I recently posted open letters to Kohl’s and Staples asking if they support Planned Parenthood. Kohl’s replied that they do not, and I’m still waiting to hear back from Staples.
What is my purpose in writing these letters and figuring out if these large companies where I spend money are financial-backers of abortion?
It’s an interesting struggle, figuring this out, and I’d love any thoughts you have to contribute to a discussion of this kind.
What’s the point of me writing to Kohl’s (who confirmed within 1 business day that they do not donate to Planned Parenthood)? If a clothing store supports Planned Parenthood, I may be able to buy the same clothes from another source. I can’t, however, go without pants altogether. That would be showing the world something, but it wouldn’t be showing them Jesus.
Am I responsible for what Kohl’s, Staples, or other companies do with their money? To answer this, I think about Jesus’ command that the people of Israel pay their taxes, and this money was used to oppress them as well as wage war against others. Jesus didn’t put the responsibility for Rome’s crimes on the people paying taxes. There is no indication that Jesus thought that by paying their taxes they were guilty of Rome’s crimes.The responsibility of the people was to be law-abiding citizens, and to live at peace with all people as far as it was up to them.
So what is our personal responsibility today? The direct application is that we should pay our taxes as required bylaw. A more general principle about money is that we are supposed to be good stewards. Unlike taxes, buying products is not required by law, it it discretionary. (Except for healthcare under the Obama-Pelosi-Reid plan.) That is, while we need clothes, we aren’t obligated by law to buy our clothes from a specific store. Every dollar spent is a vote in favor of who you’re giving the money to.
For a long time I avoided WalMart because of horrible customer service. I avoid Casa Bonita because the food is awful. I avoided The Sharper Image because it was expensive. I walk out of movies and get my money back if it’s overly obscene (Anchorman, Super Bad), a mockery of the very book it’s supposed to based on (The Runaway Jury) or a comedy that’s not funny at all (Napoleon Dynamite). These are all understandable, and I’m adding another category to this list: stores I’ll avoid because of what they do with their profits.
My goal isn’t to start a boycott to shut a place down or put people out of work. My goal is to take the personal responsibility that is given me in being a good steward of the money which God has put me in stewardship.
Do I bear personal responsibility for what someone else does once I give them my money? No. But I do bear responsibility for giving it to them in the first place. Why give my money to a place that supports crimes against humanity when there’s another option?
I’m willing to go to one store over another to save $5. But am I willing to spend the $5 extra if that less of the money that leaves my stewardship is then used for evil? Is $5 worth more than a human life? (Certainly of the $5, perhaps a few cents will be used as a donation to Planned Parenthood and pays for a tiny fraction of an abortion. But by going down this road, we’re making an argument that supporting a certain percent of evil is fine, or else you’ll end up calculating a price tag on a human life. I don’t think that following that logic will lead us to a good place. I think it’s safer to base the argument on good stewardship.)
Would you buy coffee from Al Qaida if it were cheaper than Starbucks? Hopefully you answer “No, because I’d be sponsoring evil just to save a few dollars on a latte.” I’m proposing that this is the same reasoning we should be using whenever we spend the money under our stewardship.
An investor takes someone else’s money and invests in companies. Good investors will research what they’re investing in to make sure it’s worthwhile. They do their research before investing. And while the investor isn’t responsible for a CEOs decisions, they are constantly watching these companies and the people who lead them to make sure it’s still a good way to invest this money that others have put under their stewardship.
Why would we consider stewardship of God’s stuff less important than an investor’s stewardship other people’s investment funds?
I’m not arguing for making your own clothes from cotton grown in your backyard to avoid the chance of some of someone else being a bad steward. I’m not arguing that you bear personal responsibility for what Microsoft or Starbucks, Mardel’s or Chik-fil-a does with their profits. Perhaps in the future I will make those arguments as I explore these issues, but today I am simply arguing the following: