Why I Changed My Mind (Again) on Christian Boycotting
Thinking Scripturally While Reacting Culturally
As a young man I used to be a staunch supporter of boycotting. I wanted to boycott every company that stood against my values.
But this presented a couple of problems:
There are some companies that I would never do business with in the first place because their whole business model is against my values (i.e. I’m not participating in a prominent ongoing beer boycott because I don’t drink!)
I began to realize that it is impossible to be consistent in boycotting companies that are against my values because there are just far too many, and I have to feed my family! (Even companies that don’t openly push immorality themselves might do business with other companies that do, so if you follow the money trail, eventually your money is going to find its way to those companies against your values).
This second point ultimately changed my view about Christians boycotting.
My view morphed into: “Well, it’s impossible for me to be consistent in boycotting, so here’s what I will do. I will still boycott for selected periods of time, for selected particularly egregious companies after particularly egregious decisions are made, to make them feel ‘the sting,’ but I realize I can’t keep this up forever, realistically-speaking from a practical standpoint, and for consistency’s sake.”
But I’ve been thinking about this whole consistency argument.
Why do we make it?
Hopefully if we are making the consistency argument, the reason truly is for consistency’s sake. But might I propose that another reason might just be that we want to do business with said companies?
Perhaps we are rationalizing sending our money directly to the most egregious companies, when another option to do business with a less blatant company might be right down the street, but this would present some difficulty to our lives? Perhaps it would mean having to give up some enjoyable experience, some coveted item that is exclusive to the particularly egregious company?
Now before I lose you, hear me out …
It is my firm belief that whether or not to boycott a company that stands against Christian values is in the realm of Christian liberty (see Romans chapter 14). In other words, this entire article is an opinion piece. This is me saying: ‘For wisdom’s sake, and for the sake of our country and trying to move it back in the right moral direction, maybe we ought to consider not doing business with (fill-in-the-blank)’. If a Christian tries to bind his view on boycotting on the rest of the brotherhood, I firmly believe he needs to check himself.
If you choose to disagree with me on all of this, that’s totally your call!
But indulge me, if you will, a little further.
The fact of the matter is that …
We are in a culture war.
Ephesians chapter 6 speaks of a spiritual war that all Christians enter upon “enlistment.” Paul references “pulling down strongholds” as “we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Paul goes on to say:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (emphasis mine, Chase)
I believe that too many Christians mistakenly make a false dichotomy out of the Gospel of Christ and the doctrine of Christ. If we truly believe in the Gospel of Christ, then every facet of our lives will be affected by the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9).
Some folks make a distinction between the spiritual war mentioned above in Ephesians 6 and 2 Corinthians 10 and the ongoing “culture war,” but I consider them intricately connected. How could one not?
Consider a General in war. Can one conceive a military General ever using the logic: “I can’t attack that particular target over there,” (pun intended?), “because it would be inconsistent for me to do so since I haven’t attacked this other target over there”?
No General says that! He selects the most high value target that would inflict the most amount of damage for the least amount of cost and he engages!
Making company policy decisions like this comes with a cost: the risk of alienating much of your customer base in order to cater to the other political/moral/etc. side of the spectrum, when a business could simply avoid controversy and be acceptable to both customer bases.
Yes, I know Walmart also has sections dedicated to immorality …
Yes, I know that we have to go SOMEWHERE to get food to put on the table, and if they ALL support sinful agendas, then it’s impossible to be “consistently” against every such company.
But that’s completely beyond the point.
Boycotting is about selecting high priority targets as a collective entity (those with Christian values) and saying, “No more. You must pay the price. An example will be made out of this decision.”
Christians need to stand above the fray and make a collective statement: “We must not stand for this. We must stand for the truth.” Yes, we must ‘speak the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15). But that does not mean speaking in love to the exclusion of truth, or vice versa. When we do this, people on the fence will be able to readily see what we stand for, so they can determine if they will be on the side of Christ or not.
Boycotting is a tool at our disposal. Is it the only tool? Is it even the best tool? Certainly not. I’m not even suggesting that Christians HAVE to use this tool. As I stated earlier in this article, whether or not to boycott is in the realm of one’s own opinion.
But this tool, when used correctly, is a tool that has been proven (recently) to be effective in generating change. And we must actively do SOMETHING to try to engage the culture for Christ. We shouldn’t just sit on the sidelines.
We want this nation to continue to reflect (as much as possible) Christian values, do we not?
We want corporations to stop pursuing identity politics at the expense of things like product quality, consumer satisfaction, and national unity, do we not? (Whatever happened to “United we stand; divided we fall?!”)
Then perhaps millions of Americans coming together with similar values and a united resolve not to do business with a select few particularly egregious companies might just make a difference.
It’s worth a try!
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With love always,
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Thanks for reading Park Stars! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.