This post has a high chance of offending many different types of people. I will do my best, however, to be as inoffensive as the English language will allow.
A couple years ago, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, officially stated the support of Starbucks for the legalization of gay marriage. In response to this, Christians, and other supporters of traditional marriage, began boycotting Starbucks, choosing to satisfy their caffeine urges elsewhere. Is this a proper response?
In short, I would say no, this is not a proper response, and I will get into why. But first, I would like to talk a bit more about coffee, which has undoubtedly become a staple of North American life. Many of us North Americans, in fact, cannot begin to imagine a morning that starts without a brew of caffeine. For many people, however, the evils that occur at the production level remain hidden. Coffee production, unfortunately, is often surrounded with underpaid workers, enslaved people, and child labor. Coffee bean producers that use such methods usually sell their coffee to traders, who then sell them to major coffee providers such as Folgers and Tim Hortons– making these and other chains indirect supporters of slavery and child labor. To avoid this, however, coffee drinkers can purchase fair-trade coffee, which is not a fool-proof method; there are legitimate criticisms of the fair-trade system, but for this post I will not get into these critiques. Fair-trade coffee is, nonetheless, a step in the right direction.
Starbucks, as you should know, is fair-trade certified.
With all this said, where would Jesus drink his coffee? If Jesus were physically here today and stood before a Starbucks and a Tim Hortons, which would he go to? The Tim Hortons, which indirectly supports child labor and slavery? Or the Starbucks, which unquestionably and unrelentingly supports gay marriage? In turn, where should Christians go for their coffee? Does any of this even make a difference?
While I certainly agree with many of my fellow Christians that homosexuality is a sin (for any gays readings this, I too am a sinner in need of grace, and I sincerely care about you as a person) I disagree with those who think we should respond to Starbucks with a boycott. Such a response, in fact, would do nothing. Sin will continue until the end; we cannot end homosexuality by boycotting a coffee chain. What we can end, however, is slavery. Discontinuing our support of a business which enables slavery and child labor is not fruitless.
Beyond all this, are we consistent? If we’re to boycott Starbucks, why not also boycott other companies that support gay marriage, such as Google and Apple? Both of which, I am sure, many of you are supporting simply by reading this post through iPads, iPhones, Google searches, and Chrome. Sinners support sinners, and boycotting them for doing so will not stop that.
Christ appearing to the world through the church, drawing all to the Father, is the way to truly change things. For this to occur, however, the church must go to sinners. So where would Jesus grab coffee? The Jesus I know from Scripture, and from my own faith-walk, would not be sitting with hipster Christians and Baptist-Bible thumpers at the local Timmies; he would probably be sitting with the transgender prostitute at Starbucks, a Starbucks filled with homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, drag queens, and every sort of person—drawing them to the Father and explaining the imminence of God’s Kingdom.