Should Christians Boycott Offending Businesses?

In the early part of the Gulf War, the country music sensation, the Dixie Chicks, came out strongly against the war and did it in such a way as to personally disparage the president of the United States. The backlash against them by country music fans was swift and dramatic. Their former fans quit buying their albums, refused to attend their concerts, and country radio stations quit playing their music. They continue to be somewhat popular in certain overseas venues and in the Northeast part of the US. But their traditional base will no longer support them and they are not the “phenoms” they used to be.

This kind of boycott was not one that was called by some opposing group of people. Rather, the ones who chose to boycott them did so spontaneously out of their personal convictions of not wanting to financially support people who had radically different values concerning the country they loved.

Some boycotts are spontaneous like that. But there are those which are organized and planned. For instance, on the other side of the political divide, there are many liberal groups which despise Walmart. A big part of this hatred comes from unions because Walmart is not unionized and has refused to go in that direction. Another part of the hatred comes from local store owners who are not able to compete against them in the marketplace. Regardless, of the specific reason, there are many people who hate this big box store and boycott it.

Over the last several years, various Christian groups have called for boycotts on corporations such as Disney, Proctor and Gamble, Ford, Levi Strauss and McDonalds. Most of the recent calls to boycott are reactions against organizations which publicly and actively support issues which are contrary to Christian beliefs – issues such as support of the homosexual movement, abortion, sexual promiscuity among teens, and the like.

As Christians, we certainly do want to stand up for our Christian faith and for Biblical truth. The question becomes: Should we, as Christians, boycott business which promote things we don’t believe in and find offensive? Let’s take a look at the real issues which are at stake and see if we can discover some principles concerning this.

The first principle that comes to the forefront is the concept of Christian stewardship. A steward is a person who is given responsibility for managing the resources of another. In understanding Christian stewardship, we must recognize that the owner of everything is God. We don’t have a house or car or job or free money – it all belongs to God. However, he has entrusted us with the management and use of those resources in order to accomplish his purposes in the world.

So when it comes to spending money, the first priority is not our own desires, but the very purpose of God. That being the case, we must not only look at what we spend money on, but also who we spend it with. Suppose there is a company or organization which supports abortion or the homosexual agenda. If we spend our money with them, we are, in effect, supporting those things ourselves because money that we give to the company goes to help those causes. The issue that we have to deal with in any particular case is: Do the actions of an organization rise to a level which should compel us, as Christians, to avoid doing business with them? As we consider this question, let’s look at some of the ways various companies and organizations operate in this arena.

As a mater of policy, or for public relations purposes, most companies interact with their communities. They do this by such things as involving themselves in charitable events, buying advertising or sponsorships in high profile community activities, giving grants to causes and organizations that they believe in, putting people on the boards of organizations they want to support, using company personnel and resources to help causes they believe in, and so on.

Many of the causes and organizations which are supported by private companies in this way involve helping charities do such things as feed the poor, mentor at risk kids, provide resources for handicapped people, build playgrounds for the community, meet the needs of the elderly and other things such as this. And certainly no one has any objection to private contributions toward these kind of charitable works. In fact, almost everyone would encourage this kind of philanthropy.

But in modern times, many companies are reaching out to support causes which actively and directly go against the work and will of God. By their advertising and other actions, many companies are promoting immoral lifestyles and supporting anti-Christian moral and political agendas. In doing this, they are making strategic and intentional decisions to promote the immoral beliefs of company leaders or to market their products and services among various immoral subcultures within society.

If it was simply a matter of gaining an economic advantage for the company, that would be bad enough. But the promotion of immoral lifestyles has a much wider negative impact. By working toward normalizing immoral behavior in society, these companies are creating situations which do actual damage to our country and culture. The activities they promote cause children to stumble, promote a culture of death, promote risky behavior related to physical and psychological health, make it more difficult for Christians to express their faith by suppressing speech, create a society which is destructive to its citizens and lead people away from a relationship with God.

At this point we simply need to state the obvious. While every private company has the right to spend its money any way it wants, active support for anti-Christian causes by these companies reflects an underlying worldview that is contrary to our Christian faith. In other words, they are actively working against those of us who call ourselves Christians. And if that is the case, we ought to consider very carefully whether or not we should support them by buying their products and services.

For the most part, we are looking at worldview positions which have their basis in Naturalism. By advocating for positions which are anti-Christian, these companies are asserting that there is no such thing as objective morality. Rather, for them, the most important issues relate to the company’s bottom line or the moral proclivities of the company’s leaders. In either case, the worldview foundation promotes a view that morality is nothing more than what each person (or company) wants it to be. There is no acknowledgment of God, and certainly no interest in promoting a form of morality which takes his revelation into consideration.

At this point, we need to make a decision regarding our personal criteria for supporting a particular company. Most of us do this already as it relates to certain areas. For instance, typically we will not do business with a company if we know them to be dishonest. We will also generally avoid doing business with companies which we know to sell inferior products or have bad customer service. Now, we need to also decide whether or not we will support companies which back moral positions that we find objectionable.

As Christians, our highest loyalty should always be to Christ. As we look at our culture, we should be very concerned when we see people or groups promoting that which is anti-Christian. Our first reaction should be that we are not going to support companies and organizations which are actively working against God’s purposes. In addition to that, we should let our voice be heard. The bad actions of these organizations are having a negative effect on the future of our society and our children. They are also having a negative impact on the promotion of the Kingdom of God in the world. Not supporting these companies, and letting them know why, does send a powerful message.

Whether you call it a boycott or simply a determination that you are not going to support companies which are anti-Christ, you do have a Christian responsibility in this arena. You need to be aware of where your resources are going and what they are supporting. And you need to make a positive decision that you are going to support the things that serve to accomplish the purposes of God.

© 2008 Freddy Davis