In our country Christians are used to being in power. We are not now in a power position and because of that our tactics have to change. I look back at Paul, trying to live in the godless Roman Empire. One of the systems for food was, the buying and selling of meat that had been sacrificed to idols. That is where the butcher shops got their meat.
If there was ever a time to boycott, I think that would have been it. After all, what could be more offensive to God than to take something that had been used in a worship service to false god, buy it and make it the main course on a Christian’s dinner table?
But he didn’t. In fact, he said in 1 Corinthians 8:8 “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” He only said to stop eating it if another Christian is going to sin because of your eating. In other words, he didn’t even address the business or the system of idol meat. He just said, act in love and live by your conscience.
In the recent Chick Fil A controversy, we have the old punch, counter-punch. Those in favor of same sex marriage are boycotting and Christians are standing up for the business. This is the opposite of what’s been done many times in the last 40 years. With this turn of events, I think it’s time we as Christians rethink our approach.
Here are 5 reasons I think Christians should not boycott.
1. Boycotts give us a false sense of accomplishment. We think we’re going to change something. We’re not. What businesses have you seen boycotted by Christians? Disney? Proctor and Gamble? Marriott? McDonald’s? Hasn’t changed a thing. And when it did force change, how long did that change last? How long before another company sprang up touting the same values? Which issue have Christians really won over the last 40 years?
2. Boycotts can take our eyes off the prize. We think we’re doing kingdom work. We’re not really. Our kingdom work is to make disciples.
3. Boycotts are trusting in the wrong kind of power. When we boycott we are stepping outside of the way God has chosen to work through the church. In a boycott there is no grace, no love, no forgiveness demonstrated, only raw political, economic, or social power.
4. Boycotts keep the fight going. As we can see in this Chick Fil A thing, a small boycott, responded to by a forceful Christian support, now promises to bring out a bigger, more forceful demonstration. Now, I don’t know if that will happen, but what will it profit the gospel if we just trade demonstrations one after another?
5. Boycotts try to change hearts through force. Ultimately boycotts try to force compliance. We might call it influence, but the truth is hearts don’t change. People don’t change their faith, hopes, dreams and goals for life because someone stood in their way.
So, what should we do? Here are 5 options.
1. Proclaim the truth. Dan Cathy was right to speak his convictions. And I don’t know him, but I was proud that he did. But we can’t expect there won’t be a cost for this. There will be. In 1 Peter 2, Peter says that it is honorable to pay that price. We must always remember, the convictions of the world don’t align with the convictions of the cross.
2. Live out our convictions. If you personally feel like the Spirit of God won’t allow you to shop somewhere, eat somewhere or participate with a group or business, then don’t. Let that be your “meat sacrificed to idols” conviction. Likewise don’t push others to participate beyond what their convictions allow.
3. Pray for people who need to find the transforming love of Christ. Instead of getting angry at those who oppose the gospel and the truth of Scripture, we must pray for them. We must long for them to get a taste of the love that changed us.
4. Give that love to others. Remember the “love your enemies” part? How can we extend the offer of a relationship with those who stand outside of God’s will? We need to have courageous pioneers of the faith who will step into those situations and offer a connection with the love of God.
5. Remember the goal. The goal is to enlarge the impact of the Kingdom of God through the church. That is not going to happen if we play ball with the world. Our kingdom, the kingdom of God works differently. It doesn’t wield power. It serves. It doesn’t demand conformity. It humbly offers the graces of love, forgiveness and a life lived in the righteousness of Christ.
I appreciate the good intentions of so many believers who have tried to save our country from a downward slide. But I think it’s time to see that times have changed. And with that our approach has to change or we will lose our voice completely.
What do you think about the Chick Fil A controversy? Are you eating more or less chicken?
What have you boycotted? Has it worked?
I couldn’t agree more. We live in a post-Chritian culture. Maybe we should be a little more like the first believers who lived in the pre-Chritian culture. The sooner we accept the fact that we have lost the culture wars, the sooner we can get back to the Great Commission.
Thanks Jim. I think the toughest thing to accept is how much our world is changing. And the gospel is the only thing God has given us to make a difference.
Thank you for helping us think about this and related issues. Many people will be surprised at your conclusions, but in this post-Christian society, we need to stop pretending we Christians have the power to legislate Christian values. Unfortunately, so many in our society, especially the younger generations, only think of Christians as hateful and intolerant. (I think of the book “Un-Christian” from Barna’s research.) Yes, we must keep our eyes on the goal of the Kingdom.
You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.