Love is a Piece of Cake

My latest for Sojourners


 

A cake shop has been in the news lately. Sweet Cakes in Oregon made national headlines when a same-sex couple levied a lawsuit against it for refusal of service.

This is where the story gets interesting.

In the state of Oregon, same-sex marriages are legal. The couple went to the cake shop to order a wedding cake for their upcoming union. The cake shop said no on the ground of their religious beliefs — or as they put it, “standing on the word of God.”

This sparked raging debates on whether a business has the legal right to discriminate solely based on their religious beliefs. Investigations have been held, feelings have been hurt, Scripture has been quoted and misquoted, and Facebook rants have been posted.

Franklin Graham has now added his two cents, starting an online donation campaign to help with the bakery’s looming legal fines — its actions violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which states that persons cannot be denied service based on their sexual orientation.

In Graham’s plea he stated that the shop owners were being “persecuted” for their religious beliefs. But this is not called persecution — this is called being held to a standard of decency, tolerance, and love. These are tenants Christ wanted his followers to imitate.

Most Christians would throw a fit if a bakery, store, or other business denied them service because of the owner’s religious beliefs. There would be lawyers on the phone, news crews outside the establishment, and more Facebook rants about how our society is slowing losing its “Christian heritage.”

Isn’t interesting that some Christians are ok with denial of service to this same-sex couple in the name of business/religious liberty, but wouldn’t want to the tables to be turned on them?

Just because 78 percent of Americans identify as Christian does not mean we all see eye to eye. But is Christianity truly “persecuted” if it comprises more than three out of every four people in a society?
What people are mad about is that their version of Christianity is not the norm or the most accepted one anymore. Many Christians see same-sex marriage as a nonissue. Many church denominations have had intense and productive conversations about homosexuality in the church. Some are still divided. Many people, churches, and denominations need to hold more conversations, prayer, and discernment. The United States and the Church have a long way to go until full equality is achieved.

The issue with regards to this bakery is not their religious liberty, Christian persecution, or even the right to practice one’s faith. It is the notion that discrimination is wrong.

In this war of words many are not seeing the real issue, which is this — discrimination, even under the guise of religion, is still discrimination, and it is against the most basic and fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ.

I understand that these are the bakery owners’ deeply held religious beliefs, but they are not applying this theological hermeneutic equally. Do they sell cakes to people who are going to be remarried? Jesus actually spoke about this as a sin in the Gospels. Do we turn a blind eye to this because the remarriage might be a heterosexual couple? What about people of other religions? Jesus said that no one comes to God but through him — this would lead one to believe that all other religious expressions could be wrong and thus if this bakery made a cake for a Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist wedding, wouldn’t they be ‘endorsing’ the religion?

Do we ignore this command from Christ completely, or do we pick and choose the commands and teachings we want to fit our own theological worldview?

In the end, the fact remains that Christ’s love was not shown to the couple wanting the wedding cake. Can we learn from hymnody, and be reminded that they will know we are Christians by our love?
Can you love someone and disagree with them? Sure, this is evident at most family get-togethers. Can you show the love of Christ and still bake a cake? You bet you can. And this bakery should have.
The couple wanted a cake to celebrate their life together, not to be turned away and be told they have to go somewhere else. One would think in a society such as ours that this would not be an issue in 2015 — but alas, it is. We have come a long way, and we still have more to do.

Christ said, “Come all who are heavy burdened and I will given you rest.” All means all. Jesus the Christ decided that he wanted to be with people and did not turn anyone way. He did, however, take issue with people who put their own religiosity over the needs of others.

At the heart of the Gospel is the notion of loving God and loving each other. Love cannot have conditions attached to it — First John reminds us that we love because God first loved us. If unconditional love is given to us and we do not give it others, then we are squandering a free gift and that is akin to blasphemy. If we claim that all of humanity is created in the Image of God, then we better start treating each other like it.

All means all.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

 

New Sermon Series: The Building Blocks of Faith

 

Tomorrow I will be starting a new sermon series  entitled “The Building Blocks of Faith.”  In this five part series, I will go through the Book of James highlighting how we as followers of Christ can build up our faith and then use it the world around us.

Here is a brief outline

  1. James 1:19-24  “Do”
  2. James 2:14-26 “Show”
  3. James 3:1-12 “Tame”
  4. James 4:1-10 “Come”
  5. James 5:7-11 “Wait”

I will be posting the audio files each week on the Sermons page.  I hope you find something useful as we travel the road of the Book of James.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Lamar University: Grief and Loss

Lamar U April 2015 Lecture 1

Lamar U April 2015 Lecture

 

Yesterday, I was privileged to speak at Lamar University in Beaumont to nursing students about grief and loss.  The students were attentive and asked some insightful questions.  Thank you again to Lamar University and the Department Nursing for their invitation and hospitality.

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

[tweet 591241281822654464 align=’center’]

If you would like Rev. Evan to come speak at your church or event, click here.

Thoughts on Solitude 

Doing What Is Right

Image-1

 

 

Easter 2015 Message

IMG_0490

Flowered Cross at Northwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Beaumont, Texas. Taken by Rev. Evan M. Dolive.

Below is my Easter sermon based on John 20:1-18.

Easter blessings to you and yours.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


[audio http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/p0yjor9ehs/easter_2015_Mission_after_christ.mp3|titles= Easter 2015: Mission After Christ|animation=no]

He Is Risen!

He is Risen!

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled. But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” 8 Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Mark 16:1-8 (CEB)

 

pablo

 

 

Happy Easter!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: He is Risen! by Karen Hunnicutt, on Flickr. Used Under Creative Commons License 2.0.

Now We Wait

Jesus prepared for Burial

“After this Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one because he feared the Jewish authorities. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and took the body away. Nicodemus, the one who at first had come to Jesus at night, was there too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, nearly seventy-five pounds in all. Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it.” John 19:38-42 (CEB)

 


Photo Credit:Jesus prepared for Burial by Lawrence OP, on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License 2.0

Were You There?

"The Lord Became Obedient To Death..."

 

“From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?” After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” But Jesus let out a loud cry and died. — Mark 15:33-37 (CEB)


Photo Credit: “The Lord Became Obedient To Death…” by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons License 2.0

The Gospel According to Haley K.

Let’s face it… humanity is pretty selfish.  We want more than the next person, we covet other’s wealth and fame and some people will stop at nothing to make sure they (or someone they love) is a better place or position regardless of the consequences.  Wars have been waged over land and resources, people have been killed over little league playing time and people rush out to buy the new Apple iPhone or iPad or any other device to make sure they stand at the pinnacle of humanity’s shallow standards.

This unfortunately has found its way in the church through a number of doors.

Because of this we fail to remember the call of Christ to become self-less.  

We are called as followers of Christ to be the hands and feet of God at all times to all people.  When are humanity kicks in and overshadows are call we can say, act and even do things we regret.

My sister, Haley, tweeted some nice pieces of self-less theology.

[tweet 583649994378383360 align=’center’] [tweet 583650032710131712 align=’center’]

Much like humanity, the church can be the best thing for society and the worst for people all at the same time.  I hope that for our world’s sake we focus on others over our own.  Haley is right… the world would be a much better place.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once wrote:

Do your little of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Let’s not forget our own call to serve God in the world and through this interactions with others we will then show them the light of Christ.  This the most effective evangelism ever conceived.

 

In Christ,
Rev. Evan