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Is work a punishment from God?
Religion News Service ^ | August 30, 2012 | Daniel Burke

Posted on 09/02/2012 5:42:32 PM PDT by CHRISTIAN DIARIST

On the first Monday of September, America honors working stiffs by taking a paid day off. But does Labor Day celebrate an enterprise that God intended to be a punishment?

In a recent New York Times essay on the frenetic hustle of modern life, humorist and author Tim Kreider took the Puritans and their infamous work ethic to task. They had turned toil into a virtue, he argued, whereas God had invented it to chastise the disobedient Adam and Eve.

In an interview, Kreider explained that he was referring to Genesis, in which God tells Adam “by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread.” In the same chapter, the serpent is sentenced to an eternity of belly slithering and Eve condemned to severe childbearing pains.

“Coming as it does on the heels of the infamous Illicit Fruit Incident, the details of which there’s no need to re-hash, certainly makes it sound punitive,” said Kreider, who said he’s a veteran of 18 years of Sunday school, but no Bible scholar.

The idea that original sin ushered in a lifetime of toil is a fairly common Christian view, said Gilbert Meilaender, a professor of Christian ethics at Valparaiso University in Indiana. “Work doesn’t lose a kind of dignity it had even prior to sin, but it takes on that burdensome aspect as well,” he said.

The Creation story makes clear that Adam and Eve were expected to till and maintain the Garden of Eden, said David Jensen, author of “Responsive Labor: A Theology of Work.” The happy couple were, in a sense, co-creators with God. But after the Fall, labor turns toilsome. “It becomes something that oppresses people,” Jensen said.

Even as they acknowledged the often wracking pains of work outside Eden, some evangelicals insist that labor remains, on the whole, a good thing.

“From time to time, I hear someone characterize work as a result of the Fall of man,” Karen Swallow Prior, a professor of English at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., wrote in a school publication. “But this is a great error: for, indeed, we were created to work.”

After all, humans were made in the image of God. And the biblical God worked -- unlike those lazy Greek gods who only occasionally descended from their high-peaked home on Mount Olympus. And Jesus was a carpenter, a first-century handyman.

Nobody took work as seriously, though, as the early Protestants, especially the Puritans, who tore down distinctions between sacred and secular. All work, therefore, was on behalf of the Big Bossman in the Sky.

For Calvinists, there was another motivation: a mortal fear that God would leave them off the list of people predestined for salvation. This “salvation anxiety,” in the words of German sociologist Max Weber, led them to seek tangible signs of divine favor, such as frugality and worldly success. Weber’s influential 1905 book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” might be summarized: “By working hard and seeing the effect of God’s blessings in my life, I acquire confidence that I am among God’s elect.”

Theology also sets the stage for Mormons’ renowned work ethic, said Matthew Bowman, author of “The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith.”

Unlike most Christians, Mormons don’t believe in original sin. Rather, they subscribe to the theory of the “fortunate Fall” -- that is, Adam and Eve’s mischievous meal was a good thing. It inaugurated free will and set the world’s wheels in motion.

So, when God tells Adam that he’ll have to work for his food, Mormons interpret that as sound advice for spiritual progression, not a punishment. “Mormons subscribe to the idea that work is something that will refine your soul, make you a better person and fine tune your human potential,” Bowman said.

“Work is a key to full joy in the plan of God,” reads a Mormon Sunday school lesson. “If we are righteous, we will return to live with our Heavenly Father, and we will have work to do. As we become like him, our work will become like his work.”

The Sunday school lesson also cites the New Testament's parable of the talents, in which a servant who failed to invest his master's money is cast into outer darkness.

Meilaender, whose book “Working” explores the spiritual side of labor, takes his cue from Luke's Gospel: The parable of the good Samaritan is Christian charity personified. But in the very next passage, Jesus praises Mary, who has left the housework to her sister Martha in order to simply sit beside Jesus.

“The two stories back-to-back illustrate loving your neighbor and loving God, which involves resting from your labors,” Meilaender said. “Somehow the whole Christian life involves both of these.”

TOPICS: General Discusssion; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: laborday
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To: Misterioso

Thy words are profound.

I must not be a very “deep” thinker. I don’t know if work is a punishment. I do know it is what you must do to have food and shelter. And has been for a very, very long time.

21 posted on 09/02/2012 6:16:06 PM PDT by berdie
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It seems to me that what you are describing is retirement.

It is just like retirement as we understand it. Only it starts at birth.

22 posted on 09/02/2012 6:17:02 PM PDT by InterceptPoint (.)
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To: brivette
I’ve worked, designing and operating nuclear power plants. I subsequently designed building automation systems.

Was it fun? As much fun as surfing?

23 posted on 09/02/2012 6:18:00 PM PDT by InterceptPoint (.)
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To: MuttTheHoople

Unless you’re working for Planned Parenthood or GLAAD or the Committee to Reelect President Obama (CREEPO).

24 posted on 09/02/2012 6:18:06 PM PDT by CHRISTIAN DIARIST
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Adam had fulfilling work to do before the fall.
Punishment came and made it unpleasant.

25 posted on 09/02/2012 6:27:25 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: InterceptPoint

I’ve never surfed, so I can’t say.

26 posted on 09/02/2012 6:31:09 PM PDT by brivette
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To: dangerdoc

God bless you dangerdoc. If this thread is being hijacked, it’s by the Holy Spirit informing the testimony you have conveyed.

27 posted on 09/02/2012 6:33:59 PM PDT by CHRISTIAN DIARIST
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Work makes you free.

28 posted on 09/02/2012 6:34:47 PM PDT by rabidralph (
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All we do in life is worship if we serve God. If not, it’s whatever we ‘think’ until we pass this life and find out the truth. Besides, work was part of the original creation - man was to tend the garden God created.

29 posted on 09/02/2012 6:41:46 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (I'm for Churchill in 1940!)
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To: Redmen4ever
Second, with the expulsion, man’s work was made burdensome

Wasn't that a result of man NOT LISTENING to GOD anymore ? (eating the apple).

Man went against 'instinct', against that which God 'provided'. He was therefore forced to 're-invent' the wheel, (which is where the increase in knowledge comes about).

As described in the Bible (and really, most religions and mythologies have the same concept), man used his 'free will' to choose his path. Unfortunately, Lucifer was right about many taking the lower road.

30 posted on 09/02/2012 6:59:43 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 ( Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: silentreignofheroes

Work enables us to be productive.

If we are not productive in some fashion, we become unhappy and worth nothing to ourselves or anyone else.

31 posted on 09/02/2012 7:01:19 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the weren't really there)
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To: InterceptPoint
Let the machines do the work while we spend our time hiking around the Sierras and swimming at Malibu beach.

32 posted on 09/02/2012 7:02:51 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 ( Lame and ill-informed post)
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And if it’s not a punishment but a reward, lesson, or whatever, then will we be wage slaves in heaven too?

33 posted on 09/02/2012 7:03:06 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong!)
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**Is work a punishment from God?**

No, we have to do our part too.

34 posted on 09/02/2012 7:03:26 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” — Oscar Wilde

35 posted on 09/02/2012 7:04:47 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong!)
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To: brivette

I’ve never surfed, so I can’t say.
It’s great fun. But that was a long time ago. I have to say that designing nuclear power plants sounds like a hoot. Maybe not as great as surfing but not bad.You probably had a lot of fun. The best kind of work.

36 posted on 09/02/2012 7:07:38 PM PDT by InterceptPoint (.)
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If you trust in God and Believe the story of Adam and Eve then yes work is a Punishment of sorts !

It was more of CAUSE and EFFECT.

Because we wouldn't listen, and were more interested in what we WANT than in what we NEED, the effect is that we have to toil 'against' nature.

37 posted on 09/02/2012 7:07:38 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 ( Lame and ill-informed post)
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There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared to him.

The Lord told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture - placing thoughts in the man’s mind, such as ``Why kill yourself over this?, you’re never going to move it!’’ or ``Boy, you’ve been at it a long time and you haven’t even scratched the surface!’’ etc. giving the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn’t moving the massive stone.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. ``Why kill myself?’’ he thought. ``I’ll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.’’ And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.

``Lord,’’ he said, ``I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?’’

To this the Lord responded compassionately, ``My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself.

Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and you

r ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven’t succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.’

author unkown

38 posted on 09/02/2012 7:08:32 PM PDT by stylin19a (Obama -> Ransom "Rance" Stoddard)
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Work should be the calling God placed in our souls- to manifest his image.
39 posted on 09/02/2012 7:09:38 PM PDT by Vision ("Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?" John 11:40)
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I don’t know, I like my job, but I like time off more. Reading, watching movies, swimming, the bike trail. Work’s just got nothing to compare to those.

40 posted on 09/02/2012 7:10:22 PM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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