What to Do When Required to Sin


What to Do When Required to Sin

Richard Hollerman

Although this topic could be expanded to a great measure, let’s limit it to the following question: What should the Christian do when he or she is required to sin on the job? Should he or she submit to any ungodly requirement? Or should they refuse to submit to wrongful demands?

As you can imagine, this question has far-reaching implications. Most adults do hold down a job and this employment is important for them and their family. It’s a necessary part of life. Under the First Covenant of Moses, God commanded, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9). Under Christ and the New Covenant, we have similar commands. For instance, Paul speaks of those Christians who formerly would steal but now have been saved. What are they to do? “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). Labor is part of God’s plan for this world.

We also know that when we are on the job, we must be fully submissive to our employer. If our manager asks us to do something or if a certain action or responsibility is required for employment, then we must fully comply. We do this under conviction and under the prior and greater authority of God over us. In the first century, some followers of Jesus were slaves, and at least some of what was required of them would be required of us when we have a job.

Scripture says, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ” (Ephesians 4:5). We are to serve our earthly employers as we would Christ, for we serve Christ when we are a responsible employee on the job.  Paul the apostle continues: “. . . not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (vv. 6-7). Even on the job, we must be submissive and fully obedient for we, in reality, serve the Lord Himself.  When we serve and submit to our earthly employer, we serve and submit to the Lord. But notice that we must “do the will of God from the heart.” We must never, never, never choose to sin even if this is what an earthly manager or boss should require this! We must always “do the will of God”!

As you might imagine, this does have tremendous implications for the Christian who has a sensitive conscience and is determined to obey the Lord.  If ever there is a conflict between what a supervisor on a job should require and what God requires, we must respond as did Peter, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; cf. 4:19-20). God must always have the priority. He must always be obeyed even when an employer insists that we must not obey the Lord. (I’ve lost three jobs in my life because of this very issue.)

Consider a few examples. This principle would mean that if an employer on the job pressures us to do something dishonest or steal something, we must respectfully decline—regardless of the consequences.  If a manager were to require us to support the United Fund (when we know that some of our contribution would be used to support sinful organizations or causes), we must refuse. If a boss insists that we must lie on the job (in telling a caller that the boss is not in when we know that he is in), we must refuse. If a manager were to require a sister (or brother) to dress immodestly, to cut her hair, to wear shorts or pants, then she must humbly refuse. If a job were to require a Christian to join a labor union and have this connection with unbelievers and participate or support an organization based on sinful purposes, then the Christian must refuse and make other arrangements.

This issue has always been a problem over the years but it’s very much in the news in our day. Today we just noticed a short letter to the editor of the local newspaper and the person voiced concern about the government requiring someone to do something against his or her convictions. Here is the letter (entitled “Don’t Sue Christians”):

With the feeding frenzy going wild on gay marriage by the media, it won’t be long when Texas allows gay marriage. With that being said, the gay community should not have any legal grounds to sue anybody who refuses to participate in a gay wedding.

Cake decorators, florists, caterers, photographers, rental and wedding planners should not be liable if they refuse wedding services to gays and lesbians due to religious beliefs. Christians should be protected by a state law against frivolous lawsuits.

I hope our legislators are thinking about the repercussions. May God bless us all.

We hope that Texas will not follow many other states that open the door to ungodly and immoral so-called “Gay Marriages,” but if it should come, what should Christians in Texas do? In fact, what should followers of Jesus do in the many states that now permit sodomites to be joined in what they (mistakenly) call “marriage”?

Obviously, the follower of Jesus should not condone these immoral sexual unions. They must not approve of them or participate in them.  But consider the content of the foregoing letter. What about “cake decorators, florists, caterers, photographers, rental and wedding planners” who are confronted with the question of whether to participate in a sexually immoral arrangement? Go beyond the issue of sodomy to the matter of adultery. We know that most remarriages (after an illegitimate divorce) are adulterous. When a man divorces his wife, except for fornication (sexual immorality), and marries again, he commits adultery against her (Matthew 19:9; cf Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18). Thus, what does the Christian do when he is asked to aid in any way this adulterous relationship? So whether we are referring to the immorality of sodomy or the immorality of adultery, the Christian may be faced with a serious dilemma.

Suppose that one is a motel clerk and two men (obviously sodomites) want to rent a room for the night. What should the clerk do? He is required to rent the room, for immoral and sinful purposes, or he would surely lose his job. Suppose that one has a house for rent and two sodomites or two adulterers should want to rent it. In this land and age of “human rights” and “civil rights,” it would be illegal to refuse to rent to even these people. But can the Christian aid and abet two men, two women, or a man and a woman who want to rent the house for the purposes of a sinful relationship and sinful activity? If he refuses, will he not be sued by the person who is denied rental?

We know that there are churches that would not allow their buildings to be used for a sodomite wedding. And probably there are some that would not allow adulterous marriages to take place in the church meeting place. But how does one handle other practical matters regarding sodomy, homosexuality, and adultery? Do we refuse to offer hospitality (including offering a bed for the night) to two sodomites who need a place to stay? Do we refuse to offer a room to an adulterous family member who would like to stay in our house, knowing that these adulterous members will sleep in the same bed and perhaps commit immorality in our own house? These are practical concerns that we, as followers of Jesus, must confront and make decisions on. They are not easy, but they are real.

There are many other instances in which a Christian may need to take a stand against sinful behavior and not participate in it at all. Suppose the state school board were to require teaching homosexuality to the twelve grades in school (and we’ve read that California now does demand this)?  Suppose further that a first grade teacher has convictions against the sexual immorality of sodomy and lesbianism. What are the ramifications if she were to refuse to teach the children this perversion? Or suppose one worked in City Hall and had to sign people for marriage licenses. What should he do if two sodomites wish to be “married” in one of the liberal states, or what should he do if two adulterers want to marry even when God forbids such a union? In such cases, we must always refuse to do wrong. We must always do the right!

Although we won’t deal further into this matter, we would like to once again offer this principle that must surely apply on our job: We must obey our employer fully, as unto Christ, as long as our obedience does not conflict with the prior and greater will of God (Acts 5:29). As in all things, we must always acknowledge Jesus as Lord over our life. We must always obey God and submit to His Word even when this means refusing to obey our employer, regardless of the cost and the consequences. Jesus is Lord!









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