Russell D. Moore, the President-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, recently wrote an opinion asking the question, "Should Christians Boycott Starbucks?" He answers his own question with a resounding, "NO"!
Starbucks has same-sex marriage as an openly proactive aspect of its core values. Dr. Moore mentions that a highly respected pro-marriage group is boycotting Starbucks because of that stance. He reflects that he believes it is not proper for Christians to do so, at least in this case. Many, including some of my supposed friends, have assumed that Dr. Moore is talking about AFA (American Family Association) in his article. He may be, I can't answer for him on that. But, I can catagorically state that AFA/AFR has never called for a boycott of Starbucks. With an action alert, we have informed the public about the testy exchange between the CEO of Starbucks and one of the company's conservative stock holders; the same exchange that Dr. Moore's article is based on.
I take issue with Dr. Moore's reasoning for why it is wrong for Christians to participate in a boycott of Starbucks, even though, again, I am not part of a boycott or of a group that is boycotting Starbucks. As of this moment, the ONLY boycott that the AFA is conducting is with Home Depot. You can read about that at "boycottTHEhomeDepot.com."
Moore accuses Christians who would participate in a boycott of Starbucks as, "exposing…our worst tendencies..", and of, "fighting like the devil to please the Lord." I suggest that Dr. Moore feels this way because he does not understand the total motivation for doing a boycott.
A boycott, in Dr. Moore's understanding, is nothing more than a battle of economic power. He sees using the tool of a boycott as a way of simply hurting the company economically as a method of bullying them into adopting "our" view. If we can muscle them with enough economic power to force them to stop what they're doing, that makes us the majority. So we are forcing them to adopt our "majority" view. That's his first mistake. He says that, "a boycott assumes that the rightness of a marriage definition is constituted by a majority with power….", since we are hammering that point away as the only right way to believe by our attempt to hurt them by our place in the "supposed" majority with economic power.
I will concede that if we were to boycott, we would be using the tool of economic strength to make a point. But not the point that Dr. Moore says we are trying to make.
I see a greater good that is done toward the members of the Christian community through the information and execution of a boycott. And that greater good is far more desirable than "hurting the company." As a Christian, I shouldn't have the desire to "hurt (a) company" with a boycott or anything else. As a follower of God's Word, I am to do good to those who despise me and I'm to love my enemies. A desire to simply "hurt" a company would be undesirable as a Christian.
However, I see the greater good as informing Christian consumers about trying to do something better with their economic "power" than to enable a company with the power to accomplish something that we Christians would disagree with.
We all lament the distasteful and sometimes even ungodly way our tax dollars are spent. None of us would want our tax dollars to be used to pay for abortions. But what can you do about tax appropriation other than use the fear of the ballot box to either elect someone else or motivate currently elected officials to do differently? But that is exactly what we do and how we do it. And it is right to do so! That's the same kind of "muscle" in a boycott.
A boycott gives the consumer the personal power they could never exercise with their taxes; the ability to control the influence of their financial power!
If I am a believer in the biblical definition and symbolism of traditional/natural marriage, then I don't want any of my money to help pay for the promotion and legalization of same-sex marriage! IF a company is using their profits from retail sales to promote an ungodly ideal, then it is a great benefit to me to know about it! Why? So I can give my financial resources to someone else who won't use my dollars to promote and support ungodly causes!
I would rather encourage Christians to use their economic power to help someone more congruent with their beliefs. Dr. Moore apparently sees no harm in continuing to give our support to those who WILL use that profit from the business generated by the Christian community to promote and support evil. He chooses rather, he says, to sit with a lost man and share the Gospel over a frothy Venti latte! With no apparent care that the combined profits from purchases like his sweet drink will be used to make the immoral redefinition of marriage a reality! Whatever happened to being a faithful steward of our resources? Will God be ok with us willfully making a purchase, or purchases from a business that we KNOW will use that same money we are stewards over to help create an "in your face" action against God?
He declares that if we boycott, we are, "frantic, shrill, or outraged…." and resort to, "Gentile tactics of lording over others with political majorities or economic power." But "winners," in his estimation, are able to take something he calls, "the long view," which is, in his mind, clearly the more acceptable approach. And this is where, I believe without meaning to or with malice, Dr. Moore clearly insinuates that many of us laboring in such ministries are for some reason, missing the mark entirely!
The "long view" to him, would be to focus on change by holding fast to the Gospel, by explaining our exalted view of marriage, and by serving our neighbors around us. We further will win this argument, he says, by not boycotting but by explaining! Explaining to our friends why we don't divorce and how the beautiful symbolism of marriage is all about Christ and His church. These are all tactics that NO ONE would disagree with, and in fact, many of us are doing faithfully! The hurtful insinuation is that Dr. Moore assumes that if one were to boycott, you couldn't be doing any of these other vaulted activities as well!
But in fact, we and many other ARE! We have been. And yet we face an increasingly hateful world, just like Jesus said we would. And same-sex marriage legalization and support does more than just redefine marriage. It forces us to stop talking about what the Bible has to say about homosexuality (I offer Canada as an example). It opens up the door to teaching my kindergarden grandsons that same-sex attraction is ok and should be explored. Why, in God's precious name, would I ever want to help pay for that outcome?
It must never be about only witnessing and praying when it comes to changing culture. But the effort to change culture should never be absent of prayer and witness, either! Jesus taught both approaches are desired when attempting to change. We are to 1) Not be conformed to the culture (Rom. 12:1, 2); 2) Share the Gospel with all creation (Matt. 28; Mark 16; Luke 24); 3) Be salt and light in our world for others to see our godly behavior and thus offer praise to God who has so directed us to live accordingly (Matt. 5:13-16); and 4) We are told to "Resist the Devil!" (1 Peter 5:9); 5) We are told to "overcome evil with Good!" (Rom. 12:21) and thus a boycott should not just be about not doing business with the bad guy, but should be informative about brothers in the Lord who could use our business instead!
Boycotts give me power to use my money in ways that benefit what I most believe in. It helps me not support others who fight for what I don't believe in.
Dr. Moore says to exercise our "majority financial control" over a business is just to hurt them. Again, he couldn't be further from right about that. The goal is not to hurt them but to change them. And that is what Christians should be busy about doing, changing our society. Since we are changed once "in" Christ ourselves, we will want to change society for the better as well. If in the process of taking moral control of my money I can persuade a company to be neutral in moral issues as a business model, then I have accomplished the major part of my boycott model.
I do not believe that is being like the "devil" or in "shrill outrage" hurting anyone. I rather choose to believe that I am promoting to those who know not, what the mind of Christ is like. That's why we must never "hurt" anyone in malice or purpose. We should boycott ONLY to inform others and to better our world for all.