A couple of weeks ago, the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, cancelled an appearance to speak at Willow Creek Community Church in a suburb of Chicago, one of the largest evangelical churches in America. He was supposed to be a part of their annual global leadership summit where the church brings together some of the greatest leaders in the world for the benefit of anyone who would like to come. Through simulcast, the Willow Creek global leadership summit reached some 450,000 people.
While Starbucks will not say what caused the sudden cancellation, Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek made it clear in his announcement that it had everything to do with an online petition by Change.org, a group representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) interests. They claimed that Willow Creek Community Church is "hateful" and "anti-gay".
About a month ago, Google cut off access to its free non-profit office products to all religious organizations or any group that discriminates about sexual orientation in its hiring practices.
Earlier this summer, New York passed its law allowing for same-sex marriage and a teacher in Florida who commented negatively through Facebook on that move was suspended pending an investigation because someone in the community complained that his post was "hate speech".
While these stories may be unique to this summer, they are the kinds of things that have been happening with increasing regularity as our society changes and the very small LGBT minority becomes more organized. Starbucks and Google are businesses that are trying to isolate themselves from being associated with anything they believe could create a negative perception.
I keep wondering, as I listen to the spokespersons that are put before the media who speak on behalf of the LGBT lobby if they are not overplaying their hand. As the LGBT lobby grows stronger, their rhetoric against the Christian community grows more strident. It almost seems like a witch hunt. I feel like the LGBT lobby is advancing a new kind of McCarthyism.
In the midst of this, what should Christians do? Should we return fire for fire? Should we boycott Starbucks, Google, and anyone else who seems to undervalue or reject or misrepresent our values? Should we write angry letters to these organizations?
Bill Hybels handled the situation at Willow Creek differently, suggesting that Christians buy Howard Schultz's book and another cup of Starbucks coffee. That is the biblical mandate--to return good when you feel like you've been slapped in the face.
I think we need to remain clear about what the Bible tells us, as our culture turns further away from the God of the Bible. That means we need to take extra time to explain to our children and grandchildren who we are and what the Bible says. It means that Christians everywhere need to find ways to express with clarity the uncomfortable and unyielding truths that the Bible expresses about sexuality, marriage and family. It also means you and I, if we claim to follow Christ, need to recognize that our Savior is ultimately unpopular in this world; they crucified him, after all.
So, in response to this blog, I'd like to know how you're dealing with these developments in society and how you're processing them as a Christian. In the end, we are trying to figure out how we can best remain true to the Bible and carry out what it says.
Labels: Christianity, culture, discipleship, secularism, society