The action by the court did not come without controversy. Mr. Leopard moved as a substitute the adoption of his resolution. But TE Jim Whittle from Central Florida Presbytery opposed that, and said, "I think we've stepped way over the line. This is not the civil magistrate, this is a company. . . . Where do we draw the line?" Retired pastor Bill Rose of Jackson, TN, reminded the commissioners that "we left the Southern Church because they started making pronouncements like this." And TE David McWilliams of Southwest Florida Presbytery urged that "boycotts are selective" and that such action "is binding the conscience of individual members." TE George Ganey of Villa Rica, GA, with tongue-in-cheek, commented that he thought the Assembly should vote in favor of the boycott, but "that we add to the end of the motion that the boycott not take effect until the end of next week, after I've already been to Disney."
In the end, the majority decided to vote in a way consistent with the historic Southern Presbyterian view of the spirituality of the church.
I believe that the gospel itself is at stake when the church requires or recommends boycotts.
The church has been given clearly delimited tasks by her Head and King, Jesus Christ: worship, edification of the body, and the discipling of the nations. The church may not determine her own agenda, but, her tasks are strictly delineated. The church, then, must speak and even make demands in those matters given to her by her King, but has no right to do so on matters which fall outside of the scope of those duties. For example, while every Christian, to varying degrees, is responsible to be involved in the political process, the church may not be involved in politics since this task has not been prescribed by Christ, her King. Boycotts do not fall within the scope of the church's duties and, therefore, the church may not, no matter what external pressure there may be to do so, require or recommend them to the church.
Consider other arguments as well. Boycotts are selective, but, why should they be? Are there not other institutions which are doing as much to destroy 'family values' as Disney? Should the church discipline a member who attends a medical school which also teaches the techniques of abortion? Do we discipline members who attend operas? Do we boycott a soft drink company which advertises its drink by means of scantily-clad women? Extending the logic of the boycott leads to the ridiculous.
More importantly, for the church to recommend or require a boycott binds the conscience of the believer. The church is not at liberty to recommend a moral course that she cannot require! An individual Christian may determine within his own conscience that he must boycott Disney, but the church has no right to require it, recommend it, or pressure members into it.
Further, for the church to promote boycotts gives the impression that she is just another power broker among many, just another coalition to lobby for an agenda. The church must learn that she has no power except the power of God unto salvation which is the gospel! She must forsake every temptation to exert power by any other means.
To identify the church's mission with boycotts devalues the gospel by associating her message with many worthy, but infinitely less important things. Family values are important, but they have never justified a sinner. The church's task is to proclaim Christ, not human morality. For the church to promote a boycott of Disney gives the impression to the world that the gospel is moralism.
Focus upon the family values issue, then, subtly leads the church away from Christ and the gospel by replacing the message of Christ's imputed righteousness with the self-help of human morality. When this happens, the church is deflected from the tasks assigned to her by her Head and King and, ironically, from the only hope for individuals and families in a sinful world.
Covenant Presbyterian Church
210 Poppell Drive, Lakeland, FL 33813-1199