The reason we all remember where we were on 9/11 is because the events were undeniably dramatic, dastardly, and devastating. We knew we were witnessing something historic and horrifying. Brexit is not that.
A lot of people on Twitter are getting the words “historic” and “histrionics” confused.
If/when you heard that Britain voted to exit the European Union on Friday, you would have been excused for greeting the news with a nonchalant, meh.Nobody died. No laws were broken. And nothing was lost (if you don’t count the $2,100,000,000,000 that evaporated from the world markets in a puff of panic). In one sense it was just the Brits being British and the world will keep turning. And yet, therein lies the rub. The Brits were being British instead of European, which is what got them on a sticky wicket. (If you’re not in the mood for obscure British idioms, you should stop reading).
If you’re anything like me or millions of other geographically estranged observers, far removed from the epicenter of the fray, you may have these two simple questions: Who cares, and why?
I’m not going to give you the bacon, eggs, Welsh rarebit and Earl Gray version; I’ll give you the pop-tart and black coffee version. For a more satisfying and mentally nourishing explanation of the implications for Western civilization, I refer you to Dr. Al Mohler.
For centuries Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) enjoyed expanding her influence into every nook and cranny of the globe. It’s no accident that you and I can share English as a mother tongue although I live in Africa and you live in North America, or India, or Hong Kong, or Australia. This imperial expansion made our petite mother island very, very wealthy and powerful.
One by one British colonies gained independence. Sad for Britain.
World War I and II happened. And the Brits and their out-the-house children (commonwealth colonies and yes, the USA) saved the world from some scary and nasty Europeans.
Skip scene to June 23, 2016. Everyone on that side of the pond had long since kissed and made up and linked arms to form the European Union, a political and economic union of 28 countries. So for a while now Britons have been lumped in as just another card in the EU deck. But young Brits, who don’t long for the days of world domination and who just enjoy moving to Amsterdam and back at will, don’t miss economic independence.
The EU makes it easier to pursue happiness; i.e. the American Dream, Eurostyle. Europeans and Brits can relocate, open businesses, sell their stuff, work, and go to school wherever they choose. Now people can find a good croissant in Stradford-upon-Avon and a mean figgy pudding in Tuscany.
However, older folk in Yorkshire don’t quite like how their grandkid’s classroom is jam-packed with greasy foreigners and how he struggles to get a spot on the school cricket team. Not really, but kinda.
Then, on June 24 everyone got narked because of the shambolic dog’s dinner, thanks to the gormless PM who was off his trolley when he caused some barney. Translation: the Prime Minister messed up royally.
The PM is like a President except he can be summoned for a chiding by his lady boss, and also he knows that making a massive error in judgment means he should probably resign on the spot, not run for re-election.
I’m fuzzy on why this is David Cameron’s fault, but my British friends can’t stop cursing him long enough to articulate any specifics. But he somehow clumsily caused a referendum (a yes/no type vote), which he was sure everyone would use to remain in the EU. Scotland did vote to remain, Northern Ireland did vote to remain, and even the majority of London voted to remain. But the shires (think Downton Abbey, Hobbiton, and the Yorkshire kid’s grandparents) outvoted them all and said “Pip pip TTFN” or “exit.”
So, now the British are British again, and not European. And Bob’s your uncle.
What it means?
Good things: Brits can now make all their laws for themselves instead of having an unelected German lady tell them how much to charge for an orange and how many oranges have to be in marmalade before it can be called marmalade. Also, they can buy oranges from Canada again, which the EU had made taboo because of a spat the Portuguese had with the Canucks about orange exports. So, things like that.
Bad things that some people think are good: Brits can now limit how many Czechs and Dutchmen can be in their country, which makes cricket tryouts easier for the Yorkshire kids. Not really, but kinda.
Bad things: Well, there’s the whole $2.1 trillion loss of value on the world markets thing. Everyone who knows how to preserve wealth decided it’s no longer safe to keep money in, say, your pension investment anymore. You probably got the memo too late and just lost a ton of money. So there’s that.
Most of the tangible repercussions will indeed be economic. The EU greased the slide for normal people to become well-off, so they could buy iPhones and Kindles and the stuff your wife sells on Etsy.com and tickets to visit America. Now, not so much. Eventually we will all feel that pinch.
Also, it’s a bit bad for British missionaries wanting to plant churches in Stockholm or Antwerp who now need to get visas and permits.
And it might get quite bad for the EU if other countries follow suit. A Grexit would be a blessed subtraction, but the Italeave, Czechout, and Departugal would shred the fabric of the EU.
And it might get really bad for England and Wales if Scotland and maybe even Northern Ireland vote to cede from the United Kingdom and go back to the EU (think Braveheart and Patriot Games bad). The Union Jack might look quite different a few Olympics from now. Our kids will surely grow up in a dystopian post 24/6 world. Sniff.
What it means for Christians?
I mean, sure, there was a tectonic shift in the globalization trend that might warrant a page or two in the next edition of Western Civilization textbooks.
And if the actual anti-christ is alive and gearing up for a one world government, he’s probably scratching his head at this setback. But then again, he’s got the US elections to keep him busy.
But in reality, the worst thing that can happen from the collapse of the EU and the UK (or for that matter the Clintonization/Trumpification of America or the great degeneration of wherever it is that you live), is that the uphill grind of making a comfortable living, sending our kids to college, and retiring before we’re dead will become steeper and longer than what we are used to. The reality is that this could still have been the case if Britain had chosen to remain in the EU.
Is that sad? Sure. Is it catastrophic? Hardly.
The post 24/6 austerity will feel unpleasant…in this life. But this life is not where we as Christians have our treasures stashed. Most people in most places in most periods of history have slogged a harder graft than us anyway. And the united kingdom of God is still spreading swimmingly. The Church is still steadily being built, the gates of Hades and the exits of empires are still no closer to prevailing against the cause of Christ than they were last Thursday.
I think that if Habakkuk were here, quietly awaiting the fallout of this news, he’d assure us that though the figgy pudding should not blossom, and there be no marmalade on the shelves, though the tax on olive oil becomes prohibitive, and the fields yield no oranges, though the bangers and mash become scarce and the Earl Grey be cut off from Starbucks, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord and I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:18).