John Gerstner On Boycotting

After reading this post by Chad at The Vossed World, I decided it might be time to post this article that I have been planning on posting since September when we were supposed to boycott Starbucks.

John Gerstner defines boycotting as “doing no business with some essentially legitimate business because it is doing some new illegitimate business”.

In my town in East Tennessee, there was a small uproar about a year and a half ago over the sale of alcoholic beverages in our grocery stores. Many people stopped doing business with these legitimate businesses for a while, but one by one each store began selling alcoholic beverages until all were selling it. Today we all shop at these same grocery stores. But going back before these stores sold alcoholic beverages, they were already involved in doing some other evil. They sold tobacco to minors, they sold nearly pornographic magazines, they sold many things that Christians would consider evil, or, sinful, if you please.

The point is that at the outset of the boycott, there were already some illegitimate business practices taking place at these grocery stores. So if there was already illegitimate business taking place at these stores, why had we not boycotted them before now?

Gerstner states, “The first thing that meets the eye when Christians boycott this way is their inconsistency, which everyone (Christians included) admits is evil.” He then points out that the Bible commands us to abstain from all evil, but boycotters only abstain from some evil!

Gerstner then concludes that this ‘selective morality’ is not informed by God through His Word, but something other than Scripture. This something else he says is ‘clout’. This clout is shown by the Christian community in order to show that we have power to bring a company to its knees.

If this is the case then Gerstner adds, “…it would seem that such boycotting is a sin because it deflects the glory that belongs to God onto His servants.” Gerstner then tells us that engaging in any activity that draws glory away from God is wrong. No true servant of God who wishes for God to receive all glory will act in a way that will bring himself the glory that God deserves.

Finally Gerstner recommends a different method of ‘boycotting’. This method could be called ‘Christianity’. using a different definition of boycotting from the Oxford dictionary, “refuse to hold relations with”, he bases this method on 2 Corinthians 6:14. Gerstner says that Christians,
1) Refuse to hold relations with non-believers in religion, in marriage, and in their immoral activities.
2) Are not to refuse to hold relations with unbelievers in their normal, outwardly-moral activities.
3) May eat at a fast food restaurant, a given motel, etc., as long as we do not condone, approve, or support any immoral activities. (Do not buy their alcohol, cigarettes, dirty movies, pornographic magazines, etc.)
4) Continually boycott after this model all of the time as an essential of being a Christian!
Gerstner adds that this would be a boycott that is “automatic and understood as an act of obedience to God.”

Gerstner concludes like this, “I strongly favor true, biblical boycotting of all evil all the time.”

Me too. I’m starting by boycotting my own evil desires.

All quotations taken from: John H. Gerstner: The Early Writings Volume One. ‘Christians and Boycotting’ Morgan PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “John Gerstner On Boycotting

  1. Steve Weaver

    Good post! I’m boycotting you now! Just kidding! I’m proud of you!!!

  2. ThirstyDavid

    I believe the Christian boycott of the theatre is a contributing factor to the overwhelming degeneracy of Hollywood. All businesses work to satisfy their customers. It’s supply and demand. When there is no demand for wholesome art, there will be none. When I was a kid, we were taught that no Christian should go to a theatre, even to see a good movie, because they show bad movies. How much influence do you think we had on the movie industry?

    Great blog, by the way.

  3. pilgrim

    The inconsistent boycott is a refuge of the legalist–and leads to more legalism, less engagement of the lost and the strengthening of the “Christian ghetto”
    HWere do we draw the line?

    I think you answered that…

  4. forgiven

    Good post Dox

  5. Joe

    Fine post!

    I had a pastor friend who once stopped stopping at 7-11 because of their commercial, “Don’t thank Heaven for 7-11.”

    Only thing is, the commercial really said, “Oh thank Heaven for 7-11!”

    He also would only shop for groceries at Publix Markets, because they were the only ones who did not carry alcoholic beverage.

    They do now.

    Wonder where he shops?

  6. Jeremy Weaver

    Good thoughts everyone! Except for Steve. I’m boycotting him till he lifts his boycott of me.

  7. bluecollar

    Great thoughts!

  8. Breuss Wane

    Great quotes from one of the best minds of our lifetime.

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