Despite the regularity with which “War on Christmas” debates seem to pop up every year, one positive side of the latest (and silliest) incarnation of this absurdity is that most Christians weren’t actually upset about the plain red Starbucks cups.
This is because most Christians have more important things to do in their lives than notice—let alone express excessive emotion over—the design of the paper cup they’ve already thrown away. Here’s a poll that shows typical Christian thoughts on red cups:
But there were also a number of thoughtful articles from Christians this week in response to this controversy that wasn’t. Here are a few of my favorites that are very worth a read:
1. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, advised recognizing that much of what Christians interpret as a “war on Christmas” is at worst well-meaning cultural ignorance:
We ought not to get outraged by all that, as though we were some protected class of victims. We ought to instead see the ways that our culture is less and less connected with the roots of basic knowledge about Christianity. Many, especially in the culture-making wing of American life, see Christmas in the same way they see Hanukkah. They know about Menorahs and dreidels, but not about the Maccabean fight.
That ought not make us angry. It ought to instead give us an opportunity to understand how we look to our neighbors. They see us more in terms of our trivialities than in terms of the depths of meaning of Incarnation and blood atonement and the kingdom of Christ. They know something about “Silent Night,” just as they know something about “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” What they don’t recognize is the cosmos-shifting mystery of Immanuel as God with Us.
2. Relevant Magazine editor Jesse Carey explains that pranking Starbucks baristas in an attempt to force them to celebrate the birth of our Savior doesn’t actually look much like Jesus:
Jesus didn’t try to organize a government revolt. He didn’t encourage followers to boycott local businesses. He definitely didn’t force people to celebrate His birthday. He called us to make disciples by relying on the truth of His message and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
There just aren’t many “prank” movements going on in the New Testament.
No one is forcing us to censor our faith or hide the truth. But the way we reach people should be through relationships, not grandstanding.
3. Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer points out that outrage over store clerks saying “Happy Holidays” can be a way for Christians to shirk our responsibility of spreading the good news:
Here’s what I would say—this is the wrong fight and being done in the wrong way. And, it’s just making Christians look silly, like so many of these fake controversies do.
We have a better story to tell than one of faux outrage. So let’s tell it. It’s not the job of your barista to share the gospel. It’s your job to share the gospel.
Don’t get mad about stuff that doesn’t matter.
4. And last but not least, my colleague at The Week, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, dives into the Gospels of Jesus’ birth to explain that there is a “war” on Christmas, but it’s not what you might think:
The New Testament says that Jesus came here to bring the sword and to fight a war, but it is also quite explicit about the means for war: faith, hope, and love.
The fake War on Christmas, such as it is, wouldn’t be going on if society wasn’t secularizing fast, a problem that speaks to Christianity’s apparent lack of appeal. So how do you make Christianity more attractive? History shows us it’s the love that Christians have for one another, and for everyone else.
This is how the war has always been won, is won, and will be won. Not by stamping cartoon baby Jesus on a Frappucino.