The apostle Paul described the last days as “perilous times”, and in so many ways we see that description reflected in the godless society in which we live and work. Work occupies half of our waking hours, and unless we are selfemployed, we spend that time in an environment largely dictated by others.

Modern workplaces increasingly reflect the humanistic thinking of the age and there are increasing pressures on Christadelphians who find some conflict with their Biblically based values. The pressure to conform to the “culture” and “values” of the organisation can be considerable, particularly to the young person in a first job. Career progress is often linked to reflecting the organisational values and social expectations.

Specific examples of the difficulties to be faced are:-

Feminism

Equality between the sexes is enthroned at all levels and in all awards. “Affirmative action” policies exist in some organisations that favour women through selection panel guidelines. There is also great pressure on sisters to continue careers at the expense of motherhood.

As an example a recent workplace publication stated:

“The role of women has been sadly overlooked in acknowledging that significant social and economic outcomes have been due to the role of women.”

“No longer is it appropriate to see women as playing a supporting role. Rather, women are an integral partner in all endeavours. We should be consciously seeking to change our attitudes to give effect to this outcome in order to expedite the changes.”

Equal Opportunity

 While this policy has some virtue (eg racism, disabilities), the greatest impact is to require toleration of all immoral lifestyles and relationships. Any intolerance of another’s personal morality is labelled “discrimination” and leads to disciplinary action. You can be anything you like, but not moralistic.

Amazingly, one can be discriminated against on religious grounds and no action will be taken! The rights of the individual are promoted, but rarely with the responsibility that comes with it.

Social Pressures

 In a society where broken families abound, the workplace is now a major meeting place for all the “single against”. Social activity is promoted to foster “team” spirit and staff are viewed dimly if they remain separate. It is considered important to be a “people person”, which means socialising with work mates.

Environmental

 Many workplaces have pornographic material openly displayed. This can be a real problem for young brethren in particular.

Change Culture

As part of the “spirit of madness” (Rev 16:13) there is constant change, reorganisation, outsourcing etc. This not only creates stress but leads to an attitude that change is an end in itself and always good.

Democratisation

 The latest wave of corporate culture is empowerment, self discovery and self management. The underlying spirit is the voice of the people deciding their own future.

The Impact

 Because many in the workplace hear these values constantly repeated or presented in training programs, there is the danger that insensibly our values can be altered. In fact, one of the worst sins (according to our current workplace culture) is to be inflexible, or to have a fixed paradigm on any issue.

Some good things have been achieved (eg, access for the disabled, elimination of racism, safety in the workplace, etc) but we must never forget that many of the philosophies conflict with divine values, such as suffering wrongfully without complaint, the value of motherhood and absolute values of morality.

Here are some typical ways in which Humanism has affected our lives:

  • A spirit of tolerance which acknowledges all behaviour as acceptable
  • A spirit of demanding “rights” rather than submission
  • A confusion about the essential differences in the way God created man and woman
  • A movement for sisters to play a more prominent role in ecclesial and family affairs
  • Sisters regarding a career path as more valuable and self fulfilling than motherhood
  • Pressure on mothers to be at work, creating tension at home in balancing family responsibilities
  • Loss of the correct husband/wife roles due to the financial independence of the wife and the necessity to share domestic duties
  • The loss of a wife and mother at home to care for the children and to be unaffected by constant contact with the world
  • A spirit of democracy becoming more evident in ecclesial life, ignoring the wisdom and experience of age and Godliness
  • A dangerous involvement with the workplace social life that can lead to romantic involvement and marriage outside of the Truth

Biblical Principles

 As much as we may wish not to have to contend with this evil world, it is part of our preparation that we “overcome” and “contend” until our Lord comes. The apostle John said, “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Brother Islip Collyer comments that:

“The Lord Jesus did not pray that his disciples should be taken out of the world, but that they might be shielded from harm, and remain faithful to their trust, though living in a faithless age. When men and women attempt to isolate themselves from the world in order to cultivate a special spirituality, they are not acting in harmony with the Master’s teaching, and they do not develop a genuine piety. Their virtues are only of a negative kind, and perhaps not far removed from positive vice.

“A blind man cannot be said to have overcome the lust of the eye, neither can a dumb man be praised because he speaks no evil. But a man in full possession of all his faculties may live in the world, yet not be of it, and by his positive efforts attest his faith in such a way as to find forgiveness for his failings. In that great picture of the judgment seat presented to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous are commended for their positive virtues and the wicked are condemned for their sins of omission.”

(Conviction and Conduct, page 167)

What Ought to be Done?

 Let us learn these vital principles as we go to work each day:

  • We are not “of this world” and will therefore incur its hatred (John 17:14–17)
  • Separation is vital (2 Cor 6:16–7:1)
  • Have nothing to do with the barren unprofitable deeds of darkness, but, instead of that, set your faces against them … ” (Eph 5:11, Weymouth)
  • Make a “covenant with your eyes” not to look on evil things (Job 31:1)
  • Seek out good company for support and encouragement (2 Tim 2:22)
  • Be a positive demonstration of what you believe (1 Pet 2:12)

If the workplace becomes intolerable then there is not always the simple option of changing jobs. We must therefore concentrate on preparing ourselves and our young people to face the hostile working environment with courage, determination and clear strategies so that we can avoid the pitfalls.

There is a real need for parents to discuss with their children the areas that will be challenged. Reinforcement of the Divine order established after the fall, together with the clear apostolic teachings about the role of men and women, are essentials.

Similarly we ought to encourage absolute separation from any lunch time or after hours social activity connected with the workplace. Sometimes prospects of advancement are hindered by this social separation, but it is a small price to pay to maintain one’s integrity before God. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake… ” (Matt 5:11).

We may not be able to do anything to change the culture our employer promotes, but we must ensure that we continue to see the unscriptural basis of these philosophies and resist carrying them with us back into ecclesial life. There are times to make a stand and sometimes this is well received if it is done in the right spirit. Sometimes, however, we can do no more than “vex our souls” as we endure the wicked environment.

Let us remember that often a positive and Godly work ethic (styled by Paul “working as unto Christ”) can be a powerful force by which we can overcome evil. A cheerful and helpful spirit, a sober minded disposition and a careful attention to the task in front of us, can be of enormous benefit to our own frame of mind as well as to our employer. Above all, let us pray with fervour for the coming of our Lord, who will bring to an end our contest against “spiritual wickedness in high places”.