Q: Should we patronize a company that is known to support immoral, non-Christian causes?
A: To answer the question, we might first rephrase it. “Shouldn’t a Christian automatically refuse to patronize any company which is known to support an immoral cause, such as rights for homosexuals, promotion of abortion, etc.?” It is easier to give an answer to this one: “No.” When Paul wrote to the Corinthians about expelling the immoral brother from their church fellowship, due to impenitence, observe how he put it: “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat” (I Corinthians 5:9-11).
The apostle recognized that Christians live in “‘two worlds,’ – so to speak:” the church sphere and the secular/business sphere. It is one thing to insist on breaking off church fellowship ties with an impenitent sinner who calls himself a Christian. It is quite another to say that Christians cannot buy a product from a person who lives an immoral lifestyle or who through his financial profits supports a sinful venture. According to Paul, the latter does not automatically follow. Didn’t the same apostle refuse to rule out the buying and eating of certain meats sacrificed to idols, provided no offense would be given to the weak (Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8)? We could also add that our Lord Jesus did not forbid the paying of taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:21), even when the corrupt Roman government was using portions of the tax money for vile purposes.
Now, more to the point of your specific question: if one realizes that refusal to join the boycotting of a business is perfectly legitimate (assuming that the company does not exist for the sole purpose of promoting anti-Christian themes), then one can also acknowledge that wisdom and good judgment may nevertheless lead a Christian personally to opt for participating in a particular boycott. We could use a natural example. Two gas stations operate side by side, selling the same products. The prices are virtually the same.
The only noticeable difference is that the one company advertises the sale of pornography in a small space in its display window. The Christian, wanting to be a good steward of his financial resources, realizes that he could just as easily buy a product from the “less offensive” gas station. He decides to switch his purchasing power to what he perceives is the better company. In this way the Christian prudently – as a citizen of the secular world – applies the economic principle of “supply and demand” to influence how the competition survives.
At the same time, however, Christians realize that if a boycott were used in every instance where an anti-Christian agenda is perceived, there would hardly be anything left to buy in the marketplace. Common sense dictates how far we go.
We Christians want to do what is right and proper when conducting our business affairs in the secular world. We want to let our light shine in everything we do, so that our dealings with others may give opportunity for the Gospel to receive a hearing (Matthew 5:16; I Peter 2:12). But even just for the sake of outward peace, believers share the concern that society should uphold morality among its citizenry according to the natural knowledge of the law. As to this “civic righteousness”, Scripture says: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). But how this is done is not through the church using force on the state. Issues in the realm of state are settled by natural law and by reason. If the church dictates laws for civil life, it is swinging a sword that has not been given to her.
The church’s main interest is not to make the world a more moral place to live. It is to have the world know we have a Savior who has died for all, so that through faith in him every person may have life in a far better world!