The Narrow Gate

Recently,Target stores made the news by announcing their policy that “We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity. Everyone deserves to feel like they belong.” Their policy means that if a man “feels like a woman” today, they can simply walk into a woman’s restroom or dressing room, where our daughters, wives, sisters, or mothers may be. Target’s policy started a firestorm online where, as of today, over 1.2 million people signed an online pledge to boycott Target until the policy is changed.

Boycotting Target would be a start to reclaiming a sense of national morality and common sense. But why stop there? Let’s boycott the companies that directly fund Planned Parenthood. That would be over 38 companies including AT&T, Verizon, Starbucks, Tostitos, United Way, the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, Converse, Nike, Microsoft, Pepsi, Macy’s, and Johnson & Johnson. But let’s not stop there. There’s around 400 companies that support same-sex marriage, so let’s boycott them too. Amazon, Apple, eBay, Coca-Cola, CVS, GE, Google, Chase, Bank of America, Twitter, Facebook, DirectTV, Walt Disney, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb… the list goes on.

It should be clear that boycotting every company that supports things that we as Catholic Christians oppose would be a virtually impossible chore. A comprehensive list of companies to avoid doing business with would easily number in the thousands. Boycotting all these companies would range from the minor inconvenience of driving a few extra miles to go to a different store, to living without a phone, a computer, and life-saving medicine – things we need every day in today’s society.

But can we just simply continue to blindly do business with these companies and shrug our shoulders? There is a blog entry by a Pentecostal preacher’s wife, who said that she loves Target and will continue to shop at Target because she loves their home goods section, especially their candles. And she said it’s not a problem because she is following God’s law and she has the Holy Spirit inside her.

But is that enough? Isn’t that like the man who approached Jesus and said he has kept God’s laws, and when Jesus told him that to enter the kingdom of God the man would have to sell everything, the man chose to place his earthly possessions over eternal life? By Target and others making policies against God’s laws, they are complicit in the sin which they are condoning. By giving them our business, are we not just as complicit? By giving Target our money when we have a choice to go elsewhere, are we not also condoning sinful behavior because we like their candles? Are we not condoning sin for the sake of convenience? And if so, are we not also subject to the same judgement as the sinner, as Saint Paul tells us in the first chapter of Romans?

Those who are charged with leading a flock which God has given them — whether as a Pentecostal preacher’s wife or as a Catholic husband and father — are charged with ensuring their flock is not led astray. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7: “If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” So how do we find it? And how do we lead our flock through the narrow gate by our own example?

It is easy to give into the temptations of this world, even if it’s as simple as a can of your favorite soft drink or picking up your cell phone. The way to destruction is indeed spacious, and very easy to walk. But we find the narrow gate through self awareness, by being ever mindful that even though we may have the Spirit in us, we are still sinners, and that there are times that we condone sin for the sake of convenience. We find the narrow gate by always remaining aware that we are nothing but flawed servants, by remembering that God has chosen to bless us with His grace despite those flaws, by remaining humble servants who remember to ask God for forgiveness, and by giving thanks for His mercy. And we find the narrow gate by remembering that we all have a flock to lead, and that we are charged with caring for our flock, and for leading them well.