The Expository Files.

 Boycotts and Christians

I have seen, heard, and been a part of discussions as to whether Christians should partake in boycotts against companies that promote anti-Christian values. The views on this which I have heard expressed range all the way from a Christian must not participate to a Christian must participate. Of course, this presents a dilemma for those heavily involved in ecumenicalism and insist that doctrine does not matter. On a practical level, it matters very much. It also matters to God (2 John 9).

Those who say a Christian must not boycott suggest that it is a carnal weapon of the world. Also, innocent people who are not responsible for the decisions of management are sometimes hurt by boycotts. Sometimes, it is added that such in ineffective.

Those who say a Christian must boycott suggest that to support a company engaged in promoting immorality is to have fellowship with darkness. They would suggest that any "innocent" people hurt by such a move are only hurt financially, but in the long run are actually helped if our society in general becomes a little better place to live from a moral standpoint.

Here is what I know. I know that we are all stewards of the things God has given to us, and have a responsibility to make wise use of our resources in a godly manner (Luke 16:10-12).

I know that I must not actively participate in that which is evil with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) but on the other hand realize the necessity of doing business with immoral and ungodly people if I am to live in the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

I know that my money is mine to spend. It is under my power. I make choices all the time about which fast food franchise I will visit, which gasoline to fill my gas tank with, and so forth. I suppose I may hurt some innocent person working hard at "Fast Foods Are Us" because I opted to buy my hamburger at "Sliders International," but that is the nature of business.

I also know that if I have a negative perception of a company for whatever reason, including its social policies, I am less likely to do business with it.

And finally, I know that if I choose not to buy a product because the company which sells it is promoting ungodliness, that does not give me the right to behave ungodly. I must live and act in a holy manner. I must not lie or cheat. The end does not justify the means, if the means is sinful. I will not involve myself in vengeance. We are to walk as children of light. Always. But this includes refusing to participate in the deeds of darkness, but rather to even expose them for what they are (Ephesians 5:8-12). Perhaps, concerning boycotts, the best advice would be "Never say never" but also "Never say always." Read the word; be willing to apply it to your life; and follow your conscience as you make your judgments.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 4.10; October 1997