Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Are We Missing the Mark With a Target Boycott?

Do I need to rehash this situation? Are you already familiar with what's going on? I'd like to save myself some typing, so I won't bother summarizing the hullabaloo with Target's bathrooms.

Isn't that nice? You would have just skipped the summary anyhow. I feel refreshed. Don't you?

Boycotts tend to be emotional (over)reactions to what a business says or does. Think of how irrational it was when folks boycotted Mozilla a few years ago. Think of how irrational it is for city governments to ban tax-funded travel to states who have passed laws protecting the 1st Amendment. We look at them and laugh. Don't they see how unsustainable their efforts are? Don't they see the hypocrisy?

But it's not just the secular left who has tried to use cultural cronyism or bully capitalism to propel their causes; has not the religious right also done much of the same? I remember receiving chain emails about what businesses I should boycott because of their allegedly pro-homosexual stances. Home Depot and Target were among them. I immediately wanted to boycott such businesses. I'm a Bible believing conservative and by golly I'm not giving my business to any company that's opposed to God. Amen?

1 Corinthians 5:9-13(NASB)I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

This is the verse we have to deal with.  We have to read this verse and interpret Target's nonsensical understanding of biology in light of this verse. To avoid this verse when making a decision about boycotting a worldly company would be to make a catastrophic mistake.

Look how shady this businessman is!
Let's first establish that this verse isn't saying we aren't allowed to judge the actions of the world and determine whether or not they are good or bad. It's saying we can't judge the actions and then take action (church discipline) against them. We don't walk around town and find a shady businessman and kick him out of the church, right? BUT if there's a shady businessman in our church and he refuses to repent, THEN we kick him out.
Paul's use of  so-called brother is important because he's making it clear that people will be Christians in name only, hoping to glean some type of worldly advantage, ostensibly. It's also clear he's speaking about individual persons (v.9 immoral people; v.11 immoral person).
Target does not now and has not ever claimed to be a Christian store. Target is also not an individual person. Target can't be put under church discipline because A: Target isn't a member of your church and doesn't even claim to be Christian and B: Target is a company, not an individual person. You're not going to go to Target and say, "Hey red shirts! Until you repent, you're under church discipline!" They'd all look at you and either say, "I don't even agree with this policy!" or "I don't even go to your church, bro!"

But can this passage apply or assist us in whether or not we should boycott Target?
Do you really wanna boycott me? :(

Remember the Starbucks Christmas cup fiasco? The controversy that wasn't a controversy. The thing that Christians were outraged about despite my inability and your inability to find any Christians who cared? We collectively agreed that we wouldn't expect Starbucks to be pro-Christmas since they are a secular company (often citing the passage at hand). Is that a similar situation? Can we use the Starbucks nontroversy as a barometer for Target's bathroom free-for-all?
Starbucks using its Illuminati power to destroy Christmas

Maybe. Sorta. Kinda not. The difference to me is that we don't expect Starbucks to be pro-Christmas. We don't expect them to be handing out nativity scenes and copies of the New Testament or printing tracts on their cups. We don't expect to hear John MacArthur sermons when we walk in there. Nor should we. They're an ultra-liberal company. I don't expect any of those things for the same reason I don't expect Steelers fans to paint their houses brown and orange.

Another difference I see is that this is a pretty aggressive and rebellious anti-God move by Target. To deny common sense in light of both Scripture ("God created them male and female") and science (biology 101) is a brazen display of rebellion. It isn't merely Target attempting to be neutral toward God, it's Target openly rejecting God's design.

So the case is clear, right? We boycott Target because of their open rebellion. They've transitioned from "neutral" (the concept of neutrality is a theological impossibility, just so we're clear) into open rebellion.

Sin makes a gigantic mess of everything, doesn't it? It's why the world refuses to accept the reality of the sexes. It's why the world refuses to accept the teachings of Scripture. It's why the world can't see its own hypocrisy. It's why Leonardo DiCaprio flies across the globe in a private jet to lecture you and me about the dangers of fossil fuels and people are confused why we'd call him a hypocrite. Sin makes our business dealings a bit more complicated than we'd like.

I don't care if you boycott Target or if you keep shopping there. But I want to ask some questions to help you come to a personal decision:

  • What verse or doctrine would you cite as to why you are boycotting Target?
  • What will you do when most every retail store adopts similar bathroom policies?
  • Do you ever eat at a restaurant that serves alcohol and permits people to get drunk?
    • How is that restaurant not facilitating sin and mocking God in the same way Target is?
  • Are you boycotting because of genuine conviction and concern for safety or for outward piety?

  • What would it take for you to stop shopping at Target? 
  • Are you convinced it's permissible to shop at Target? 
  • If many others are boycotting, having been genuinely convinced it's a Christian duty, and would be offended that you keep shopping there, will you be willing to no longer shop there? 
  • Are you refusing to boycott because you just looove Target?

I get the safety concern. I understand that aspect. But I have a couple thoughts about that, too. One solution would be to use Target's family restroom. Another would be to not use their restrooms at all. I don't think either of those are unreasonable solutions. I'm also wondering if the increased instances of men creeping in bathrooms is evidence of a sensationalized media or evidence of an increase in the crime. I don't want to underestimate the depravity of the human heart, especially the male's inclination for perversion, but I also don't want to slide down a slippery slope. I'm not convinced either way here. As a man who understands the male mindset I tend to lean toward this crime actually increasing rather than it just being reported on more but I'm willing to admit I could be wrong.

What else would we expect from a Steelers fan?
Along the lines of safety I'd also add that that safety is the very reason I don't take my son to Wal-Mart. Amen? So if I'm putting my cards on the table here, that's where I'm at with Wal-Mart. I think it's an unnecessary risk to take my son to Wal-Mart. That's probably me over exaggerating some stereotypes more than anything else, but, at least until recently I considered Target a significantly safer option than Wal-Mart. You know what I'm talking about. 

I'll conclude by citing Romans 14 and the principle of conscience. If you're not fully convinced you should keep shopping at Target, don't! Don't go there! Don't take the first step in searing your conscience. 
If you have a Christian brother or sister who is shopping at Target and you're boycotting, don't judge them according to your standard. The only thing black and white about this issue is that it's a gray area so it wouldn't be wise to rebuke people for shopping there. You can offer loving correction, instruction or counsel but we're not within our rights to tell people where they can and cannot buy kitchen utensils. 
Don't flaunt your freedom if you do keep shopping there. This is the issue I take when Christians sometimes flaunt their freedom to drink. That's such a divisive issue and when we post pictures of our favorite brews or mixed drinks online, are we considering how sensitive of an issue this is? The same could be said of movies. I, for a long time, didn't pause to think about the effects of me talking positively about a movie many Christians would find offensive. 

My aim is to encourage us all to weigh our motivations. Why are we making the choice we are making? Is it wise? Is it biblical? Does my decision honor God? Does my decision interfere with my testimony? Am I putting an unnecessary stumbling block on the ground? Is my decision stemming from a lack of faith in God?

Obviously much more could be said about either side. People have better cases for boycotting or not boycotting than I have put forth. This wasn't meant as a comprehensive argument, so please weigh in and offer correction where I may have erred in my thinking!

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