I do not support the LGBT lobby’s effort to redefine the word marriage. Marriage has always indicated a union of a man and woman which could bring children of that union into the world. Christians like me believe this is by divine decree, but even the order of nature and the long history of social conscience throughout the world support this definition of marriage.
But neither do I support the call from some Christian quarters to boycott Starbucks because of their support for redefining the historical definition of marriage.
For example, The National Organization for Marriage website, dumpstarbucks.com, claims that, “A portion of every cup of coffee purchased at a Starbucks anywhere in the world goes to fund this corporate assault on marriage.”
But this inflammatory language could be said about any morally legitimate business that also held non-Christian values. We are not talking here about an illegitimate business built on slave labor or other forms of exploitation. Where should the boycotting end?
Here are seven reasons Christians shouldn’t boycott Starbucks or any morally legitimate business:
1. A Christian boycott of Starbucks is just another misguided attempt to “Christianize” society without setting Christ before it. (Previous attempts were made by Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, and violently, by the Spanish Inquisition.)
2. A Christian boycott of Starbucks is based on the naive assumption that our secular society should share our Christian values, and is childishly offended when it doesn’t. But, why would we expect non-Christians to think christianly, when they reject Christ? And, more importantly, how would a boycott encourage them to reconsider Christ?
3. A Christian boycott of Starbucks would have no place in the Apostolic church. Paul taught that Christians were free to buy and eat the meat of animals that had been slaughtered on the altars of pagan temples. His mission was to preach Christ to a society of idolaters, and he was sometimes stoned for it. He did not start a boycott of pagan altar meat.
4. A Christian boycott of Starbucks is an attempt to bind the consciences of Christians beyond the law of Christ — a
trespass on their Christian liberty. Individual Christians may freely choose not to give Starbucks their business, but any Christian organization calling for a boycott by Christians is betraying a deficient understanding of the gospel and the Great Commission.
5. A Christian boycott of Starbucks reinforces the social perception that Christians are hateful homophobes, not objectors with a persuasive and positive counter-argument, thus contributing to the Church’s already rapidly eroding influence in society.
6. A Christian boycott of Starbucks can do indirect harm to Christian employees of Starbucks. Do boycotters expect them to quit? If so, would the boycotters provide alternative support or employment?
7. Most importantly, a Christian boycott of Starbucks is a poor and hopeless replacement for Christian ministry, one which ultimately undermines the mission of the Church. Christians are called to be ambassadors for Christ. The proper object of that ambassadorial ministry is the individual, not the corporation. The weapons of our ministry are the word of the gospel and the servant-Spirit of Christ in us, not our political and financial leverage.
I’m pleased that Dr. Russel Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, agreed with this view in Should Christians Boycott Starbucks?
But we don’t persuade our neighbors by mimicking their angry power-protests. We persuade them by holding fast to the gospel, by explaining our increasingly odd view of marriage, and by serving the world and our neighbors around us, as our Lord does, with a towel and a foot-bucket. — Dr. Russel Moore
So, rather than promoting an us-against-you boycott, I want to encourage Christians to take a Great Commission-centered stance, one that persuades people to reconsider the God-in-Christ-for-you message of the gospel.
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