I discovered that [airlines in a particular part of the world] are accused of abusing their workers: unfair labor practices, poor wages, overwork, dangerous working conditions, etc. Some travelers have opted to boycott these types of airlines. Is this something Christians should be aware of? They give the best prices for the destinations I fly to, but at what cost to their employees? I know there are many industries accused of similar issues, so how informed should we be and what should we do about it?
How do I find the balance?
My reply in 500 words (and please feel free to augment it with principles and verses I could use next time this comes up)…
I don’t think there is a clear right or wrong here. It’s a matter of conscience, consistency, and conviction.
If your conscience cannot bear flying with a particular airline or using a particular product, then you need to listen to your conscience. And inform it with God’s word.
Romans 14:14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
1 Corinthians 10:27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
It is also a matter of consistency. How consistent are you willing to be? If you know how much abuse comes from the textile, food, pharmaceutical, and oil industries you couldn’t wear clothes, drink milk, take medication, or fly in any plane that uses fuel.
It is also a matter of conviction. If you were in an accident and that airline offered to fly you home for free, would you accept their help? I mean, how convicted are you about this? (see James 4:17)
Don’t add more laws to God’s word for than he already has. As Paul says “not to go beyond what is written” (1 Cor 4:6).
I do what is reasonable from my side to minimize my participation, without shouldering burdens that prevent us from living to God’s glory. I believe the perpetrators of these sins will answer for it on judgment day (Rom 2:6).
I think this is what Solomon gets at in Ecclesiastes 5:8-9If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.
I.e. don’t be amazed by how much massive injustice there is in the world’s systems, but appreciate the good God lets come from these things anyway. The airline industry might be fraught with injustice, but they can be used to enable God’s blessing to spread. Missions benefits from airlines.
And Solomon also gives this sagacious advice: Ecclesiastes 7:16-17Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
In other words, don’t try to be fastidious–“overly righteous”–or you will destroy yourself. But don’t deliberately add to the problem either.
John the Baptist didn’t tell soldiers and tax collectors for Rome to quit their jobs (Luke 3:14), but rather to not add to the abuse.
By application: if your conscience can bear it, fly with any airline you need to, and make a point of treating the workers with which you come into contact, with exemplary respect and dignity.
Hope that helps.
Source: The Cripplegate | Clint Archer