Update: A commenter identifying himself as Paul Wagner, Cecil Sinclair’s partner, has more details about what happened.
High Point Church in Arlington, Texas, had offered to hold a funeral service for Cecil Sinclair, 46, after he died of heart disease while waiting for a transplant. Sinclair had been a Navy veteran of Desert Storm helping rescuers find downed pilots, and he came out to his family after returning from the gulf. The church started praying for him after he fell ill six years ago out of concern for his brother, a church member and employee. When Cecil died, they offered to hold a funeral, feed 100 guests, and put together a multimedia presentation of photos from his life.
And that’s where the trouble started. Some of those photos had “kissing and hugging,” showing that Cecil was gay. The church changed its mind and refused to hold the funeral. They didn’t even give the family a chance to find common ground:
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, (Rev. Gary) 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.”
It’s sad that the church would cancel a funeral without consulting with the family. After six years of prayer and concern, Cecil’s sexuality was not a secret. But now the man is dead after a very long illness and the family is grieving. Simons’s comparing Cecil to a murderer was a particularly low blow and completely uncalled for.
It seems that all too often, the Church misses out when opportunities arise to reach out. But with examples like this one, it’s no wonder so many gays are hostile to Christianity. History has been a persistent teacher.