Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gay Memorial Canceled


A man's memorial was canceled at a church in Texas when the church found out the man was gay. The church claimed they did not know about his homosexuality until pictures were provided for a movie, to be played at the memorial, of the man and his partner together. The church also offered to pay for hosting the memorial somewhere else as well as for any food or services needed.

What do you think of this? I believe homosexuality is a sin, but I am not sure what to make of this. It seems to me that if the church truly canceled the memorial on principile they would have canceled it all together and not offered to pay for holding the service somewhere else. Then again, I understand that the church was trying to state that it was not being judgmental of the man, his partner, and his friends and family. However, if this is what they wanted they could have held the service anyway and just requested there be no mention of the man's homosexuality and not played the video. I'm sure there were many other options available as well. Surprsingly enough, the pastor's wife is the sister of Joel Osteen. If you ask me, the whole thing could have been handled better. It could have been talked out and sure could have used a lot more prayer over the issue. I think it should have been canceled all and all, but that's just me. I won't be judgmental of the man or the church. That's for God to decide. The church certainly stood out and made the news with this, though, didn't it?


Alyssa said...

Hmm, this is a tough one. The first thing that comes to my mind is the old excommunication practices of the Catholic Church, a practice that never sat too well with me. On the one hand, funerals/memorial services are always delicate things to begin with. They often just become a sugar coated celebration instead of the truth.

How does a church deal with someone who has died? You can't rebuke or seek reconciliation. I think I probably would have handled it in the same way the church did. A memorial service is designed to praise the person who died. A Church is not a public institution, in that it is not open to any belief; it has a core set of beliefs and values, one of which is that homosexuality is a sin, another is that God came to save, and not condemn.

Paul talks about staying away from sexual immoral people who call themselves believers, but not from people with a similar lifestyle who don't claim to be followers of Christ.

I think the church's decision upholds their value that homosexuality is wrong, because having the memorial service at the church could send mixed messages to members and non-believers alike. However, their decision is compassionate, while not advocating his lifestyle. They are not turning their backs on his family and friends by sending a message that the church abhors people who live in sin; that they don't even deserve a funeral.

According to scripture, anyone who is apart from Christ, is dead in sin. That doesn't mean that we can't honor the life of a non-Christian who has died. But just because someone has passed away does not mean the church has to put aside its beliefs and values to accommodate them.

However, I am not 100% sure that the decision was correct. I mean, as a pastor, my dad has done funerals at the church for non-Christians many times. It gives him a chance to share the gospel with the family and friends of the deceased Could the church have held the service without advocating the lifestyle? I don't know. And what separates, an gay man from, say, an alcoholic? Like I said to begin with, it's tough; there's no easy answer.

Poorhouse Dad said...

I agree with Alyssa that the church took a stand against sexual immorality. Also consider that the man performed homosexual acts even while fooling the church into thinking he was straight. (Sometimes, the cover-up is worse than the original crime. Just ask Richard Nixon.) The church may have offered to pay for another venue, therefore, not so much out of compassion as out of the need to honor an agreement to provide a place for the service.

I wouldn't associate this with the Catholic practice of excommunication because the Roman Catholic Church used it as a political weapon. Here, the church's use of excommunication (if that's the right thing to call it) follows the New Testament's command to use it to bring about repentance from gross sin, to prevent the sin's spread to other church members, and to uphold the church's testimony before unbelievers.

Therefore, I doubt that the church had any better options.