Monday, August 01, 2022

Anonymous Asks (208)

“Should Christians boycott companies that support anti-Christian policies?”

I’m old enough to remember when discriminating was a synonym for discerning rather than a reason to call somebody out as prejudiced. Whether we are talking about products or services, a discriminating person looks at the available options and makes the best possible choice for himself and his family.

It’s hard to see what could be offensive about that.

To Boycott or Not to Boycott

Boycotting is simply an exercise in discrimination — in the good sense, I mean. To boycott a company is to withdraw from commercial relations with it. It should be obvious there is nothing specifically unchristian about spending one’s hard-earned dollars as one sees fit; after all, there is no moral imperative to drink Starbucks coffee, watch sports that promote #BLM, or bank where they decorate the windows with rainbows every June. (Mind you, good luck finding a bank in Canada that doesn’t.)

This brings up one of the major excuses Christians have for not discriminating about where they spend their money: that anti-Christian policies are so common these days that there are no good options available. In support of this they quote the apostle Paul to the effect that to avoid all association with immorality, you would “have to go out of the world”. That makes almost anything fair game.

Well, sure. But some choices are still better than others. There is a difference between buying the products of a company compromised or tainted by sin and those of a company that celebrates and promotes it.

Unfruitful Works of Darkness

A boycott may be organized, publicized and/or promoted, or else it may simply be a quiet matter of personal choice. The first type of boycott will certainly get attention. The second type may not, but it has another positive feature we should consider.

That is this: Christians are not to take part in the unfruitful works of darkness, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians. I cannot see how a person who spends money on a product or service does not become at some level, however remote, a participant in that business’s activities. They are contributing to that company’s ability to continue doing what they are doing. If enough customers vote with their feet, any business eventually has to consider whether an anti-Christian position is worth maintaining. But even when a boycott is completely ineffective at changing a company’s direction, a Christian who refuses to lend his financial support to sinful policies still has the benefit of having kept his hands clean.

Uninformed and Misinformed

Of course, participation is very much a function of being accurately informed. A Christian cannot avoid financially abetting the sins of others if he has no idea what they are doing. And yet it is quite impossible (and unproductive) for believers to invest thousands of hours researching various companies’ business practices and ideological positions. There have also been cases where corporations were accused of promoting anti-Christian behavior that turned out to be based on misinformation.

How important is it that we keep ourselves informed? Paul instructs believers not to ask unnecessary questions, but to refuse to participate in an activity if it is brought to your attention that something morally questionable is going on. Unwitting association with evil does not create either a guilty conscience before God or a bad testimony before men. You can always say, “I had no idea!” — especially when it’s true. But when companies like Disney or Starbucks parade their support for godlessness right out in the open, as is so often the case today, there can be no debate that continuing to put money in their pockets is simply inviting them to do more of the same.

Get Woke, Go Broke

As has been mentioned numerous times in other blog posts, I have personal boycotts going against a dozen or so major companies at the moment. I am not involved in any public boycotts instigated by others, not because I have anything against organized, peaceful and lawful protests, but because I don’t see them as likely to accomplish much. Companies are just as inclined to double down on their ideological posturing as they are to respond positively to pickets and protests. Once the forces of social justice have a corporation in their grip, they tend to drive it right into the ground. This is true even when social justice policies are demonstrated to be financially counterproductive or at odds with the efficient operation of the company’s core business. “Get woke, go broke” was coined for a reason.

For the Christian, the size, success or failure of a boycott is not the main point. The real issue is that light and darkness have nothing in common. That should include their access to my wallet.

“Touch no unclean thing” remains sound advice.

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