I listened to a sermon the other day concerning the controversy in I Corinthians about eating meat offered to idols. Meat from an animal that had been offered to the gods in a temple was sold in the market at a reduced price, making it particularly attractive to the poor. It was an issue of both conscience and economics, and it got me thinking about what issues may divide people today—issues upon which people of conscience may stand on opposite sides. There are several hot button issues now, such as abortion and homosexuality, but let me suggest one of perhaps lesser import and closer to home for many of us.
I don’t shop at Walmart. I don’t appreciate their business practices, I don’t approve of the economic impact they have on a community when they move in, I don’t agree with how they treat their workers, and several other things about them. However, many of my friends and relations have no issues with shopping there, and for some the low prices mean they can afford things they might otherwise have to live without. As with meat offered to idols, it is an issue of both conscience and economics.
Is there a right side or a wrong side? Is there one side which is just and one side which isn’t? Is there a Christian way to look at Walmart and other stores like them? I don’t think there is an absolute right stance to take, but there is a right stance for me, and perhaps there is a different right stance for you. All we can do is live by our consciences, and try to understand each other without judging or condemning. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much whether we shop or don’t shop, but whether we follow the light we have in ourselves as to what seems just to us.
Contributed by Karen Oberst, Klamath Falls Friends