Is it ethical for Christians to participate in Black Friday?
That was a question that was put to many of us on twitter today! My thoughts: Black Friday is just a hyper-expression of what we participate in every day as Americans who live in a consumer culture. If you don’t have a problem living your life this way the rest of the year, don’t let the over-the-top consumer experience of Black Friday keep you from being a consumer today! If you plan to make Christmas about stuff, whether or not you participate in Black Friday is irrelevant. WHEN you engage in unbridled consumerism and materialism in the name of Jesus is less important than THAT you participate.
One of the things I really like about the over-the-top, a woman pepper sprayed a crowd in LA trying to get an Xbox, experience of Black Friday is that it actually shows clearly what our culture is really about all the time. We make a big deal out of the early opening stores, the loss-leader deals on consumer products, the carnival atmosphere, and so on… Just don’t forget that Wal-Mart, the largest consumer retail store chain in the world, NEVER closes! They are open 24 hours a day every day of the year. You can shop there whenever you want to. They have almost anything you need, from flat screens to car tires to produce! They invented loss-leader marketing. What we see and pay attention to on Black Friday is actually what we engage in the other days of the year.
Sometimes it takes a hyper-expression of a particular value system for us to see it for what it really is. The ideology that undergirds Black Friday is pervasive and nearly universal in America. Whether or not you participate in Black Friday, you participate in Black Everyday! That’s why not participating in Black Friday really doesn’t change anything. Go ahead, stay home! As long as you spend $500 on gifts between now and Christmas, the system doesn’t care when you buy those gifts.
I won’t be shopping on Black Friday! But it’s not because I don’t participate in the consumer aspects of an American Christmas. It’s because I don’t like crowds and the stuff I like is usually not in malls anyway.