Cross him off then.
This is interesting. The Dallas Morning News reported this morning that a funeral locale had to be changed because High Point Church was not on board with the homosexual behavior of the deceased. (HT Tank)
An Arlington church volunteered to host a funeral Thursday, then reneged on the invitation when it became clear the dead man's homosexuality would be identified in the service.
There are 2 issues here for me.
1. Where is the line drawn for the behavior/lifestyle of the deceased? In other words, if you're going to allow a non-Christian to be honored in your church building, how much sinfulness is acceptable? Obviously, there are varying degrees of sin/sinfulness, but suppose the deceased was just an adulterer? What about a wife-beater?
How much obligation is there upon the church to research the deceased?
As I understand it, this situation is one where the church was surprised and felt they could not compromise their principles.
"Can you hold the event and condone the sin and compromise our principles?" he said. "We can't."
The issue was not so much that Mr. Sinclair was, from the church's perspective, an unrepentant sinner, he said. It's that it was clear from the photos that his friends and family wanted that part of his life to be a significant part of the service.
The pastor said that he could imagine a similar situation involving a different sin. Perhaps a mother who is a member of the church loses a son who is a thief or murderer, Mr. Simons said. The church would surely volunteer to hold a service, he said.
"But I don't think the mother would submit photos of her son murdering someone," he said. "That's a red light going off."
I understand where they're coming from, but at the same time. I wonder about any "unrepentent sinner" being honored in a church building, since you're not honoring Christ in that person's life. Which leads me to my 2nd question.
2. Why would a person who was not a member of any church have a "church" funeral? The deceased was not a member of any church, so why have the funeral/memorial service in a church? Is it only because the building was large?
I've often wondered about this with regard to weddings as well. Why have a wedding in a Christian church if you're not planning on having a Christian marriage or if neither of the participants is a Christian? Of course, they both ought to be, lest somebody needs a rebuke for marrying a non-believer.
I think non-believers should marry each other, but I've often wondered why they would desire a "church wedding," beyond the aesthetic value of the building.
Any way, these are questions to ponder, especially by those in church leadership. Regardless of convictions about morals and standards of behavior, churches would do well to have thought through these issues and have policies in place ahead of time.
Figuring out how to walk that line is not easy, said the Rev. Bob Stith, the recently retired pastor of Carroll Baptist Church in Southlake who is now the national strategist for gender issues for the Southern Baptist Convention. His new job is to help churches negotiate conflicts like the one faced by High Point.I applaud the church for not compromising their convictions, but I hope their experience will be a lesson for others as there was much embarrassment for both the church and the family.
The best system is to work out procedures ahead of time, he said. For instance, he tells Baptist churches they should have clear guidelines that they can give to families at the start of funeral planning. But even that can't prevent every possible awkward situation, he said.
"I know because this is such new ground for a lot of churches and pastors, you get caught off-guard and you get reactive and not proactive," he said.