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The Associated Press, among other outlets, featured prominently earlier this week a story of a gay Gulf war veteran who passed away and the church that canceled his memorial service the day before it was supposed to take place once they found out through pictures submitted to the church as part of the memorial that he was gay.
Of course, the Daily Kos blog and the other usual suspects, mostly on the left, jumped on this story as a ‘clear example’ of how mean-spirited Christians supposedly are and how they don’t practice the compassion that they preach. Some liberal Christian media outlets were outraged at what High Point Church had allegedly done, as they believed the church wasn’t doing their Christian duty (?).
As typically happens, the agenda-driven mediots didn’t give the full story. It only gave the pieces it wanted to in order to sensationalize it and turn it into a battle of evil Christians versus a deceased Gulf war vet who happened to be gay, whose family had to defend his honor. The full story, as it turns out, is a lot more complicated than what was reported, and goes to the very heart of what a church is supposed to be about: honoring and gloryifying God, not condoning sin. Detroit pastor Paul Edwards wrote this piece for Townhall.com that makes clear to me that the church did not turn their backs on the family of Cecil Sinclair but instead refused to hold a memorial glorifying his gay lifestyle (emphasis added):
Here are the facts. High Point Church, a non-denominational church in Arlington, Texas, had been praying for Cecil Sinclair after Cecil’s brother Lee (the only member of the Sinclair family who was a member of the church) requested prayer for his brother who had been awaiting a heart transplant.
When Cecil Sinclair’s health became critical last week, the family called a staff member from the church to be with them at the hospital. In the hospital, in the moments immediately following Mr. Sinclair’s death, the family asked the staff member if the church would be open to holding a memorial service for their loved one. The staff member assured them the church would be available to help the family in any way appropriate, a response any pastor would give in that situation.
Cecil was not a member of High Point Church, yet this church selflessly and sacrificially ministered to his family in the wake of his death, preparing and delivering food for the family and one hundred relatives and friends, along with many other expressions of kindness. The church offered to produce a video retrospective of Mr. Sinclair’s life for use during the memorial service. When the family provided the pictures to the church it was then that the church learned of their intention to make the memorial service a celebration of Cecil Sinclair’s gay lifestyle. According to a statement on the High Point Church Web site, one of the photos provided by the family showed a man touching another man inappropriately, along with other unsuitable photos.
The family also requested that “an associate of an openly homosexual choir” officiate at the service and that the homosexual choir sing during the service. “It became clear to the church staff that the family was requesting an openly homosexual service at High Point Church—which is not our policy to allow” the statement on the church’s Web site said. After initially agreeing to host the memorial service, the church informed the family it could no longer do so based on the direction the family wanted to take it. The church then secured—and paid for—another location for the memorial service, which the family declined. The church also produced the memorial video without the inappropriate photos.
Contrary to the mainstream media reports, High Point Church did not refuse to host the funeral of a gay man. The church refused on biblical principle to allow a celebration of the homosexual lifestyle in its sanctuary, a decision most theologically sound churches would make under similar circumstances.
High Point Church’s principled and biblical decision was the right one, evidenced not only by just how unpopular it is with the mainstream media, but also by the knee-jerk and ill-informed response of today’s culturally-savvy, but often biblically illiterate Christians.
I knew there had to be more to this story than what the media had been writing about. They almost never get it right when it comes to ‘controversial’ things done in the church, primarily because they come at it with preconceived notions about Christians (that are similar to their negative impressions of conservatives).
As hard as it might be for the far left, the media and – as Edwards described it – biblically illiterate (mostly liberal) Christians to understand, traditional Christian bible-believing churches do not subscribe to the secular habit of political correctness. They’re not supposed to. This church was willing to give a memorial for Cecil Sinclair, but was not willing to glorify his sin – the gay lifestyle. And for those (like Andrew Sullivan) who think churches only target gay sinners, I have news for you: they don’t. My dad, who knows the bible probably better than about 75% of preachers in this country, will never be allowed to be a deacon in church because he had a divorce, and it’s been the practice of churches he’s been to over the years (as we moved from place to place) to, based on scripture, not allow him to be a deacon. I also know of a married man at a church I once attended who was relieved of his duties with the church choir because it had been discovered that he was having an affair. He was told he had to step down from his leadership position over it.
It is when churches start allowing political correctness to seep into the pews and onto the pulpit that the word of God becomes deluded and, eventually, distorted into something it is clearly not. As an example the Evangelical Church is being torn apart by political correctness.
Church memorials are not supposed to honor sinful lifestyles, no matter the sin. High Point Church did the right thing here – it showed the compassion and selflessness that is such a huge part of being a Christian. But it wasn’t ‘bigoted’ or ‘hateful’ – their decision was based on Bible teachings, and in a PC age where they had to have known that their decision was going to raise a lot of eyebrows in liberal Christian churches and media outlets looking for an angle, I’d say it was a brave decison to make.
It’s so easy these days to “go along with the crowd” and do “what feels good” – but Christianity isn’t about “going along with the crowd” and doing “what feels good.” It’s about going along and doing what’s right by God, and that’s the most important thing that should be taken from all this.