March 24, 2013

Would Jesus Boycott Starbucks?

My Facebook news feed has erupted with the rapidly-spreading story of Howard Schultz's (Starbucks CEO) apparent stance of supporting gay marriage, and how Starbucks as a company recently endorsed a same-sex marriage bill in the State of Washington.

Some of the more sensationalized headlines have said things like "Starbucks CEO: If you support traditional marriage, we don't want your business." Lots of people, predominantly Christian conservatives, are calling for an all-out boycott of the entire Starbucks company as a result. It seems they are not at all happy with the fact that their beloved coffee chain could commit such a grievous moral travesty as this (after all, Starbucks is practically in the Bible, right??). What other choice could there possibly be but by retaliating with a boycott (and a bunch of clamoring on Facebook about it)?

Well, for one, they could not boycott Starbucks (or they go about it quietly and personally, if it really goes against their conscience). I personally tend to think that a boycott is one of the worst things we Christians could do, because in no way does it lead anyone to know or see the love of Christ working in us and through us. Allow me to explain...

First Things First: The Facts
Let's begin by first getting something straightened out. What did Howard Schultz (and Starbucks) actually say or do that has prompted this uproar? Here is a video of exactly what happened. You can't get anything more accurate than that, really. Schultz never said "If you support traditional marriage, we don't want your business." However, he did declare that Starbucks openly supports "diversity" in marriage law (i.e., same-sex marriage), and the company did indeed endorse a bill supporting gay marriage in Washington. At this 2013 shareholder meeting, one of the shareholders questioned this decision by Schultz, pointing out that since Starbucks took this position publicly, boycotts have caused some drops in sales figures. Schultz responded, and said basically that if the shareholder wasn't happy with this, he was free to sell his stocks and go invest in some other company. That's hardly anything astounding or sensational.

Okay, So Starbucks DOES Support Same-Sex Marriage Then, Right?
Yes, that is correct. And by that definition, so do these other companies too (I've highlighted some of the more notable ones in red letters):
Abercrombie & Fitch source
Adobe Systems
Aetna source
Akamai Technologies source
Allstate Insurance
American Apparel
American Airlines
Banana Republic
Barnes & Noble source
Ben & Jerry's source
Best Buy & Geek Squad
Boeing source
Cablevision source
Cisco Systems source
The Coca-Cola Company
Concur Technologies
Delta Airlines
Dropbox source
eBay source
Electronic Arts
EMC Corporation
Facebook source
General Mills
General Motors
Goldman Sachs source
Google source
Hewlett-Packard source
Hilton Worldwide
The Home Depot
Houghton Mifflin source
Intel source
Intuit source
J.C. Penney source
J.D. Power & Associates
The Jim Henson Company (Muppets) source
Kraft Foods
Land's End
LinkedIn source
Marriott Hotels
Marsh & McLennan Companies source
McGraw-Hill source
Morgan Stanley source
Nationwide Insurance
NCR Corporation source
Old Navy
Olive Garden
Office Depot
Oracle source
Panasonic source
Procter and Gamble
RealNetworks, Inc.
Red Lobster
Rite Aid source
Standard & Poors
Southwest Airlines
Sun Life Financial source
State Farm Insurance
United Airlines
Verizon Communications source
Vulcan Inc.
The Walt Disney Company
Wells Fargo
Xerox source
Zynga source
(Please note that this list is far from being totally comprehensive. But hopefully you get the idea.)

The Problems With Boycotting
The first problem with a boycott of Starbucks because of their stance on gay marriage is that it is inherently selective and hypocritical, unless you are also willing to boycott ALL of these other companies as well. Why single out only Starbucks, while continuing to post status updates on Facebook with quotes read from books on your Amazon Kindle that you bought at Target on the way home from dinner at The Olive Garden a few nights ago in your Ford Taurus that you also spilled your Pepsi in last week because you were talking on your Verizon cell phone while pulling out of the Costco parking lot after church on Sunday? Well?

The second problem, and perhaps the one that gets much more to the heart of the matter, is that it only serves to further embitter same-sex marriage supporters against Christians, and vice-versa; while doing NOTHING to show off the fact that Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1st Timothy 1:15).

Straight Talk
The fact of the matter is, all sin is evil in God's eyes. Sin is, quite simply, the transgression of God's righteous and holy Law, laid out clearly and unequivocally in the Scriptures; and every man and woman on the earth is guilty of sinning. While it is true that the Bible defines homosexuality as one of the several types of sexual sin, it sees self-righteousness as something even worse. Christians, more than any other people group, ought to be the ones most aware of how much sin they themselves have been forgiven of; and consequently, the ones most eager to do as Jesus did: go and meet sinners where they are, befriend them, and tell them about the realities of sin, and the hope that the Gospel offers them. We shouldn't be demonizing secular companies and people who aren't even Christians for not holding to morals that are inherently Christian in nature. There's no love in that kind of behavior. Instead, we need to be talking with people about the truth of sin and the reality of grace; pleading with them to examine the story of the cross for themselves, and to see their sin in light of the holiness of God. If He so chooses to quicken their hearts, the Holy Spirit will take care of convicting them of their sin. After all, that's His job, not ours.

Would Jesus boycott Starbucks? I personally don't think so. In fact, I would actually be quite confident that if Jesus was physically here walking around our towns today, Starbucks might be one of the many places that He specifically would visit to to talk with people about the Gospel. I don't think it's too unrealistic to imagine Him buying coffee for a group of people and sitting them down to talk with them about the Kingdom of God, the condition of their souls, the reality and consequences of sin, and their need for salvation.

Mark 2:15-17
And as [Jesus] reclined at the table in Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Shouldn't we go and do likewise?

If you want to dig just a little deeper, also check out this article called "Are You a Friend of Sinners?"

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention the millions of dollars that starbucks spends each year on ethical farming, fair wages, and education for rural communities world wide. You'd be hard pressed to find a company that serves those around them with as much vigor as starbucks. Boycotting over a life style choice has the potential to cost those relying on the ethical coffee industry their livelihood. Now, is that what Jesus would do?