Christian Boycotts and Paul’s Take on Eating Meat

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I don’t know about you but I am emailed about something we should boycott on a regular basis. Being Christmas time it becomes even more intense. At this time of year it is normally about which stores are not using the word “Christmas” in their promotional material. I just want to make a couple of observations and see what you think.

1) We don’t boycott stores the other 11 months out of the year when they don’t promote Christ. We waltz in and buy whatever we want without a second thought.
2) Does God want us to use our money to leverage others or twist their arm? I am not saying we should support immorality with our money.
3) I am just not certain why we expect pagan run businesses to act like Christians one month and then go back to business as usual the rest of the year. Are we really just asking them to be phoney and hypocritical?
4) Is it a sin not to promote Christmas? Why not boycott stores with employees who steal or executives who abuse their workers, etc. It seems silly to me to limit boycotts to whether or not a company gives lipservice to our religion when they can totally live against God’s word and we don’t bat an eye.

If the news broke today that some giant retail store was selling bread in their bakery that had been used in an occult ceremony in the back of the store, would you boycott that store? I am sure the AFA would. I would probably receive an email within minutes asking me to boycott which ever store had such a policy in place. In 1st century Corinth they had several large problems. Most of their problems stemmed from their practices in worship and in their lives still resembling what they had done when they were pagans. One issue we find in 1 Cor 8-10 was that the meat that was being sold in the market place had often been used in pagan worship. Many meals in Corinth were even eaten as worship to certain little “g” gods. These baby Christians were struggling with whether or not they should eat the meat (8:7).

Wouldn’t you think Paul would call for a boycott against this pagan meat? I mean, when you buy it in the market, you are supporting their cults and temples! I can just hear the chant. “Meketi broma! Meketi broma!” = “No more meat! No more meat!” That is not what Paul says. 1 Cor 10:25-26 “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.'” And in 10:27 he gives them a don’t ask, don’t tell policy for what to do as a guest at meals in regard to where the meat came from. I think Paul realized there were larger things at stake (not to be confused with steak) than not buying from this guy or that. He didn’t at all see purchasing things from pagans as supporting their ethics, worldview, or morality. Today we try hard to tie all these things together with someone trying to sell us a shirt or a pair of shoes. If we would spend more time on what God is concerned about I think the rest would take care of itself.

I wonder, if Paul wouldn’t boycott pagan sold meat that had been used in idolatry do you think he would boycott a pagan store that said, “Happy holidays?” The pagans are always going to act like pagans. Don’t get me wrong on this. I do think we should stand up for our beliefs. I do think we should stand aganist immorality. I think this one just needs further examined. What do you think?

0 Responses

  1. I think you’ve got the right idea. We have a guy at church who is always hopping on the latest boycotting bandwagon. He’s staunchly dedicated to buying American. He was really excited to see my wife and I had a Ford vehicle. The funny thing is that my wife (a Mexican) loves the car because it was assembled in Mexico. 🙂

    But he always puts pressure on the rest of us to boycott all kinds of places. When we wanted new playground equipment, he wanted to boycott Lowe’s because they “support homosexuals”. The same for Wal-Mart, and now for Ford.

    If we go over the top on this boycotting thin, we really can’t find anywhere to get anything; we have to become practically Amish.

    There is someone doing something wrong in every business. I’m in favor of staying away from places that are just overtly bad and horrible in how they treat people. I think–like you pointed out–lost people are going to act like lost people. As Paul said, to completely avoid all immorality, we’d have to leave this world completely.

  2. “Pagans are always going to act like pagans.”

    That’s such a simple statement that it’s breath-taking. And it all goes back to how Jesus taught us to affect change. Do we affect change with rules imposed from the outside? Or do we affect change one heart & soul at a time?

  3. Exactly Philip,

    I can hardly expect that we would win one convert to Christ based on Merry Christmas being said at Wal-Mart. If we would focus our time and energy not on boycotts and where to go and where not to, we might actually get something done.

  4. It is so hard to be consistent as a boycotter. I think I might be persuaded to avoid a store from time to time but most of the time it is a no win situation.

    Bobby Valentine

  5. I’ve never been a big fan of boycotting myself. I think it gives the boycotters a “stuffy” image, & doesn’t win anyone over. And you’re right–are we expecting store owners who are not Christians to act like they are?? The best approach is heart to heart.

    How does this fit in with politics? How much involvement are Christians to have in politics?

  6. Bobby,

    I think there are some protests that are certainly worth doing. I just don’t think “bandwagon theology” always pays off. I mean, look what it got Israel…corrupt kings, idol worship, and numerous other things. We just need to be wise and really evaluate things for ourselves. We need to ask ourselves how this really plays into being salt and light. We need to ask ourselves if our attitudes in doing these things is really to win others to Christ or to be obnoxious.


    As far as politics and religion go, I think it is a pretty personal decision. You can make a good arguement for involvment or for not. Try reading Resident Aliens by Hauwerwas and Willimon. It is very challenging. Here is the link.

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