You’ve seen it a hundred times if you’ve seen it once. A company makes a public statement identifying with a liberal cause or promoting an unbiblical lifestyle. Christians react loudly on social media and #BoycottCompany posts and petitions start flying. Why do we respond that way? What do we hope to accomplish?

The Arm of the Flesh

I’m afraid the answer, pure and simple, is that many Christians tend to view themselves as just another special interest group vying for cultural power in our fragmented society. We want Disney to accommodate us, rather than accommodating other special interest groups. When they don’t we have an online temper tantrum to try to force them to do what we want. We feel increasingly threatened when we start to realize our special interest group doesn’t have the cultural upper hand.  This approach is no different from that of the liberals who organize all kinds of protests. We mock their whining, but conservative Christians are often guilty of the same kind of behavior. They are quick to pick up on the hypocrisy. 

Does this attitude further the cause of Christ? Do we “adorn” the gospel by that behavior (Titus 2:10)?

I think we forget too easily that we are dealing with people, not just impersonal businesses.

Businesses are People Too

In the recent round of court cases involving challenges to the religious liberty of business owners, we have frequently heard the point made that personal choices of conscience should not be automatically set aside in the public sphere. In other words, Hobby Lobby was started by a Christian family and should have the liberty to uphold Christian values in the way they do business.

If you believe this is true, then you should also believe that businesses have the right to promote whatever causes they wish. We should not express outrage when they align with a different morality than ours. We should treat them no different than the way we deal with individual sinners.

Do you follow the Westboro Baptist Church model and scream threats and obscenities at sinners? Do you castigate them because they follow their sinful desires? Hopefully not!  We should recognize that sinners are going to sin. It is their nature. Instead of responding with anger, we should take pity on them and show compassion, reaching out to them in love. We should be “snatching them out of the fire” and “show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:23).  In other words, we must always reach out to others, even when their sin is repulsive, but we must be very careful not to fall into sin with them.

Christians as Consumers

Does that mean we have to go along with the choices business make? Certainly not!  For example, when Target made the big public announcement about transgender bathrooms, I was very uncomfortable with it.  Just as any consumer, I prefer to shop in environments where I feel comfortable. So I stopped going to Target regularly, particularly when I had my kids with me.  I didn’t jump on any boycott bandwagon, I just naturally “voted with my feet.”

That’s very different than taking up the sword of political wrangling and brute force against them. Public displays of outrage do nothing but invite the unsaved to do the same to us. “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).