Friday, December 21, 2012

Should a Christian Boycott Companies that Endorse Sinful Behaviors?

Post courtesy of Wesley Walker at SYBO is a wonderful site that deals with a wide range of religious subjects.
I have never participated in a boycott.  I have friends who have .  For instance I had friends who for a while refused to watch or buy anything Disney. They wouldn’t go to the Theater to watch the lastest release, their kids did not watch the channel on television, and even if they had already purchased a movie and had it as a part of their collection, they did not watch it (not sure how not watching a movie you already paid for affected the company, but for them it was a matter of principle).  Eventually, Disney changed a policy or people could no longer resist missing out on Toy Story 2, and the boycott ended.

Then, I remember Christians boycotting Ford Motor Company.  Again, I’m not sure why, but I do remember Christians refusing to buy a new Ford.  In fact some where even trying to sale the ones they had already bought in order to make sure no one even thought that they were supportive of the companies policies.  This is not something I understood.  When I saw someone drive a Ford I never thought to myself that person fully supports everything the Ford Company supports, but some could not in good conscience keep driving the vehicle.  Again that boycott has passed.

However, it seems there is always a new boycott to begin.  The American Family Association regularly has a new company that is promoting or supporting a form of immorality and calls people to stop buying the product or service.  Facebook and Twitter have people who speak of the companies they are boycotting and why.

Right now people are boycotting several companies supporting a new law in Washington with regards to Same-Sex Marriage.  Starbucks and Microsoft are the biggest two names.  This, again, has led to boycotting.

But, should Christian’s boycott? Let me share my thoughts.

First, I think there is nothing morally wrong with a Christian person following their conscience and not buying a product sold by a certain company.  If when you take a drink of your coffee you can’t help but feel a tinge of guilt each time, then I would suggest not drinking the coffee.

Second, I think it is absolutely wrong for a Christian to bind their choice to boycott on another Christian.  Boycotting and knowing what to boycott is not an easy issue.  There are numerous questions that must be asked and consistency in boycotting is very difficult.  Therefore it is possible for two Christians to look at the same company and for one to decide not to buy and for another to decide to buy.  One might not buy because they reason that the money will eventually go to a cause they are uncomfortable with.  The other might choose to buy, because they reason they are buying the product and have no control on what happens to the money beyond the initial purchase.  To me this is Romans 14 applied today, “let each one decide and let no one judge.”

Third, I think we need to realize that no matter how hard we try we are in a fallen world and sadly some of our money will go to support actions and morals that we would not give to directly. For instance, you will boycott one place for promoting homosexuality, while going to another place to buy gas that also sells pornography.  Or you support a mom and pop store that do not make big donations to a movement you disagree with, but who do use their money in ways you would not approve.

Fourth, there is the issue of the message a boycott sends.  Are we saying that morality is simply a power issue?  Meaning that right is right based upon who has the power to make it right.  When a company changes its position on supporting immorality due to a boycott is it not that it changed its position because of economic pressure. Thus right is determined by who has the power to enforce it.

Boycotting is a complex issue that Christians need to think through and then determine for themselves what action to take, while also giving other Christians the freedom to do the same. 
(By Wesley Walker)