I understand the righteous anger that prompts Christians to join a public boycott of Target for saying men and women can use each other’s restrooms, but I think this move hurts us both in perception and reality.
1. Perception. As our culture steams toward what may be its tipping point, let’s remember that sin doesn’t work. Sin never has worked. Sin cannot work. Those determined to deny God’s natural law and go their own way will inevitably fall into fifty shades of trouble.
Consider the confusion that has already set in. Our culture can no longer objectively determine male from female, how sex is supposed to work, or whether a man can become pregnant. And these are the people who claim to be great at science!
Our culture enthusiastically attempts to honor and defend women, then votes to draft them into the army, allow anatomical males into their most intimate spaces, and give their highest award to a man who only recently became eligible for Woman of the Year.
As our culture embarks on its Orwellian nightmare, it is going to feed on itself. Homosexuals will oppose transgenders, who want in on the cause. The former were “born this way” and the latter want to radically change the way they were born. Feminists will fight transgender men who invade their spaces and win their trophies, just as women were finally coming into their own. Leaders who thought they were on “the right side of history” will be ostracized for expressing a slightly wrong sentiment (what does “man up” imply about women?), making an innocent joke (good luck trying to be funny in this culture), or using the wrong pronoun.
Our desperate culture is going to need scapegoats. They’re going to blame Christians and those who defend traditional values for their problems (though Muslim wedding planners will somehow get a pass). Let’s not make it easy for them. When we loudly say we are going to boycott Target, we place a target on our backs. We give their failed experiment a reason to blame someone else for their problems. They’ll say their cultural reengineering project would succeed if only Christians weren’t so hateful. Let’s make sure it isn’t true.
2. Reality. Christians are sinners like everyone else, and a part of the reason we want to publicly protest may be the same part that wants to vote for Donald Trump. Burn the whole thing to the ground. We might lose, but we’re going down swinging.
Public boycotts are a power move. It’s one thing to quietly take your business elsewhere, but a public boycott assumes we have the economic and political clout to bend you into submission. The very thing that burns us about Bruce Springsteen, Apple, and PayPal in North Carolina is what angers the other side about us and Target. It’s difficult to have a charitable, respectful dialogue in the middle of a boycott. And they seldom work anyway.
Boycotts make us forget we are living in Babylon. We are not in Jerusalem anymore, if we ever were. We are the minority, a faithful remnant. Can you imagine Daniel and his three friends organizing a public boycott of Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol or table? Daniel respectfully asked permission not to defile himself with the king’s food (Daniel 1:8). He didn’t start a crusade.
In these exciting, somewhat perilous times, let’s remember the church’s task to be a faithful witness. We must speak truth—both in what we say and how we live—and we must do so with grace. Remember, the people who want to take our freedom away are the very people Jesus wants us to reach for him. Let’s not yell at them in ALL CAPS for being lost. What did you expect they were going to say? Let’s show them a better way, so they can be found.
Photo by Mike Mozart. Via Flickr. Used by permission.