Saturday, August 23, 2008


As most of you know, I am only serving at the church in a part-time capacity. That leaves me with the need to supplement my income through Starbucks. Starbucks, a company I have worked for since 2002, affords me ample time off for church events, flexible hours, free coffee, but more important the chance to have great (and cheap) health insurance. As God's call on my life has become more evident, the health and benefits package has remained the only reason I have stayed at the company for about 2 1/2 years.

But my soul is not at peace with this setup. I have been very blessed to be able to have insurance in the event of medical necessity, and the dental/vision package has been most helpful in recent time. The tension is great, eating away at the very fiber of my soul on a daily basis, but the struggle is simple: I work for a company whose values and endeavors I wholeheartedly detest, and by being an agent of that company in a way I feel like I am giving my tacit support to these causes that I find ungodly and part of the downfall of our society.

I first began to notice the tension when reading about the long-standing SBC boycott against Disney for its gay-friendly policies and celebrations. What struck me is that Starbucks has long held a "domestic partner benefit" in its business and benefits. The same insurance package that would protect a traditional family is also extended to people who are in a committed monogamous relationship with a member of the same gender. Health insurance being a premium and a necessity today, I (from a utilitarian perspective) can see some good in this policy by getting as many people covered for medical emergencies. But it is the approval and celebration of an "alternative lifestyle" that I must, based on my Christian convictions, stand in opposition to and declare to be an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

Recently I read a partner magazine that talked about Starbucks being on the forefront of the movement regarding transgendered employees, and how they are promoting acceptance of a diverse array of lifestyles. What this is doing is confusing the distinct genders that God has set forth since Creation, that they are separate, distinct, equal in value and worth, but yet very different. The new concept of gender is whatever you want it to be, not based on biological factors (hardware). In a day where men are lining up to be neutered as the Brad Paisley song indicates, and when the lines separating the genders are becoming increasingly blurred, it is no surprise that a progressive-leaning and socially liberal company would so endorse such a movement. But again, as an agent of the company I feel like by working for them I am giving my support to this.

What makes all this even more troublesome is the fact that the Siren has become such an integral part of American culture that Starbucks has ubiquitously put stores in major cities, malls, and other common thoroughfares. It would not surprise me if the percentage of people who have visited a Starbucks in America is pushing 75-80%. That is roughly 225-230 million people, which displays a huge influence over our wallets for one and our minds also. Companies who are central to the American "image" are increasingly supporting causes that are decidedly anti-Christian in their moral stances and approval of what used to be called "sinful." Now, instead of calling something a sin, we give them a float in the parade and clap our hands that they are "expressing themselves." Starbucks has even become part of the Christian subculture in America, being the place where youth groups hang out, pastors meet with one another and with prospects, because in fact coffee is a great connecting drink to allow people to share something and fellowship with one another.

So what is one to do who holds deeply to personal convictions regarding morality and culture? Is it possible to distinguish one's personal life from one's vocation, especially when holding that position is out of necessity rather than by enjoyment? I have enjoyed my time with the company coming on six years, have met some wonderful people, been able to share Christ, learn what our culture truly desires (community, face-to-face relationships, not the rubbish text messaging and internet chats), and scored a ton of free coffee. Is there anyone else who has worked in a job where they felt such a tension? Share your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Scotty,

    I think you are striking at the core issue in American and even world culture. How are the so-called sacred and secular supposed to interact?

    I don't think that by working at Starbucks you are, implicitly or otherwise, condoning the things that Starbucks condones. Besides, I am not sure that extending health care to its employees irregardless of sexual orientation is as non-Christian as you make it out to be. That is another issue altogether, though. Suffice it to say that I think we, as Christians, are called to extend hospitality regardless of whether we "approve" of lifestyle choices or not. Indeed, the Pharisees condemned the people Jesus hung out with. I am not supporting homosexuality, at all. At the end of the day, the people are human beings created in the image of God.

    I think working at Starbucks while being a pastor gives you an automatic insight into the culture and an easy "in" when talking to people about your faith or sharing life in general. With that said, I wholeheartedly understand your dilemma.

    I would discuss this issue with your pastor or employee relations committee. Part of the problem of youth ministry is people do not take it seriously enough to warrant full time pay on par with other pastors / leaders. This is another issue entirely that you and I should talk about in person rather than on your blog.

    Long story short, it's a healthy tension, but you may want to discuss your options with both employers.