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Should Christians Boycott Target?

All right, well, this episode of Marked by Grace is dropping on Monday, June 5th. That means this is the first full week of June. This is the month that many in our secular society refer to as Pride Month. It is the month when our culture is telling us that we are supposed to celebrate all of the continuum of LGBTQ+. And there’s a lot of virtue signaling; there are a lot of people, there are a lot of corporations that are going to want to signal to everybody that they are with the cause. That they are in keeping with the culture. One of those corporations that is doing that rather famously right now is Target. I am a married man and have three kids. And that means there have been seasons in my life where I have thought Target was an extension of my living room. I spend a lot of time in Target with the people in my life. Target is a colossal corporation that many of us use to shop. We’re buying clothes there; we’re buying toiletries; we’re buying decorations and groceries, and all sorts of things at Target. But Target has gotten into trouble the last couple of weeks because they have decided that they are going to come out for Pride Month in a big way. Not just with advertising, not just with huge display cases and display shelves in the entrances of the stores. But also, more controversially, with transgender clothing that has been marketed to kids. Target denies that they say it was always marketed to older folks, but it sure looked like it was marketed to kids. There has been the revelation that one of their key designers for some of this merchandise also is designing pro-satanic pins. The whole thing is very, very dark and very, very ugly. It has gotten Christians talking a lot. It’s gotten conservatives actually talking a lot about whether to boycott Target. And the question is, should you be, as a Christian, a part of this?

What the Bible Teaches

There are a couple of things that we need to think about. One biblical reality that we need to think about as we process this issue comes from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 5:13 says, “You’re the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It’s no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Plain and simple. That passage means that we are supposed to be displaying God to the world where we’re put here in the world, to be lights to Christ. There are a couple of ways we can do that. We love it when we get to do this and positive and in, wonderful and in constructive ways. But there are some times when we are lights by critiquing the culture by telling the culture no. A boycott would certainly be in that sort of negative, destructive sense of being a light where we stand up for God; we show the way to God by showing what God is against. A verse like this means that we have to think about what does it mean to let our light shine when we’re thinking about a boycott of Target?

The Economy is Mixed

There are four things I’m thinking about as I want to help you wrestle through these issues. The first thing we all just need to acknowledge is that this is not an easy decision because the economy is mixed. We live in a jumbled-up economy. Once you decide to be in the economy, once you decide to go out to dinner, once you decide to invest your paycheck. Once you decide to buy a cup of coffee, you are getting all entangled with every other person in the market. Let me just give a very explicit definition. By the time you’re listening to Marked by Grace, I hope that you will never desire to be involved in funding an abortion. But here’s the cold hard fact, every single one of us has been involved in funding an abortion. We might not have wanted to. And in fact, there is a lot less moral culpability because we don’t want to. But listen, if you have bought a cup of coffee from Starbucks, Starbucks gives a lot of money to Planned Parenthood. If you bought a cup of coffee from Starbucks, you’ve been involved in funding an abortion. Let’s say you’re going to find out every corporation that gives to every cause you don’t like. You’re going to stay out of it, and you go out to dinner. There have been times I shudder to think there have been times that you have tipped your server at a restaurant, and she has used the cash you gave her to fund an abortion. You didn’t know it, and you didn’t mean to. If you would have known, you would have behaved differently. But the reality is once we release our money into the economy, we all lose control over what happens to it once it gets out there. All of us are involved. You’re listening to this podcast on a device. I guarantee that has executives that are using your money to fund things that you, as a Christian, hate. We’re not going to be able to sector ourselves out and be involved in this narrow lane of sort of clean, moral Christian economy that never funds any stuff we don’t like. We just need to be honest that boycotts are always going to have a limited utility. And they’re always going to be just a little bit hypocritical if you know what I mean. If you’re going to boycott Target this June or this summer, there are going to be other things that you’re spending your money on that are just as LGBTQ-friendly as Target is. And so we just have to acknowledge that,

Here is a second thing that we need to think about. It’s related to the first one, and it is that we are going to support companies and corporations whose values we disagree with. We’re just going to do it. We’re not voting in favor of their negative values. But if we’re going to exist, if we’re going to pay our light bills, if we’re going to pay our phone bills, if we’re going to pay our cable bills, we’re just going to be putting our money into things that we hate. We’re not going to be able to control the values of other people by trying to withhold our money from them. We’re just not going to be able to do it. So we just need to acknowledge there’s going to be a limited amount of control we can have over this. Those are thoughts and considerations that sort of make us think, well, you know, I don’t know if a boycott like this is really helpful because it’s so inconsistent.

What Does Your Conscience Say?

But there’s a third consideration. And that’s the issue of conscience. Your conscience is that thing in your heart that tells you what is right and what is wrong, and you’re not allowed to cross it. In Romans 14:23, the apostle Paul says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” That means whether something is ultimately right or wrong, and your conception of it is not as important as whether you believe it is right or wrong. You could do an act that is objectively not sinful. But if you believe it’s sinful, it was sin to you because when you did it, you thought you were sinning. That means the motivation of your heart was not to obey but it was to disobey. Ultimately, whether a boycott is right or wrong is not the most important thing. The thing is, in your heart, do you feel guilty spending your money at Target, knowing what you know about how they are behaving? If your conscience is pricking you, you’re not allowed to cross it. So if you would say, hey, you know, I just don’t feel right about what Target’s doing. I just don’t feel right about their messaging. And it might be right that I’m blended into the economy and doing all sorts of things that I don’t agree with. It might be right that I can’t always force corporations to do what I want because of what I do or don’t do with my money. But I just don’t feel right about this, and I just can’t do it. If that’s you, then you need to boycott Target because your conscience is not something that you’re allowed to cross.

Is This Effective?

Here’s the fourth reality. And it has to do with effectiveness. Even though we’re not going to be able to control everything, even though we’re always going to be mingled up in a sinful economy. There are going to be times when an issue is so big, and it is so targeted, and the moment is so clear that a boycott when it’s targeted in just the right way can be supremely effective. You just think about Bud Light. Bud Light really crossed a Rubicon when they decided to use a transgender advocate to market their beer. They found out the hard way, and they should have known this, but they found out the hard way that most of the people who drink Bud Light don’t want to be marketed to by a transgender advocate, and Bud Light is reeling from the consequences of that decision, and they might never come back. It’s an example that sometimes, in a unique moment, a boycott can be uniquely targeted to be effective. I think right now, the Target boycott is poised to do something like that. I heard a report this morning that just in recent weeks, Target has suffered a $12 billion loss. $12 billion loss in revenue. That was even before June really got heated up. For those of us who are concerned about what Target is doing and for those of us who are concerned about their messaging, there is an opportunity here to make a difference. Nobody is going to change the values at the head of Target, the CEO, the CFO, and all of the leaders. They’re not going to stop believing what they believe because of a boycott. But they might decide that they don’t have to market LGBTQ to their customers. They might decide that maybe we’re better off marketing our products to our customers instead of a worldview and a secular agenda.

I’ll tell you, in the Lambert house, we’re not boycott crazy because of the first two things that I mentioned. We don’t do this very often. But we have decided that in the month of June, we’re just not going to do business at Target. Our consciences are convicting us. We’ve been overwhelmed by the messaging and the displays, and the satanic affiliations. We’ve just decided, hey, look, we can get our stuff in other places. I told you we spend a lot of time at Target. Target has a lot of our money, but they’re not going to get a penny of it in June. And we’ll see how we feel about it after that. We hope to be a part of sending a signal to Target that, hey, listen. People can disagree on these things. You don’t have to be a conservative Christian for us to shop there. But you don’t have to shove this stuff down our throats, and you don’t have to market this stuff to our kids. So we’ve just said, hey, you know what, enough is enough. And we’re not going to do it. I’m going to leave it to your conscience about whether you do it. I’ll tell you that if we’re driving by Target, on the way to Walmart, or on the way to CVS, and we see you coming out, we’re not going to judge you. We’re not going to think you’re unChristian. We’re not going to think you’re not down with the cause. Because I do think there’s a measure of freedom here. But for us, we’re just saying right now, enough is enough, and we’re not going to shop at Target in the month of June.