Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
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08-05-2016, 05:55 PM
Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
So I've been dealing with a lot of stress at my job lately, some of which is because I feel like certain people do a lot more of the work than others even though we're all paid the same rate. I know this is quite a common issue, and when I was thinking about it the other day I remembered having a similar complaint in high school regarding group projects. When I talked to one of my teachers about it, he reminded me of the parable in Matthew 20 in which a man hires workers throughout the day and gives the same wage to those who worked all day as to those who only worked for an hour. The lesson that my teacher was emphasizing was that I shouldn't compare my rewards/grades to those around me, and I should just do my best and be happy with what I earn from it (it was obviously a Christian school). I've also heard this parable applied to accepting Christ, that those who convert late in life get the same reward (heaven) as the life-long believers.

I remember being really unsatisfied deep down with the message that this parable was teaching. At the time, I thought this was just my sin nature, which Jesus was trying to teach me to fight against. Now, I obviously think rather differently. I'm rather torn on the overall message though. It seems hugely unjust for one person to do several times as much work as another and both receive the same payment; but, on the other hand, if someone agrees to a certain contract only to see someone else get a better one, I suppose there's not much room for complaint. Is this thinking erroneous/a vestige of religious mentality? Do any of you have any opinions on the morality of this message?

(Also, I feel like I should point out that I know that the Bible isn't a reliable source from which to take one's morals, even though a good percentage of the society in which we live often does that exact thing. However, I do think that there are some ideas in it that are interesting to consider from a philosophical standpoint, which is why I'm bothering to bring this up at all).
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08-05-2016, 06:19 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
Quote: The lesson that my teacher was emphasizing was that I shouldn't compare my rewards/grades to those around me, and I should just do my best and be happy with what I earn from it (it was obviously a Christian school).


Xtianity is a religion for slaves. It's message is always: "STFU. Do what you're told. You'll get your reward in heaven.


Meanwhile, we'll just clean up down here."

Screw jesusism.

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08-05-2016, 07:36 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
(08-05-2016 05:55 PM)debna27 Wrote:  So I've been dealing with a lot of stress at my job lately, some of which is because I feel like certain people do a lot more of the work than others even though we're all paid the same rate. I know this is quite a common issue, and when I was thinking about it the other day I remembered having a similar complaint in high school regarding group projects.

You've discovered the horrible truth, that most workplaces are run like fifth grade group projects. And for many of the same reasons.

Quote:When I talked to one of my teachers about it, he reminded me of the parable in Matthew 20 in which a man hires workers throughout the day and gives the same wage to those who worked all day as to those who only worked for an hour. The lesson that my teacher was emphasizing was that I shouldn't compare my rewards/grades to those around me, and I should just do my best and be happy with what I earn from it (it was obviously a Christian school). I've also heard this parable applied to accepting Christ, that those who convert late in life get the same reward (heaven) as the life-long believers.

Do any of the rewards/punishments in the Bible make sense? Their own damned fault for messing with infinity. They can't very easily give the late-comers half an eternity of bliss even if they wanted to.

Quote:I remember being really unsatisfied deep down with the message that this parable was teaching. At the time, I thought this was just my sin nature, which Jesus was trying to teach me to fight against. Now, I obviously think rather differently.

Funny how they never teach the story about the kids who tease the bald guy and get ripped apart by bears. Now that would be unsettling.

Quote:I'm rather torn on the overall message though. It seems hugely unjust for one person to do several times as much work as another and both receive the same payment

Yes, though it can depend on the circumstances.

Quote:but, on the other hand, if someone agrees to a certain contract only to see someone else get a better one, I suppose there's not much room for complaint.

This one's trickier. Some times there are good reasons why one person might get a better contract than another. It isn't always apparent to the person who's getting paid less why that should be so and can lead to ugly workplace resentments. It's a common HR nightmare. Other times your boss is a half-wit and your co-workers are slackers.

Quote:Is this thinking erroneous/a vestige of religious mentality? Do any of you have any opinions on the morality of this message?

(1) As you say, don't go looking in the Bible for morality without the highest grade bullshit extractors.

(2) Setting aside the problem of divvying up an infinite reward, the fact that somebody comes to faith late in life does not necessarily suggest that they have "done less work." They may have struggled with faith all their life. Like a rich kid with an inheritance, the person who has always had faith may be the slacker here. People are complex so you need to evaluate more than a single variable when trying to compare them.

(3) The Matthew 20 parable is simplistic and poorly framed. On the one hand you can view the owner of the vineyard as being generous to the workers who didn't have the opportunity to work the full day. The workers hired in the morning haven't been shorted so no harm to them. It would be a different tale had he hired them all in the morning and a bunch of them stood around chatting while the others did the work.

On the other hand, that's fine for a one-off occurence but it works less well repeated day after day with the same people doing the bulk of the work each time. At this point it's pretty obvious that somebody is either a good buddy of the owner or knows his dirty secret.

On the third hand, the landowner could be in for an interesting time the next day when he tries to hire everybody back. Those who worked the whole previous day may still be miffed that the late-comers were paid the same that they were for less worked. The late-comers may be grumpy that they're now expected to work a full day for the same pay that they got for a single hour's work the day before. All in all the vineyard owner has created a potentially poisonous working atmosphere.

(4) On a more pragmatic note, don't sweat the disparities in the workplace. They aren't worth tieing yourself in knots over and they're pretty much omnipresent. You'll have to deal with some degree of this wherever you go so you might as well start ignoring it now. If your boss is competent then they'll deal with it. If not then the competent employees will go elsewhere leaving them with a crew of lazy-arses.

It'll work itself out in the end. The slackers may think they're getting the same reward but when it comes time for a promotion or a glowing reference your hard work can land you the long-term rewards that the lay-abouts will be lacking. That might seem like cold comfort now but a good reputation can land you a job that you won't hate and that's worth more than just money.

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08-05-2016, 07:38 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
I think there's a negative message and a positive message in this parable.

The negative message is "the boss knows better than you; you're getting paid; be happy with that." The problem with that attitude is that the boss's money is given a disproportionate (or, as the boss might say, "mysterious"--and therefore not to be challenged) weight, compared to the time and effort of the employees.

The positive message is: it doesn't matter what path another person has taken to agree with you, the agreement should be celebrated and rewarded. For example, gay rights: some people can easily assent to them, while others require a personal experience like a family member being treated badly before they assent, but the end result is solidarity towards positive social change. But if the early adopters start shutting out people who were slow to warm up to the idea. this kind of change can be derailed. So the parable teaches that if the idea is valuable enough, all support should be considered (relatively) equal.

It's a very bad idea to try to use the parables as guides to anything, or to allow people to tell you that this parable means you shouldn't ask for a raise, or compare your performance to your peers, etc. Generally when people parable at you, they are trying to get you to accept an unfair situation without complaint.
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08-05-2016, 07:43 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
Let's pretend you believe in Christ. Let's pretend you have a child who told you:" I don't believe in Christ and I don't want to live my life according to the Gospel"
20 years passed. All this 20 years you lived according to the Gospel. Your child repented and changed his/her life(Came back to Jesus). 5 years later your child died/was killed.
Would you be saying: "oh, it is not fair. I don't want my child to have eternal life because he/she was laboring(lived according to the Gospel) only 5 years.
Or would you be happy for your child?

It is about FOFGIVENESS.

You also have great point. If you agreed to the contract you made why would you care about the contracts other people make?

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08-05-2016, 08:26 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
(08-05-2016 07:43 PM)Alla Wrote:  Let's pretend you believe in Christ. Let's pretend you have a child who told you:" I don't believe in Christ and I don't want to live my life according to the Gospel"
20 years passed. All this 20 years you lived according to the Gospel. Your child repented and changed his/her life(Came back to Jesus). 5 years later your child died/was killed.
Would you be saying: "oh, it is not fair. I don't want my child to have eternal life because he/she was laboring(lived according to the Gospel) only 5 years.
Or would you be happy for your child?

It is about FOFGIVENESS.

You also have great point. If you agreed to the contract you made why would you care about the contracts other people make?

I think you're conflating this with the prodigal son. I see how you could combine the two, but I don't necessarily think that's how this parable was written.

Also, as an atheist, your analogy really doesn't work for me. I understand that you're trying to put me in the shoes of a believer for the purposes of this example, but that doesn't serve to further my understanding of what lesson to take from it (if I even wanted to take a lesson from it in the first place). Let me replace your metaphor with one that removes the religious element: say my (hypothetical) child was a drug addict, then got clean and started helping other people struggling with addiction before they died, after which point they were given a posthumous award for their work helping others.
OF COURSE I would be happy that their work was recognized (and I would question the morality of any parent who would say otherwise). But that's not what this parable is about. Ignoring the "kingdom of heaven" interpretation (which, although a valid reading, is not interesting to me as heaven is a nonentity), this parable is about whether its fair or not to give equal pay for unequal work. Jesus says yes. I say probably not, depending on the circumstances. I really like Paleophyte's response to this question.
What's your view in regards to that topic?
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08-05-2016, 08:59 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
(08-05-2016 07:43 PM)Alla Wrote:  You also have great point. If you agreed to the contract you made why would you care about the contracts other people make?

Alla, as ever, missing the point.

Explicit or implicit in my contract is the concept that I will be doing a portion of a larger task. I will be paid for my efforts. If others have similar contracts but fail to do their share of the work then either the job doesn't get done or I have to do more than my share of the work.

It is clearly unfair for me to do more than my share of the work while another is paid the same to do less than their share.

It is equally unfair for me to be blamed for the failure of the overall task, even though I have upheld my end of the bargain and done my share of the work. The fault was with the slackers but management typically shrieks at one and all.

The Matthew 20 parable doesn't apply well to this situation.

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08-05-2016, 09:52 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
(08-05-2016 07:43 PM)Alla Wrote:  It is about FOFGIVENESS.

No IT IS NOT!

Read the freaking bible Alla. From beginning to end.

You are too ignorant to offer an opinion. Especially as a woman, as the bible commands.

1st Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1st Corinthians 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


You even being here is a sin!

2nd Chronicles19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD .

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08-05-2016, 11:34 PM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
(08-05-2016 09:52 PM)Banjo Wrote:  
(08-05-2016 07:43 PM)Alla Wrote:  It is about FOFGIVENESS.

No IT IS NOT!

Read the freaking bible Alla. From beginning to end.

You are too ignorant to offer an opinion. Especially as a woman, as the bible commands.

1st Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1st Corinthians 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


You even being here is a sin!

2nd Chronicles19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD .
what you said is just so, so stupid, pastor. Rolleyes

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09-05-2016, 12:12 AM
RE: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
I'm not going to waste too much time on what the bible "meant".

But I've had enough jobs to know that what this parable "might" have meant is that you make your contract with your employer, and your employer ALONE. How they deal with the other employees is not your concern. There are a few good ideas in the bible that I agree with.

If you don't like the way they operate then move to another job/belief/god.

BTW The more education you have, the more options you have to move to another job/belief/god etc...

Or maybe become self employed. Big Grin

Atheism: The non prophet, self employment option. Yes

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