Opting Out: Farage, Freedom, and Cheerful Defiance

By Rhett Burns

At 11:00 p.m. local time January 31, Great Britain left the European Union. A few days prior, Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party and member of the European Parliament, gave a short, but glorious farewell speech ahead of the parliament’s Brexit withdrawal agreement vote. I am not British and have no dog in this hunt, but I applaud when a nation exercises its agency against those who usurp and abuse power. In particular, I applaud five aspects of Farage’s farewell address.


First, Farage practices direct speech. “We love Europe, we just hate the European Union.” No one can say they did not catch his drift. In an age of lofty and flattering discourse, direct speech is the gift of clarity and responsibility. When we speak directly, we do not leave it to the listener to discern our meaning. We do that work for them as an act of neighbor love, allowing them to interact with our words in good faith. Further, when we speak directly, we take responsibility for our words and ideas. We do not hedge our bets and give ourselves wiggle room to change course if we meet resistance. In this final speech, Farage was clear and direct about why Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. I am not confident that they received it as a gift, but it was one.

Second, Farage—and Great Britain—stood up to the establishment bully class. “The British are too big to bully, thank goodness.” According to Farage, what Great Britain signed up for decades ago was common markets. What they got were unruly regulations, excessive taxation, explosive immigration, and an unaccountable power-hungry parliament that even wanted to form its own army. Unfavorable referendums in various nations were ignored, repeated, or worked around. But in the growing Globalism vs. Populism clash, populism is, as Farage humorously noted, becoming quite popular. The establishment class is finding it harder to push around the masses. “No more being talked down to,” Farage told the parliament.

Elite condescension toward the common man explains much about the current state of American politics and religion. Donald J. Trump is our president because the common class of America decided they were too big to bully, thank goodness. Conservative Christian denominations are in turmoil because their leaders have adopted the tactics, style, language, and, sometimes, the policies of the secular establishment. But Brexit shows us that successful resistance is possible if we have the courage and perseverance to stand up. 

Third, Farage demonstrated the freedom of opting out. “We are leaving.” Of course, there are some duties and commitments that we may not opt out of. For example, a man may not just opt out of his marriage, no matter how much freedom he thinks he will feel. But for many non-binding associations, exercising the option to leave is quite liberating, especially when the other party seeks to control with coercion and power. Many families experience freedom from the insurance industry’s cold bureaucracy by taking part in Christian health sharing ministries. Home and Christian schooling families free their children from state indoctrination. A man who leaves his soul-sucking corporate job to start his own business is a man who has discovered liberty. Of course, there are risks and costs with opting out of the care of the state or corporation, but they are the risks and costs those who love responsibility will take on.

Fourth, Farage and the British delegation displayed their patriotism. I know you want to ban our national flags, but we’re going to wave you goodbye.” At this point, Farage and friends waved small British flags. It was a great moment and one that demonstrated a love of country, as, in fact, the whole speech did. Globalists tell a pernicious lie that loving one’s country is wrong. That we are to love all nations in the exact same way. They slander patriots as nationalists, with nationalism redefined as nativist racism. But patriotism, at its core, is obedience to the fifth commandment. It is love for our fathers and mothers. And just like love and service of our natural parents does not exclude love and service of our neighbors, we can love our nation and other nations simultaneously, but to different degrees and in different ways. Farage loved his country enough to protect her from the political abuse of the European Union.

Fifth, the British delegation practiced cheerful defiance. “Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip, hooray!” The shrew moderator cut Farage’s mic and scolded him for disobeying the rules about flags. So, the Brits stood up and waved the flags still more and cheered their leader. Farage sat with a smile on his face. Representing the common working class of England, he defied a continent and laughed about it. All the schoolmarmy politician at the front could do was chastise him for using the word hate as the British cheerfully walked out of the room and out of her precious European Union.

When appropriate we should also defy usurping powers with a smile on our face. Why? Because we should be like God, who sits in the heavens, sees the nations rage, and laughs.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
—Psalm 2:1-4

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