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!