Save Critique of Christian Culture for Something That’s Actually Happening

A friend asked me if I was going to write a blog post about the Starbucks Christmas cup controversy and why Christians are overreacting. I said no.

Here’s why: No one I know is outraged. I even have a Facebook page for work where I’m friends with hundreds of Christian fiction readers, most of whom are much more conservative than my personal Facebook friends, and none of them are outraged, or even annoyed, about Starbucks using red cups this year instead of snowflake designs.

Starbucks

All I am seeing from Christians is some form of: “This is not persecution,” “Snowmen weren’t Christ-focused anyway,” and “You would represent Jesus better by showing love to your barista instead of protesting for no good reason.”

Conclusion: I don’t think very many Christians are protesting this. I think a few people with an audience made a fuss without thinking…and now the real story is outrage at their (teeny tiny) minority opinion, not Christian outrage at Starbucks. I think bloggers and news outlets, Christian or secular, are using this as a way to get clicks by people who, rightly, think this whole thing is silly.

It bothers me that a lot of Christian writers are pretending they need to lecture “the church” and “Western Christianity” about protesting Starbucks when, as far as I can tell, that’s not going on. And it bothers me that other Christians are spreading their words around.

Why do we need to have headlines like “The Starbucks Outrage Is Everything That’s Wrong With American Christianity” when only a few people are outraged? Answer: we don’t. We’re basically telling people to shut up when they’re not yelling anything.

I think those type of articles are contributing to the wrong story about what Christianity is. By pretending there is a significant Christian audience that needs to be told that the Starbucks “controversy” is ridiculous, we are affirming that there are lots of Christians out there who are being un-Christlike and unthoughtful in how they approach this issue. And then the affirming comments stack up, proving that everyone agreed with us the whole time.

Let’s be real: right now, it’s cool to criticize the church. And when we need to apply a legitimate critique to a real issue, I think that can be very helpful and necessary.

This is not one of those issues.

Basically, my opinion is: Let’s save our critique for something that’s actually happening. Let’s not jump on every current event to be relevant by preaching a message that everyone we know already agrees with.

When the church really does protest something silly or treat people in an un-Christ-like way, then we can share memes and write blog posts and state our views on Facebook…but in a gracious way. Until then, let’s consider not adding to the hype.

One last thing: remember that “American Christians” (and every other type of Christians) are not just distant stereotypes. They are not trigger-happy protesters, shallow worship-is-a-rock-concert liberals, indiscriminate consumers of sub-par “uplifting and encouraging” art and music and movies, or overly-traditional courtship-advocating [insert-your-personal-issue-here] people who missed the point of the gospel.

They are individuals in the beautiful, broken community bought by the blood of Jesus and deeply loved by him.

Yes, Christians should be trying to be more like Christ, and voices that challenge and exhort can help with that. But be careful—be very, very careful—when you critique the church. Make sure you’re doing it in the right way, and for the right reasons, rather than loudly and publicly fake-shaming to get attention or approval.

Be careful because God loves the church, and so should we.

Jesus didn’t say the world would know his followers by our outrage about red coffee cups. Jesus also didn’t say the world would know his followers by our criticism of the (possibly nonexistent) outrage about red coffee cups.

Jesus said that the world would know his followers by our love for each other.

3 comments

  1. Yes, yes, yes! The biggest thing I’ve seen this week is Christians protesting other Christians. Recently, I read a post from a professing Christian saying she could not fellowship with someone who boycotted Starbucks over this issue (admittedly, that’s the most extreme reaction I’ve seen).

    I wrote a post earlier this week to address the fact that whether someone is boycotting Starbucks or boycotting “those other Christians,” it’s just a cup. People are distinguishing themselves from other people over … a cup. They’re all rallying to support … a cup. There has been distraction this week from…a cup. Christians are “biting and devouring” each other over … a cup.

    But you nailed it on the head!

    1. Thanks, Lydia, for joining the conversation. I agree that this is not something that should be dividing us. I mean, maybe if the cup in question was the cup of communion, I could see why there could be controversy. But it’s not, and so it doesn’t make any sense to me.

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