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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Boycotting Businesses that Support Evil

A friend sent me an email asking me about businesses that openly support evil, and whether or not Christians should patronize them. Below is the response I wrote to her.

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I think it's difficult to make hard, fast standards about this. In the New Testament, we see the believers in the young church having to deal with idolatry dominating in the marketplace, and that affecting where they would buy there food, and even whether or not they were able to get a job and make a living. But that was clearly stated idolatry. The food and wine were literally offered to idols in acts of worship before being sold in the market. And in order to be part of the local guilds, you had to offer incense to Caesar as a god, and maybe even to some local pagan deity in addition.

The question in my mind then is how far we go in applying this. Do I not shop with a certain retailer because they sell a cd by a band that is clearly Satanic? Do I not buy clothes from a certain business because they sell clothes that are too revealing for women to be wearing? I think one guideline is that once the money has been exchanged between myself and the business for whatever I purchase, I am no longer responsible for what they do with it. It may be going to an employee supporting her family, or it may be going to some pro-homosexual organization. It's impossible to trace anyway, and with everything operating on credit in the world economy anyway, the "money" I give them is hardly money.

Romans 14 and 1 Cor. 10 apply in places. So if Starbuck's were to clearly say, "for every purchase of a beverage, a dollar goes toward pro-choice activists," then I would have to withhold my money. But that normally isn't the situation. You're purchasing a product, not supporting wickedness. That isn't to say there isn't a place for boycotts; that's a perfectly legitimate thing to do. But it's all about the greater good. If I were a parent responsible to buy diapers at the cheapest price, and Target was the cheapest, that's where I would go. My first responsibility is to my family, and I can't neglect their good for the larger good of society. Our responsibilities in life have a hierarchy to them - what and who are nearest to me, who are under my specific care and headship, who will God specifically hold me accountable for in the day of judgment? That doesn't mean it's always easy to make those determinations. But I pray for the Lord's guidance in all things, and make the best decisions I can, trusting in His forgiveness when I make a wrong move, which I will inevitably make sometimes.

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