Man lives by bread.
His earthly, physical body is sustained by bread; and he must therefore receive a certain amount of that bread regularly, if he is to retain his earthly life. Take that bread away from him, and in effect you take away his life.
But man does not live by bread alone. He lives also by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The man who refuses to live by these words will find, as did the fool in Jesus' parable, that although he has his barns full of that bread, God will require his life from him sooner or later. Likewise, long before this, Adam and Eve found that the wages of not living by the words that proceed from the mouth of God is death! Uzzah, who violated that word and touched the ark of God, also found that life was no longer his to enjoy. II Samuel 6:1-8.
This basic principle, which Jesus voiced to Satan in the wilderness, when He was tempted to seek bread apart from the words from God's mouth, and which is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3, we will use in our consideration of the matter of membership in a labor union in the light of Holy Writ. Here, to begin with, is Scripture's answer to the "bread question," that is, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4.
Those who are not willing to bow before this Word of God need read no further. Those who wish to place man's word in the place of that which proceeds from God's mouth will find no support in these lines. But if your soul is troubled, and you sincerely seek light in these dark and evil days and would have the "bread question" considered in the light of God's Word, read on. And may God give strength and comfort and guidance to you and courage to walk according to His Word.
Let it be pointed out then from the outset that the words that proceed from God's mouth are the words which we must heed. It is He Who gives us our bread. It is He Who alone can and does give life. He is the one to Whom we must give account for all our deeds in this life. We can avoid His word; but we cannot escape Him. We can strive to live by bread alone; but we cannot flee from the words of judgment that will proceed forth from His mouth. Let us beware lest words from the mouth of man work a sinful influence upon us to cause us to dare to defy the Lord of life!
May We Organize?
As we search His Word we find nothing that forbids us to organize into a labor union. We do find that Abraham was confederate with some of the Canaanites, and that Scripture in no way condemns this. Genesis 14:13. However, there are two qualifications which Scripture does make in regard to any such organizations. The union, society, organization or federation must have for its purpose the fostering and not the hampering of our Christian stewardship. Its purpose must not be to foster the satisfaction of our carnal covetousness. A man's calling is to provide for the needs of his family; and to organize with others to insure this in a lawful way is not denied us by Holy Writ. But to join with others in order to strive for what others have, with a greedy eye and a desire for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life, is condemned by the tenth commandment. Let a man be sure that he is organizing or joining with others for his needs, honest needs before God, and not to keep up with the Joneses! A man's life, Jesus says, does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses. And unless he is rich toward God, all his bread will bring him no more good than the rich fool in Jesus' parable experienced, when God took away his life.
Another qualification of organizing into a labor union, or of joining such an organization, is that we may not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. II Corinthians 6:14-18. We are one with unbelievers as members of a particular nation. We are born that way and cannot escape membership in a nation. This is the work of God's providence; and it is unavoidable, for God will have man governed by those whom He invests with authority. But membership in a labor union is voluntary, and may not be sanctioned when it puts one in the position where he will have to behave contrary to the words that proceed from God's mouth. Unequally yoked with the unbeliever, he will have to do things the unbeliever's way.
Indeed, a man may have to join himself to an ungodly man for his daily bread. His employer may be an unbeliever; and he may not be able to find any work except to work for the unbeliever as his employee, or he may have to ply his trade in the service of the unbeliever. This is not yoking oneself to that unbeliever. Joining a union of unbelievers, swearing loyalty to its constitution, voluntarily sitting down with them to make policy is agreeing to a program that will advocate going contrary to God's Word.
What Kind of Union?
But we hardly need say anything about this further, for according to governmental regulations this is the only kind of union that is possible anymore in our country. The possibility of a group of believers uniting on the basis of God's Word to seek improvement of working conditions, salary, hours of employment and the like is limited only to those establishments where all the employees who organize a union are believers. The Taft Hartley law takes care of that in Section 9, (a), when it declares, "Representatives designated or selected for the purpose of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for such purposes, shall be the exclusive representatives of all the employees in such a unit for the purpose of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment and other conditions of employment." That simply means that the believers will have to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in these pursuits or get out of the factory, when there are unbelievers in the labor organization that represents ALL the workers in the establishment. If he joins such a society he puts aside the words from God's mouth in II Corinthians 6:14-18 and agrees to work with these unbelievers in their policies of collective bargaining, which will also be drawn up apart from and in conflict with the words from God's mouth.
The unbeliever is exactly that: One who does not believe that he has to reckon with the words that proceed from God's mouth. He does not and cannot sincerely say, "I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Rather does he with Pharaoh say, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice...?" Exodus 6:2. Or as Paul writes to the church at Rome, "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" Romans 8:7. He cannot see heaven and earth as God's. He considers it all man's to do with as he pleases. He knows no Christian stewardship. He never sees himself as God's royal priesthood. And, what is more, for that is what Paul says, he sets himself up as God's enemy. He opposes God in all his thinking, willing, and acting. And essentially it means that he is still intent on becoming God, according to Satan's lie, and is taking from Him the heavens and the earth of which He is the Almighty Maker.
Yoked with such, we must go along with them in their evil way. A little later we will be more specific and list the evil policies and practices which are characteristic of the so-called neutral unions. But at the moment we would simply point out that the policies of the unbeliever can only be contrary to the words that proceed from God's mouth, and can only be those with which the believer cannot possibly agree. For the believer is one who believes in God, and one who is obliged to live for Him, even as he lives through Him with life that comes from Him. Entirely apart from the specific evil practices of the unbeliever, it is contrary to God's Word for a man to join himself to the unbelievers by promising to go along with them in their "collective bargaining" and efforts for an honest wage, safe working conditions, and hours of toil. If it is true, and it most emphatically is true, that we must live by every word that proceeds from God's mouth, then we simply may not join any organization of any kind that intends to ignore these words and sets itself up to make policies that defy that Word! Let us not, in our attempts to defend such membership, in this very act depart from the words that proceed from God's mouth and are recorded here in II Corinthians 6! For then we are trying to live by the words that proceed from Satan's filthy mouth. It was his evil word that first turned man from heeding God's words. He moved man to believe that he could live apart from and in fact contrary to these words from God's mouth. He wrought enmity in man's heart against God. He deceived man into thinking that there was great profit in going contrary to these words of God and to hate Him for speaking words which frightened man from reaching the glory he "could" have.
And today it is a case of "Either . . . or . . ." There is this Word of God that we must obey Him in all things; and there is this word of Satan that we will live, truly live, only in the way of departing from and of walking contrary to God's Word. The Word of God puts God and His glory first. Satan's word puts man and the lust of his flesh, the lust of his eyes and the pride of his life first. God's Word presents life as knowing God in His favor and covenant fellowship. Satan's word lays all the stress on the physical existence of man with the satisfaction of his flesh. We agreed with Satan and chose to seek self and our flesh.
Thus it is today also that Satan's word has gained such a foothold and we hear the argument that it is man's calling to provide for his family, and that this makes the yoke with the unbeliever right and necessary. This is but another way of saying that we need not heed every word from God's mouth. It is the repetition of Satan's lie, "Ye shall not die." It proclaims that the wages of some sins is not death. It places all the value on the things of this life rather than on those of the life to come; and in fact teaches that we can attain to the things above by seeking the things below. This is but an echo of Satan's lie that we can become like God by doing what God hates.
And let a solemn warning be given to all those who would try to hide behind this argument that providing for one's family is one's calling and makes such yoking with the unbeliever right and necessary. Such an argument is laying the groundwork for acceptance of the mark of the beast when the Antichrist appears. For, if we must go contrary to God's word today for bread, the need will be far greater in that day when we will not be able to buy or to sell, unless we take that mark. But read Revelation 14:11, and you will see that though one may live a little longer on this earth by such violation of God's Word, he loses his soul, and will not have the joy of the everlasting life before God's face in glory.
Today we are not in danger of starving to death, if we heed God's Word and flee from all unequal yoking with the unbeliever. In the day of the Antichrist we will not only be in that danger but in that situation. But let us remember today, with a view to those evil days, that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Be Ye Separate
The Word of God in II Corinthians 6:14-18 tells us in clear and simple yet forceful language to come out from among the unbelievers, and to be a separate people, rather than to be unequally yoked with them. We read, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with; unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
And the evidence that membership in the unbeliever's labor union is such an unequal and sinful yoke is before our very eyes. The mere act of joining such a labor union is a sinful act in that we thereby agree to depart further from the words that proceed from the mouth of God. For in joining the unions of the world one is required either to swear allegiance to the constitution of that union or to make a pledge of loyalty to that union. And this at once is setting one's feet on the way of further sin. And even joining without such a promise is supporting its wickedness financially and morally.
The Unlawful Oath
In most unions an oath is required such as this one, to be found in the Book of Laws of the International Typographical Union, pages 15 and 16, "I hereby solemnly and sincerely swear (affirm) that I will not reveal any business or proceedings of any meeting of this or any subordinate union to which I may hereafter be attached, unless by order of the union, except to those whom I know to be in good standing thereof; that I will, without evasion or equivocation, and to the best of my ability, abide by the Constitution, by-laws and the adopted scale of prices of any union to which I may belong; that I will at all times support the laws, regulations and decisions of the International Typographical Union in preference to others; that my fidelity to the union and my duty to the members thereof shall in no sense be interfered with by any allegiance that I may now or hereafter owe to any other organization, social, political or religious, secret or otherwise; that I will belong to no society or combination composed wholly or partly of printers, with the intent or purpose to interfere with the trade regulations, or influence or control the legislation of the union; that I will not wrong a member, or see him or her wronged, if it is in my power to prevent. To all of which I pledge my most sacred honor."
There are several items herein that constitute an agreement to disregard and disobey the words of God. But before we treat them let us also consider the milder form of such an agreement. There are unions which require only a pledge or promise of loyalty. Here is an example from the Furniture Workers of America, "I most solemnly pledge on my word of honor to abide by the constitution and by-laws of the United Furniture Workers of America and of this local Union N. . . . to the full extent of my ability; at all times to regard the affiliation, I hereby make, with pride, and will endeavor to aid in the success of my Union; I will never defraud or misrepresent the International Union and this local Union; and will bear true and faithful allegiance to the officers and members. I will conduct myself at all times so as never to bring reproach upon myself, or any member or upon the United Furniture Workers of America and this local Union."
Now the point is not the swearing an oath or making a solemn promise to the unbeliever is sin. But it is exactly that which is promised and sworn to in these constitutions that clearly indicates that no believer may become a member of an organization that demands all this. Let it be noted that in the oath listed above one swears allegiance to man rather than to God, to man's word rather than to God's Word, and to man's laws, regulations and decisions rather than to God's. There is nothing so neutral about the so-called neutral unions. They are instead anti-God and anti-Christian. For the oath quoted demands allegiance to the union's Constitution and members rather than to any religious organization, and thus rather than to the Church and to her King!
In this oath and pledge one promises to go along with and to defend all and any action and decisions that the union may in unbelief decree. God and His religious organization, the Church, are not given a lower position in the life of the union member. They are ruled out completely by the oath. In that oath and pledge one agrees to be loyal to the unbelieving union member rather than to the brother in Christ. In this it seeks to alter the enmity between the seed of the woman and that of the seed of the serpent, of Genesis 3:15, by enticing the seed of the woman into the camp of the seed of the serpent, and then in that camp to demand opposition to other seed of the woman. How can that be according to the words that proceed from the mouth of God? One had better read carefully any oath or pledge demanded by a labor union before he dares to sign it and take membership in that union. Dare a Christian support such wickedness?
Does God Approve?
And you, who argue that membership in these anti-Christian unions is necessary and permissible because we have that command of God to provide for our families, promise to make it impossible for the brother in Christ (who will for conscience sake refuse this unequal yoke) to keep his calling to provide for his family. Does God, indeed, approve of membership in the antichristian unions who cause their members to make it impossible for their "brethren in Christ" to fulfill their calling to provide for their families? May you do that to your fellow believer when, for sake of conscience, he cannot join that antichristian union? Read Romans 14:20-23 before you take such an awful step!
The clearest evidence of all that you do swear, and promise to go further in defiance of the words that proceed from God's mouth when you join such a labor union is in the strike clause in the constitution, in the actual practice of the strike, and in the oath and promise to go on strike, if it becomes necessary for the union to get its demands. For all this is a violation of the fifth commandment. It does not render honor to those in authority over us, when we come with demands and when we enforce these demands with coercion and threats.
For the laborers to come unitedly with a request carefully written and revealing with factual evidence the need for a change in working conditions or the wage scale is one thing. Demanding of one who is in authority over you is quite another thing; and that other thing is refusal to honor him as the authority. The child who demands of his parents fails to honor them as father and mother. The employees who demand of the employer, elevate themselves above that employer and deny him his God-given honor. The one who demands is the one who claims authority over the one of whom it is demanded.
The Strike's Demand and Threat
This is a magnified evil in the strike, for then the demand is enforced with a threat. In the strike the employee assumes the position of being the authority. For by the strike he declares, "You cannot take my job away; but I can do you much harm by stopping production for you. I, together with those laborers with whom I am yoked, will decide who may and who may not be employed here in this establishment. I deny you the right to hire someone in my place!" Where, in all this, is the honor God's word demands of the employee?
No one denies the employee in our system the right to refuse to work for an unjust and cruel employer. Let him quit and seek work elsewhere if his unreasonable master will not heed his reasonable requests. He is a servant but is not a slave. And the very fact that be had to apply for the job indicates that this employer is the authority and that he who applies is the servant. Before God the unjust treatment of the employer does not alter this to cause the employee to be justified in assuming the rights of the employer.
Listen to these words from the mouth of the Lord; and you will find the strike (and the union that advocates and practices it) condemned as the way of death rather than of life. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God! and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Owe no man any thing but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying." Romans 13 :1, 2, 8 and 13. And did you note the words damnation, law, rioting, strife and envying?
Or again, in Ephesians 6:5-8, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice as menpleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
And Paul is not giving his own ideas. The Spirit moved him and likewise Peter, whose words we find in I Peter 2:18-20 to be very appropriate, "Servants be subject to your masters with all fear: not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently: but if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." Surely this word from God's mouth does not approve of going on strike against the froward but demands patience while suffering wrongfully.
And when property is ruined and violence is done to man, the sixth and eighth words from God's mouth in His law have also been violated. And even though you committed no violence and damaged no one else's possessions, or even served on a picket line, you are guilty of all these sins which your fellow members committed. You yoked yourself with them and promised to uphold them in all their actions, even over against the Church, her King andher principles. Protest now you cannot. Your calling is only to resign and confess that you erred in yoking yourself unequally with these unbelievers. You may not give financial support to such evil!
The Good and Faithful Servant
Think it over prayerfully. Consider it seriously. And listen to one more word from God's mouth, "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36-38.
Without earthly bread man cannot retain his earthly life. But without the words from God's mouth he cannot live in the new Jerusalem. Either we seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and God adds to us the things we need, truly need, in this life; or we seek the things of this life and spend an everlasting existence outside of that kingdom.
Is the whole world full of bread worth exchanging for these words from God's mouth? "Well done good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Matthew 25:21
The Protestant Reformed Churches maintain and practice the principle that Union Membership is incompatible with Church Membership. The laws of the United States of America, as they currently exist (September 1996), give the "conscientious objector" the legal right to work without being compelled to join a Union. The September 1, 1996 issue of The Standard Bearer presents an instance where legal action was required to maintain this right. The writer of the article, Mr. James Lanting, is a member of the South Holland, Illinois Protestant Reformed Church and is a practicing attorney. We quote the article in its entirety as a sort of "postscript" to the pamphlet presented above.
Protestant Reformed Worker Successfully Asserts Conscientious Objector Status at Union Shop
"Defendant Nichols had the right, under the religious accommodation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, to make a substituted charitable payment in lieu of joining or financially supporting the labor union."
Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Lodge 751 v. Boeing, 662 F.Supp. 1069 (1986)
In the past, many evangelical churches condemned labor union affiliation as incompatible with membership in the church of Christ. But almost all denominations today, including most in the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition, have capitulated to "pew pressure" and quietly allow their members and officebearers to join the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO, and many other godless unions notorious for their corruption, violence, and organized crime associations. Many of these denominations finally acquiesced because a ban on union membership would exclude their parishioners from many desirable occupations where union affiliation is a prerequisite for employment.
In contrast, the Protestant Reformed Churches have resolutely and consistently forbade labor union membership as contrary to biblical principles that govern the relationship between employer and employee (e.g., Eph. 6:5-8; l Tim. 6:1, 2; and I Pet. 2:18-21). This caused untold hardships for many Protestant Reformed workers who were either preempted from certain preferable trades or who had to terminate their employment when their employer became unionized.
But these hardships are clearly no longer necessary. A Protestant Reformed employee may now work at any union shop or in any trade that requires union membership. This is because two federal statutes and recent court cases have outlawed compulsory unionization where the worker holds a sincerely held religious belief that precludes union membership. Such a worker can demand the status of a "conscientious objector" and neither the employer nor the union can retaliate so long as the union objector makes a monthly contribution equivalent to his union dues to a charitable organization.
This writer has represented several employees who resigned their union membership upon joining a Protestant Reformed church and claimed conscientious objectors' status at a "closed union shop." With permission from the parties involved, what follows is the actual correspondence in a typical case. A similar procedure is followed where a union organizes a factory that was previously a non-union shop.
Graphic Communications Union
5717 S. Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60629
Re: Union Membership Resignation
Conscientious Objector's Status
Employee: Glen Huisenga
Employer: Calumet Carton Co.
Our firm represents Mr. Glen Huisenga who is presently a member of Local 415-S. Enclosed please find Mr. Huisenga's resignation from the union. Mr. Huisenga informs us that he now believes that union membership is incompatible with his sincerely held religious beliefs. He and his family are in the process of joining the South Holland Protestant Reformed Church which refuses admission to union members.
Accordingly, would you kindly accept his enclosed resignation and have his records reflect his new status as a conscientious objector.
You are aware, of course, that Section 19 of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. Section 169) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Section 701[j], 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e[j]) permit Mr. Huisenga to claim this status. I have enclosed for your perusal the decision inIntern. Ass'n. of Machinists V. Boeing Co., 833 F.2d 1965 (9th Cir. 1987). In that case the U.S. Court of Appeal (9th Circuit) ruled that the Boeing employee involved was protected against being fired by the Civil Rights Act of 1972 which requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for workers' religious beliefs, unless such accommodation poses an "undue hardship" to the union. "To prove undue hardship, a union must demonstrate a widespread refusal to pay union dues," the court said.
Also please be advised that Mr. Huisenga wishes to have Local 415-S and his employer reasonably accommodate his religious views by allowing him to contribute monthly an amount equivalent to his union dues to a mutually agreed charity.
I have advised Mr. Huisenga that his conscientious objector's status will in no way affect his continued employment and scheduled promotions and advancement at Calumet Carton. We trust you understand that any direct or indirect retaliatory action taken by the union or his employer would be an unlawful violation of my client's religious freedom rights.
Would you kindly notify Mr. Huisenga immediately in writing concerning your acceptance of his resignation and contact my office to discuss the selection of a mutually agreeable charity as outlined above.
Sincerely yours, w/s James Lanting
Graphic Communications Union
5717 5. Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60629
Kindly accept this letter as resignation of my membership in Local 415-S, Graphic Communications Union. Union membership is incompatible with my sincerely held religious beliefs, and I wish to become a conscientious objector.
I wish you to take reasonable action to accommodate my religious convictions in this regard. Kindly notify me in writing regarding your acceptance of my resignation and conscientious objector status.
Sincerely yours, W/S Glen Huisenga
Graphic Communications Union
5717 S. Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60629
Attention: Ellis H. Davis
Re: Conscientious Objector's Status
Employee: Glen Huisenga
Employer: Calumet Carton Co.
Dear Mr. Davis:
This letter will confirm our phone conversation yesterday during which you finally expressed the Union's acceptance of Mr. Huisenga's resignation. Would you kindly forward me a letter confirming this acceptance of his resignation in writing, and the union's recognition of his status as a religious conscientious objector.
You also requested that I furnish you with a number of charities to which Mr. Huisenga's monthly contributions are to be paid. I am in the process of consulting with Mr. Huisenga and will furnish you with these shortly.
We appreciate your prompt attention and response to this matter. Should you have any further questions regarding my client's resignation from your union, kindly contact me at your earliest convenience.
w/s James Lanting
(Herewith follows quotes from federal laws pertaining to the above:)
FEDERAL LAWS EXEMPT UNION OBJECTORS
Two unrelated federal laws now exempt religious conscientious objectors from supporting labor unions. See text above for an explanation of these laws which provide in pertinent part:
Section 19 of the NLRA
"Any employee who is a member of and adheres to established and traditional tenets or teachings of a bona fide religion, body, or sect which has historically held conscientious objections to joining or financially supporting labor organizations shall not be required to join or financially support any labor organization as a condition of employment; except that such employee may be required ... to pay sums equal to such dues and initiation fees to a non-religious, non-labor organization charitable fund...." 29 U.S.C. § 169.
Title VII, Civil Rights Act -
"The term 'religion' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee's or prospective employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j).
Author's note: (The National Right to Work Foundation has called to our attention that one of the statutes (29USC section169d) cited in this article was declared unconstitutional in Wilson V. NLRB. For those who are interested in checking the latest concerning decisions pertaining to Sunday labor or union membership, look at the National Right to Work Foundation Web Site. Follow the section on legal rights and then the questions about religious objectors.)
Rev. John A. Heys was born on March 16, 1910 in Grand Rapids, MI. He was ordained and installed into the ministry at Hope, Walker, MI in 1941. He later served at Hull, Iowa beginning in 1955. In 1959 he accepted the call to serve the South Holland, IL Protestant Reformed Church. He received and accepted the call to Holland, Michigan Protestant Reformed Church in 1967. He retired from the active ministry in 1980. He entered into glory on February 16, 1998.