You may have heard recently that the state of Washington approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriages. Washington becomes the seventh state in the union to legally recognize marriage between gay couples.
You may also have heard that a pastor in California is calling for Christians to boycott Starbucks because the Seattle based company came out in support of the law. The pastor has accused Starbucks of hating God because of the company’s support. His “biblical basis” for this is a brief statement in Romans 1:30 that has nothing to do with homosexuality or even coffee for that matter.
The pastor is the head of an organization called USA Christian Ministries which as far as I can tell seems to exist for the sole purpose of making the USA a Christian nation. In an article on his website in which he calls for the boycott he claims that laws such as the one passed in Washington state “remove American’s Christian freedoms.” He thinks that Starbucks has chosen to follow Satan.
There are so many directions in which I could take this and I am sure that what I have to say will satisfy no one. And the nature of a blog is that you only post short pieces. But I want to express a little bit of my thoughts on this topic.
First, with all due respect to the good pastor, he has taken the passage out of context. True in Romans 1:24-27 Paul does mention homosexual sex. But Paul is NOT connecting these individuals to the God-haters. In fact, what Paul has done in this chapter is to detail what happens when God releases his wrath against “all godlessness” (1:18). Paul’s basic point is that when God decides to let humanity have its own way it becomes quite a mess. Paul describes lots of different types of people in this chapter and they are all people who refused to give glory to God. Among the other things Paul details in his vice list here are greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, arrogance, boastfulness, and the disobedience towards parents (1:29-30). The “God haters” statement is tucked in the middle of these other labels and is just one type of person Paul is taking aim at. It certainly is not a label for anyone who acts contrary to God. If that was the case then I would be one of those “haters” since I am guilty of all those things. So it is wrong to simply rip two words from a list and apply it to Starbucks or anyone else for that matter. Paul’s list is much more encompassing and it has something for all of us to feel guilty about.
Second, I am unsure why this pastor seems to feel the need to issue judgment on Starbucks which, to the best of my knowledge, is not a church and does not claim to be a Christian organization. If the pastor is concerned with the sex lives of those outside of the church I suggest that he reread what Paul has to say about this in 1 Corinthians 5. There Paul deals with a situation in the church in which a man is apparently sleeping with his step-mother. Paul tells the church to deal with the problem and put the man out. But then he makes an interesting statement in 5:12. He tells the Corinthians that they should worry about those inside the church and not those outside. The church needs to take care of its own business and let God take care of the rest. I would suggest that a boycott of Starbucks is an attempt to do usurp God’s job. We should deal with our own issues in the church and when we see the world acting in a way that is contrary to scripture we should not be surprised.
Finally, I wonder how boycotting Starbucks is showing the love of God to the barista behind the counter. I suspect that most people at Starbucks don’t make a lot of money and I also suspect that they had no say in the company’s decision to support the Washington law. Most of them are trying to make ends meet. How would a successful boycott impact these people? The pastor aims to make Starbucks lose 80% of their customer base. But what about the people who depend upon their job? What are they learning about a Christianity that would seek to prevent innocent people from paying their bills? And what about love toward gays and lesbians some of whom are Christians? Where is the love of Christ from the church for them? It is ironic that among the vices Paul lists in Romans 1 is the lack of love and mercy (1:31). I find it interesting that the some are choosing to call Starbucks “God Haters” when they themselves have no love or mercy towards those outside of the church.
So where does this leave me? Well I don’t know if Jesus drinks coffee, but if he does I think he would probably drink it in Starbucks. Jesus seems to have had a reputation for hanging around with the wrong kind of people. But he also showed much love and mercy towards those people. It was for those who were on the inside that he had some rather harsh things to say. I think I will continue to drink Starbucks.