Or a Michael Moore Lie Montage

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The idea of separation is a biblical idea. Come out from among them and be ye holy (2 Cor. 6:17). But in order to do this it is necessary actually to separate on biblical principle and in a biblical way. We need to learn how God’s intends for His people to be distinct. Too often Christians separate from the world in ways that are just one part of the world separating from another part of the world, with Christians tagging along behind for the sake of relevance, but in the name of holiness.

When we participate in the goings-on of a sinful world, does that sin contaminate us? I am not talking about participation in the sin itself, obviously, but in activities that are connected to sinful activity, or which had their origins in sinful activity. May I live in those portions of North America that were stolen from the Indians? May I drive on highways that go over property that were seized unjustly by eminent domain? May I buy an automobile when the carburetor was manufactured by slave labor in mainland China? How about the carburetor and the distributor cap? May I buy gasoline from a joint that has three racks of porn behind the counter? May I buy books from a company that has a soft porn division? May I buy mutual funds that include corporate farms and plantations in the portfolio?

Now the issue is not whether Christians are called to be salt and light, and it is not whether we are supposed to have a salutary influence in this world. Of course we are. The question is rather how this is to be done. The question concerns God’s mechanism for this. What does He tell us to do, and what does He tell us not to worry about?

So there are two basic principles here. One is that when the Bible addresses the question of financial separation from those who do not honor God, it goes in exactly the opposite direction that our instincts tell us to. We say that it would contaminate us if we “subsidized” the evil company, but the Bible tells us not to worry about it. Does buying meat from the shambles in Corinth (1 Cor. 10:25) help provide an income stream for the idolatrous temple services? Sure it does, but who is worried about it? Not God! God has other ways of affecting their income stream (Acts 19:24-27). Buy their meat, but not their silver figurines. That will be quite enough to get their attention. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. This is a bedrock principle. The sooner Christians act on the basis of it, the sooner we will persuade the pagans that it is the truth of God. How can we get them to abandon their view that “this territory is the devil’s” when we share that view with them? How can we tell them to abandon their fragmented view of the world when we have a fragmented view of the world?


Now if this is the case when the sin is on this end of the economic transaction — you can see the porn behind the counter, you can see the smoke from the sacrificial fires a block away from the place where you buy the meat — then how much more would it apply when the sin is on the other side of the world, and you only heard about it through a series of supposes, hear-say conservations, and a Michael Moore lie-montage.

So the second principle is this one. Accusations of wrongdoing on the other side of the world are not the same thing as establishing the truth of the accusation from the mouths of two or three witnesses, with cross-examination and diligent inquiry that presupposes the innocence of the accused.

Suppose someone was talking about how evil a particular corporation was, and how necessary it was for us to do our Christian duty and never buy any of their product lines again. I would say that this is clearly insufficient. This charge, if true, means that we need to round up the board of trustees for this corporation, line them up against the nearest stucco wall, hand them each a blindfold, and shoot them all. This kind of evil must be dealt with. But suppose, when we start to talk this way, the fellow urging us to boycott the evil company starts backpeddling. Why would he do that? Because to shoot anybody, even a board a trustees, it is necessary to actually prove your allegations. But in order to get Christians to feel guilty about the scarves, oranges, coffee, and handbags that they buy . . . well, it turns out that it is not necessary to prove anything at all.

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