Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message of his support for gay marriage at the annual shareholders meeting last Wednesday in Seattle, telling an investor if he disagrees he should sell his shares and invest in some other company. This statement has created quite a stir among Christians on Facebook and other Social Medias. Although I don't agree with Mr. Schultz's opinions on marriage, I would like to take this opportunity to weigh in on an issue that I believe has plagued the Christian Church for some time.
The problem is this; most people outside of the church are more familiar with what Christians stand against than what we stand for. I know it's important for believers to make a stand for righteousness. However, Jesus made a major point to a group of Pharisees who were making a "stand for righteousness" against a woman caught in adultery. He said to them, "He who is without sin cast the first stone." In other words, we cannot demand perfection in the life of another when we ourselves are far from perfect. And we should not ever be shocked when the lost act like they're lost!
The Pharisees were notorious for their unrealistic demands for perfection, even boycotting the "sinners" and proudly labeling them as outcasts. Jesus treated these outsiders differently. He shamelessly befriended Matthew and Zacchaeus, both of whom had betrayed their Jewish roots to collect taxes on behalf of Rome. It was common practice for these tax collectors to take more from their countrymen than what Rome required so that they could line their own pockets. These men were known for their corruption and vile business practices, yet Jesus associated with them and even made Matthew one of his twelve disciples. Jesus was often seen in the company of these outcasts, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, zealots and other notable sinners. This wasn't common behavior for a "religious" teacher.
Before we react to Mr. Schultz's comments by boycotting his company we should consider Jesus' example and follow his instructions in Matthew 5:14-15, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."
Darkness is simply the absence of light, therefore it makes sense that if we are the light of the world we should not remove ourselves from the dark places but instead invade them. A candle does not impact a room full of light, yet if you turn the lights off that same candle will brighten the entire room. We were not instructed by Jesus to boycott places where there is darkness, we were commissioned to go to them and be the light!
Am I endorsing Christians to frequent Starbucks? Not necessarily, and that's not my point. My point is simply to make us think as Christians before we react to reports like these. We need to make decisions and choose our battles in light of our mission - the great commission - and ask ourselves if taking a stand against Howard Schultz and Starbucks will help or hinder our ability to lead more people to Jesus?
Question: Do you think Christians should avoid Starbucks and other companies that make stands for gay marriages?