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When Doing Nothing is Better Than Doing Something

I wrote a post recently about the fake Christian protest at Electronic Arts to create a buzz for their new video game Dante’s Inferno.  I asked the question: Have real protests and boycotts by Christians become such a parody that even the secular world is staging them as a joke?    Some of my readers responded with the idea that we can’t just sit on the sideline, we HAVE to protest!   When we see things we disagree with, we HAVE to do something!

Sometimes, that’s correct.  But many times we hurt our cause when we protest or boycott without a real strategy.  In those cases, it’s actually better to do nothing.  In some cases, we’ve made offensive movies even more successful because of our protest, or put an issue in the spotlight that would have been better left alone.  In others, we’ve lost credibility in the culture because of failed or poorly executed boycotts.

Boycotts and protests can be dangerous.  During a recent gay pride parade I watched a TV news organization interview an excited participant.  He was wearing – and I’m not making this up – red leather chaps, high heels, and nothing else.  In the interview he kept saying, “We’re here to let America know that we’re normal.  We’re just like you.  We’re the same as your next door neighbor.”  His message – however sincere – was seriously undercut by his outrageous wardrobe.

Passion matters, but it isn’t a substitute for brains.  Know when to speak up and when it keep silent.  There’s a good time for each.

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  1. Christians are to expected to be mocked. It is actually indicitive of being correct position scripturally according to Paul. It shouldn’t come as a suprise.

    I have enjoyed many EA games in the past, way back from the early days. (I built an 8088 and worked in the PC industry for years), but doubt that I will buy anymore of their product. I don’t really care about the “Dante” product. It more about mis-representing my faith and bearing false witness. I don’t believe I should reward that behavior with my continued patronage.

  2. I saw a Christian poster once with this: “Go ye into all the world, and if necessary, use words”. I think that sums up my thoughts fairly well.

  3. This is a great point and kudos for going against the evangelical mindset.  There is a time to speak but there is also a time to remain silent.  Our culture is much more reactive than proactive and this whole story seemed put us in the position of being a cartoon character of our selves.

    I have often seen how ineffective protest and boycot activity when it is as you say poorly thought out.  We’ll never lead culture if all we do is react to it.

  4. In John 8, when the Pharisees were trying to whip the crowds into a frenzy about the sins of an adulteress woman, Jesus decided to doodle in the sand rather than join in the histrionics…. and when people got all up in his grill about not joining the protest, he shared a few wise words and went back to doodling.  Sometimes we do more when we do less…

  5. This might be the first time anyone has used the word “histrionics” in my blog.  I love that.  🙂

  6. To concur and add to Mrs. Denim’s thought, I would like to sow some seed for thought. I might be bordering on Democratic treason here but perhaps the age old government dilema of Freedom vs Equality from a Christian perspective is rather Democracy vs Charity.
    By Democracy I mean taking up our Constitutional rights and advancing the people’s government, which involves possible stepping on some ppl. (not literally)
    By Charity I mean advocating and leading the world (Christians) as people who seek only the help & highest good of those less fortunate.

    Perhaps we would move towards being that Holy Nation & Peculiar People that Peter has written-moving toward the book of James’ description of true religion, to help the widows and the orphans.

    Just a thought; discussions are the textbooks of life!

  7. As ambassadors of Christ, I think we always need to seek a way to respond intelligently and stay engaged in public discourse, especially when our faith is misrepresented. A knee jerk response can of course be damaging to our witness but so can silence. Silence is the hallmark of apathy and a lack of love for our enemies. The Gospel is inherently offensive to those who don’t believe. We are called to be meek, not timid, there is a big difference. Speaking out in grace is surely better than doing nothing. It’s a matter of being prepared to conduct a constructive response, not simply ignore things and think thats the best one can do.

  8. Many “Christian” responses have been just as hysterical, over-the-top and missing the point as the individual you described with the bizarre attire.

    Prayer and how/where we spend–or do not spend–our money adds way more muscle to advance our values than parading around with posters or worse… 

    After Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on the bus, what caught attention was that those who needed and relied upon public transit chose to walk rather than PAY to ride the bus as their means fo protest. Obviously, assorted variables came to bear upon that segment of history that left a mark, but it wasn’t just the marching and the signs although there were many. The concerted effort to address a belief in a way that was deeply felt, not easily dismissed is what made a difference. 

    When more logic, less emotion directs the passion of our pursuits, the impact will be undeniable.   



  9. Thanks for inviting me to read your blog! It’s amazing! I’m going to share it with some folks at my church, too. Thanks for your service and wisdom. Blessings! Amy

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