There is plenty of confused thinking about how Christians should or should not act in the public arena. We of course expect non-Christians to get this issue wrong big time. But when believers also manage to mangle this, it becomes quite disappointing indeed.
For example, some believers quite mistakenly insist that Christians should not even be involved in the culture wars at all. We are just supposed to roll over and play dead, and allow ungodliness and evil to come in like a flood. Sorry, that is not how I read Scripture, and that is simply acting irresponsibly and unbiblically.
But I have made the case for Christian social involvement elsewhere, eg.: https://billmuehlenberg.com/1997/10/10/the-case-for-christian-social-involvement/
And here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2013/07/31/changing-hearts-laws-or-cultures/
But then we have other believers who seem to get bent out of shape when Christians decide to take a principled stance on issues that they are rightly concerned about. They get all antsy when Christians actually start being responsible social citizens, and let their faith impact on what they buy, where they go, and who they patronise.
One well-known Christian leader for example seemed to get rather upset about a recent case of this happening. I have no idea why he found this so worrying. But here is what he had to say on his social media page:
The Australian newspaper is reporting today that Telstra – the country’s largest telco – has withdrawn its name and logo from ‘Australian Marriage Equality’ advertisements following a letter from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney suggesting it will take its not-insignificant business elsewhere if the company continues to promote gay marriage in this overt way. I realise that non-Christian lobby-groups routinely use such pressure tactics (in reverse), but I feel uncomfortable with Christians making commercial threats like this. If you agree with me, help me put my finger on my disquiet. If you support the Catholic Church’s move in this case, I’d love to hear why – please help me see how it might be godly and constructive. I am convincible on this one.
Um, what? “Commercial threats”? “Pressure tactics”? I thought it was called living in a democracy. I thought it was called exercising your right to act according to conscience as you see fit. I thought it was called being salt and light. I thought it was called seeking to reflect biblical righteousness in a dark and pagan society.
I thought it was all about allowing a Christian voice to be heard. I thought it was called exercising our buying power responsibly. I thought it was called being faithful to biblical values and resisting the world’s agenda. I thought it was called being wise and discerning.
Unless I have missed something, when I last checked, the majority of Australians identified as Christians. I know the secular left wants them fully silenced and prevented from speaking on the contentious issues of the day, but it sure is surprising when believers seem to make the same silly case.
If Christians decide that a company or business or group is pushing agendas which they cannot or will not be comfortable in supporting, they have every right to take their business elsewhere. Why shouldn’t they? It is called choosing to act in accordance with one’s values. It is called enjoying the benefits of living in a free society.
If I do not like the fact that a coffee seller like Starbucks is supporting the homosexual agenda, then I have every right as a believer – or even a non-believer – to take my custom elsewhere. I can seek out a coffee chain that has values more in line with my own.
If some fast food chain repeatedly features sleazy television ads (as Nando’s Chicken often has done), then I can choose to boycott it. I can encourage my friends to do the same. I can suggest my church does likewise. I can urge my entire denomination to consider similar action. And there is nothing wrong or un-Christian about this in the least.
Why it is that anyone should have “disquiet” about these sorts of things is beyond me. One simply has to reflect on a similar situation here to see why there is no reason to be upset with this. When Wilberforce and other Christians were fighting the slave trade, they used any and all means possible to seek to stop this evil business.
Had there been telcos back then lending their logo to pro-slavery groups, then Wilberforce and the team would have been perfectly justified in making a public stink about this, urging people not to spend their money with such groups, but instead seek out groups who were not engaged – either directly or indirectly – in this evil.
Now unless this Christian leader has no problems with homosexual marriage – in which case we have a far bigger problem on our hands – then of course it is wrong to support a company that is giving its support to it, even in terms of using company logos and the like as endorsements.
And by the way, in this case the Catholic Church and other Christians were 100 per cent right to engage in these sorts of activities. Indeed, they paid off very well. Because Telstra was obviously feeling the heat – not so much morally speaking but in terms of their back pocket – they have decided to get out of their activist political support of the homosexual agenda.
I think that is very good news indeed, and I congratulate those principled and conscientious Christians who acted according to their faith and put their money where their mouth was. Well done. Standing up for what is right is always right – and in this case it paid off to do so.
But even if Telstra had refused to budge on this, doing the right thing is always commendable and biblically praiseworthy. We are called to have godly influence whenever and wherever we can. This has nothing to do with cramming our morality down people’s throats. This has nothing to do with the bullying tactics and practices routinely utilised by the leftist activist groups.
This is called being the salt and light that Jesus commanded us to be. This is called being responsible Christian citizens. This is something all true followers of Jesus Christ should be engaged in. A quietest, privatised faith is just what the secular left wants from us.
I get that. But when Christian leaders effectively call for the same thing, then I got to wonder whose side they are on. The truth is, the Catholic Church was the good guy here, and they deserve a lot of credit for bringing about this welcome outcome.
And for whatever reason Telstra made the back flip – most likely for financial reasons alone – it is still good news, and I encourage all believers and others to contact Telstra and thank them for making this policy change: https://www.telstra.com.au/contact-us/feedback-complaints
And by the way, it might also be pointed out that many of these same Christian leaders who do not like believers taking a public stand on things like abortion or homosexual marriage are fully happy to do exactly the same when it comes to their pet lefty causes, such as disinvestment campaigns targeting Israel, etc.
So we also seem to have a bit of hypocrisy and double standards going on here. Sorry, but I will always seek to stand for that which is right. Homosexual marriage is not right, and it is something I simply will not just sit down and shut up about. I will speak against it, and where possible, I will act against it.
And if that means taking my business elsewhere, either as an individual or as a group, then fine, that is what I will do. If certain believers are squeamish about all this, well, that is their problem, not mine.
You can read about the Telstra back down here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/catholic-church-forces-telstra-into-samesex-marriage-ad-flip/news-story/acc25d5fc5a326ea54db6f3b8acf5fb0