The quotation marks used on the above phrase are due to the fact that some speak that way. But actually there is no such thing as legalized theft.
Theft is sin. The eighth commandment declares quite unequivocally, “Thou shalt not steal,” and it makes no exceptions at all. This is God’s unchangeable law engraven in stone to abide as long as this earth is kept in its present form, and abiding even after, through all the melting of the elements with a fervent heat. For this is the will of the unchangeable God, Who changes not. And His will changes not after the new creation is brought forth by His almighty power. It will not then in the new creation be a law engraven in stone to compel obedience but be the law written in the hearts of all the citizens of that holy city to impel them along in perfect obedience before God.
And since theft is sin, it cannot be legalized no matter how hard we may try. You cannot make lawful that which is unchangeably unlawful. You can decide to call it lawful. You can refuse to treat its perpetrator as a sinner. You may even reward the man who steals for his bravery and achievement. You may bestow honors upon him; but you cannot legalize what God calls sin. The authorities may legislate that sin and declare that you may steal with impunity. But it remains God’s unalterable will for the rational-moral creature; and no man or group of men is going to change God’s mind and will. Men would like to do that. Men have behaved as though they did succeed in changing His law. But by doing so they broke His law and denied Him His glory.
Such an attempt to legalize theft is before our very eyes today. Actually we have many such foolish attempts today. But there is one that we wish to consider, not because it has not been treated exhaustively already, but because the matter is so important and the pressure is building every day and week and year. We refer to the open, bold and rebellious attempts of men by the strike, the boycott and the picket line to force out of the hands and pockets of others that which these strikers covet, because they are in their hearts breaking the tenth commandment that denies covetousness of every kind. That the ungodly, who have no God, will do these things is to be understood. These ungodly are a law unto themselves. Man and his laws are the extent of all rule and regulation with them. And when the state grants the right, the ungodly go ahead with their theft and defend their evil works. But will the believer do this?
We have one general observation to make before we go into the matter more fully and that is the fact that it is becoming increasingly evident that the church membership will be hard put to resist the mark of the beast in the days of the Antichrist. Union membership of countless numbers of church members today, and among them ardent, fierce defenders of these unions and their rebellious actions, and officebearers’ who can also serve as union officials, indicates that we are not far from those days of which Jesus spoke, when He asked, “Shall the Son of man find faith on the earth?” and because of which the days shall be shortened, lest the very elect be deceived. For, the reasons and arguments for union membership are the very same as those for submission to the Antichrist’s mark. If today one must join the godless unions for bread’s sake, it will be even more so the necessity when one cannot buy or sell unless he has the mark of the beast. He who defends membership in the godless union today has already by his deed declared that taking the mark of the beast is also a necessary evil and one which he must and will practice. If he has an obligation before God to provide for his family (and he certainly does) and this absolves him of all guilt when he joins with the godless in their godless unions, yoking himself unequally for the things of this life, that obligation will be there with double force in the days of the Antichrist, for then it will not be a question of lower wages and a gradual sinking into poverty and ultimately into insurmountable debt. But it shall be a matter of eating or not eating, of living or of dying. Before these dreadful days come, we had better re-examine our position and ask ourselves as parents and officebearers in the church whether we are teaching the younger generations in our churches to take and defend the mark of the beast when it comes, or whether we now already are warning and teaching our children to be dedicated to God, to trust Him and to put away all covetousness.
Let it be understood that our argument is not with unionism in itself. We referred a moment ago to the evil of being unequally yoked with unbelievers. This no man will seek by faith but only in unbelief. Paul presents the matter very powerfully in II Corinthians 6, and no believer reading these words of the apostle, and believing them to be the Word of God through the apostle, can in the exercise of faith and by a walk in His fear go ahead and unite with men whose principles are so diametrically opposed to all the things of faith. But the mere action of uniting with others is nowhere condemned in Holy Writ. Abraham was confederate with certain Canaanites; and we have no reason for doubting that they were believers. This federation is nowhere condemned in the Word of God. Merely to unite to have one’s voice heard is not wrong. Raising one’s fist, however, to get action when a request fails is quite something else. To ask for a raise is one thing. To prevent the employer from adding to his income, because you believe that he does not give you sufficient reward for your labors is something entirely different. Getting him “over the barrel” and taking advantage of him, coercion of any sort and damage to his property and to his business and income is always sin and a theft that is never legal before the eyes of the holy God Whom we are in all things to serve.
But our argument with the so-called neutral unions, and in fact with any union that advocates and uses the strike clause, is the fact that they try to legalize theft and dishonoring of the authorities. They have for their principle that might makes right. Because they have joined ranks and have the power to stop production, hurt the employer, get him “over the barrel,” have him where he is going to get hurt if he does not come across with the demands of the union, they take out of the pocket and hand of the employer that which he did not intend to give. And we may add what we already suggested. All this stems first of all from a sin against the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s. . . .” And taking out of a man’s pocket, forcing him to hand over what is his, and he has no intention of handing over, is sin, for it is theft. And when you add damaging his business, wrecking his machines, turning over his trucks, spilling and spoiling his goods and defacing and damaging his property, you have more sin added to the illegal action.
The State may allow all this and look the other way. The police may be called out to protect the property-destroyers; the authorities may pass legislation that tells the Christian who will not perform these anti-Christian deeds that he cannot work in a particular factory, unless he also subscribes to such evil and promises to perform such wickedness together with the godless in that factory; but before God this does not legalize such deviltry. It remains theft and rebellion rooted in covetousness. Especially is this true when, as is the case with all these so-called neutral unions, a contract has been signed to work for a certain amount of money per hour with all the fringe benefits. A hard and fast agreement has been signed and goes into effect. The contract runs for two or three years, and just before or after it is up, a strike is called with the intent of getting a new and better contract. When that contract comes to its close the employer has NO obligation to those with whom he has signed a previous contract. If they want to quit their jobs because they consider the pay too little, that is their privilege. Let them look for work elsewhere. But for the union to demand out of the hand and pocket of the management before a hand is lifted in work and before a contract will be signed is taking away from the employer’s hand and pocket that to which the employee has no right. He has no rightful claim to any pay before he works; and he certainly has no right to threaten the man for whom he has not worked and will not promise to work if he is not given a certain amount of remuneration, if he would work. We repeat, let him quit his job. Let him look elsewhere. Let him tell the boss that he, will not work for that amount; but he has no right to claim to hold his job, keep others from working for that employer, lock up his building, put a picket around it, allow no goods to be brought in or be shipped out of that plant and all the other forms of coercion. And it is theft when he does all this to get another filthy dollar! It is rebellion and is breeding in our nation a whole generation of rebels, rioters, revolutionists and revolters!
We say again, that ungodly men will do this, we can understand. For they are a god to themselves. But that the child of God, that the one whose name expresses that he would walk in His fear will ignore the precept” I will recompense, saith the Lord” and again “Vengeance is mine,” we cannot understand. And in His fear, we will bow even to the cruel, the froward, the merciless, greedy employer who withholds what we have coming. In His fear we will not sin against the employer, just because he sins against us. We will not say, “I will be like God. I will take His place and take things into my own hands. Vengeance is mine. Jehovah is too slow and unconcerned with my lot.” In His fear we bow in reverence before God, fight the covetousness that is in us, would rather go without than to get anything in the way of stealing; and we would give God the praise that is due to His name by walking in His law.