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Christians, gay marriage and the Starbucks boycott

by Brad A. Greenberg

March 30, 2012 | 4:36 pm

If the Dump Starbucks campaign was encouraging consumers to go find better coffee, I’d be a fan. Starbucks is way overrated and I get much better coffee at my local bagel shops. But that’s not what Dump Starbucks is about.

It’s the latest effort by the National Organization for Marriage to get folks to boycott Starbucks in response to the Seattle-based company’s support of a same-sex marriage bill in Washington state.

The AP explains:

Following a shareholders’ meeting of the Seattle-based coffee giant on Wednesday, the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage announced a “Dump Starbucks” protest.

The group says it will place ads throughout the country, as well as in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, urging consumers to boycott the company. The group is supporting a referendum effort to overturn a recently passed law legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state.

“We will not tolerate an international company attempting to force its misguided values on citizens,” said the group’s president, Brian Brown, in a written statement announcing the boycott.

It’s fitting that I would be writing this post from Starbucks. Despite my displeasure for their coffee, I enjoy their whole Third Place mission. And, not surprisingly based on past posts on this blog, I don’t support the boycott.

But should Christians?

Writing for the Christian Post, Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says no:

The argument behind a boycott assumes that the “rightness” of a marriage definition is constituted by a majority with power. Isn’t that precisely what we’re arguing against? Our beliefs about marriage aren’t the way they are because we are in a majority. As a matter of fact, we must concede that we are in a tiny minority in contemporary American society, if we define marriage the way the Bible does, as a sexually-exclusive, permanent one-flesh union.

Moreover, is this kind of economic power context really how we’re going to engage our neighbors with a discussion about the meaning and mystery of marriage? Do such measures actually persuade at the level such decisions are actually made: the moral imagination? I doubt it.

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We won’t win this argument by bringing corporations to the ground in surrender. We’ll engage this argument, first of all, by prompting our friends and neighbors to wonder why we don’t divorce each other, and why we don’t split up when a spouse loses his job or loses her health. We’ll engage this argument when we have a more exalted, and more mysterious, view of sexuality than those who see human persons as animals or machines. And, most of all, we’ll engage this argument when we proclaim the meaning behind marriage: the covenant union of Christ and his church.

Fear can lead us to cower and to hide a view of marriage that seems archaic and antiquated. That’s why so many evangelical Christians have already surrendered, in their own lives, on such questions as round-the-clock daycare or a therapeutic view of divorce. But fear can also lead us to a kind of enraged impotence, where our boycotts and campaigns are really just one more way of saying, “I’m important; listen to me.” Marriage is too important for that.

Read the rest here.

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