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

 

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What Mark Driscoll and I Have In Common

Mark Driscoll, pastor of mega church Mars Hill in Seattle, Washington, is never far from controversy. Whether it is his stance on women in the ministry or the husband/wife relationship, if there is an open mic, Mark Driscoll will say something in it. Through his sermons, blog articles, books, tweets and Facebook posts Mark Driscoll shares his view of Christianity to the masses.

To be honest I have never met the guy and I have only read/heard a few things by him. What I have read/heard I have not agreed with. He and I do not see eye to eye on many things in the realm of Christianity. But, even though we have our differences, this is not what I want to focus on.

I was wasting time one day on Facebook when I saw a friend of mine had “liked” something that Driscoll had posted on Facebook (which if you haven’t ever checked his Facebook page he posts several things a day… its a lot folks). Out of curiosity I clicked on the status and began to read. I had prepared myself for an onslaught of literalism and verses out of context but rather it was a paragraph quoting one of my favorite comedians, Brian Regan. (See below)

What I find interesting about this post is that many times Driscoll has come out against yoga claiming it to have “demonic roots.” This was emphasized in the comment sections of his post. I wasn’t sure how to take it. Why would someone who dislikes the concept of yoga on religious basis promote a comedian that uses it to make money? Isn’t that like a vegetarian supporting a barbecue festival?

Then I found that he quoted Regan again…

I was amazed… Mark Driscoll and I have something in common… besides being Christians, pastors, husbands, dads and male.

Can the ground of commonality be forged on the field of comedy?

Maybe in the realm of theology and Christian practice Driscoll and I are different, but when we need to unwind and have a good laugh, Brian Regan brings us together. Maybe I have forgotten that Mark Driscoll is just like me, a fallible human being. I took away his humanity and made him into this robot of a branch of Christianity that I did not agree with. Knowing that he laughs at the same jokes I do is humbling and thought provoking all at the same time. Sometimes its hard for me fully grasp the tenet of the Disciples of Christ “freedom of belief” especially when I think someone else’s theology is harmful and misrepresents God and even the intent of the scriptures.

Sure I would love to tell him about my understanding of God, the Bible, Christ, women in ministry and the like but I doubt that will ever happen. I will continue to pursue a God who loves me despite the way I act and even think about others. Hopefully more common ground will be found but until then, enjoy the video below and laugh with Mark and I.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


A 9-11 Reflection: 12 Years Later

English: Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010.

English: Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On various social media platforms people are recalling where they were or how they found out about the events that took place on September 11, 2001.

It’s hard to imagine that in 2001 many things that we use everyday had not been invented yet– items like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005),Twitter (2006), the iPhone (2007), even this blogging platform wasn’t released until 2003.

A lot has changed in the last 12 years some for good and others not so much.

As I reflect on this day that is etched into so many people’s minds I am instantly transported to the moment when I heard the grave news.  The guy living across the hall from me in college stopped me on my way to chemistry and told me the news. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

Although 12 years have passed, for many that day is still as fresh at is was in 2001.  The world has gotten a lot smaller and in some cases more harsh.  What happened 12 years was a national tragedy, one that our nation has taken the time to remember each year.   We recall the names of those who died, we have moments of silence to honor them and we grieve all over again.

In my ministry in health care I meet people who have recently lost a love one.  At times they will say something “I know that I need to get over it.”  I stop them and I tell them that its ok if they never “get over it” and in all actuality they will never “get over it.”  The goal is not getting over a tragedy is goal is learning to deal with the pain, the hurt, the grief and the loss.  Too often we think that we should sprint to the acceptance phase of the stages of grief; we as a society don’t do well with grief, for some reason we get uncomfortable.

May we remember those who died this day; those on the planes and those trying to rescue the people trapped in the Trade Centers- not just on the anniversary.

May we never forget.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan



EDIT: formatting

What A Difference 3.8 Million People Make

Two months ago today I clicked publish on a post about Victoria’s Secret Spring Break Collection called “Bright Young Things.”   The aim of the letter was to let Victoria’s Secret know (as well as whomever would listen) that I disliked their marketing to a younger demographics and how they set up an unattainable standard of sexuality and beauty.

To date the letter has been read/viewed on this site nearly 3.8 million times from all around the world.  The letter is still be read today and shared over the internet.

To date the letter has been shared on Facebook over 765,000 times, on Twitter over 5100 times, almost 100 times on LinkedIn and over 550 times on Google Plus.

I want to take this time to say thank you for everything!

Because of the exposure I received, I have begun to contribute to a few websites- the Good Men Project, Sojourners and RadicalParents.com.  I am humbled and honored to contribute to these great sites.  I will try to post my articles here whenever I can.

I have been completely overwhelmed by all of this and I all of you to thank.  Without you sharing, liking, emailing and commenting- none of this would have ever happened.

I still have not had an official response from Victoria’s Secret (and I do not expect to), but another clothing company did.

About month ago Fruit of the Loom contacted me to let me know that they had seen my letter online.  They liked it and wanted to send my daughter “age appropriate” underwear.   They sent my daughter 10 pairs!  She was so excited to get them in the mail.

Fruit of the Loom

I want to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to Fruit of the Loom.  Thank you for generosity and for thinking of my daughter! (The items pictured can be found here and here.)

Thank you again!  Keep reading, sharing and liking!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Sojo.net gets 10,000 signatures on Victoria’s Secret Petition

A ministry colleague emailed me and told me that Sojourners had online petition encouraging Limited Brands to stop targeting young women in their marketing campaign; they cited one of the many article written about my letter in their petition information. I was honored that they asked me to write a piece about my experiences and thought process behind writing the letter to Victoria’s Secret.

Sojourners has been petitioning Victoria’s Secret to stop objectifying young girls; they have had about 10,000 people sign their online petition.  When some one signs it an email is send to Limited Brands.  According to a follow up piece on Sojo.net (see below), Victoria’s Secret has given them the same standard answers.  Catherine Woodiwiss, the author and Associate Web Editor of Sojourners, writes

This statement about “Bright Young Things” — what Sojourners has always made clear was a campaign, not a line — does not address Sojourners’ central concerns over reinforcing confusion about the value of young women, to young women. Over the action alert’s charges that oversexed objectification contributes to a culture of abuse, rape, and distorted worth, Victoria’s Secret gave no comment.

Please read the articles below and consider signing the petition.

Thanks for reading and supporting me.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


My article Link on sojo.net

Follow up article- 10,000 Emails, Victoria’s Secret Continues Business As Usual 

Consider signing the petition to tell Victoria’s Secret to stop objectifying teen girls.

Sojourners’ Bright Young– What? Campaign (via Facebook)

A Letter to Victoria’s Secret- Update Part V- “Finding Your Voice”

It has been a little over 2 weeks since I posted my letter to Victoria’s Secret and what a crazy two weeks it has been!  I have never spoken about  Victoria’s Secret underwear more in my entire life.  🙂

Again, I don’t think I can say it enough, but thank you so much for sharing my letter.

Over these past weeks I have received hundreds of emails, tweets and Facebook messages.  Throughout them all there was a common thread- people were telling me “thank you for sharing your voice.”

Many people wrote and stated that they shared my feelings but did not know how to articulate them or even think that they would be heard– to be honest I never thought my voice would be heard either.

I never expected to be on TV stating that women are not sex objects or  that Victoria’s Secret (and others) are setting up a standard that is unattainable for young girls.

My friend and ministry colleague, Rev. Traci Siegman, wrote a blog post about my letter and wrote these wonderful and meaningful words

Rev. Dolive exercised his prophetic voice. He spoke his mind and faced culture head on. Christians are called to be prophetic and live counter-culturally. We are called to give voice to those without the power to speak. It is our responsibility as followers of Christ to continue to name the ways in which people are still held captive.

We all have the potential to speak out for what we believe in and for what we want to stand for.  As my friend and ministry colleague, Rev. Laura Phillips, told me “speak even if your voice shakes.”  While I might be one person I sent a message; I spoke up for my daughter and every other young girl.  I wanted to express my feelings about the message of beauty and sexuality that one particular company was sending.

One thing I learned through this process is that your voice matters, your voice can be heard, your voice is important and powerful.

Because of the attention that my letter has received parents now have been given a voice; parents have written me and told me that they are using my letter to start important and meaningful conversations about sexuality, marketing and beauty.

Let’s continue to use our voice to speak up for those who can not, let’s use our voice to bring justice to those who desperately need it, let’s use our voice to proclaim the goodness of God’s grace and wonderment of Christ.

Let’s use our voice not to shame people, but to empower people.

Let’s use our voice…

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

The Gospel According to Facebook

My latest article for the Orange County Record.


Facebook is one of the most popular websites to date with nearly 500 million users from all over the world.  From its humble beginnings in the dorm room of Harvard University, Facebook is now everywhere.  From your personal computer to your Smartphone, one is never too far away from social “interactions” found within Facebook (or as a friend of my calls it ‘faceless book’).

Facebook connects us to the world around us and we are able to share things from vacation pictures to memorial pages for those who have died.  Facebook at its core is a social networking site, connecting people across various socio-economic statuses, education levels and even religions.  Facebook in my opinion has moved past its original intent of just social networking between friends.  Businesses, churches, civil groups, clubs and even TV shows all have a presence on Facebook.  Breaking news is reported, shared, liked and commented on, all within the confines of one website.  The goal has moved from friendly conversations to specific advertisements and mass information around like issues, causes and beliefs.

What does Facebook do or has done for Christianity?  Has Facebook helped or hurt the gospel message?  Recently I began to see more and more pictures shared that read “Like if you Love Jesus” or “Keep scrolling if you love the Devil, like if you love God.”  If you are a user of Facebook like I am, you have more than likely seen these pictures (or others like it) before.  These pictures call for Christians around the world to share their faith boldly and proudly on their Facebook page so that all who may grace it will know that they are a follower of Christ.

To be honest, I can’t stand them.   They clutter my news feed and are not the reason I get on Facebook.

I do not like them for a number of reasons.  First, it makes Christianity something to do, not something that is done.  Followers of Christ are called to continue the message of Christ in the world around them.  Often in churches there are talks of “letting your light shine before others,” but there is also a warning about doing things just to get attention in the name of faith.  Does it really mean I am “less of a Christian” if I decided not to click the ‘like’ button on a picture?  Does this mean that I have sold my soul to the internet Devil because I am too consumed with posting pictures of my children?  Absolutely not.  Its one thing to have a faith and have that faith inform your life, but it is another to have a faith and guilt trip others into following your actions.  Christ did not call for us to plaster our faith across the internet.  Christ calls us to be the presence of God at all times, in all places and to all people.  A person’s faith or commitment to God/Christ is not contingent on whether or not they share a Facebook photo with their friends.

Facebook and other social media outlets like it have made the gospel a bumper sticker, for good or for ill.  Since the interaction happens in cyber space the relational connection is lessened.  Because of this the scriptures, quotations, theology and sermons can all be taken out of context and promoted as truth with little or no dialogue, conversation or explanation.  Of course this can happen anywhere, but for some reason the internet has brought this to the forefront.  Is this the 21st century model of evangelism?   I sure hope not.  Social media has it place in the propagation of the gospel, but evangelism at its core is grounded in relationships.  Evangelism is a scary word for some people because they believe it means inviting people to church or knocking on people’s doors and passing out ‘salvation tracts.’  While some people believe this is the best way to promote ones faith, I believe that being in a relationship with someone first helps to “open the door” to evangelism.  One does not even have to speak the name of Jesus Christ to get the message of Christ across.  This is what Facebook and these “like if you love Jesus” pictures fail at doing; there is no relationship, just a pretty picture with a cute font.  The gospel demands more than that.