As part of its initiative to expand beyond its traditional customer base, Walmart has partnered with gay activist groups. It appears that the substance of the partnership involves Walmart's desire to attract suppliers with gay and lesbian persuasions. As expected, there are protests from Christian family oriented groups like Family Research Council (FRC).
I'm often grateful for the activism of groups like the FRC but I do wonder how I should evaluate the merits of battling corporations like Walmart over internal corporate policies.
Part of my apprehension stems from the sheer volume of issues pertaining to moral or ethical positions that we are faced with everyday. With the rapid pace of communication today enhanced by email blasts and blogs, information from the front lines of the "culture war" can be absolutely innundating. If you don't believe me, check out sites like the Family Research Council and American Family Association. You'll soon discover that there is a continuous stream of issues pertaining to sanctity of life, media standards, homosexuality, sanctity of marriage, ... the list goes on. The problem isn't with fine groups like FRC but rather how an individual Christian should interact with such information. The subtle danger in responding to every clarion call of the culture war is that we can be distracted from the primary purpose of our lives to proclaim the gospel and live in the good of it everyday. There are going to be critical issues like the pro-life position that require a definitive stand but not every issue carries that weight and importance.
Another consideration is the manner by which we engage the opposing position. Protests or threats of boycotts are acceptable approaches to make our point but not the only ones available to us. They may not even be the most effective ones in every instance. Using phrases like "culture war" is useful in rallying the Christian base but not always helpful in thoughtfully and humbly engaging the opposition. Too often the rhetoric accompanying the approach seems adversarial rather than engaging.
Finally, I believe that looking for opportunities for the gospel is vital. The apostle Paul upon encountering widespread idolatry in Athens is described in Acts 17 as "greatly distressed". His response? "He reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there" (v. 17)
He looked for opportunities to present the gospel from the context of the culture. He used the evil practice of idolatry as a window to preach the gospel. (v.22 - v. 31).
Back to Walmart and their current initiative - not every Christian will judge this as a weighty matter to contend for, since the policy is not explicitly externalized to the buying community. However, if we choose to respond, making our position known by humble appeal rather than adversarial threats will not only be more effective, it'll render a better testimony of the grace we've received.