Yes. I said relationshipS with an S. Plural.
You might think, given my interest in idolatry and Mammon, I would post on my relationship with MONEY. And perhaps I should. But at the moment, especially given my last post (not the repost I did of Pedro’s, but mine) I want to talk about the things MONEY does to my relationship(s) with others. That is something I described there in that post already – at least in part – by looking at employment by application among strangers.
So, thanx in large part to money, and in a roundabout way to the effect money has on world order, I take out a bunch of college loans, get specialized skills and training, education, where I can now be an asset to some business (perhaps my own or working for others), and then I sell my life off to the highest bidder one hour, one week, one month, on year, or one contract term at a time.
I go to work with strangers I do not know. I answer to some, some answer to me. We become “colleagues.” I get to know them – at least some of them. We spend 8, 10, 12, or 14 hours a day together on a regular basis. Our interaction is “professional” by training. We might break rules and relate differently sometimes, but that generally winds up with hurt feelings which can only be resolved in court, sometimes involving jail time, but almost always involving MONEY to fix the damage.
We develop policies to manage this stuff. If everyone adheres to the policies, everything goes great (or so we think.) I now have “professional” relations with clearly demarcated “appropriate” distance from others. I keep my nose clean; they keep theirs clean, and we have this robotic relationship where we all observe the “bottom line.”
I might be a good worker, even a valued asset to my company, doing all this for years on end, but this kind of relationship is not natural. Keep that in mind. It is, on its best day, unnatural. I will spend more time in close quarters, sometimes behind closed doors, with your wife than I do with my own. Even if we are all being “good” and “obeying the rules,” that is not natural.
You don’t even know me. Your wife mentions my name to you. She says I’m nice, a fair boss, but I have an irritating nasally laugh and I wear froo froo spray she doesn’t like – things she will never tell me to my face or to others in the office behind my back BECAUSE she is observing the rules, the policies, the spirit of professionalism. But you know these things because you have a “natural” relationship with her at home and talking about such things with your mate is totally natural.
But she and I work together quite closely, and I gotta say, your wife is very attractive, sensitive, and caring. I see her backside when she bends down to pick up objects from the floor every day. I don’t say it, but wow! I got these FEELINGS that I live with every day when she is around me, which is a minimum of 8 hours almost every day! I spend more time closer to her than you do, and you are her husband!
It’s not natural.
But we are being good.
Still, it’s not natural.
We do this FOR THE MONEY. That is the “bottom line.”
Is it any wonder then that after five years of working with your wife like this, eventually we get a big account, a client that pays enough for us to expand the business and everyone gets a raise, that your wife and I begin working late at the office? Still being “good” of course, but some days we put in 14 hours or more, and a couple of times we didn’t leave until after midnight.
Wow! Just as a matter of time ( T – I – M – E ) spent together away from our family commitments, this is getting very unnatural. The stress of the work makes both your wife and I tired and irritable. Our professionalism between us is stressed, but as a good boss, I employ measures to boost morale. Meanwhile, she is short with you at home, and you can’t relate! As the boss, I say we take a much-needed break and order a fine meal catered to the office for all the staff. For one hour, late on a Tuesday evening, we dine together as if all of us strangers brought together for MONEY by our skills and applications are instead family. We even call ourselves the “work family.”
Somehow this is still professional and way less robotic, but it sure blurs some lines too. And we are tired. We begin saying and doing encouraging and supportive things for one another. We “go above and beyond” to generate teamwork. We are humans after all, and despite our commitments to MONEY, there are other aspects of our lives which simply don’t, in any natural sense, check at the door when we arrive at work.
Your wife develops a new admiration for me. She is having FEELINGS which are in fact NATURAL, but not good for her commitments at home or for company policy.
What will we do next?
We have years together being good, yet now we are both giving off pheromones, nonverbal signals, and our natural defenses are down. There is motive and opportunity here. We have already sacrificed so very much for the MONEY. None of that is natural. Our professional relationship is entirely artificial, hammered out by lawyers in courts and HR committees and their policies.
If I lived in the world as a HUMAN the way God made us to live, we would be naked and unashamed. We would be living a trusting life disciplined some other way. A way in which being naked around you and you around me is not some sexual temptation but rather some kind of openness and trust with nothing to hide.
I wouldn’t apply to work with strangers but would be about my father’s business among my brothers and sisters who might (if ancient customs are any guide) be kept generally in separates spheres where women do women’s work, men do men’s work and come together in highly prescribed situations determined, not by lawyers and strangers, but by parents and caring village fathers. By people with interests in me, in others, and in the work with have nothing to do with MONEY.
What is our eschaton? What is the target we aim for? What is God’s plan? Why do we let MONEY have so much say?
It’s worth considering. Don’t you think?
How many pastors at how many churches have you heard of in the last 50 years are busted banging the secretary or the choir director? Did they leave seminary thinking such would be their goal? But how many church offices in the last 50 years are run by “professionals” mimicking the professionalism of the business world?
Am I really the only one who sees things like this?
Look again. I am not drawing grand conclusions in this post but raising some sharp questions. They might not be the best questions. If you have better ones, please share them. However, in the meantime these sharp questions tend to point in a direction which calls almost the whole fabric of modern life out for missing the mark. That is kinda overwhelming, I know. But worth considering, at least.