By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Chances are you’ve watched the news, heard the rumors, and possibly joined in on the latest talk about the Walt Disney Company’s liberal agenda. And if you’re like many believers, you may have decided to once again boycott a company you once loved.
Yet, is boycott the answer when a secular company has policies we, as believers, disagree with?
The older I become, the more I’m understanding and appreciating Scripture’s exhortation to set our minds on things above, not on the things on this earth (Colossians 3:2). And I believe that means investing our mental and emotional energy (as well as our money) in building the spiritual kingdom of God, rather than bashing the earthly (and “magical”) kingdoms of men.
When I lament over world news, the worsening condition of this nation’s leadership, and the lack of Christian values in our society, I too can become angry and even hostile toward anyone and anything that opposes my Christian views. However, Jesus said if we're following Him, the world would hate us, rather than commanding us to hate the world that isn't following Him. When we consider that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this earth (John 18:36) and He commanded us to make disciples of men (Matthew 28:19) – not make our negative opinions known about the world – perhaps we can resemble more of a Jesus-follower than a policy or company boycotter.
With a humble heart that seeks to show a world without Christ who Jesus really is, here are five reasons why I’m not boycotting Disney:
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1. Disney is a secular entertainment company that never claimed to be Christian.
Unless a company professes to follow Jesus and hold to a true biblical worldview, its policies will rarely be ones you and I, as believers, can fully support. Therein is the rub. And Jesus warned us of that rub when He reminded us we are in the world, but not of the world (John 15:18-19). While we are commanded to live a lifestyle according to biblical principles, we were never commanded to condemn or boycott those apart from Christ who don’t. Scripture tells us that judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17), so shouldn’t we be more concerned about churches or Christian organizations that claim to follow God’s Word and don’t?
Here in Southern California, if I’m going to hold up a protest sign it should be on the front lawn of an evangelical megachurch that is rewriting the requirements for salvation, publishing its own version of the Bible, and displaying other cult-like behaviors. A desire to protect the truth and validity of the gospel of Christ should burn inside me to the point that I speak out about distortions of Christianity and God’s Word. Yet, to be opposed to a secular company for its anti-biblical actions is a temporary and empty battle at best.
Yes, Walt Disney adhered to family values and built his entertainment company and parks for the enjoyment of families. But, should I blame a secular company for following in Walt’s (not Jesus’) footsteps by wanting to stay relevant to a culture that has now redefined what a family looks like? In its desire to be all-inclusive of the families that children are now growing up in, Disney portrays in its movies single-parent families, inter-racial families, and same-sex parent families. My concern about the distortion or disobedience of God’s Word should be in the places where people claim to live by and teach God’s Word. A more appropriate battle would be against the churches and Christian organizations that are redefining what is biblical and causing people in the body of Christ to be misled. That is the real threat to the Gospel of Jesus Christ – not a secular entertainment company.
2. It’s time Christians be more vocal about what we are FOR, rather than what we are against.
When my daughter served on a Christian service project in Kosovo several years ago, she and her Christian college teammates were instructed not to identify themselves as Christians but as Jesus followers. In the Middle East, the term Christian is associated with American politics, sympathy toward Jews, and opposition or hatred toward Muslims. Regrettably, in the U.S. today, the term Christian is becoming associated with “hater,” perhaps because we are far more vocal about what we oppose than what we support.
We have come out strong against abortion – the murder of babies – when the message we wanted to convey is that we fully support the sanctity of life – at any stage. We have come out strongly against same-sex marriage when the message we should’ve conveyed is that we are for the sanctity and holiness of marriage as God created and defined it (a lifelong covenant of sacrificial love between one man and one woman). Instead of being people known for our love of God, His creation of life, and the sanctity of marriage, we’ve become known as opponents of “issues” which has regrettably translated to opponents of people who practice or support those issues. Could we have inadvertently earned this label of haters because instead of praying, we hold signs, barricade doors, boycott, and verbally express to one another, and the rest of the world, how much we disapprove of those who don’t hold to our values? We can keep spouting the line, “God hates sin but loves the sinner” but no one will hear us until we start demonstrating what it means to actually love sinners as Jesus does. (By the way, believers in Jesus are also sinners – just ones that are saved by His grace, not anything great that we have done (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love HIM with all our heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-38). Yet instead, we end up more passionate about issues (the breaking of His commands), than we do about Jesus, Himself, and the sinners (including you and I) that He loves. Instead of boycotting Disney for policies you disagree with, try supporting it for the things it’s doing right – namely for being one of the few secular companies in the world that still reads the biblical Christmas story – from the Scriptures – at its public Christmas Candlelight Service in Disneyland and Disneyworld every December.
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3. There are many believers who work for Disney and could use our support and encouragement.
My daughter has worked for the Walt Disney Company for eight years. Her first week after being promoted to the Guest Talent department, she was invited to a women’s Bible study consisting of Disney cast members (employees). She was pleasantly surprised to discover how many people of faith worked for the company. Not all of them shared her faith, nor her denomination, nor every tenet of her personal convictions, but that is what makes Disney an all-inclusive place to work. The company does not exclude on any level. It welcomes people of all faiths or no faith.
There are many believers in Jesus who continue to work for Disney because of how well it treats its employees – all of its employees, regardless of their race, religion, or creed. And many of those believers continue to see God’s hand of favor on them as they are promoted through the ranks of the company, assured they are right where they need to be for such a time as this. If we, as believers, boycott a secular company that we don’t believe is behaving according to our personal convictions, what message does that send to the believers who continue to work for that company out of a sense of personal and professional calling? Does it make them feel uncomfortably aligned with the Christians who oppose their company? Does it help or support them in any way? Instead of boycotting the company as a whole, contact a believer you know who works there and tell them how much you appreciate that they are still there, shining their light, being a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14). Ask them how you can pray for them, like we should for any believer who works for a secular company, public school district, or government job. Personal encouragement and prayer go much further with secular companies – and believers who work for them – than criticism or boycott.
4. Jesus said others will know us by our love, not our boycott.
I truly desire to hold to my biblical convictions in a secular world, yet extend grace to those who don’t believe as I do. How else will they ever see the God who authored love and grace? The times I have opened the door of my home and let others in who do not share my faith or Christian values are the times I have most learned what unconditional love and grace look like. When we boycott based on “issues” it’s difficult for the people who feel strongly on the other side of those issues to not see our boycott as personal against them.
We are all broken due to sin and living in a broken, damaged world. The woman who is outspoken about the right to have an abortion may be speaking out of her own regret and pain. The same-sex couple may be living that way out of their own brokenness. The people who push certain liberal agendas often believe they are helping other hurting or bullied individuals. When we push aside our anger and opposition long enough to see the pain and brokenness behind certain issues, it may cause us to want to show grace, rather than grievance, toward people and the issues they feel strongly about.
5. Boycotts highlight our hypocrisy – and we already have enough of that.
If I’m going to boycott a secular company for having policies I don’t agree with, where would I draw the line in order to be consistent with my reasoning? Shouldn’t I also boycott Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, the Oscars, and every other company or entertainment medium that has a liberal agenda I don’t agree with? Or would I only keep my boycott to amusement parks and streaming services? Disney is a huge retailer, but if it bothers me that an LGBTQ+ agenda is being promoted, I’d better be prepared to boycott Target, Kohl’s, and every other major retailer that emphasizes National Pride Month in their marketing campaigns every year and is moving toward woke inclusivism in their advertising.
If I am determined to cancel Disney Plus and never again watch a G- or PG-rated Disney movie because of a transgender character, the portrayal of same-sex parents, or “an exclusively gay moment,” then I’d also better boycott all R-rated movies and cancel Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a number of other platforms that portray gay relationships and illicit sex of every kind and persuasion.
If we primarily don’t want our children watching or being a part of anything representative of the way their culture is going, we’d better pull them out of public schools, avoid all other amusement parks but Bibleland, and put a 24-hour watch on them in order to filter out the internet and social media’s “anti-God/self is God” messages. A better course: teach them how to recognize a secular vs. a biblical worldview and how to make godly choices in a world full of compromise. And better yet, teach them how to stand out from the crowd by showing God’s love and grace toward others. We are in this world and it’s a mess. And the only way the world becomes less of a mess is when individual hearts are transformed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. That doesn’t happen through boycotts. It happens through prayer and impacting lives, one at a time, with the love of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said the world would know that we are His by our love for one another (John 13:34-35). Be a believer who loves God more than anyone else and loves your neighbor as yourself. (By the way, Jesus told the Jews their neighbors were the Samaritans – a race of people the Jews considered repulsive!) When you love others as God does, grace and unconditional love will rule your actions and people will become more important to you than issues. Jesus never commissioned us to change the laws in our society or try to bring heaven to earth. He told us instead to share the gospel and make followers of His so that others can live eternally with Him and learn what it means to follow Him, too.
Lord Jesus, help me to understand what it means to be salt and light in this world and to be more motivated by a desire to see hearts change, than companies, laws, or policies. Lord, Your Kingdom is not of this earth, so help me to keep seeking things above and showing others who You are by my love, by listening to where one is coming from, and by seeing the pain that produces a lifestyle contrary to Your Word. Help me to know clearly when to speak out boldly as a representative of Yours, and how to best do that in love and grace.
For more on how to live in this world without compromise, see Cindi’s book, Women on the Edge: Turning Desperate Times into a Desire for God.
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