Where do Irish Christians go from here?
On May 22nd, 62% of those qualified to vote in the Republic of Ireland referendum on same-sex marriage, chose to vote ‘yes’, effectively moving Irish values and lifestyle definitively away from God. Commentators on this were quick to point out that the vote was as much an anti-Roman Catholic church vote as it was a move towards so-called ‘equality’. The recent history of child abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic church in Ireland has appalled, disillusioned, and driven away many, including a new generation of young people, from its doors.
The Roman Catholic church is also at war with itself. The Association of Catholic Priests, a liberal group representing about a third of Roman Catholic priests in Ireland estimated that about 25% of priests voted ‘yes’ and encouraged their congregations to do so, despite a number of bishops urging a ‘no’ vote. Furthermore, it reports that at a Mass in Dublin just before the referendum, one priest urged his flock to vote yes, announced that he was gay, and received a standing ovation from his congregation!
Where do Irish Christians go from here? Ireland is spiritually and morally bankrupt, at war with itself, and Hell-bent, detesting the idea of Christianity - at least the version of it that has been presented to it by the Roman Catholic church. But in one sense, nothing has changed. We know already from the Scriptures that Jesus said: ‘wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14). This is and will always remain true no matter what decisions nations and individuals take.
So, where do we go from here? Well, like the Apostle Paul, our ambition in Ireland is simply to preach the Gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20). In Ireland, the vast majority ‘know’ Christ as only a swear word, or as a distant, cold stone statue figure at best. But our ambition, as Irish Christians, as Evangelicals, is to bring the Gospel afresh to this generation of Irish to know Him as their loving Lord and Saviour. To preach the Gospel, was ‘always’ Paul’s ambition in life, and this ambition should grip every Evangelical and every Evangelical church in Ireland.
We need to get ambitious about the Gospel in Ireland. This is the only remedy to a sin-sick Irish society. Abiding in Christ, we need to be growing personally as disciples and followers of Jesus before we can encourage others to do the same. And when we get ambitious about Jesus and his Gospel, it will show and it will attract. God’s strategy remains the same; disciple-making disciples, who ambitiously pray, live, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. This is where we go.