Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is: how we should respond as Christians to retailers very publicly advocating causes that we believe to be wrong. I have personally made decisions to avoid certain retailers because of such things. I have been met with criticism of said decisions including “it won’t make a difference” or “every company probably supports something you disagree with, you just don’t know about it” and even “If I boycott then I won’t be able to shop anywhere”. As I was thinking about this I remembered a passage that I can’t help but feel has application.
1 Corinthians 10:23-30 says:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
The “meat” in this passage could be any product you buy from a retailer Mermaid cookies from Starbucks, a NetFlix subscription, clothing from outspoken retailers, or music from artists that are outspokenly against Godly principles.
Our world is heavily intermixed and we don’t always know what a retailer or their parent corporation is supporting. some may even give to multiple causes both good and bad. In such cases, I believe there is a freedom of sorts. Not that we should purposefully remain ignorant, but that without knowledge there is not what I believe to be a responsibility.
However, with the current cultural fascination with corporate social justice. Retailers are now looking at us right in the face and saying “this meat was sacrificed to idols” With this knowledge, I believe comes a responsibility. Not for the sake of our own conscience, but for those in the world around us. Public opinion and customer trends are a huge factor in corporate direction and strategy. We have a voice to either approve or disapprove with every dollar we spend. To glorify God and serve Him with our life includes doing so with our wallets.
I do not believe this should result in a legalistic rigid lifestyle. As I stated earlier, I “avoid” certain retailers as much as possible. This does not mean that there are not times where I have still made an occasional purchase out of necessity. But our lives are formed by habits that reveal the things we truly love. We do not just wake up one day addicted to caffeine, we live a pattern of habits that make it a necessity for survival. We don’t wake up thinking “I am going to stare at my phone all day” but through habit and routine, we are enslaved. Maybe this means you buy your daily coffee somewhere else or get your groceries from another market as your new habit. But surely you may still have discretionary “freedom” within the confines of christian love to make exceptions.
I hear many Christians complain about our culture and the political climate. But most won’t even give up their morning coffee, stop subscribing to a loved service, or choose to shop at a different store even when that retailer gets in the face of what they believe in. Most believe that their one purchase will not make enough difference. And since most live this way, it is self fulfilling. But I would challenge that we start somewhere smaller, not with the end result of larger cultural change. Instead start with the cultural change within your heart. Live with the integrity of what you believe in your actions and let God deal with everybody else. One of the things my senior pastor jokes about is “ask God if you should have cheerios or wheaties in the morning” It sounds silly but there is truth in the concept. I encourage you to genuinely ask that question for yourself and for your family as you make decisions about where to shop and who to support.
Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. “