Will I be dumping Starbucks?

Probably not.

Now, I can sense the blood pressure rising in most of the people reading this. That is, if it is the usual crew. Yes, I did hear what the CEO of Starbucks said, and I do understand their stance on same-sex marriage. And no, my views on this issue have not changed. My prayer is that personal reasons never shift my view on something when I feel the Bible has an authoritative stance on that issue. In all things, I want the Bible, not culture or my own feelings (or even my own reason and logic) to be the source of my beliefs.

Yet, I will not be boycotting Starbucks. If you will permit me to explain, I will share my thoughts on this whole fiasco. Do not read this as condemnation to those who have in good conscience chosen to boycott Starbucks. The issue is simply too complex for one post, so I will start with some thoughts about the problem, and in the next post, I will provide my humble suggestions for a better way. In short though, I think I can sum up the problem in one sentence.

We are fighting the wrong war.

The church has been promised victory, and we fight a battle that has already been won. Nevertheless, Ephesians 6 tells us we must put on the armor of God and charge off against evil for the sake of the kingdom unto the glory of Christ. In the gospels, Jesus told the disciples that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. Note that it is offensive language Jesus uses. Gates do not move. If the church stands against the gates of hell, it is because we fought our way to them!

That being said, we are promised a victory in a war I feel we are failing to fight, trading it in for one we prefer, namely the battle for the American subculture and government.

Brothers and sisters, are we on the wrong battlefield?

On the first day of class this semester, I walked into the wrong classroom and sat down awaiting the instructor. If you have ever done that, you know how embarrassing it is when the realization sinks in and you get up and walk out.

I fear the church may find itself fighting tooth and nail on the wrong battlefield, plunging all our might into a war for something temporary instead of something eternal. Are we more concerned with the control of a fleeting cultural kingdom than the eternal heavenly one?

If so, we are not promised victory in that battle. As a matter of fact, it is one we are most certainly poised to lose.

We stand at a crossroads today where we must ask ourselves some tough questions. What are we fighting for? Are we fighting for the advance of the gospel or to maintain our traditions? Are we fighting to loose sin’s grip on the world or for the dominance of our political beliefs? Are we fighting to bring glory to God or glory to our way of life?

I pray that we do not lose the war for souls, by struggling for control in the culture war.

Quickly, let me say I am not advocating a change in our stance on the issue of same-sex marriage. Where the Bible speaks, I say we must speak. But you can say the right thing in the wrong way!

In my estimation, for many (I would certainly not say all) adamant about a boycott of Starbucks, this is a battle to prove their side is more powerful. It is a battle for control.

Remember Chick-fil-a?

Less than a year ago, my Facebook feed was filled with people decrying the ignorance and hypocrisy of gay rights activists who were calling for a boycott on Chick-fil-a. Facebook statuses everywhere said it was unfair to treat them that way, and that they should be allowed, as a private company, to make those kinds of decisions.

It was a political battle clothed in religious freedom, and swarms of good ol’ conservative Americans rushed to their side to prove that they were still more powerful than the gay rights activists. (Note the way I worded that.)

And they won. Chick-fil-a made money off that boycott. People started eating there because of the boycott!

Now, we have a company in the exact same situation. The only difference is where they stand on the issue. Do I agree with them? No. Do I think they have the right if Chick-fil-a does? Unfortunately, yes.

Furthermore, I fear many of the same people saying that a gay rights boycott of Chick-fil-a was wrong are calling out for a boycott of Starbucks.

If that is the case, this boycott is not about sin or the gospel. It is also not about religious freedom. It is about a particular political worldview wanting to win and not wanting the other side to have the same control.

And from a purely pragmatic stance, conservatives boycotting Starbucks will most likely have the same result as gay rights activists boycotting Chick-fil-a. The company will make money as its gay rights supporters are galvanized to support the company that stands up for them. It will be seen as a victory for gay rights.

Are we being consistent?

Not only does the evangelical response to Chick-fil-a stand at odds with how many are now acting toward Starbucks. In truth, we are proving ourselves to be terribly inconsistent with this issue.

Bullies pick out one person from a crowd and pick on them.

We saw this during the presidential inauguration when certain gay rights groups cried foul on Louie Giglio when he was set to pray publicly at the event. Now, certainly, many men who have shared Giglio’s stance have stood in that role, and in other roles of similar prominence. However, it was an act of bullying to pick him out of the crowd of people with his view and slam him like they did.

But, be wary of your stance on boycotting organizations that support gay rights. Today, most companies do. They are simply not as vocal as the CEO of Starbucks at that stock meeting. Fact is, if you are actually boycotting Starbucks based on values and you only want to spend your money in support of companies that share those, then you will need to make a lot of changes.

First, you will need to unplug your television and cut off your Internet. The providers of that programming, and most likely the service itself, are in the same camp with Starbucks. So are most restaurants, fast food and otherwise, so you would likely need to stop eating out. Then again, many, if not most of the major grocery chains, are favorable of same-sex benefits, so it may become hard to find groceries as well. I could go on, but you get the point.

Are we simply picking out one company to make a martyr for their cause? If so, this actually hurts our stance more than helps it. It smacks of hypocrisy.

A better way.

So, is there a solution to this? I think the answer is yes, but most people will probably not like my conclusion.

In order to win the right war, sometimes we have to stop focusing on the wrong one. Sometimes, it is best to lose a battle in order to win a war. And I fear that our insistence on fighting so hard in the cultural war is causing us to lose the eternal war in our own backyard.

What good comes from gaining the top of the cultural mountain; if in gaining it, you have lost the ear of the very people you are trying to reach? Our task is not cultural superiority. It is gospel proclamation.

Remember this? “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Mt 28:18-20).

That is the real war, and we must do everything we can to see that we charge the gates of hell in that battle.  In the next post, we will look at how to engage this issue on the right battlefield.

Stay tuned…

Update:  The conclusion is now posted and you can read it here: A better way: An alternative to dumping Starbucks

8 Comments

  1. Rachel said:

    Thank you! I was trying to articulate this exact idea yesterday to someone and was really failing to get these points across as well as you did. I totally agree.

    March 27, 2013
    Reply
    • Keelan said:

      You’re very welcome. It is a complex issue, and navigating the waters between standing up for biblical principles and demonstrating love for those who disagree with us is just going to get trickier I’m afraid. Thanks for the feedback!

      March 27, 2013
      Reply
  2. Erin said:

    Here is the problem I have with the Christians who are now saying, “Let’s give up the fight against gay marriage and hope that we can share the Gospel with gays in the future”: By acquiescing to the gay community and telling them they have a right to be married, we are telling them their lifestyle is just as good and valid as anyone else’s, and there is no need to change. If the Christian community becomes silent on this issue, it’s the same as agreeing with the gay rights activists. I don’t think people should be hateful and start gay bashing, since that doesn’t reflect the attitude of Christ, but Christ wasn’t afraid to call people out on their sinful lifestyles, and he never stayed silent in the hopes that people might like him or listen to him in the future. You may not be saying we should give up opposing gay marriage, just the boycott of Starbucks, but the line of reasoning is the same. While it is true that we don’t always know who supports gay marriage and who doesn’t (in terms of companies), if a company comes out and says, “We support and encourage gay marriage”, it is up to every Christian to decide if they want to continue to support that company. I personally never drink coffee, so I don’t really care what happens to Starbucks, but after I found out Ben & Jerry’s had “gay marriage” flavors, I had qualms about buying their ice cream. Will my purchase of another brand make Ben & Jerry’s go under? No. Will they even know I’ve stopped buying their product? No. Will God personally congratulate me when I get to heaven because I stopped eating something that wasn’t good for me in the first place? I sincerely doubt it. I don’t doubt, however, that I am doing the right thing by spending my money elsewhere. I can’t subscribe to the “If you can’t beat them, and don’t want to join them, just sit back and do nothing” approach.

    March 27, 2013
    Reply
    • Keelan said:

      I can certainly respect the points you are making in your argument. It is by no means an easy dilemma we find ourselves in now. Also, I do respect the decision to boycott, if it is made with proper motives. This post is not ultimately about a stance on same-sex marriage (I oppose it as vehemently as you.), it is about hijacking biblical morals as ammunition to try to take culture back and “rewind the clock” to a time when the conservative Christian view (and therefore its adherents) were in control.

      And, you are correct, in assuming my course of action is not to “give up opposing gay marriage.” In all things, I think we must maintain the biblical view of marriage. I will talk more about that in the next post (I just didn’t have room to cover it in this one.) I also do not think we should remain silent. We are people with news to deliver, good news at that. And, the issue of marriage is one that is tied closely to the gospel. So closely that marriage is possibly our greatest day-to-day symbol of the relationship Christ shares with the church. In no way should we be silent on that issue!

      However, as I said in the post, there is a wrong way to say the right thing. Personally, I think we focus far more on trying to tear down the other argument when it comes to same-sex marriage and way to little on trying to articulate a positive view of biblical marriage. Note, I said biblical marriage… not cultural Christian marriage. Currently, we’ve done such a poor job of doing marriage right in the church, that we’ve all but lost a real definition of marriage. Honestly, the ills of divorce (which are talked about at least as much as homosexuality in Scripture) are far more pervasive and devastating to our country currently than the threat of same-sex marriage. That issue has already taken a massive toll on the sanctity of marriage, and is clearly (in almost all instances we see in the States) as unbiblical as same-sex marriage. Yet, we remain largely silent because the people in our pews are getting divorced as fast as the unbelievers in the world around us. If we put our force behind proactively claiming a clear view of biblical marriage (which would exclude same-sex marriage as well as a host of other things) instead of a reactive stance of trying to attack lost people for acting like lost people, I think we would have something to offer the culture instead of merely telling them what they are doing is wrong. Jesus did, in fact, call people out for their sin (and we should too), but he did it while sitting around a table with tax collectors and sinners (as we should)… not standing outside their house with a picket sign.

      At the end of the day, I am as opposed to doing nothing as you are. I think action is called for in the issue of same-sex marriage, along with a host of other points where a biblical worldview cuts across the grain of the current culture. I just want us to be thoughtful about which war we are fighting.

      Again, your concerns are valid, and I wrestle through those myself. I do appreciate your input on this serious matter. Thanks for commenting!

      March 27, 2013
      Reply
  3. Amy said:

    I admit, as a Christian, I struggle with this issue. I not agree with same sex marriages but I also believe in freedome of choice. After all, don’t I get to choose how I sin every day? While I may not personally agree with same sex marriages, I do believe that God calls us to love, not condemn; to speak truth with love and be imitators of Christ.

    When I think of this particular issue, I think of the Woman at the Well story. Jesus tells her flat out…I KNOW you, I KNOW what you have done, I LOVE you, I DON’T want you to sin any more; But I LOVE you anyway and I am YOURS when you want me (btw-same thing He has told me). He didn’t agree with her lifestyle but He didn’t grab her by the scruff of her neck, help her pack up her things and move out. Jesus didn’t give her an ‘or else’. He didn’t tell her that she better stop sinning and realize He was the messiah. He gently told her the truth, her lifestyle wasn’t pleasing to him and that if she wanted Him, she would have to choose to stop her sin. Then He just stayed available.

    And I feel that we, as Christians, need to stop trying to force Jesus down throats and model the gospels. Speak simple, gentle words and be available to continue to love.

    1Kings 19 — God was not in the earthquake, the fire or the storm. He was in the whisper.

    March 27, 2013
    Reply
    • Keelan said:

      It is a tough issue indeed! And it gets even cloudier when we try to balance out our biblical faith with our cultural freedoms. I get that.

      Your example is spot on with the woman at the well. Never once do we see Jesus condone sin. Never once, do we see him accept sin as somehow okay. He always calls to a life of holiness. But, he does so with clear love for those whom he calls. We must never shy back from proclaiming truth, even in the discussion of marriage. However, we must make sure that our conversation is so seasoned with love that we are being an example of Christ to the culture we speak against.

      Good thoughts!

      March 27, 2013
      Reply
  4. Jerry said:

    It’s not about the war. It’s about how you spend the money that God has entrusted and I want to be a good steward of God’s money!
    I know there are so many companies that we don’t know what they are supporting for. But since I know what Starbucks is supporting and sadly enough they choose to support same sex marriage instead of fighting cancer anymore then I don’t want any dime to go to Starbucks!
    Remember Luke 12:48 “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

    March 29, 2013
    Reply
    • Keelan said:

      Jerry,

      Thank you for your comment. And, I completely understand seeing this as a stewardship issue. Like I said in the post, I certainly do not want to come across as condemning someone who has prayerfully considered the issue and does not want to put their money toward a company that uses their resources that way. I get that and applaud someone who abstains from using their resources in that manner.

      I would encourage someone who takes that stance to be consistent, though. Many more companies nowadays are in favor of same-sex marriage than are not. If someone’s reason for boycotting Starbucks is not giving their resources to that cause, but he or she is not willing to do that with all the other companies that support it, then they are being terribly inconsistent. It will almost certainly be seen by others as hypocritical and then it becomes a witness issue.

      Again, I do appreciate your stance on the matter. It should not be faulted. Thanks so much for your insight.

      March 29, 2013
      Reply

Leave a Reply