Christians navigating workplace policies and procedures alongside their faith is not a new concept, but the question of what Christians ought to do when the beliefs of their workplace contradict their own has recently become an issue of increasing concern.
Recently some companies have begun to offer paid benefits for those who choose to have an abortion, whether that be time off or an employer covering expenses to travel to another state for the procedure. Companies like Apple, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Starbucks and many more are providing a range of financial and medical benefits for employees seeking an abortion. This has become a mainstream response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Other workplace policies and procedures have become more intentional about tolerance and inclusion for employees who identify as trans. For some companies, this looks like changing dress code policies, updating sexual harassment training, or even requiring employees to use preferred pronouns when addressing fellow co-workers.
There are many other workplace philosophies and procedures that run counter to the Christian worldview, but these are two of the most widespread changes that workplaces across America have been adopting.
So is there one appropriate Christian stance that Christians working in companies with these types of policies should take?
It would be great to open up the Bible and find a specific book or verse that addressed these specific topics, but there was no framework for these subjects when scripture was written. But that doesn’t mean we are left with no wisdom or guidance. It just requires us to look at the entire council of scripture and the examples or exhortations of what it means to be a Christian.
Here are three principles to keep in mind as you navigate ethical or moral conflict within your workplace.
Evaluate Whether Your Employer Is Asking You To Sin Against God
One of the easiest ways to gauge whether you need to find a new employer based on ethical differences is whether your employer is asking you to sin. Are the policies and procedures set in place requiring you to sin in order to complete your job? If so, this is cause for you to begin searching for a new employer.
Oftentimes, sin in the workplace flies under the radar and is not as apparent as written policies and procedures. It may be more like a request from your boss to inflate numbers or be dishonest in reporting outcomes. Sometimes, these types of requests seem relatively harmless, but are actually a call for you to sin and be dishonest.
Our desire to be obedient to the Lord and his commands should be greater than the needs provided through our workplace. That is certainly much easier said than done, but God will honor you and care for you as you make difficult decisions to keep his commands. Christians should desire obedience over prosperity, even if that means costing us in various ways.
Evaluate Whether Your Employer Is Asking You To Sin Against Another Person
Jesus said that the greatest commands in scripture are to love God and love others. This way of life should translate into everything we do, including our workplace. We should be people who are known by our love for God and love for others. As an employee, you are committing to uphold the company’s policies and procedures. If the company is asking you to sin against another person, then you are running in direct conflict with the commands of God.
This is not always a black and white decision. In some companies, it may be very easy to see that a request or policy is asking for you to mistreat another person based on any number of criteria. If you are in this type of situation, then that clearly goes against what God has called you to. And, again, you should consider another place of employment. But when it comes to policy changes like funding for employees to have an abortion, vaccinations, or even trans inclusion, it’s likely these are not calling for a direct mistreatment from you to other people.
Certainly, if your job were demanding that you have an abortion, they would be asking you to mistreat and end the life of an unborn child. Conversely, the opportunity for another employee to have an abortion is not a request for you as an individual to sin against or mistreat another person.
So many of the unethical or immoral conundrums we find ourselves in at work are often not asking us to directly sin against God or another person. What is really at play is the question of whether working in a company that supports and funds views counter to our own means we are in some way honoring or accepting that view.
Follow Your Convictions
In 1 Corinthians, Paul discusses a troubling topic to the Christians in Corinth. Some people were purchasing and eating food that was previously sacrificed to idols. The meat was cheaper, because in some ways it had already been used, but was still viable for cooking and eating.
To some Christians, it was an issue of conscience. They just couldn’t imagine being a follower of Jesus and willingly purchasing and eating meat that was sacrificed to an idol. It seemed to go against everything they believed.
To other Christians, it was no issue, because they knew the idols had no power. They weren’t personally sacrificing or worshiping those idols. They were just buying meat on the cheap.
Paul’s advice in this situation was to recognize that the food they eat will not draw them any closer or further away from God and encourage the Corinthians to make a personal decision based on their convictions. He was also adamant in telling them not to judge one another based on their personal decisions.
Paul’s advice can be applied to the moral and ethical dilemmas you find at work. If the policy in question is not causing you to sin against God or others, then you can apply the wisdom of following your convictions. If your company has a strong pro-choice approach, and this is a large part of their identity, then you might be inclined to look for another job. You have the ability to pray and discern what decision will align with your faith.
The reality is that just about every non-Christian company will have policies or procedures that don’t align with your Christian ethics, because they are not centered on Christ. As someone who is centered on Christ, you ought to be thinking about how working for and serving that company is affecting your faith and your witness to others. For many topics, it’s far more of a case by case basis rather than a universal determination that every Christian should abide by.
Living in a world that does not hold the same ethics and morals as Christians is challenging. As mature believers seeking to honor Christ in everything, we do we have to think about the aspect of our work place and make decisions according to our convictions. Honoring and remaining obedient to Christ should always be our greatest priority.
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