There is a lot of debate right now concerning recent comments made by the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz. These type of cultural events always provide an opportunity for Christians to think and react in general towards sin and towards others who believe differently than we do. Unfortunately, if we aren't careful, we miss the opportunity to serve as salt and light and instead do damage to the gospel we are trying to promote.
Here some thoughts I'm using to help me maintain a good perspective on whether to continue visiting my local Starbucks.
(It should be noted that I hate coffee in general and only go to Starbucks if my wife is with me or if I have a gift card. Then I get the only drink on the menu that isn't influenced by coffee)
1. A Christian call to boycott Starbucks in this situation feels very contradictory to what Christians sought to fight against with the CFA situation brought on by Dan Cathy's comments. The outrage in that situation was over comments Dan made in support of traditional marriage. In addition, the situation became far more than it was because the comments were taken out of context. This too seems to be the case with Schultz's comments. Never does he suggest that he wants Christian customers/traditional marriage supporters to go elsewhere for their coffee. Instead, he suggests to a concerned stock holder, that if he is concerned about losing money over the company supporting same-sex marriage, he may need to look to buy stock in another company. In addition, Schultz implies the stock holder should keep his money in Starbucks because he believes the company is not suffering from it's stance on marriage. So in reality, the CEO Schultz was actually encouraging the man, who seemed mostly interested in the economic standing of his stocks, to keep his money right where it is. This is a big difference than some of the Christian headlines and Facebook posts suggesting that Starbucks has told us they no longer need our business. I am certainly not supporting his comments. But I do think it is important to clarify what he actually said.
2. Boycotting in general seems to feed the perception that Christians are judgmental towards those that don't believe like them. I believe most of the "lost" world expects people to boycott when something goes against their beliefs. In fact, Pilate was shocked when Jesus did not react to false accusations being thrown his way before His crucifixion. If the lost world is known for it's boycotts to protest not getting their way, I'd rather believers be known for handling attacks against our beliefs in a different way.
3. It's always better to evangelize those who believe differently than us than to try to force them to believe the way we do with our wallets. In addition, improving the morality of America will never produce the eternal change we say we long for in the lives of others. We have not been victorious with the gospel if we simply see same-sex marriage outlawed and the amount of same-sex couples decrease. Our task remains the same, those individuals must still believe and repent to be saved. Too often though, I'm afraid we fight for a victory that does not produce this type of change.
So what should we do?
1. We should definitely be wise stewards of the money God has entrusted to us. If one were to feel that Starbucks would be a poor use of one's money, based on standards the company holds to, I see nothing wrong with a person choosing to buy their coffee elsewhere. I'm not a fan though of the public call to boycott. It's unnecessary and unhelpful in my opinion. I personally boycott the Hooters restaurant, no matter how many times I'm told their food is good. I feel the company as a whole is degrading to women, promotes lust and ultimately is a distasteful establishment. I feel no need to call for a boycott by all Christians on this though. It's a personal stance I take in striving to be both pure in my thoughts and wise with my money and my time. I want to be a good steward with my finances and choose wisely where I choose to spend my funds. My encouragement is that you be too, as you evaluate what that means for you personally, keeping in mind, most companies that sell products we enjoy probably support some cause that we disagree with.
2. Continue to hate the sin of homosexuality. Not because we are intolerant of others but because Genesis 1 tells us that we serve a Creator who defines right and wrong for His creation. And let the hate for homosexual sin drive us to share the life giving, life altering message of Jesus Christ with those who suffer from the blindness of the god of this world.
Here is a super helpful article from Russell Moore on the issue as well.