Christians and Boycotting (with thoughts from D.A. Carson)

posted in: Books, ethics | 2

I think the first boycott I remember is the Disney boycott years ago when I was in high school (or sometime there about).  Something about their movies…I think.  It was such a big deal back then and I know to some people it still is, but honestly don’t remember the real reason that Christian’s boycotted Disney.  The latest boycott is Starbucks (where I’m sitting right now, sipping on a Vanilla Bean Creme, just ate a blueberry scone, been borrowing their wifi all morning) because they promote gay marriage as a company.  So much time has elapsed between high school and now, but the problem still remains…

How should Christians respond to companies who don’t line up exactly with Christian beliefs or biblical practices?  Should we boycott or should we keep using their products?

I can’t say I’ve always come down with the same position, but lately I’ve been thinking more about this.  How should we voice our opinions in this world that will most decidedly be against everything that is Christian? 

As I was reading D. A. Carson’s Scandalous in light of Easter, I came to this excerpt that is mainly on the persecution of Christians and how we have triumphed because we know that Christ has triumphed.  I loved his thoughts, especially in light of Christians and our boycotts:

“Do not misunderstand me.  We live in a democracy, which is a different form of government from Paul’s, and our Christian responsibilities in this kind of context may mean that we should give a lot of thought as to how to be salt and light in a corrupt and corroding society.  We dare not withdraw into a little holy huddle.  But we must recognize with every ounce of our being that what finally transforms society is the gospel.  There are responsibilities to legislate correctly and pass good laws; God loves justice and holds every nation to account for justice.  Promose the well-being of the city.  Of course we are responsible to look after the poor.  But at the end of the day, what transforms society is still the gospel. 

How does the gospel advance?  By the word of our testimony: Rev 12:11.  This does not mean that they gave their testimonies a lot.  That may be a good thing to do, but that is not what their verse means.  It refers to Christians bearing testimony to Christ; they bear witness to Christ.  They gossip the gospel.  They evangelize.  That is the central way by which they bear witness to Christ. 

Forbid, Lord God, that we should rest so comfortably in our easy and restless society, that we forget that one of the driving dimensions of Christian experience is warfare – not against flesh and blood but against all the hosts of darkness who are filled with rage against us.  Help us, Lord God, to see the enemy and then to deploy the gospel answers, the gospel arms, the gospel solutions, which alone are sufficient in this conflict.  So return us to the cross, to faithful, glorious, grateful proclamations of the gospel, to self-death that we may follow the Lord Jesus, who died and rose on our behalf.” (Scandalous, pg 104-105, 111).

So, application:

1.  If Christians stopped going to Starbucks, what good will that do?  Even if all the Christians in the world quit going to Starbucks, would they close their doors or change their stance on gay marriage?  (Hint: NO!). 

2.  If you stopped going to Starbucks, never to walk in their door or buy their coffee again, would that local manager and the baristas know your heart for the gospel and Jesus and love for your neighbor or would they just know what you are against?

3.  If we boycott everything that is against Christian beliefs or ethics, we might as well just hide away in our little dirt hut in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity, no food except for what we grow, but where would you buy seeds and fertilizer, and what would your kids wear?

We can’t live apart from this world.  God put us here in this world to be a light to it.  If someone asks you about the stance that Starbucks has on gay marriage, you can tell them lovingly that while you disagree on the stance and believe that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman for life in a covenantal relationship with God the Father, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good coffee.  Maybe even have a date night there with your husband or wife!

2 Responses

  1. Sarah

    I actually know several Christians who work for Starbucks so it’s cool to think that they can be salt and light to the customers they see every day and to the company as well. I love the phrase “holy huddle” that Carson used, that is a great description of what can easily happen if we tried to avoid everything. Thanks for this blog post, really well written 🙂

  2. Frank

    I have wondered myself what good for the Gospel boycotting actually does. Boycotts can never be any sort of substitute for the Holy Spirit drawing people to the Gospel of Christ. Dare I draw this parallel? What was one of the reason the Pharisees didn’t like Jesus? He hung out with “those sinners with morals unlike their own.” Another thing is, as Sarah points out, if we boycott everything that does not line up with our Christian faith and morals, we would all have to retreat into little huts as to avoid contact with Gentile cooties… The Gospel and the love of Christ for people is more important than trumping around our morality all the time.