Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Christian and striking

The NT has a lot to say about work and the Christian, if you take employment to be similar to the role of a slave in NT times. It exhorts us to work hard even when we are not being observed and to serve our boss as if we are serving Christ, not because we are being paid well but because Christ will reward us (Col 3:22-25). 1 Peter 2:18f seems to go further and specifically deals with where masters are harsh and unfair, Peter argues that we must still submit ourselves to those masters.

But what about when it comes to industrial action?  Will the Christian go one strike?  Over what issues?  And how do we do so in a distinctly Christian way?

One of the key questions is what we as Christians will stand up for. The Bible again and again tells us that we must stand up for the oppressed and the poor and marginalised. We will fight for those who have no rights or cannot fight for their own, or be a voice for those who have no voice, we will fight for those in dangerous or unsafe working conditions. That means when considering industrial action we need to ask the following questions; Is it about greed or good? Is it contending for the rights of the impoverished or the destitute?

Another question we need to ask is what about contentment?  1 Tim 6 warns us against putting our hope in wealth but instead exhorts the believer to be content.  It poses another helpful question for us to consider when it comes to industrial action, how is this showing that my contentment is found in Christ?

But what about if you decide to strike, can you strike in a way that is distinctly Christian?

As a Christian if you strike because you sincerely believe it is the right thing to do then you must be part of any picket or protest, you cannot simply take it as a day off. If you are convinced it is a cause that is worth fighting for then you must fight for it. Otherwise, if you just have a day off, you are going against 1 Peter 2:18f, and just having a day off without contending for an injustice against others or against yourself.

Striking is so often about discontentment rather than about justice, the challenge for us is to put it in its biblical context.


Paul said...

"As a Christian if you strike because you sincerely believe it is the right thing to do..."

On what basis, though, could we arrive at a sincere belief that it was the right thing to do? To go on strike is to break the promise you made to your employer when you signed a contract.

For example, some would suggest that it's OK as long as it's in a good cause, or because we can't think of any other way to right the wrongs that we see before us. To the first though, it would seem illogical to seek to bring justice through the means of breaking a promise, and in the second case it just looks like a lack of faith (i.e. the only way God can fix this is if I help him through a sinful action).

Just a thought...

Al Gooderham said...

Are there any occassions when it may be right for a Christians to strike?

I think that there may be when it is an issue of injustice, which are called to care passionately about, though the believer will have explored all other possible means of raising this with their employer beforehand.

So for example if we know someone has been actively discriminated against we will contend on their behalf. Exploring all other possible avenues of protest before joining any strike action that may result.