Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ethics and the Workplace

America is suffering from economic hardship, and has been for quite some time. That's hardly news. But I contend that it's a kind of divine punishment for the fact that we have lost our moorings ethically and morally. In my opinion, the church is partly to blame, for allowing companies to practice "business as usual" instead of speaking prophetically against these destructive practices.

For example, a lot of conservative churches and pastors use the term "anti-family" to describe politicians who endorse or tolerate abortion or homosexual marriage or divorce. And I believe that that's an apt description of such things. But it seems to me that such moral "leaders" are rather selective (conveniently so) in their outrage.

I've long known that a lot of businesses and business owners practiced and promoted policies which were detrimental to family life. Consider, for instance, the common tendency to prefer to hire two part-time workers rather than simply hiring a single full-time worker, even though 40 hours of labor are needed by that company. Why do they do such things? Isn't it obvious? They want to save the money the would necessarily spend on employee benefits for full-time workers. Of course, there are companies which don't give such benefits to any of their workers, and that's deplorable on some level, too. But grown adults need and deserve to be given full-time jobs which enable them to provide for their families.

The aforementioned practice  is blatantly anti-family, and I find it shameful that our pulpits have been virtually silent about the issue.

A man who must work two part-time jobs because he is unable to pay living expenses with the income he would receive from one decent full-time job is a man who must spend time needlessly commuting from one part-time job to the other (wasting fuel and other resources in the process) instead of spending that time at church or with his family. He is a man who, even when he is able to spend time with his family, is unduly subjected to stress, which has negative consequences in terms of his health and his costs of health care. A man constantly on the road has less job security, and less ability to reliably provide for his family. And this is overlooking the fact that mothers are often subjected to these same market forces. Latchkey children are the obvious consequences, creating a society characterized by children who are deprived of moral instruction because their stressed out mothers can barely keep their wits together.

Parents have little time to spend together, so there is greater temptation to commit adultery (also known as "having an affair").

Why don't our pastors speak out against this wretched state of affairs, which cries out for reform? Duh! They are afraid of offending members of the business community and causing tithes and offerings to dry up. Such business people have disproportionate control over what these cowards are willing and able to do.

The social changes which forced many people to work for temp agencies just to get a paycheck have been similarly devastating. Temp agencies can sometimes be better than no job at all, but they tend to be run by people who are clueless about such things as loyalty. No job is immune to the temptation to fire people instead of giving them the opportunities to take corrective action in order to hold onto their jobs, but temp jobs are notorious for that kind of thing, When the first indication that a client is dissatisfied with one's job performance is the fact that one has mysteriously stopped getting calls for new assignments from an agency with which one had reliably gotten assignments in the past, there is something wrong. Clients who complain to temp agencies are automatically given the benefit of the doubt, instead of making a genuine attempt to fairly hear both sides of the story. A temp worker can be deemed unhirable by an agency because a client woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Such horror stories are far from uncommon among temp workers, yet if a person tries to avoid getting sucked into this mess, he may be accused of "laziness" by unsympathetic church leaders.

Jobs in which employers define "loyalty" as the willingness to tell lies for the sake of making sales or covering their bosses' behinds are all too easy to find. Some pastors in training see nothing wrong or immoral with imposing such expectations on their employees.

Jesus was deeply offended and even angered when he observed such things in the supposedly righteous society with which he was surrounded.

Some people ask, "How can you tell whether or not a man truly loves God?" I say that it has very little to do with how many worship services one attends or how much money one gives to one's church, although I acknowledge that both of those things are desirable whenever they are feasible. True love is not merely a useless emotion. Real love precludes the commission of acts which harm others.

Yes, I believe that intrauterine murder (also known euphemistically as "a woman's right to choose") is immoral and offensive. But it's high time we realize, as members of churches, that our hands are often stained with blood, even if we never participate indirectly in abortion.

When we begin to behave with unimpeachable integrity, then we will begin to create conditions in which real revival can take place. Then America may regain its reputation as the "city on a hill" it once claimed to be.

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