Government employees of many countries are prohibited by the respective conduct rules, from taking up any employment of monetary gain, on the assumption that they are 24x7 for the Government. From the employees' perspective, many find it difficult to save enough after paying the taxes and hence resort to working outside official duty time and on holidays. Such an activity is called 'moonlighting'. If caught, the employee is liable for action under the service rules. But, one doubts if moonlighting by a Christian employee goes against any of the Ten Commandments. If it does, which is the Commandment attracted? Inputs from scholars of any denomination are welcome.

  • Government employees are not prohibited from taking on outside employment because they have to be "24x7 for the Government". They are prohibited because any outside employment might give rise to conflict of interest, where they use their government work or information to benefit their employer. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 14:06
  • Christians are informed by, but not bound by, the 10 Commandments. "All things are lawful to me, but not all things are expedient." We are to live by "the Spirit of the Law, not the deadness of letter." So whether it fits the 10 C's isn't really the question -- the question is, what's the right thing to do? (Once we focus on that q, we can look to the 10C for guidance, to be sure.)
    – Maverick
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:55
  • Thanks, Maverick. But, why does Jesus say to the rich man at Mk 10:17-19 : " You know the Commandments......" if they are meant to ' inform and not to bind ' ? True, a Christian should grow beyond the Commandments, but he should first set a good example by respecting them . Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 1:29

3 Answers 3


When you take the job you agree to these terms in exchange for money.

If you fail to fulfill the terms yet take the money, you are stealing.

  • Stealing from whom? Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 10:06
  • 1
    The employer. . Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 12:21
  • Which employer? Both employers are getting what they are paying you for. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 14:02
  • No. The government is paying you for exclusively. If you don't want to do that, don't take the job. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 16:54
  • The point of these comments is not to disagree, particularly, but that the answer might include the clarifications. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 7:01

None of the Ten Commandments deals with specifically with moonlighting. However the employee might be in violation of the commandments against stealing, bearing false witness and coveting.

Regarding stealing a Catholic site says the following, and Protestant authorities generally agree:

  • Thou Shalt Not Steal

forbids theft... not paying just wages; bribery; graft; cheating; fraud... not giving an honest day's work for wages received; breach of contract.

  • Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

    Commands truthfulness; forbids lying...

  • Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Goods

    This may or may not be involved in the motivation for moonlighting.

Conclusion: if the employee entered into a contract with the employer specifying no moonlighting, then the commandment against false witness would apply, as would the commandment against stealing, since it is understood to forbid fraud and breach of contract. On the other hand, not paying just wages is also a type of stealing, and this may be a mitigating factor.

  • I have submitted an edit for accessibility. While I understand that the Catholic site uses all caps, that doesn't mean it is the correct usage. All caps and bolded paragraphs make it difficult for the visually impaired to read properly.
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 14:35
  • Thanks for the edit. No problem regarding the all caps, but I routinely use bold for my conclusions. A site-wide convention about this would be preferable to individual editors' preferences. Is there a consensus about this among moderators? Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:13
  • Accessibility is something the SE network strives for. I do have a question on the main Meta site asking about a consolidated source for users to help them understand the need for accessibility. In the industry, though, whole paragraphs of bolded text are considered inaccessible.
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:16
  • 1
    @DanFefferman I, for one, prefer edits that make posts look more consistent. I do like the all caps THOU SHALT NOTS stylistically, but this is definitely better. I can tell you that posts with normal looking formatting (as agarza has edited in) get more views, are received in a more positive light and thus help more people.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:58
  • 1
    @agarza - Thanks for the explanation about bolded text. I adopted the convention of using it in my concluding paragraphs, follow what I thought was a tradition here. My feeling was that this is helpful to those who don't want to read a long answer. I'll look for your Meta post. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 18:55

The Ten Commandments, if anything, would be against your employer, they're stealing your time and money by having you on the clock when you're effectively off.

Does your employer respect Holy Days of Obligation for Catholics? The whole notion of the Obligation was that it was obligatory for employers to give employees the day off (not obligatory for Catholics to attend Mass, although that is the case) - no citation for that, it was something explained at a Catholic Mass in the 2000's in a small town in Wisconsin that stuck with me -.

The obligation to respect authorities commonly falls under the 4th commandment and is explained by St. Peter "Honor all Men, Fear God, Love the Brotherhood, Honor the King". And usually, in examination of consciences, this obligation falls both way - the authorities have to respect you; the employer has to respect you.

Basically, if you're working for an unjust organization (like you're apparently painting the entire Indian government) who does not compensate justly and also prevents its employees from gaining compensation for their activities outside of regular employment, then moonlighting might be considered an act of civil disobedience, and laudable, so long as no one is no one is hurt. Because as Dr. Martin Luther King quoted St. Thomas Aquinas from the Birmingham jail, "an unjust law is no law at all"

  • Thanks Peter Turner. I would be that last one to say that Govt of India is not fair to its employees in so far as salary and allowances are concerned. And the rule position against moonlighting, is imposed by many private sector employers also . The Service Conduct Rules are to the employee what the Ten Commandments are to a Christian. And some rules like the one relating to integrity and devotion to duty, can be widely interpreted in order to book an offender. As such, a practising Christian employee has lesser chance of having the desk turned against him. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 15:25
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan yeah, in the US we have some very onerous rules that unduly benefit corporations from letting their employees do things that might allow them to get ahead and we're all pretty much left as wage slaves. It doesn't matter how much you earn, you're always just broke at the end of the pay period. I think you have to distinguish between moonlighting where there's a conflict of interest (i.e. working for a competitor on the side programming at Microsoft and Google) and where there's no conflict of interest (i.e. flipping burgers at McDonalds and programming at Microsoft)
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 16:00
  • In answer to @PeterTurner's question as to whether the Indian govt respects holy days of obligaion, there are only two holy days of obligation in India , and these are both public holidays. The Assumption coincides with Independence Day, and Christmas is a holiday in its own right.
    – davidlol
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 22:16
  • Please permit me to add: July 3rd, the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle is a Holy Day of Obligation for Syro Malabar Catholics . But it is not a holiday - either Gazetted or Restricted- in any State or Union Territory of India. Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 2:41
  • It is true that senior civil servants much less salary compared to their counterparts in the private sector. For instance, the monthly basic salary of the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation is just 3000 USD ! And that is the pay given to some senior-most Civil Service Officers including the Cabinet Secretary. Compare it with the salary of CEO, Google ! Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 13:59

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