A few weeks ago, my friend Brittany told me she wasn’t going to be buying stuff from Whole Foods, Starbucks or Olive Garden. Her reason? They each support Planned Parenthood. Bizarrely enough, I had actually been to both Starbucks and Whole Foods that same day. “Interesting,” I said. “Let’s talk about that when I see you next.”
She doesn’t feel comfortable shopping at those places because Planned Parenthood, as most know, provides abortion services. Abortion is totally repulsive and awful. It snuffs out a life that God created and would want to be part of His family.
As my friend and sister in Christ, I totally respect her for deciding to do that.
I’m still buying my usual brevé from Starbucks, though. And I ate at Olive Garden the day after Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Here’s why I am comfortable doing that.
1. Nobody is sinless; all fall short (Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×).
If I boycotted everybody who had a point of view that I disagreed with, or who supported a cause that’s disgusting, I’d have to be a subsistence farmer. I hate abortion, but the reality of life is that no matter where I turn, everyone I run into will have at least one sin that is offensive to God, including when I look in the mirror. I pray for the day that Christ returns to establish His rule on earth to come quickly, so these types of dilemmas will be a thing of the past.
2. This issue reminds me of what Paul dealt with in his day of meat that pagans offered to idols.
The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 8 is dedicated to that controversy. Back then, people would offer animals to pagan idols, then they’d sell the meat from that sacrifice in the community marketplace. The Corinthian church was a mixed congregation with lots of people from different cultures, at different stages of conversion. To some in that church, it was really offensive to eat that meat because of its connection to a pagan practice. Being so new to Christ, it was tough for them to look past that fact. But others understood there was nothing to it; meat is meat. An idol is nothing. Paul addressed this issue in his letters. He essentially said, if it offends your conscience to eat that meat, don’t. If it doesn’t, do. But don’t make it a bigger deal than it is. It’s better not to offend your brother than to exercise your freedom of conscience on that issue.
Now, is my brevé a cup of coffee sacrificed to the idol of abortion? Not exactly. It’s not a perfect analogy. But I feel the principle, which is that this issue does not bother my conscience but it does bother the conscience of my sister Brittany, applies perfectly. She and I have talked and she feels strongly about it, so she doesn’t go there. It doesn’t bother me, so I still do.
But the important thing is that we both acknowledge each other’s position and respect it.
If Brittany were on a road trip with my wife and me and it was time to make a stop for coffee, I’d look for a McCafé instead of Starbucks for her conscience’s sake. The point of 1 Corinthians 8 is not that those who didn’t eat that meat were weaker Christians. No, it’s that we should not exercise our own freedom at the expense of somebody else’s conscience.
To paraphrase Paul, the Kingdom of God is not of brevés or pasta, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.