Should I give a gift that I disapprove of?


Greetings brother,

I recently asked a family member (unfortunately, not now nor never a Christian, and openly disinterested in any discussion of the topic) for a list of items that she might want for a Christmas gift. The response was a list of alcoholic beverage types. I immediately asked for other ideas, as I refuse to contribute to sin. But this made me wonder, am I unreasonable, if a request like that is made, to even consider glasses or other drinkware, in that I fear that would be giving implied approval (if not outright approval)?

Just seeking validation that I'm not being too rigid (as I am accused of being if I refuse to visit family at times that would interfere with Bible studies or any other time that our church assembles).

Thank you, Brother!


A gift is something you freely give to another person, not because of an obligation, but because you want to give it. If your family member asked for a new car, you would immediately respond that you can't afford it. Since she asked for something you find unacceptable, then it would not be something you want to give. She gave you no other ideas, so if you want to get her something, you'll have to come up with your own idea.

There is nothing wrong with being steadfast in your beliefs. There is no requirement that Christians must yield to the sinful beliefs of other people. We can't force people to do what is right, and other people cannot force Christians to do what is wrong.


I fear I may not have been clear with what I felt was the most significant portion of the question.

Is it reasonable, for example, when you know that a family member partakes of alcohol and is at the point where they are requesting it as a gift from people they know do not drink, to look at things such as drinkware or gift certificates to places where goods, including alcohol, may be purchased as gifts to avoid considering? Especially when gift cards to retailers are ones I might commonly give to other family members? Basically, I fear that I may be stepping too far into the "what if" they use a gift to purchase alcohol when it could easily be used for food or tools instead. The "we can't force others to do what is right" is where I wonder if I am subtly trying to do just this. Is this a reasonable concern, or am I bordering on a form of trying to control others?


If you typically give gift cards to major retailers, then you are saying "I have no idea what to give you, so pick out your own gift." Thus, you can't control what the other person decides to buy with the money you provided. If they wish to buy something that you don't approve of, well, that is their choice, not yours.

Even if you give someone a carefully selected gift, you can't control whether they decide to return your gift and use the money to purchase something else. Again, it is their choice, not yours. You are not responsible if they make a bad choice.

Personally, I would suggest getting into the habit of picking out something special for each person. If you can't narrow it down, you can say: "I wanted to give you something to decorate your house, but I don't know what would fit well, so here is a gift card to a store that has lots of nice things. I hope you find something you like." Whether they actually use the card as you suggested would be up to them.

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