Most people do not think of business and business activity as a good thing. Even within the church, business is not viewed positively. This is probably due in part to our modern socialistic leanings, which exist both within the church and within conservatism. These socialistic leanings contribute to our viewing businesses and business owners in a negative light, often as a menace to “working people.” Socialism is an anti-God, anti-biblical philosophical/economic system, and therefore Christians should seek to remove its influences from our thinking.
In addition to the influence of socialism, the fact that the “secular-sacred” distinction has come to so dominate the thinking of the church in our time also contributes to the failure to view business as a good thing. It is viewed as important, sure, because the church needs money. But, it is clearly seen as a second- or even third-class activity, well behind the primary God-pleasing activities of being a pastor or a missionary. (I vehemently disagree with this view. I have written about it on several occaisions. I believe that we need pastors and missionaries, but we also need janitors, plumbers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, business owners, etc., just as much.)
Further, many people today are very likely to view business as something inherently fraught with wrongdoing due to the huge corporate scandals that have occurred in recent years. Worldcom, Tyco, Enron, Arthur Andersen, and now the so-called “Great Recession” have caused many Americans to have serious misgivings about the possible goodness of business activity.
However, this is fallacious reasoning. Just because something can be turned to great evil or great sin does not in and of itself make that thing evil. For example, money can be used for great evil. It can become the object of greed, it can be used to purchase illegal and harmful things, and it can be used to oppress and control others. However, we would be wrong to conclude that money, in and of itself, is evil. It is not money that is evil—it is a good gift from God. Rather, it is the misuse of money that is evil. (I have written an article on this that can be found by clicking on the Articles tab above.)
Of course, there are many more examples. Food is not inherently evil. In fact, most people would recognize it as a good gift from the Lord. The fact that food misused in an evil way (via gluttony for example) does not render food itself inherently evil.
Sex is another example. Sex too is a good gift from God designed by Him to be enjoyed within the covenantal relationship of marriage. (Marriage is, of course, defined by the Creator God. Therefore, contra Judge Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, it does not include any type of same-sex relationship within its definition.) Sex, when used illicitly, can become a great evil. Still, this does not render sex itself evil. It remains a good gift from the Creator God.
Thus, we should attempt to rid ourselves of this false view of business as inherently evil. This will immediately lead many to conclude that business is then neutral, neither good nor evil. Thus, according to this line of reasoning, whether business is good would depend upon the use to which it is put.
But, this too seems to me to be unbiblical. It doesn’t appear that the Bible leaves room for neutral things. God looked at His creation and declared it to be very good. (Genesis 1:31) In Genesis 3, sin entered into His creation and brought evil—a perversion of that which was good. Nowhere does the Bible indicate that sin gave rise to a state of neutrality of things. Thus, other than when things are perverted by sin, they are good gifts from the Creator.
Neutrality denies the goodness of these things and the goodness of God in giving them to us. (James 1:17) Further, it assumes a state of being that does not appear to actually exist. R.J. Rushdoony addresses this in relation to law in The Institutes of Biblical Law. He writes that neutrality “is the basic presupposition of humanism, but Christianity denies such neutrality. Neutrality does not exist. Everything must be interpreted in terms of what God has revealed. . . . Christianity denies [neutrality], for Christianity denies its premise: there can be no universal, neutral principles of law, language, or culture (843).” Or, as Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me (Luke 11:23(ESV)).”
Thus, as shown above, businesses and business activity are not inherently evil. Further, there is no such thing as something that is neutral. It is either good or evil. It is evil if it is sin or perverted by sin. Otherwise, it is a part of creation, which is a good gift from God. Therefore, business is not evil or neutral, so it must be good. More on this to come in future posts.