What I’ll Wear to the Chinese New Year Parade


(This is part 7 of the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Parade controversy.)

I never intended for this site to become a fashion blog, but stranger things have happened….

In my article of two weeks ago I explained that I would be wearing an “Obama” T-shirt to the MLK Jr. Parade. Since then, many have commented on what is right and what is wrong with the clothes I wore, since I am a Christian and need to be careful about how I present myself to the world. I have thought long and hard about all the arguments and have firmly decided that wearing the shirt was the right thing to do given the audience I was preaching to.

A furor ensued.

In my posting of our evangelistic adventure to the Golden Dragon Parade tomorrow, a few guys were earnestly concerned about the clothing I would be wearing. One man asked:
“Gonna wear a Buddha shirt? It will probably open lots of doors for you Steve. INSTANT CREDIBILITY………..”

Sorry to disappoint. No, I will not be wearing a Buddha shirt. That would be inappropriate. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I was a Buddhist. I certainly appreciate his concern for my evangelistic attire, but in this case, associating myself with a pagan religion would be highly, highly inappropriate.

Another man offered some friendly advice on where I could purchase some relevant “Chinese New Year” T-shirts after asking this question: “Do you have your ‘Year of the Ox’ t-shirt?” He then kindly gave me this website, I checked it out, and darn!

It’s too late to order one!

Frankly, that would be a great shirt to get; I wish I knew about it earlier. Instead, I’ll probably wear a white and bland car show T-shirt, New Balance tennies (with white, mid-ankle socks), and light cammy-green cargo shorts. Maybe next year I’ll plan ahead and get the “Year of the Ox” T-shirt. OOOPS! Too late! It will be the year of the something-else, then!

I am tempted, though, to purchase the coffee cup.

Read the conclusion to this series here!


  1. A shirt with Buddha is wrong due to people thinking you would be Buddhist. Yet a shirt with “The year of the Ox” is related to the Chinese Horoscope. Its better for them to think you are into chinese astrology than Buddha? Unbelievable Steve……….Promotion of the gods of atrology is better than the promotion of Buddha? I know, I know I must be totally off base here so go ahead set me straight………What am I missing here?

  2. Brothers, please take a few moments to Pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, before reading this. ……Please take this in Christ like love. When it comes to zeal and (how to) example, I love your blog Steve, but I have to say that I don’t agree with the spirit that you, Steve or Chad are speaking with (in written form). As the title of a radio program puts it, Let The Bible Speak. Col. 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Are you standing for what you believe (your conviction) or what scripture teaches ? I agree with the principle you are teaching Chad but the freedom comes from hearing God say it, not Steve, Chad or Russell. What does the Scripture, in proper context, say about the subject?

  3. God knows your motives and your heart and so I don’t thnik that Stone the preacher should be condemned by anyone, lets not focus on the small things but on the greater picture which is doing what God has called us to do instead of persecuting one another. We are on the same side are we not? We are to love each other even if we may not disagree unless it is going against what Jesus has said in the Bible or against scipture such as worshipping idols etc. So I would like to encourage Steve to continue to preach the gospel and if I like or dislike his shirt is irrelevant, I support him in raching the lost. Are there any others willing to do the same?

  4. Russell: Well said. I appreciate your heart. I, too, am somewhat surprised at the anger and tone displayed at my choice of what to wear when evangelizing. My desire on this blog is to provide an entertaining, informative, yet provocative approach to witnessing, to stimulate discussion, and allow for iron to sharpen iron. I was hoping for a more civil discourse and will attempt to be a more gracious host of this blog.

    I pretty much post whatever is commented on, and allow the readers to “fight my battles” so to speak. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my methods, but please, if the reader disagrees, be gracious. We all come from different backgrounds and different approaches. I try different things all the time, some don’t work, and others do. My way is not the only correct way; you are free to preach and witness any way you like. Sometimes, though, we will just have to disagree.

    My Scripture is 1 Corinthians 9:20-23: “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

    Paul writes, “To the Jews I became a Jew… to win those who are under the Law.”

    John MacArthur writes, “Because Jews were still under the Law, Paul would himself act as under the Law when he worked among them. He did not believe, teach, or give the least suggestion that following the Law was of any spiritual benefit… but it was a way of opening doors to work among the Jews.” (From MacArthur’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians)

    Paul writes, “To those who are without law, as without law.”

    MacArthur again, “To keep from being misunderstood, he makes it clear that he is not talking about ignoring or violating God’s Moral Law. “…In other than moral matters, however, Paul identified as closely as possible with Gentile customs. He ate what they ate, went where they went, and dressed as they dressed. The purpose was to win the Gentiles to Christ.” (From MacArthur’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians

    Paul writes, “To the weak I became weak.”

    MacArthur, “When among those who were weak he acted weak. He stooped to their level of comprehension.”
    (From MacArthur’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians)

    Folks, if you disagree with me, I’m okay with that. Really. I offer suggestion and techniques that you may want to use, but you don’t have to. And please, I want you to smile and laugh and have a good time when reading this blog. I try to make fun of myself when I make mistakes, and want this site to be enjoyed. It is not my way or the highway.

    To Chad: Thank you brother for your support and earnest desire to understand. Let me explain why I would not wear a Buddhist shirt and why I would wear a “Year of the Ox” shirt.

    Buddhism is a religion. To wear a Buddha would imply that I ascribe to that religion, which, of course, I don’t.

    “The Year of the Ox” shirt is more cultural, like our Independence Day (and yes, I do know that it is from their Zodiac). An analogy I would use is a British person visiting on the Fourth of July. Would it be wrong for him to wear an American Independence Day shirt, even tough our forefathers founded our country on rebellion? (I admit that it is not the best analogy.)

    That’s my take, anyway. My conscience says it’s okay; yours may not. I’m okay with that. We’re brothers. I would not make you wear the shirt if you joined us on an evangelism outing, and if you felt that strongly if you did join us, I probably wouldn’t wear it out of Christian love.

    To the few who disagree with my shirt-wearing, please understand that I just want you to understand why I’m doing it; I’m not trying to be right. This falls, I believe, into that gray area. For some of you, it may be black and white; that’s okay, too.

    God bless you. I appreciate you. Keep fishin’,

    Pastor Steve

  5. It’s obvious that we will not agree on this issue. My point is this, you are interpreting those scriptures differently than I do. I think Paul was meaning that we are to become that person in the sense that we put ourselves in their shoes and understand where they are in life. That way we can effectively share in a way they understand. I don’t think it means for us as believers to allign ourselves with ungodly men to try and reach some. Ozzy shirts, Obama shirts, witches hats, hitler shirts, Steelers shirts etc. are all advertisements for what you are about. If I wear a Steelers shirt. its because I love the Steelers. And If I don’t people will assume that I do because of my shirt advertisement. I agree with all the scripture you quote, I just don’t agree with your interpretation of them. If my words seemed harsh I apologize. I am from Illinois and have your blog in my favorites. I have read your blog everyday now for about 1 1/2 years now. I just found it kind of discouraging to see, in my view, the compromising to become relevant. Sorry again for any harsh comments.

  6. Thanks, Chad. I appreciate your support and willingness to agree to disagree, though I do agree with you. Paul is talking about our lifestyle. But I also see that it’s okay to blend in in the short term.

    Blessings, my friend!

  7. Steve,

    I have read the whole 7 part series start to finish and wholeheartedly agree with your stance. To wear a shirt does not indicate a blanket endorsement of anyone. I too, would NOT wear a Buddha shirt but would wear a “Year of the Ox” shirt because you rightly surmised the difference between culture and endorsement. I do not in any way, shape or form support any of Obama’s policies nor do I agree with him, yet and still, he is the 44th president of the U.S.A.

    Heck, if I went to a heavy metal concert, I’d probably wear my son’s John Deere tractor T-shirt that says, “I love heavy metal!” (great suggestion, huh Steve? ) Would that double-entendre be an endorsement of heavy metal music and I be in danger of leading others astray with my witness? No. The shirt is simply a touchpoint, a connection with those whom you want to hear the Gospel. Here in the South we say, “You draw more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” And frankly, to have a white guy stand up in front of a group of African Americans on MLK day on the eve of the inaguration of the first black president pointing out that they’re sinners, you need a point of connection lest the memory of very real atrocities that happened in our nation’s past is heard with wounded ears thus diluting your effort. I understand this more than most having grown up in the South my whole life.

    To try to ignore the fact that Obama being of African heritage and now becoming president of the United States does not in some way affect any person of color is truly ignorant. Our country has come a long way.

    When people are in a dark cave, shining a flood light in their eyes is an offense few recover from. However, as the light is gently shined into the darkness, and the eyes adjust, the law when spoken (and I am CERTAIN it was spoken that day) will shine the light into the recesses of the heart and to expose everything that is dark.

    When witnessing to a Jew do you walk right up and start talking about “Jesus” or do you talk about “Yeheshua”? The name of Jesus is offensive to most Jews. I know because I have done it. Does that mean that I’m denying Christ or compromising because I don’t say Jesus? No, it means that I am skillfully maximizing the opportunity God has allowed into my life and exercising prudence and common sense in light of atrocities committed in recent history that may cause a message to be heard with prejudice and so as not to compromise the brief moment I have for the Glory of God.

    Steve I look forward to reading of your next adventure, brother! 🙂

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