The debate on same-sex marriage continues to intensify in the United States of America. In the past year, to eat or not to eat the “Chick-Fil-A” sparked the war of words regarding the definition of marriage; this year, to drink or not to drink Starbucks coffee again ignited the combat between traditional marriage and same-sex marriage. In the face of Starbucks which endorses same-sex marriage, are Christians to drink or not to drink?
Starbucks is somewhat different from the other enterprises which support same-sex marriage. Some enterprises, in hopes to gain favor from various groups, will be more cautious when commenting on topics of marriage, and thus avoid being too loud; but Starbucks announces that same-sex marriage is established as the company’s core value, which makes people hesitant to accept their arrogance.
The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, expressed his support for same-sex marriage in the company’s annual meeting, based on the theory of “embracing diversity”. The irony is that he was not respectful to those present who held different views, and sharply retorted, saying: “If you are not happy about this, please sell your stock and leave. No one is holding you back.”
Starbucks executives supporting same-sex marriage has received many criticisms from Christians and those in support of traditional marriage. Some believers criticized that Schultz’s “embracing diversity” is fooling oneself, “To the thousands and millions of Christian believers who support the one-man-one-woman marriage, can Schultz display the same embrace?”
Starbucks supporting same-sex marriage is no news, however, to express this in a high profile fashion has sent shivers up many conservative people’s spines, and has caused some old fashioned Christian customers to harshly swear and refuse to touch even a drop of Starbucks coffee before the company apologizes. The reason is simple, “Christ or Starbucks, who do you love more?” Devout Christians would choose the former.
The National Organization for Marriage is also launching boycotting action against Starbucks. The organization felt that Starbucks, as an influential American company, must be responsible for its words and actions; same-sex marriage is negatively influencing society in the long run, and thus supporters for traditional marriage should use boycotting action to let Starbucks bear the consequences of its fault in speech.
However, a boycotting action initiated by word of mouth is not an easy task. Those who are familiar with the US should know that Americans can not eat chicken, but cannot not drink coffee, especially for many who find Starbucks coffee’s aroma irresistible.
Surely, not all evangelical Christians agree with the boycott against the radical Starbucks. Russel Moore (President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) expressed in an article unequivocal opposition towards blindly following the boycotting action.
Moore clarified that opposing the boycotting action did not mean that there was something wrong with the boycotting action itself; however, he felt that boycotting was not a way that was the closest to the Bible’s teachings. He worried that boycotting might turn sour easily, turning the battle on the value of marriage into a tug-of-war involving the economy and other forces.
Taking a step back, even if supporters for traditional marriage succeed in forcing Starbucks to back down, will the internal supporters of homosexuality within Starbucks truly and sincerely give up? Because of this, to him, Christians should not use radical avenues such as boycotting action to protect traditional marriage. They should live out the Gospel and hold onto long-term marriage relationships to thoroughly win people’s hearts.
However, there are voices which criticize Moore’s theory being too idealistic. Looking at the gloomy scene of today’s Christianity in the US, where mainstream Christian Churches and seminaries are controlled by liberal theology. Liberal theology in turn is the soil that cultivates homosexuality. More and more mainstream Churches will deviate from and betray the way to support same-sex marriage.
Looking at evangelical Churches, there is zero growth in numbers according to an updated survey. Even if there is growth, it is very miniscule. American Protestant Churches continue to decline, and the influential power of evangelical Christians is also decreasing, leading to emergent situations in many Christian families. Without another major American revolution, Moore’s theory would remain theoretical.
There are some who feel that using boycotting action to protect traditional marriage is neither right nor wrong, depending on whom you talk to. It depends on personal choice and what touches a person’s heart through prayers.
These voices point out the limitations of boycotting action: “There are signs showing that more and more big companies are openly supporting same-sex marriage. Should Christians then uniformly boycott these companies?”
Using the IT industry as an example, through online searches, both Microsoft and Apple Personal Software companies as well as many Smart phone manufacturers are supporting same-sex marriage in their own ways. Theoretically, Christians should unitedly boycott all these companies. “But if we think about it, without Apple and Microsoft, which company can conveniently provide for us to use?”
This shows that whether or not to drink Starbucks coffee has stumped many American Christians. Early as the presidential election of last year: should one pick Obama, the self-claimed Christian who supports same-sex marriage and abortion, or should one pick Romney, the Mormon who respects life and traditional marriage? This question has posed a dilemma for many Christians.
For this, the President of the New York Association of Traditional Marriage of a man and a woman (Tony C. Wong) expressed his views to this newspaper. He expressed that before every Christian entered a sacred vote, he or she should fervently pray before God for wisdom, place all the results in the hands of God, and trust that God holds all the power.
To those Christians who are currently struggling with whether or not to drink Starbucks coffee, Wong’s words may be a good reference for them. However, the key to the issue is on, “In the face of the tempting aroma of Starbucks coffee, have you prayed about this fervently?”
[Editor's note: Carol Lee contributed to the article.]