We talked about Burger King and their support of gay marriage back in episode 394. As a follow-up, Joe writes, “Pastor John, Apple and Subaru have openly supported homosexual ‘marriage.’ Last night, my wife brought up the fact that Target is now doing the same. This seems like a question that a lot of people are probably asking or thinking about right now: As Christians, should the fact that a company openly supports gay marriage affect our purchasing decisions?”
This is a really crucial question, but not because of the importance of boycotting. That is not the point. The question is crucial because your allegiance to Jesus can be thrown into question when someone forces the issue of your identification with sin.
Here is a little background. Some weeks ago, I said “Good-bye, Burger King” because of a video they were running. It not only promoted its product sexually, but it was also lewd in its language. It closed with a little girl hugging two lesbians and saying, “I love my two mommies.” This struck me as a blatant assault on children, on truth, on purity, and on God. So I said, “I can do without Burger King. Good-bye, Burger King. I will go to Chick-fil-A.” This was not a prescription for others. I am not telling anybody else they have to do this. I am not at all saying that in order not to sin you must boycott Burger King. I am not saying that. It was for my own life and conscience.
However, it raises the question “What do we do as more and more companies corporately declare themselves to embrace, endorse, and promote behaviors that God says will destroy peoples’ souls?” The principle I want to apply comes from 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul deals with meat offered to idols.
“Your allegiance to Jesus can be thrown into question when someone forces the issue of your identification with sin.”
The specific situation is this: What if you are invited to eat with an unbeliever who serves meat offered to idols? Paul answered, “If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” You are free. “But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you.” (1 Corinthians 10:27–28). In other words, you are free to eat meat offered to idols. But when an unbeliever makes the meal or that occasion into an act of endorsement, then do not eat. You see the principle here. The act itself is not sin, but the act of endorsing what the sacrifice to an idol stands for, that is sin.
Now let’s apply that to companies who have sin in their corporate strategies. It might be environmental sin. It might be corruption at the upper levels. It might be labor injustices and abusive sweatshops overseas. It might be public support for sinful behaviors that the Bible says are going to destroy people in hell. It is not a sin to go to the stores of those companies and purchase things that are not sinful. Let me say that loud and clear: It is not a sin to go to those stores and purchase things that are not sinful. There is no necessary connection between your shopping there and your endorsement of their policies or views.
But what if the day comes when those stores or some government agency forces the issue and makes the connection explicit? What if they say, “To shop at our store is to endorse our policies”? Or, to push it a step further, what if they did not just declare this to be so, but required all customers to sign a release that they did, in fact, agree with the policies of the company and endorsed sin? I think at that point the choice would be clear. We would go without. And yes, I can imagine a society that intentionally starves Christians to death in this way. This is what all persecution comes down to: either you pledge allegiance to a false God and a false, sinful, soul-destroying way of life, or your life will be paid.
Persecution Will Come
For now, we have the relative luxury in America of making statements by boycotting like I did. We have the luxury to do that, and we can go anywhere we choose. I do not think we are at the point where using an Apple computer endorses the gay pride parade that Apple sponsored. But that day may come. Eventually, the choice will not be just between computers, but between life and death. Whether that day comes soon in America or is postponed for a thousand years by a glorious spiritual awakening, it will come. I know it will come because of Revelation 13:15–17.
“This is what all persecution comes down to: either you pledge allegiance to a false God, or your life will be paid.”
This passage is incredibly relevant to the present moment. The beast — this antichrist figure — causes those who would not worship his image to be slain (Revelation 13:15). How does it do that? “It causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” (Revelation 13:16–17). So, you will endorse the sin of the beast or you will not be able to shop anywhere, because he owns all the stores. And you will either die or forsake Jesus.
For now, the principle of 1 Corinthians 10 does not require us to cease shopping at stores which endorse sin, because there is still not a necessary correlation. However, the closer our shopping correlates with endorsing soul-destroying, God-dishonoring sins, the stronger becomes the hindrance to the shopping.