Here’s what really ticks off Christians seeking to live faithful lives in workplaces that are aggressively pushing the Sexular Age onto their employees.
They get tired of people whose lives inhabit the sheltered workshop of fulltime pastoral ministry telling them that if they’d only spend more time being like Jesus in terms of compassion, justice, love, kindness, generosity (all the good stuff), and less time being a culture warrior on issues of sexuality (all the bad stuff), then things would go swimmingly.
And once again I’ve seen that happen on social media this week. The impression is, ironically, very binary. Apparently these Christian workers in the secular and woke offices of our major cities have tossed a coin and said:
“Heads I be a culture warrior. Tails I be the kind of Christian the sheltered workshop folk just wish I would be.”
Gimme a break. Most Christians in the workplace have a deep conviction about living a godly life in how they conduct themselves. They’re very clear that they are there in the office or the department to acquit themselves well in their role, and to adorn the gospel in line with the command of Paul in Ephesians 6, which is worth quoting at length:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.
This is the concern of most workers of faith that I know. They wish to be godly, and they know that they are to behave in a manner that meets the approval of their boss and the BOSS. And those high up in leadership know that they are to display an all-too-often-rare humility in the upper echelons of large companies.
Here’s what they are not doing. They are not – as they seem to be accused of in what is clearly a strawman argument by so many of those who have rarely darkened the door of secular work – banging on about sexuality and gender in their workplaces. They are not pasting up Bible verses about homosexuality or gender in their cubicles.
Here’s what they are doing. They are keeping their heads down. They know that no matter how nicely they smile on Wear it Purple Day, the HR department – and indeed a few of their colleagues – will consider them the moral equivalent of a smiling racist. And they know that like the wildebeest caught straying from the herd, their colleagues who may agree with them silently, will leave them to the level five lion who is angered by their quiet conviction.
They also love their non-binary and gay work colleagues and seek to treat them equally and give them no reason to scorn or hate the gospel. For many it’s nerve-wracking because they know that the corporations of the 21st century are intent on driving the social and cultural agenda of not just the workplace, but the wider setting.
Faced with a meaning and purpose deficit in the culture due to the retreat of any public acknowledgement of transcendence, the corporations are seeking to shape the meaning and purpose of life. The large corporations are above all religious, whether the god is Mammon or the god is Sexual Identity and Expressive Individualism.
Granted, not all Christians in the workplace face this sort of confronting issue around sex and gender, and many are just getting on with their lives and work with little trouble, all the while attempting to adorn the gospel by their aptitude and attitude. I’m not the type to over-egg the cake and say it’s all as bad as it possibly can be. But I’m also the type that has called out some stuff in recent years in terms of where the culture is headed on this stuff, and been proven right.
But for those Christians that are facing the heat, can the sheltered workshop types do me a favour and back off? Stop demeaning such Christian workers as if the problem is their fault, either because they are making too big an issue of this, or because they’re not showcasing Jesus in any kind of loving and generous way. That’s just plain insulting.
And if you are that sheltered workshop type, maybe it’s not because you are clueless. Maybe it’s because you’re on the more progressive side of the sexuality debate, and you would rather die than support a brother or sister in Christ who differs to you on this. And that’s the point to ask yourself what your gospel actually is, and whether you might have unwittingly signed up for another gospel.
Which – humanly speaking – you’re free to do.
What you’re not free to do is to impugn those workers in the Sexular Age who are trying to navigate what is an increasingly hostile setting for them, and who just want to keep their heads down and get on with life, in a setting where “silence is violence” and unless you declare yourself an “ally” then you are no longer a friend in this company. Granted too that is not everyone by a long shot, but it is some people, so spare a thought for them.
And maybe get out of the sheltered workshop some time and go to the coalface and ask the questions you already seem to have answers for.