Can a Christian work as a bartender, at a night club, or at a casino and still be in a right relationship with God?
The Scriptures tell us to live holy lives before God and mankind, but this doesn’t mean we’ll be sinless. It should mean we’ll sin less than the world does because we have God’s Spirit and He convicts us of sin, but clearly, there are some things we can’t continue to practice that are sinful and still have confidence in our salvation. There are certain sins listed in the Bible that state that those who continually practice such things will not be inheriting the Kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:21; Rev 22:15). The Apostle Peter tells us that just as “he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet 1:15), and in quoting the Old Testament, writes, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16). This quote shows up in several places in the Old Testament (Lev 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26), so we know with certainty that God places great importance on the way we live our lives, but what about jobs that are considered hotbeds of sin? Places like night clubs, bars, and casinos? What about massage parlors? Should believers work in such places? Do the Scriptures give us any guidance? They do.
Children of Light
The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness” (2 Cor 6:14)? God has said in His Word, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor 6:16b), however, there are things in the labor force that we should not be doing, and there are particular jobs that believers should not be doing as they conflict with the Scriptures. God commands His people to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you” (2 Cor 6:17), but if you’re working in a night club or as a bartender, it’s impossible to come out of it. No doubt, the person, Christian or not, will be influenced by their surroundings…for good or for bad, however, jobs that involve sinful activities are contrary to God’s call on our lives as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). Since we’ve been taken out of the darkness and into the light, it makes no sense to return to the darkness where works of the flesh are abundant. Obviously, these things do not glorify God. For example, even though it’s an extreme one, how can a believer work in a strip club and not have their minds infiltrated with lustful thoughts and sinful practices, so undoubtedly, there are some jobs Christians should not take.
Associated with Sinners
Some, in trying to justify keeping their jobs, they quote Matthew 11:19 where it says that Jesus ate and drank with sinners, but the fact is, we’re all sinners. He could have sat to eat and drink with us too, and that’d be classified as “eating and drinking with sinners,” but Jesus went to witness to sinners and never to be around their sinful practices. Jesus was associated with lepers, the blind, the lame, tax collectors, as well as sinners, and even a woman caught in adultery, however, He didn’t associate with their sins. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11), so Jesus told her to stop sinning. To justify going into a bar, either by working there, or by saying you’re going there to preach the gospel as part of the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-2), seems to be contrary to the way Jesus evangelized. For one thing, it’s hard to witness to an intoxicated person. Rather, the Word tells us to “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:22). Some translations say we’re to abstain from every appearance of evil, and I think that’s what Paul was saying. If it appears evil, then we shouldn’t be doing it…either as a job or an activity. We are called to holiness. How difficult it would be to renew your minds daily by working daily in places like night clubs, strip clubs, massage parlors, bars, and casinos. The predominant activities in places like these are less than edifying. The admonition to dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil 4:8), is next to impossible when those who are practicing things are right before your eyes.
Whatever job you have, if your conscience is troubled about it, that’s a good sign that you’re working at a place you shouldn’t be working at. For example, we are “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality (2 Cor 5:11), but what if they’re not our brother? How can being exposed to the sinful practices that God says are abominations not affect our minds and our walk with Christ? What goes into the ear gate and eye gate cannot be undone. Some things and images are burned into a person’s memory, that it’s impossible to ever get them out again. Once they’ve been planted, they’re there…forever. Peter wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet 2:12), but if you have a job that is associated with sin, it’ll be very hard to glorify God by it. We are to flee temptation…so to work in areas where we are easily tempted, is asking too much of us.
The best guide is your conscience, but even here, we must be careful, because some have had their consciences seared, meaning they can no longer even blush over their sin (1 Tim 4:2). Others have justified their jobs because they must make a living, but God would surely bless the person who took a risk and quit such a job in order to live a holier life. If you have a job that makes you uncomfortable over moral issues, a job where you have to lie or cheat for your employer, a job where there is sexual nudity and public drunkenness, then you should be looking for a new job. Darkness and light are incompatible, just as oil and water are.
Here is some related reading for you: Church Discipline – How to Glorify God at Work – 7 Helpful Tips 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.