procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


as much as i love a good rally, holding up a sign, and traffic, what role are Christians to play, when it involves contradicting the wishes of your employers. specifically:
1 Peter 2:13-14 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
18-19 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

is the question whether you place the union as supreme, ie worthy of more respect that your employers? what should Christians have done in Tienanmen Square, what about in Thatcher's England?
what about caring for the weak, the unprotected among us, those unable to stand up for themselves?

would not not striking mean you are complicit in their mistreatment? we can't all be Daniel, having a chat with the King, or the CEO i guess in our case.

thoughts? advice?

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Blogger samgirl said...

Well...I'm not sure that as Christians we should strike/contradict our employers - unless they are telling us to sin against God and then I think we discuss/ quit??

Romans 13 is another good passage talking about being subject to Authorities....

13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

2:11 pm  
Blogger Car-o-line said...

We've been talking a lot about social justice issues at church and how we should be responding to authorities who don't seem to be helping the weak/unprotected.

I think what Sam said was good... God is always going to be our supreme authority, if following our authorities means disobeying God... we should follow God.

Also... we can submit to authorities... but not necessarily follow their laws. Does that make sense? Submitting to authorities doesn't mean being a robot that does what our leaders program into us.

if rebuking needs to be done to our leaders... we should do it with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:15ish)

[ok... sorry for the long comment :P]

3:34 pm  
Blogger Georgina said...

Hey Doug,
I reckon definitely we should try to submit to our employer, except when it contradicts what God says, as both Samgirl and Car-O-Line say.

I guess it comes down to what you do. For example, my workplace, it employs people who work directly on embryonic stem cells, and what do I do - nothing.
But when I think someone's being treated unfairly (such as my receptionist) I back them up and try to fix it.
When I think my employer's employee has treated a student unfairly I follow that up.
When I think the uni shouldn't sack the best VC we've had in the time I've been working here I sign a petition and I go to a protest.
When I think that the uni getting rid of cleaners and security and mailmen including many semi-skilled workers in their 50's and 60's I sign a petition and I go to a rally.
If I thought there was something unethical going on in my workplace, I would speak up.

We speak up. We do something. When it matters. When we should.

I've rabbited on and now I'm leaving work, but hey, it's a blog.. :)

6:09 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

i really like all your comments, but when we discussed this at bible study, one perspective was that 1Peter2 says we should cop it - 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

we actually show we are different to the world by not complaining, by being subject, as samgirl so eloquently explains.
for it is those of the world who complain, are interested in their rights here and now.

some exceptions we thought up were for safety issues, and possibly in the case of the mistreatment of our 'weaker' co-workers, as georgina suggests.

one interesting comment from our group was that one member would strike - but she would need a better reason than greed! (i take her point, even though it might be in the exception of our weaker co-worker, where they are unable to feed themselves or their family - though, as pointed out, this is yet to be the case in this country, in her industry at least)

8:42 am  
Blogger byron said...

Doug, I think your observation that the union is also a 'human institution' is an interesting one, since it is one of many points in our society where we are faced with competing authorities. It is simply not the case that we are faced with a unified hierarchy of authority to which we may always unproblematically submit. These incongruities can be overplayed, but as Christians we need to say much much more about authority than simply 'submit'. We need to re-examine the reasons behind 1 Peter 2 and Rom 13. I suspect that both Paul and Peter are doing a little back-peddling or damage-control. The Christian message is that Jesus is Lord, and the immediate (and correct!) implication of this for 1stC hearers was that Caesar was not. Christian submission to authorities must always be placed in this larger gospel context, which makes Rom 13 and 1 Peter 2 secondary corrective against those who might think that God's kingdom has already come in fulness and the human institutions are already swept away. They have been served notice and so now have only a secular (in the original sense of the word - belonging to this age, not the one to come. See here) authority. We obey not out of fear (Peter says only to fear God), but to honour the ongoing imperfect and indirect mediation of divine rule through civil authorities prior to the full arrival of God's kingdom. Oliver O'Donovan The Desire of the Nations is really worth reading on this (though he's very dense).

12:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A date for your diaries........
I will be on strike for half a day on November 30th.... KO

2:40 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

thanks byron. that's a key frame of reference to be thinking through - the corrective of the apostles for a people who realise that Christ is Lord (and not the emperor).

perhaps we need a reverse corrective today - that the employer is not infact Lord, rather Christ is.
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

perhaps the constant reminder from Peter of the imminent last day is the corrective we need for today.

1:30 pm  

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