taught need to be registered and may be inspected by the British Government’s agency OFSTED. ‘Unacceptable’ teaching such as the exclusivity of the gospel, the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, and creation could be attacked. It could even be envisaged that this could extend to Bible readings too. But let’s be calm, with God and pray about this.
Our hope is that with the pressure of work caused by Brexit, these measures will not progress. But there is always the danger of their being quietly slipped through. Evil workers abound. As Christians we are to ‘walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man’ (Col 4:5-6).
As Paul wrote, ‘I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:1-4).
Note – for much of this I am grateful to Colin Hart of the Christian Institute – Please pray that Theresa May will protect religious liberty and from Andrea Williams of Christian Concern, Theresa May, our new Prime Minister
Indeed Christian Concern says, ‘We as believers can draw spiritual encouragement from Psalm 46:10, in the wake of uncertainty following the decision to leave the EU. ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ (Darby and others).
As ever in times of uncertainty and change, the Word of God offers us profound reassurance. In the wake of the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, let us turn to Psalm 46 and draw encouragement and wisdom from our Lord.’