This article addresses the influence of corporations – which is unimaginably great. The following is a list of 12 ways that  companies you support may conflict with, or align with, God. We must recognize the impact of our consumption and production.

1) Support of Social Values and Legislation

Every company has its own mission, vision, and values. Increasingly, these values are taking on a political nature. Consider some of the issues that corporations are increasingly taking a stand on: abortion, sexuality, environment, globalized labor forces, worker wages and environments, God in the workplace, etc. No one has more power to impact social issues and legislation than corporations. This article will explore some of the ways corporate positions on these issues shape and and disciple nations.

2) Product & Service Creation

Companies make products and perform services. Those products and services impact our world. Consider some of the products and services that are generated by companies: Alcohol, sex (porn, prostitution, strip clubs, etc.), pharmaceuticals, educational materials, art and entertainment (TV, movies, music, painting, books, etc.), food, weapons, homes, etc. The list goes on. Are the companies that we support generating products that are helpful or harmful to people’s physical and spiritual health? Do the products and services promote God’s kingdom, or Satan’s? 

3) Product Design & Quality Control 

But its not just the products and services purpose that is in question. It is also the risks associated with poorly designed, manufactured, and transported goods. Quality control costs money and when companies place profits above people, quality control can become a serious issue. Products are the food we eat, the cars we drive, the houses we live in. Services are the people who govern our lives and the teachers that teach our children. Who is producing and serving the lifestyle of the ones you love?” Food items may carry harmful bacterias and diseases. Household products may contain cancer-causing chemicals. As long as a corporation values profits over people the consumer will always be in danger. Are you funding companies that value people or are they willing to brush dangerous QC issues under the rug to avoid hurting the bottom line?

4) Carbon Footprint 

It’s not just the quality control that is at risk. Due to the size of corporations, the way they create and distribute their product or service may have a huge impact on the environment. Sometimes this includes damaging local ecosystems, water supplies, air quality, and more. You don’t have to be an environmental alarmist to recognize the potential environmental impact of an immoral company. What impact do the companies you support have on the environment?

5) Influence Over Employees

In creating products and sharing services, companies utilize employees. Think about the impact that your past jobs have had on yourself and your family. Corporate environments have a great deal of control over employee’s lives. Whether its quality of life and stress at the office, the amount of time required away from family, or health benefits, corporate policies have a tremendous impact on the individual and family.

6) Funding Employee Lifestyles 

In fact, they don’t just create an environment that influences employee lifestyles. Companies pay their employees. Thus funding employee lifestyles. Depending on who they hire, salaries will be used for different things. Are salaries going to help support families? Or are salaries being used to fund lavish lifestyles of drugs, sex, and materialism? Is your money funding the CEO who uses it to buy prostitutes and cocaine or the family of believers trying to raise of generations of Godly individuals?

7) Competitor Interaction

Likewise, in creating products and sharing services, companies bump up against other competitors. Companies, especially the bigger ones, play a big role in the business to business relationships. The priorities and values of a company will dictate the way they treat competitors. Are you funding companies who leverage their authority to deceitfully harm other’s businesses?

8) Corporate Partnerships 

It’s not just the competition that is influenced. Companies support one another through partnerships. If, for example, I am an oil company, I need a trucking company to transport my goods. In addition to all of the other impact my company has on the world, businesses are also supporting other companies’ mission, vision, and values. Do the companies you shop with support companies whose mission, vision, and values you agree with?

9) Advertising

One of the biggest areas of impact occurs outside of production. It’s the promotion of products that really shapes and disciples nations. Advertising is one of the most impactful things a corporation can do. Advertising doesn’t just sell products. Advertising sells the idea of an image or lifestyle that creates demand. The demand for those lifestyles is what sells the products. What image and lifestyles are being sold by the corporations that you support?

10) Lobbying Power

Then to make sure that they can product and promote their products and services, corporations leverage their power to change laws. This is a big one. A lobbyist is someone hired by a business or a cause to persuade legislators to support that business or cause. Lobbyists get paid to win favor from politicians. It is no secret that corporations practically own many politicians and therefore the law. Leveraging through lobbyism, corporations are able to change laws. Do the companies you shop with lobby? If so, what do they lobby for? Are they values that you believe in or things that you would normally die fighting to avoid?

11) Support of political candidates & parties

Closely tied to lobbyism is the support of candidates and parties. It’s funny how big of a deal we make out of politics and voting, yet we often neglect to realize that we vote with our wallets as well. Who are you voting for with your purchases?

12) Corporate boycotts

Recently, corporations have begun leveraging their power in new ways. In the past few months we have seen companies like PayPal and Disney leverage their immense purchasing power to strong-arm entire states into changing or not changing certain laws. What companies that you support are capable of this incredible influence. According to their values, how will they wield this authority?

 Closing Thoughts

The Church has been compartmentalized and privatized into four walls a few hours per week. Interestingly enough, we cannot fulfill Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations from this position. We must come to recognize the immense, culture shaping and discipling power of the corporation. God has given His people vision to glorify Him through these avenues of influence. It is time the Church recognizes this fact and begins to glorify God with our consumption and production.

Other “On Boycotting” Posts

  • Doreen
    Posted at 11:58h, 05 May Reply

    Thank you for the article. I agreed with many points, but number 6 I found to be unrealistic. If you go to a Catholic Hospital that does not do abortions and your X-ray technician or your nurse happens to be gay does that mean that you avoid the Catholic Hospital?

    For that matter, if you go to a small bakery and the gay employer happens to be in a committed relationship, do you go down the street to the heterosexual employer who molests his children and beats his wife?

    In God’s eyes all sin is sin. If you follow only nine out of Ten Commandments you are sinning. In my mind, if I go to an ethical, moral business who happens to have an employee that needs to hear the message of the love of Jesus for whatever reason, then I will patronize that place and have my lifestyle be the message and my voice and dollars be the sharing of my testimony to them. We cannot feed those we don’t see.

    • admin
      Posted at 15:47h, 05 May Reply

      Hey Doreen,
      Thanks for the comment. A few things to consider:
      1) These are just ways that companies shape culture and disciple nations and so it is something we should consider.
      2) I’m not making grand statements about never shopping somewhere that doesn’t meet all of these criteria perfectly.
      3) I’m simply suggesting that we weigh our options and consider these things when possible.
      4) Often times there is a culture that is promoted by certain companies that extends beyond the lifestyle of one or two individuals. For example, I believe Chick-Fil-A brings its leaders through a very rigorous screening and encourages certain standards for employment. I know some other companies that promote a party atmosphere, encourage open sexuality of all sorts, even in the office environment. They thrive off of the young, materialistic, party and hookup culture.

      So its not about gay or straight. It’s just about making people aware that these things do make a difference. What they choose to do with that information is up to them. I certainly don’t expect every Christian to make a spreadsheet where they use these criteria to evaluate where they shop. though it would be good for owners to consider these things about their own company, and it would be cool if we were this diligent as consumers. At this point I’m really just trying to make people aware of the impact of a dollar spent.

      As for the patronage argument, I have heard this before. There are however, a few problems with it. 1) People say this, but then in a year are lucky to lead one person to the lord in everyone they contact in the marketplace (and they are the rarity. only 3% of the church evangelizes at all – let alone successfully, let alone while shopping). 2) You frequently don’t have to spend money somewhere to speak to the staff (you can window shop and reach them without funding the business). 3) You don’t have to go into a secular company to find secular people. As a retail manager my staff ended up being about 2/3’s Christian. The other 1/3 was not (and I was intentional in my hiring.) I can think of no for-profit company or store where you can’t find people who need to hear the gospel. There is more, but I’ll leave it at that.

      Hope some of this helps and thanks again for the comment.

  • Kevin Spence
    Posted at 17:35h, 01 July Reply

    Even more important than shopping is ownership. If you own share in a mutual fund, you own shares of a company. Do the shares you own reflect Christ?

  • Anthony Griffin
    Posted at 17:37h, 01 July Reply

    Amen brother. This convicted me. Enough said.

  • Nicholas English
    Posted at 21:28h, 01 July Reply

    Most of these items sounds like things that should be taken care of which the rule of law, which in my opinion would work far better and be more efficient than having each individual person research every company they do business with. And some consumers want the items with poor quality control or else they would not be buying them.

    Product & Service creation – buying a cup of coffee from a company that may also sell something offensive like the plan B pill does not mean you support the plan B pill. Corporation manage their product lines like separate businesses, and if a product is doing poorly, they’ll change it or get rid of it. Our capitalistic system already takes care of this. Even if the company dumps a product, it will not make the market for that product go away – a competitor would simply step in to fill the vacuum. Making people more aware of the danger of the products themselves would be helpful for this in my opinion.

    Carbon footprint – if a company is generating harm and not being made to pay for it, that is a market failure that needs to be fixed with laws (or a very well executed exposure campaign). If companies are made to pay for the damage they cause, then the market failure will be fixed and they will either cause less damage or compensate those who are harmed.

    Influence over employees – we live in a free society where companies cannot dictate your life. If that is happening then there has been a breakdown in the application of the first amendment. Also, did you know that it is against the public policy of Texas to deny an employee unemployment pay if they were fired for refusing to break the law? Also consider the whistle blower protections that have been put into place over the years. That is an example of the system working to discourage companies from controlling your life. It’s not perfect, but things are in place to prevent or at least discourage this from happening. Trying to make the connection between the cup of coffee I bought and the way an employee of that organization is treated is just too far of a connection to ever consider researching – an individual consumer rarely has the resources to properly assess what exactly is going on in a company they don’t work for, and they also probably won’t know the extension the corruption is if there is any.

    Funding employee lifestyles – with this logic, I should not buy anything from homosexuals, alcoholics, liars, etc. If that is true, then isn’t the reverse true? Then I should not sell items to people that do these things because the items may be used for sin (just like the money could). The only option would be to live as a monk or out on some island somewhere.

    Competitor interaction – I think this also goes too far. This should be taken care of by laws and already is for the most part.

    To me, points 10, 11, & 12 make more sense from a consumer standpoint and they are things that are easier to know.

    You know I respect you and your opinions Chris, but I respectfully disagree on several points as I have just mentioned. With that said, I look forward to reading more of your articles as I have time.

    Best regards,

    • admin
      Posted at 12:42h, 03 July Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts. I am very busy this week so I can’t really do justice to your comments. However, I will try briefly. One, I think that there is an underlying theme in your statements: “This places undue burden on the consumer.” In short, I am simply trying to make people aware of the problem. The solution is far more complicated. There are other articles in this series that give people an idea of how to respond. Ultimately, what I want to encourage is two-fold: 1) Responsible kingdom proprietorship (to create more options) and 2) responsible kingdom consumership (putting resources towards those options). Right now, the undue burden on consumers is particularly heavy due to the lack of what I would consider “responsible kingdom proprietors.” I am not suggesting people stop spending money until they get this perfect. I am only pointing out the problem here. I imagine an organic process by which we slowly point our vast resources towards better options. I’ll try to come back and address your specific concerns when I have more time.

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