Do I Have to Stop Shopping at Target? – Courtney Reissig

Like many women, I shop at Target nearly once a week. Sometimes it’s out of necessity. Sometimes I just want to go to Target. Target shopping is a way of life for many women—just watch the countless Instagram reels devoted to this obsession. That’s why I’ve taken notice of recent calls for Christians to boycott Target in response to their LGBT+ merchandise, particularly products geared toward children.

I’m not here to tell you definitively whether you should or shouldn’t shop at Target. There are no clear directives in Scripture to command us one way or the other. But when our social media feeds and relationship circles are filled with calls to take a particular action, we may wonder if we need to follow suit. So if you’re considering whether you have to stop your weekly Target run to be a faithful Christian, here are some principles to think through.

Conscience Matters

When we’re in the thick of controversy, it can feel like we’re pioneers of the moment. We come up short when we scan recent history for examples of how to handle exactly what we’re facing. So we may think drastic action is required to maintain faithfulness.

But in reality, our struggles aren’t new—they’re repackaged. Since sin entered the world, we’ve been engaged in a battle between light and darkness (Eph. 6:12). Christians in every age have had to figure out what’s acceptable and what goes against God’s law—and there are always gray areas.

As Paul wrote to believers about how to handle Gentile and pagan practices, he often mentioned the importance of conscience. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 (CSB), Paul talks about everything being “permissible” for him but not everything being “beneficial.” For the Christian wrestling with whether it’s OK to run to Target tonight, Paul’s appeal to conscience is helpful. Some of us see shopping at Target as a sin; some of us see it as a gray area.

Christians in every age have had to figure out what’s acceptable and what goes against God’s law.

It’s important to honor your own conscience and the consciences of others (Rom. 14:1–5; 14:21–15:1; 1 Cor. 8:9–13). You don’t have to stop shopping at Target because someone else is convicted she should stop. But you should prayerfully consider how the Lord is leading you.

We all must recognize it’s not our job to compel people toward our position when Scripture doesn’t. You might feel free to shop at Target, but if your friend in Bible study doesn’t, it’s not your job to change her mind, and vice versa. It’s your job to love her and not to do anything to cause her to stumble—which could mean not inciting a debate about the merits of Target shopping.

Purchases Matter

Let’s say you feel free to continue shopping at Target. Are all purchases the same? This is where the boundaries become clearer. Romans 12:2 reminds us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of the mind.” The world has a clear path it’s calling us to follow—against God and his Word. God’s path is much narrower than the world’s, and it isn’t always immediately appealing. Target clothing is fun, stylish, and often what trendy people are wearing. But as Christians, we may have to draw a line when trends follow the world’s marketing campaigns.

The prophet Isaiah exhorted Israel (and us) to not call good evil or evil good (Isa. 5:20). The Bible might give us freedom on where we shop, but what we buy isn’t always morally neutral. We can’t buy clothing that calls good what God calls evil. We can’t buy products with messages that go directly against Scripture or that dishonor God. Particularly given the products Target produces for children right now, we need to exercise discretion and wisdom if we continue to shop there. And if we want to send a message to Target by our purchases, not buying these items has an effect on their bottom line (even if not to the same degree as a boycott).

We aren’t the first Christians who’ve had to think through how to be aliens in a strange world (1 Pet. 2:11). It’s sort of our thing as believers. This world isn’t our home. Every choice we make, every purchase, every decision in some way puts us at odds with the world we live in. The standard is standing out, not blending in. For some, that means choosing to buy elsewhere. For others, it means buying groceries at Target while bypassing the Pride aisle.

Conversations Matter

Whether we decide to stop shopping at Target or not, we should all let this moment lead us to intentional conversations with non-Christians around us. God’s people have never been strangers to laws that set them apart. Our very existence here is to live set-apart lives that reflect our longing for a future home with our Creator God.

It’s not our job to compel people toward our position when Scripture doesn’t.

As God’s people prepared to enter the promised land, Moses reminded them again that their children were going to ask them about all the laws they had to follow as a nation. They were going to look different (Deut. 6:20). Throughout the last book of the Pentateuch, Moses spoke to the people about the importance of not forgetting God’s law—because they were his people, called to live distinctively to reflect his saving work.

When our children ask us why we don’t buy certain shirts with pro-LGBT+ messaging or fly a rainbow flag, we have an opportunity to tell them of the God who created us male and female in his own image to glorify him. When our friends ask us why we’ve stopped shopping at Target or don’t attend a Pride parade, we can speak of the God who loves his people so much that he can’t leave them in their sin. We can’t celebrate sin when it’s the very thing God sent his Son to die for. But we can seek to have thoughtful conversations on this topic that allow us to share the beauty of the gospel.

We’re truly aliens and strangers in this world. We always have been—perhaps it’s just more apparent to us now. We don’t have to retreat in fear or anger. But we do need to be careful and wise about where we’re shopping and what we’re buying (or what our kids are buying). We need to respect those who choose to shop differently than we do. And we need to be ready to give an answer for the hope that’s in us—even in the Target aisle.

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