About that “church cancels memorial after finding out Navy vet was gay” story

Posted by: ST on August 17, 2007 at 9:24 am

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.

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    1. Great White Rat says:

      High Point Church did the right thing here – it showed the compassion and selflessness that is such a huge part of being a Christian.

      Well said, ST. Christians hate the sin, but love the sinner, as this church showed by its compassion and sacrifice for this man’s family during the entire ordeal. Even after the family tried to strong-arm them into producing a pro-sin ceremony, the church had the grace and decency to show a memorial video celebrating his good side.

      The leftists today, on the other hand, seem to love the sin and don’t particularly give a damn about the sinner. For all the moaning from Kos and the usual suspects, I’d be shocked if any one of them did anything at all for the family before Lee Sinclair died and became a tool they could use to attack one of the targets they hate most.

    2. Of course the AP and MSM screwed the story up and it was intentional as well. Many on the left hate true Christianity with a passion that would do OBL proud. Those same people will take every opportunity to whack Christianity with the slur of the day. Homophobia seems to be the most popular choice. After all once you’re painted a bigot, you no longer matter in the scheme of things.

      Expect more of the same from the AP and thier Ilk.

      PS does AP now stand for Atheist Press or was it Anti Christian Press?

    3. Red Ryder says:

      As is understood by only a very few, INTOLERANCE, not tolerance, is the Christian virtue.

      The reasons that Christians were martyred in Rome was not because they believed in the resurrection of Jesus. Far from it.

      The Romans were very tolerant of the customs/religions of the people they conquered. Besides, the Romans beleived that their emperors were gods and were resurrected, so they were cool with that aspect for Jesus.

      What got the Christians killed was that they believed that the resurrection event happened to Jesus exclusively, that Jesus and not the emperors were God, and that the Roman beliefs were wrong. Thus, they were executed for their intolerance.

    4. tommy in nyc says:

      ST stated in her last paragragh ‘ It’s about going along and doing right what’s right by God,and that’s the most important thing that should be taken by all this. Well for argument’s sake let’s just say that there is only one God and Jesus Christ is his only Son.( I honestly do not know if this the case but it’s Friday so let’s avoid that discussion) Did God write and re-write the Bible? No HUMAN BEINGS DID. So since my last statement is true it would be presumptous to actually know what :d Allah:d agrees/disagrees with?:-?

    5. Steve Skubinna says:

      Don’t you understand that if you do not openly and actively endorse homosexuality you are committing a hate crime? It’s off to the reeducation camps for the lot of you homophobic bigots!

    6. Steve Skubinna says:

      There’s a simple solution to your conundrum, tommy. The Muslims tell us that Allah wrote the Koran, or rather dictated it word for word and therefore it is the unadulterated word of G- uh, Allah. Disregard the episode of the Satanic Verses – and anyway, bringing it up can get you killed.

      So there you go – one true, pure religion for you. No doubts, no questions (another thing that can get you killed). No ambiguity. Go for it. No changing your mind, though… the penalty for apostasy is death.

      Now, whose more likely to have Truth on his side? Christians, who don’t even care enough whether you believe to kill you, or Muslims, who give you two choices: enslavement or death?

    7. Micah says:

      Perhaps High Point Church should have said,

      “We consider it our privilege to host the upcoming tribute to Mr. Sinclair, his family and friends will be most welcome in our church. However, we have a responsibility to act in accordance with our congregation and our understanding of Biblical teaching. We do not wish to dwell too specifically on the romantic nature of Mr. Sinclair’s personal life, but to celebrate the full blessing of his life. If however, our position is offensive to you – we would be willing to refer you to another place of worship who appears to have availability for a service on Tuesday morning. It is called, ‘Al Akbar Mosque’. The admin office for the mosque was quick to advise, however, that Shirah Law MAY BE exacted against any homosexual planning to attend the memorial service and that female attendees will be detained in a separate area of the building apart from the men. Burkas will be required. Any non-Muslim will be considered an infidel and could be subject to beheading by sword (not guillotine – rough break). Because of the 104 F heat, the office suggested the memorial service be held during morning prayers @ 5 AM cst). For more information, please contact Dr. Oman Bin Laden @ 123-456-7890. Best regards, HPC

    8. benning says:

      It doesn’t surprise me that the MSM and the Left are playing this up as typical Christian bigotry. “You shall know them by their works.”

      And we sure do know them![-(

    9. Dr. D says:

      According to the statements posted by High Point Church, it was Cecil Sinclair who died, and Lee Sinclair his brother was an employee (evidently not a member) of High Point Church. Otherwise, SisterT’s source got it pretty straight.

      Christian church buildings are spaces dedicated to one purpose only, the worship of Almighty God. They are not to be used for any other purpose, and it is a misuse to do so. Funerals are a proper use of that space, but they should be conducted by Christian clergy and no one else because the focus should be on Christ, not on the person who has died, and most certainly not on his life. We are all sinners, and there is not one of us who has led a life that should be glorified at our funeral. The funeral eulogy is a pagan concept that has been widely adopted by many, but it is still a pagan idea. The Christian funeral is about the return of the soul to God in Christ, and that clearly was not what this family intended to observe. High Point Church had no option but to do as it did, and it carried out its responsibilities with real grace and Christian spirit.

    10. Dr. D says:

      The reference to “the Evangelical Church” is actually related to happenings within Anglicanism. This is not what is normally understood to be described as the Evangelical Church, although the article speaks of the evangelical part of the Anglican Church. The terminology is a bit misleading. It would be more correct to speak of “Anglicanism being torn apart.”

    11. Dr. D – Edwards did say that Cecil was the one who died, and actually I meant to say it was the Evangelical Episcopalian church that is being torn apart, but I left a word out :)

    12. Severian says:

      Well, no surprise that the MSM and pro-gay activists would distort this story to their advantage. That kind of dishonesty really disgusts me, and totally negates any point they were trying to make. Same with most arguments from the left these days, what matters is not what they’re telling you but what they deliberately left out or lied about. But then, their attitude seems to be the end justifies the means, fake but accurate, you have to decide whether to be honest or effective, etc. If your cause is true and just you don’t have to lie about it.

      Seems to me that the church in question went out of their way to accommodate the family, who themselves seemed to be less interested in a tasteful memorial service to his memory than in trying to overtly call attention to his lifestyle choices. An emotional time for all involved undoubtedly, and perhaps bad decisions about what to show were made, but when they wouldn’t consider changes, it seems to me the church went bent over backwards to try and make sure they had a location for the service that was more suitable to what they wanted to do.

      Just another example of how no good deed goes unpunished. I’d like to see how far they’d have gotten attempting to have a pro-gay funeral for him at a mosque. I think stoning the family to death would probably not get the headlines this did, as after all we don’t want to insult our muslim readers. 8-|

    13. Tom in Houston says:

      You forgot to mention that High Point basically said that the deceased and his partner were ‘like murderers’. Thats when High Point lost just about everyone. But I hear they are praying for (oops I mean AT) them them and offered them ‘hush money’ in return for their dignity. Pardon me if people believe that they were motivated by public relations concerns, not Christian Charity.

      Calling someone ‘a murderer’ and then saying ‘you love the sinner’ rings hollow. Its kind of like me saying to an obese 18 year old girl. ‘I think gluttony is a sin, so when I call you fat and disgusting, I’m saying that with all of Jesus’ love. Do you feel Jesus’ love right now? Ya see, I love you, but I hate your sin of being fat and obese’. Its praying AT someone, not with them. And it is wrong.

      They wouldn’t deny an ex-wife or ex-husband the right to speak at their ex-spouses funeral, so why deny his partner? It just gives more evidence to those who think that High Point was motivated entirely by anti-Gay animus.

      Did they investigate The Gay Mens Chorus (a group about as racy as Pat Boone, in my opinion)? Did they try to talk to the family about the service and come to an agreement? I don’t think so. I believe that they just cancelled the service. Right after the Dallas Morning News ran an obit mentioning the partner and High Point Church. Anyone think that that wasn’t the real reason?

      Allowing a Gay man’s partner to speak at his funeral is not endorsing homosexuality. Neither is having a Gay man sing at his funeral. It simply acknoledges the deceased’s life. These funerals happen all the time in Southern Baptist and Catholic churches. And I don’t think anyone thinks that Richard Land or Benedict are going to marching in Gay Pride parades soon.

      I’m also wondering why we don’t see the pictures? I’d be willing to bet any kind of money that they were tame and appropriate. Seriously, do you think someones mother (presumably straight) is going to send porn to the Church?

      If you’re upset that the church looks bad, maybe you should look at what the church did. Sometimes the MSM gets it right. And it has nothing to do with PC. Just common decency.

      They have a right to slap a family when they are down. But in doing so, they have shown the world their Christian Goodwill and Charity. And it doesn’t look pretty.

      I don’t think they will have much trouble with Gay people or anyone that doesn’t believe that Gay people should be treated with creulty from gracing their doors again. They will lead no one to Christ. Which is good because, in my opinion, they do a rather bad job of representing Him.

    14. You forgot to mention

      No, I didn’t “forget” to mention anything. I know of no such thing, and since you don’t have a link, I doubt you do, either.

    15. Tom in Houston says:

      Try the Dallas Morning News. Directly from Mr. Simons’ mouth. But somehow Townhall missed that quote. I wonder why (heavy sarcasm). Perhaps because it didn’t make High Point look so good. Its in the ‘Not OK with Photos section of the story.


    16. Jesse says:

      I read the article, it does not change the story at all, yes they used a ‘sin’ (in this case murder) to demonstrate that they could not allow a service on their premises to ‘endorse’ sin.
      I somehow have the sneaky suspicion that no matter which sin they selected the reaction would have been the same (their comparing him to a liar, a thief, a… whatever), sin is sin and the church cannot take a chance in endorsing sin.
      It is unfortunate that they could not work it out, but their church, their rules, end of story. js

    17. Tom in Houston says:

      If I said ‘George W Bush, Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeni, Fidel Castro, and Osama Bin Laden’ are/were all opposed to Gay rights, it would be a factual statement. But it would still be wrong for me to use that analogy. Because the main point of the statement is not about the factual pont, its about the association. And it was the same with High Point.

    18. You are apparently a very weak or spiritually illiterate Christian, Tom, if you can’t understand that the sin of homosexuality and and the sin of murder are both equal sins in the eyes of the Lord. Simons wasn’t calling Cecil Sinclair a murderer, he was saying the sin of homosexuality was comparable to the sin of thievery or murder. The comparison was apt.

      As I mentioned in my post, churches aren’t the places for politically correct events to take place. And when they start doing so, the word of God becomes deluded and – in those churches – essentially meaningless. It might not ‘feel good’ or ‘sound good’ to people like you that pastors have to stand their ground on the issue of sin, but again, Christianity isn’t about doing ‘whatever feels good’ or ‘saying what people want to hear.’ It’s about going along and doing what’s right by God. Spirtually strong Christians understand this, but for that matter, you don’t even have to be a Christian to understand that.

      And as far as why the murder comparison was left out of Edwards piece, supposedly, as you say, because it ‘didn’t make High Point look good’, get a grip. Edwards was giving the other side of the story, not the partial story the media had given, which had already thoroughly vilified High Point church. Unlike the mediots, Edwards didn’t write his story to condemn High Point Church, he wrote it to give a more complete picture of what happened behind the scenes which the media, of course, didn’t choose to go into detail about. But if you want to believe the worst about High Point Church – and you clearly do – you go right ahead. I’m amazed at people who simply fall for whatever they read that backs up their preconcieved notions rather than seeking out the full story. That’s called being ‘close-minded’ Tom, something you are, yet ironically, something you would accuse High Point Church of being guilty of, as if churches should be ‘open-minded’ about sin.

    19. If I said ‘George W Bush, Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeni, Fidel Castro, and Osama Bin Laden’ are/were all opposed to Gay rights, it would be a factual statement. But it would still be wrong for me to use that analogy. Because the main point of the statement is not about the factual pont, its about the association. And it was the same with High Point.

      No it was not “the same” with High Point, Tom. High Point is a church that, like all churches, is supposed to follow, glorify, and help lead people to God. They are not supposed to memorialize a sinful lifestyle, whether it is a homosexual lifestyle, an adulterous lifestyle, a life of drinking and drugs, etc. And because almost always in situations like this, the media gets wind of it, pastors are left in the position to explain why they had to do something that doesn’t sit right with the crowd who thinks churches should act on feeling rather than based on scripture.

      When I hear a comparison from someone between GWB and Hitler, of course I’m outraged, because it’s a stupid comparison not based in reality. But when a pastor makes a comparison between the sin of homosexuality and the sin of thievery or murder, I don’t wince, because I know all three are considered sins – equal sins – in the eyes of the Lord, and no amount of ‘we shouldn’t say this because it’s going to hurt someone’s feelings’ is going to change that.

    20. clifto says:

      People, you’re wasting your time. Liberals are congenitally incapable of comprehending analogies.

    21. Tom in Houston says:

      You said ‘No it was not “the same” with High Point, Tom. High Point is a church that, like all churches, is supposed to follow, glorify, and help lead people to God. They are not supposed to memorialize a sinful lifestyle, whether it is a homosexual lifestyle, an adulterous lifestyle…’.

      So High Point Church refused funerals for people who have been divorced? Or announce that ex-wives/husbands shall be banned from speaking/being acknoledged at the funerals of their ex-spouses? They would if they held all sins to be the same. Unless they do, they are elevating homosexuality to a higher level of sin.

      By the way, Mr Simon did not use the analogy you did. He didn’t use divorce/adultery. They never seem to do that. Perhaps it was because the question of treatment for the (presumably) large number of divorced parishinors would be asked.

      You may think that all sins are equal. But High Point apparently does not. Because apparently they treat sins differently.

    22. You may think that all sins are equal. But High Point apparently does not. Because apparently they treat sins differently.

      Source? Or are you projecting your own biases against a church you know nothing about outside of what you’ve read in the MSM?

    23. Tom in Houston says:

      One final note..Did the Townhall piece state the family’s side of the story? Or just repeat one side as fact. I got both sides from the Dallas Morning News (which is generally a Conservative paper, btw). I wonder why you feel that the MSM got it wrong. It mentioned the money and food and “prayer”, but it also gave the family’s side of the story. Is that what makes you think that the reporting was biased? Or was it perhaps the fact that they reported the story at all?

    24. Tom in Houston says:

      Point taken. I don’t know for a fact that High Point bans funerals for divorced persons. I don’t know of any church that does. Let me know if you know of any.

      Now if Mr Simons had mentioned that he banned divorced people from funerals in the Dallas Morning News article (which would presumably have printed it as that would be BIG news), I would have shut up and prayed for the family) But he didn’t.

    25. I got both sides from the Dallas Morning News

      No you didn’t, Tom. Because if you had, you wouldn’t be leveling charges against the church that you can’t back up.

      Face it: You’re judging a church you know nothing about outside of what you read in the MSM, and are making those judgements about it based on your own preconceived negative opinions about Christians. “Apparently” they judge sins differently? How do you know? Are you a regular at High Point Church? If not, then you’re accusation is not based on anything you read, but something you believe deep down about all Christians, and you are projecting that onto this church. Ironically, you are doing the same thing to Christians that you would decry others doing to gay people: judging them before getting to know them.

      Try practicing what you preach sometime, Tom. Your crediblity will rise a few notches when you do.

    26. Now if Mr Simons had mentioned that he banned divorced people from funerals in the Dallas Morning News article (which would presumably have printed it as that would be BIG news), I would have shut up and prayed for the family) But he didn’t.

      Why would it have taken that ‘admission’ for you to have started praying for the family? Do you always wait for others to react in a way you’d like them to before you act yourself?

      I’m also not sure why the church – or any church – would “ban” divorced people from funerals, if those divorced people had asked for forgiveness of that sin from God. You see, Tom, that’s all that matters: if a sinner knows he’s sinned, goes to God and asks for forgiveness and furthermore asks Him into his heart as his Lord and savior, he will be forgiven. A divorced person who realizes it’s a sin will do that. On the other hand, those who engage in the homosexual lifestyle typically do not ask for forgiveness, because they don’t believe that what they are doing is a sin in the first place. Do you not understand the difference between asking for forgiveness and asking God into your heart, versus declaring that something isn’t a sin and refusing to ask for forgiveness on those (very shaky) grounds? You can’t ask God into your heart unless you are willing to acknowledge that you have sinned and are willing to accept that He is your Lord and savior, and furthmore will work throughout your life to do what’s right by Him.

    27. Tom in Houston says:

      I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were a member at High Point in Dallas. Did you just get your story from Townhall? I’ve read the Townhall article, and the response from the SBC. I didn’t see anything in the Townhall article that wasn’t presented in the MSM. What NEW fact uncovered by Townhall makes the Dallas Morning News coverage biased or defective? Other than the fact that they ran the story and interviewed the family? I guess they should have just killed the story or just ran High Point’s press release only. Otherwise, I guess the MSM (including the “liberal” Dallas Morning News – I can’t say that one without laughing) are apparently part of some liberal MSM conspiracy to attack Christianity.

      You know, there ARE people who do attack Christianity unfairly. This, however, was not one of those cases. But rather a simple reporting of both sides of a story. A very sad, avoidable story.

    28. Tom in Houston says:

      Ah theres ALWAYS an excuse in order to show creulty to others for not following what you hold up to be God’s law, while ignoring sins by those doing the judging.

      No, I prayed for the family when I heard the news. I especially pray for the one that has probably been hurt more than anyone else in this case, which would be the developmentally disabled brother of the deceased. Who was a member of the church. I pray that he has not been traumatised as much as I am afraid he has been by his Church’s treatment of him and his family in their time of need.

    29. Tom, I’ve had enough of your projecting, your willful ignorance, and your inability to grasp simple facts. Come back when you’ve been able to move beyond all that, when we can actually have a discussion without you throwing out the usual accusations against a church you know nothing about. You’re using this story as a proxy for your beef with Christians, and it’s clear to me that you’re unwilling to examine any facts that might conflict with your negative opinions about them.