As the world knows, Bruce Springsteen recently cancelled his concert in Greensboro, North Carolina to protest the state’s so-called “bathroom bill.” He stated that he wants to join the “fight against prejudice and bigotry” and claims that cancelling his concert is “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” (For more, see Janet Denison’s Springsteen and Van Zandt’s Ideas About Morality.)
However, Springsteen is planning to perform in Italy this July, where same-sex marriage is illegal. He operates under the Sony label, which does business in Russia, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—all of which prohibit same-sex marriage. In fact, the UAE prohibits all homosexual activity as illegal.
Bryan Adams cancelled tonight’s concert in Mississippi because of its LGBTQ laws. However, he played in Egypt last month, where gay people routinely face persecution. He has played in Syria, Qatar, and the UAE, where same-sex relations are illegal.
Starbucks has asked the North Carolina governor to repeal its “bathroom bill.” However, the company does significant business in China and the Asia-Pacific region, with fourth-quarter revenue of $652.2 million. China’s marriage law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman; the government forbids same-sex couples from adopting children.
Pfizer signed a letter protesting the North Carolina governor’s support for its “bathroom bill.” Its revenues in China rose eighteen percent last year. PayPal has declared that it will not build a planned 400-employee global operations center in North Carolina. However, the company operates in Singapore, where homosexual activity is illegal.
The National Basketball Association says it might move the 2017 All-Star Game scheduled for Charlotte. However, the league generated $150 million in revenue in 2012 from China and recently signed a streaming agreement that will net them $700 million over the next five years.
You can see the pattern.
If performers and countries boycotting North Carolina and Mississippi are only concerned about LGBTQ rights, should they not also boycott countries which discriminate, in their view, against LGBTQ people? Their contradictory actions open them to the charge of hypocrisy and cause us to wonder if economics are not a larger motivation than they will admit.
At the same time, it is urgent that Christians who affirm biblical sexuality and marriage act consistently. If we want to defend the Bible, we must do so biblically. It is vital that we “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). But it is also vital that we relate to others with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
Jesus demonstrated the perfect balance between exposing hypocrisy and loving hypocrites. Now he wants to help us do the same, starting with ourselves. When a skeptic complained to a pastor that “the church is full of hypocrites,” the wise minister smiled and said, “No, there’s room for one more.”
That’s good news for us all.