Why People Are Upset About A Cup . . . and Why It’s O.K. (hint: it’s not about a stupid cup)


If you don’t know about the Starbucks Red Cup controversy, then it’s time to crawl out from the rock you’re living under. Actually, scratch that, stay in your happy place. It’s probably better in there anyway.

Mrs. HappyHatter is not very happy today. I so did not want to write this post. I even created a meme this morning, hoping it would say all the things I wanted to say, so that I wouldn’t have to write this post. I have been eagerly waiting for Matt Walsh to write this post, because I’m pretty sure he would get this one right. And, besides, he already gets tons of hate mail anyway, so what’s one more post that tons of people will hate? But I guess he has more important things to write about, like who we should elect as our next president and whether girls should have to shower with transgender boys. (Priorities, Matt!)

**edit** So I guess Mr. Walsh doesn’t agree with me after all. I guess he can’t get them all right. ūüėČ No, I think he said a lot of good things.¬†He thinks the cups are completely inconsequential, and not to be unexpected in our current cultural climate. I completely agree with the later part, and with the former I find some agreement. This is why I take the stance that it’s not really about the stupid cups. **

But if I see one more post on my newsfeed from my Christian brothers and sisters, throwing my other Christian brothers and sisters under the bus, my head is going to explode! So instead of ending up with brains on my wall, I’m going to write down all of my thoughts and publish a post that will probably end my career as blogger before it begins.

The Church is not what's wrong with the world.

First, a slight detour. I was pretty sad when I first heard about this year’s red cup design, and for a purely sentimental, inconsequential reasons. The first red cup of the season has become part of my Christmas tradition. I see no sacred-secular divide when it comes to Christmas decor. For me,¬†all the changes in decor, whether they are Christmas lights, Pagan Trees, Santas, Nativities or yes, even red cups, remind me that¬†2,000 years ago Jesus came into world and changed everything! And that soon He will return and change everything again. And if I’m being honest, the plain red design just doesn’t do it for me. Give me a snowflake, or a faint swirly bow. Something.

But an ugly cup design really isn’t a reason to create a hashtag or a national boycott.

Why It's Ok To Be Upset About a Cup

(The picture I posted to social media last year, after I got my first red cup. Caption read:
“Happiness is the first #redcup of the season. #7weekstillchristmas”)

Here’s the deal. I think revolting against Starbucks for changing their red cup design will probably accomplish nothing. Yup, no #merrychristmasstarbucks for me.

But, my Christian brothers and sisters, who are up in “Merry Christmas” arms, are seeing a bigger problem than a lack of festivity¬†on a coffee cup.

Even if they don’t know exactly how to articulate it.

Underneath all of the outrage is a deep lament¬†for our culture. And that lament is totally legitimate. Our culture has been steadily moving away from it’s Christian roots, and the “War on Christmas,” is only a drop in the bucket compared to the licentiousness we’ve begun to accept as permissible in our culture. A cup design, by itself, means squat. Get your coffee somewhere else. Vote with your dollars. Capitalism at it’s finest! Hallelujah, Amen! BUT, the red cup redesign is not in a vacuum, it is just one more example of a huge shift that has taken place in our culture. A shift that wants to take Christ out of everything, even Christmas.

This shift spells bad news. Ands here are a couple reasons why:

  • Christian persecution isn’t coming to America. It is here. ¬†Christian Business owners are being fined and/or shut down for not wanting to comply with regulations that go against their deeply held religious beliefs. CEOs are forced to resign because of personal beliefs about homosexual marriage. Recently a Kentucky County Clerk was jailed because she didn’t want her name on same sex marriage licenses.” Hobby Lobby recently took one for the team, risking huge fines, to fight a government that wanted to require them to pay for abortifacient drugs. Praise God we won that one . . . for now. ¬†“So what,” I hear you say, “ISIS is beheading Christians, that’s persecution.” Yes, yes it is and it’s awful. But that doesn’t mean that what’s going on here is not persecution. And if things keep going in their current direction, they are only going to get worse. But here’s the kicker, our culture shifts aren’t just bad for Christians, they’re bad for everyone. See next point.
  • Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is¬†wholly¬†inadequate for the government of any¬†other.” – John Adams.¬†Our system of government was built upon the notion that man can, and ought to, govern himself. But man’s ability to govern the affairs of his daily life, with little government intrusion, requires most people to act like decent human beings. I’m not saying that every person in the U.S. has to be a Christian to make the wheels turn, but as we move further and further away from being a moral and religious people, we are becoming the kind of people who cannot be ruled by our current system of government. And if this trend continues, we will come to a fork in the road and be forced to choose between¬†anarchy and totalitarianism. I’ll give you 2 guesses to figure out which one we’re already headed towards. This is a big problem for the whole country, not just believers. Our country has been blessed because it has been full of people who¬†made God and His principles a priority in the way that they conducted their lives. Our laws used to be based on Judeo-Christian laws. You know why that’s awesome? Because God’s way is the best way to do things. Please hear me, I don’t want to force anyone to practice Christianity, but I do rejoice when I see our government make decisions that honor God, and I lament when they make decisions that don’t. Why? Because I want good things for this land that I love. And I know that if we follow the principles in God word, we will be blessed. … and if we don’t, we will be cursed.

But the thing that really gets me, is the backlash coming from other Christians when someone gets upset, or dares rebel against the changing tides. As if somehow caring about the decline of culture somehow makes it impossible for Jesus to save people.

As if thousands would be coming to Christ if we¬†were just a little cooler, a little less judgmental, a little less preachy. Give me a break. The efficacy of the Gospel has zero to do with any of those things. The Gospel is effective all on it’s own, without skinny jeans or skinny lattes.

The cup didn’t create the problem. The problem created the cup.

I don’t plan on “pranking” Starbucks, because I realize that the issue is much larger than a cup.

And while I’m not jumping into my car, overjoyed to get my first red cup of the year, I will still get a Tall 2 Pump Peppermint 2 Pump White Hot Chocolate when my family goes and looks at Christmas lights. And maybe since it will be dark in the car I won’t be able to tell that the cup is so plain and ugly. Or maybe I’ll bring a sharpie and draw some designs for my own enjoyment.

And hopefully the twinkle of the lights will remind me of the star that lit up a stable in Bethlehem many years ago. And I’ll remember that no matter how dark this world gets, the light of Jesus will continue to shine. And the controversy, and the degradation of our culture will fade away, if only for a night, as I marvel on the grace of God that will get us all through this muck in one piece.

But you know what else I’m not going to do?

I’m not going to bash my brothers and sisters who are attempting to stand up for Christ in a Godless culture.

Even if their methods are different than my own. Even if I think their methods might not be effective. That’s family!

I understand those who are rebelling against red cups. Sometimes the whole battle seems so overwhelming that it’s easy to grab onto a viral trend. Then at least we feel like we’re doing something, anything, to curb what seems to be an inevitable tide of secular humanism overtaking public life and thought.

So I won’t hang my head in embarrassment and make sure all of my non-Christian friends know that I’m not like “those” Christians who are ruining it for the rest of us. I don’t really care what the world thinks, and I’m happy to be lumped in with the rest of my imperfect brothers and sisters. … Even the ones who wish they didn’t have to acknowledge us or our embarrassing actions.

Although this is my biggest issue, I won’t belabor it¬†too much, because I already wrote about it here:¬†Kim Davis & 4 Things I Wish Christians Would Start Doing. But I’d really like to see everyone take a step back and consider who the real enemy is here. Because it’s not the Church or “those Christians.”

4 Things I Wish Christians Would Start Doing

3 Responses

  1. Sarah
    Sarah at |

    When I saw the article on Facebook the other day, I thought it was a joke, because I frankly don’t care if Starbucks has a design or not, and I was surprised that others did. I find the cup to be a trivial matter, and the articles I originally saw about the cup seemed more a attention grabber than a legitimate issue. I think there actually is an issue if people are feigning outrage over a cup design, and I haven’t actually heard anyone talking about it here…just online. Anyway, I’d rather we all banded together and did things to show our Christianity, like hospitality, serving, giving, etc. than boycotting a cup. And I think the world would see those actions differently, too. I don’t know if it’s throwing people under the bus as much as it is not understanding why it’s an issue and/or wishing Christians would find something more productive to change, at least from my perspective.

  2. avone
    avone at |

    It’s not “throwing someone under the bus.” I agree that persecution is happening and we’re seriously under attack. But the guy who started this whole thing really IS being ridiculous, as well as lying. He said they’re not allowed to say Merry Christmas, which has been debunked by several Starbucks employees and higher ups. It’s obvious that he added it to his rant to seem more right, but it’s a flatout lie. Also, they didn’t take Christmas off the cup. It’s a red cup. Christmas colors are red, green, and white. The logo alone on a red cup is as celebratory as any of their other Christmas cups have been (even if you dont personally like it). This guy does need to be called out. We do need to say, “Look. He’s upset, but he’s wrong in saying that Starbucks changed anything.” I don’t care anything about being “relevant” to lost people, and the gospel is the only thing that’s truly effective in bringing people to Christ. But it’s not wrong or bad to say that someone who claims the name of Christ is wrong in some stance they take, and it’s definitely not “throwing them under the bus.”

  3. avone
    avone at |

    Forgot to say that I think Matt Walsh would probably post something a bit more like this post:


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