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Church Refuses Funeral For Gay Man

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2007

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.

Comments

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M. Wise
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

That’s a real shame. The fact that a minister would find pictures or videos of two men hugging and/or kissing as repulsive or inappropriate for a funeral as pictures or videos of a murder is as ridiculous as it is disgusting. It’s like he fears seeing any sort of physical intimacy between men, as if hugging and kissing were necessarily sexual and therefore automatically wrong. That just makes me sad.

A Stitch in Haste
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

Church Denies Gay Hero a Funeral — “Same-Sex Kissing = Murder”…

More “Christian compassion” — An Arlington [Texas] church volunteered to host a funeral Thursday, then reneged on the invit……

Martin Lanigan
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

There is nothing that we can say that condemns this church’s attitude more than the very words of its own pastor. How a man’s orientation can be equated to murder by any sane person is beyond my ability to comprehend.

How sad for Cecil Sinclair’s family. Rest in peace.

Barry
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

To Pastor Gary Simons and staff of High Point Church, Arlington, Texas,

I read the article on The Dallas Morning News website: “Church won’t hold funeral for gay man – Kin scramble to find new site after Arlington clerics renege on offer” 09:58 AM CDT on Friday, August 10, 2007 By JEFFREY WEISS / The Dallas Morning News

I invite you to read this poem and think about, “What Should Your Part Be?”

Looking for Love – author unknown

There was a boy who never knew
the love a father gives,
raised by his mom in anger for
the man who left his kids.

The moment came in growing up
when gates were open wide,
and the boy whose heart was wounded
walked to the other side.

His appetite for nurture
to be given by a man,
had been left an empty vacuum
as he roamed about the land.

No love at home and some abuse,
no men to guide him home.
At home, at church, where e’er he went
he was always all alone.

Accepted Christ when very young,
he looked for help from church,
but with all the rhetoric and scorn,
they left him in a lurch.

In secrecy he longed for love
his desires, he did not tell,
in fear church would reject him
saying “Young man, you’ll go to hell.”

He stroked himself in closets
hidden from the light,
but it never satisfied him
so he wandered into night.

So looking for any man
who would make him feel complete,
he gave himself to do such things
that some would never speak.

He always lived with hope
that love would someday heal,
but years of ridicule and hate
left him broken, feeling ill.

Dying for affection
which he longed for from a man,
he turned to help from others
hoping they would understand.

Instead they told him, “Sodom!, burn!”
for such things he has done.
“How could you hurt your family so?
You’re such a sorry son.”

Angered and in desperate pain
that results from all the hurts,
the lad now had disdainful thoughts
for policies of church.

Trust, lost observing “Godly” men,
is remembered from the past.
“Can I trust Christians to love me?
No! There is none that will last.”

So, he bound himself in common cause
with others such as he,
who had suffered long the anguish
of their public mockery.

The lack of love, by Christian men,
only gave them cause,
so in defiance they decided
“To hell with hateful laws.”

In hope they’d find some peace and love
instead evolved a war.
In a nation birthed for tolerance
these men are now abhorred.

And a boy who never knew
the love and kindness of a father,
died a victim of disease alone,
with no one who would bother.

The answer to this problem lies
within the heart of those
truly filled with Christ’s compassion
for the travelers on the road.

You can heal our wounded bodies
and restore our broken hearts,
if you’ll only stop from judging us
for how we fell apart.

The little boy, love never knew
and yet became a man,
can feel the love of Christ in YOU,
if you’ll but touch his hand.

Please help him to recover
from the lonely desperation,
for the love of God through you
can give freedom from isolation.

Loving arms and tender care
will lead him to the Father.
Salvation and the Christian walk
can be his if YOU will bother.

Timothy Kincaid
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

Some churches believe in:

Love The Sinner, Not The Sin

…except for the first part, of course.

Timothy Kincaid
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

Barry,

Your poem, while it raises some good points about the lack of care by some in the church, seems to purpetuate the myth that homosexuality is someone created by an absent father and an “appetite for nurture to be given by a man”.

Although this is claimed by James Dobson and Exodus, there is no evidence whatsoever that an absent father has any impact on the sexual orientation of a person.

Emily K
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

he lack of love, by Christian men,
only gave them cause,
so in defiance they decided
“To hell with hateful laws.”

hateful Jewish laws? Nice.

Another piece of work- albeit with good Christian intentions – that makes its case by claiming the Jewish God is one of wrath while the Christian God is one of Grace. Because, it’s two different Gods. (wasn’t marcion condemned for that?)

Barry
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

Timothy,

Although I did not write the majority of the poem, I should have added that this is my experience. I do not blame absent fathers — there is no place for blame. My brother, who was also fatherless, was not gay.

I posted the poem (which I also e-mailed to four of the church staff members) to make the point that the church could and should have made a huge difference in this man’s life and now in his death could and should have made a difference with his family, but instead they have turned them away. That is not how the God I know treats His people.

I have been in church most of my life, but I feel that the church in America has gone astray, and not only towards gay persons. They have driven me out, and will cause many others to never darken their door. How many will be eternally lost because of the church?

Barry

Barry
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

Emily K,

No, not Jewish laws. Had I meant the Law of Moses, I would have used an uppercase “L”. The laws are those imposed by many, but not all, “Christian men” (and women too).

Emily K
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

OK, I stand corrected by the poet. I jumped the gun.

You are right, many christians have been rejected by their own. Isn’t there a saying, “their own people recieved him not?” Perhaps it is the most rejected christians that should feel solidarity with Jesus’ messages to the outcasts.

Kevin
August 10th, 2007 | LINK

This is, once again, another example of how these alleged “Christians” are more interested in power and control than serving Christ. Their “religious” beliefs are grounded on nothing more than how they can be manipulated and used for financial and political gain – which is, of course, what they really mean by “Christian principles.”

Apparently, none of these ministers in this “non-denominational” megachurch received much training in understanding basic human experiences such as life and death. The funeral isn’t about the CHURCH – it’s about the DECEASED and those he left behind. To take the notion that it might reflect poorly on the church if they honored the reality of a man’s life is an outrage – it was HIS life!

But this also reaches to the very core of how these people are nothing but con-artists and tax-free political action committees. They would disrespect the dignity of a man’s own LIFE in order to perpetuate an illusion that is important to their moneymaking scheme.

Lynn David
August 11th, 2007 | LINK

It is sad that some Christians cannot recognize love when they see it.

Paul Wagner
August 11th, 2007 | LINK

Editor’s note: This comment has been re-posted at “Partner of Gay Navy Vet Who Was Refused Funeral Responds”. Please leave your response to this comment on that thread. Thanks.

/ / /

I am the partner of Cecil Sinclair who passed. It is unfortunate that the church has decided to tell untruths in order to make themselves feel better, or make their side of the story into a saner response. Hopefully more of the truth will come out in future articles or investigations.

First of all, let me start by stating that it was a member of the church who offered the use of their facility to us, on behalf of his brother who is/was a member of their congregation. I was introduced to this man as Cecil’s partner. To my knowledge, this person at least was fully aware that we were living openly as a couple. This same member of the church, when were later advised that we could not use the facilities, on his own, with money from his own pocket, not church coffers, went and procured another facility for the funeral. The church did not do so. At no time did a member of the church contact us to indicate that they had a problem with any part of the service we were planning. We never had contact with the minister or any of the administration.

On Tuesday morning, we gave the church a total of 83 various pictures of Cecil that were forwarded to us by various members of his family. Of those, not a single one showed a man hugging or kissing another man, nor were there any overtly homosexual references. Cecil’s sister Kathleen sat and worked with the two people preparing the video and went through all of the photos with them. There was only one photo which would be considered offensive, as it was a picture of him in his early 20s making a rude gesture at his best friend who was taking the photo. We removed it and never asked that it be included. It was just overlooked in the rush to get things done. These individuals went through all the other photos, which were pictures of family gatherings, birthday parties, vacations, etc. At no time was anything expressed to her or us that they had a disagreement with any of the other photos.

Cecil’s brother Lee, who was the member of the church, asked that we include a call to prayer near the beginning of the services, as well as a call for salvation at the end. We immediately agreed to this because it meant so much to his brother personally. We even asked if they wanted to have their own minister conduct it, or if our officiator could. Our officiator was a baptist minister. There was no objection raised, so we assumed that it was OK.

On Wednesday evening about 6pm, we received a call. The person on the line put Cecil’s brother Lee, who is mentally impaired, onto the phone. Lee informed us that something had gone wrong, and then someone else got on the phone. That person informed us that a terrible string of errors was made, and that the service could no longer be held at their facility. We never spoke to the pastor nor anyone from his administration directly. It was all done through middlemen. When we requested to know why we could no longer use their facility, there was no answer. They simply stated a mistake was made.

Later that night, while we were scrambling to find another location, Cecil’s niece called back to the church and demanded an explanation. It was at that time a very long string of excuses began to form. First she was told that it was because we were bringing in outside food, which they didn’t allow. Then we were told it was because there was construction going on nearby which they felt would be too obtrusive. We said we didn’t think it would interfere. Then we were told it was because there was a scheduling conflict. When asked was other event was being held that was conflicting, the call was disconnected.

The remembrance we held for Cecil I felt was wonderful. We started with a brief welcome by the officiator. A song (For the Fallen) was sung. Cecil’s obituary was read. We then played the video which was about 10 minutes long, showing him from childhood, graduation, his naval service, and family gatherings, especially those from his 46th birthday, which had just been on the 5th of July. The officiator then read from personal family statements and remembrances of him. His mother, father, uncle and sister had all contributed personal insights into his life that they were not able to state themselves due to grief. A time was then allowed for individuals to come to the mike and offer their own personal remembrances of him. The chorale then sang another song (Amazing Grace). Closing remarks were made by the officiator and we then moved to the light meal that had been prepared. Meat and cheese sandwiches, cakes, and cookies. Only a small amount of this was offered by the church, most was either brought by family or friends.

To me personally, I have no problem with the church turning us away. My problem is with the method in which they did it. I happen to know several other members of that church who are also gay, and they had no idea that their church held that opinion on this topic either. If they had told us right away, or even on Tuesday that they were not comfortable with the service, we would have been more than willing to try and come to some sort of compromise, or we could have changed venues. We were never given that option. Someone in a position of power made the decision to cut us off, and didn’t even have the moral courage to tell us the truth to our faces.

Hopefully your reading this helps to make sense of what occurred. I fully understand the church’s right to deny us the use of their facilities. I also served in the military, (US Army, 1987-2002), and I have fought to defend their freedom of religion and freedom of choice.

If just one couple or family can be saved from having to suffer the same as we did, I would consider all this to have been worthwhile. I truly believe all congregations need to have more open communication between all their members, so that the person who had initially welcomed us into their church would have known that is was not acceptable in the eyes of their leaders, and the entire issue would have been avoided. If we had known from the beginning we were not welcome, or the offer had never been made, we would have just continued making the same arrangements we finally had in the end. Nothing we did for Cecil’s remembrance ceremony was changed, other than the location.

I loved Cecil truly and deeply, and I am sorry that anyone considers a truly heartfelt, emotional, even spiritual connection to another human being to be sinful, simply because that love is between two people of the same sex.

/ / /

Editor’s note: This comment has been re-posted at “Partner of Gay Navy Vet Who Was Refused Funeral Responds”. Please leave your response to this comment on that thread. Thanks.

The Volokh Conspiracy
August 11th, 2007 | LINK

Texas megachurch refuses to bury gay veteran:…

In the ongoing culture war, this episode is eloquent:

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A megachurch canceled a me……

David Puranen
August 11th, 2007 | LINK

I’m e-mailing the Church, I highly suggest everyone else does too.

This is the e-mail I sent to: robert.baxter@highpointchurch.com

I’m writing a short e-mail about this, because to be honest I don’t want to use too much profanity though your Church certainly deserves it for your actions in regards to Cecil Sinclair’s funeral. Speaking as someone who’s planting a Church up in Winnipeg (it’s in Canada) and actually working with gay people, your actions disgust me, and yet again make my ministry to those who actually need a doctor, even more difficult.

The fact is your Church offered someone a service, and you turned them away because they were a “sinner” in your eyes. What of the eyes of God? Cecil in the eyes of God was a person over and above any sin that he may have committed. But I suppose you all are just too nice of people to get your hands dirty with sinners… or perhaps more likely you’re just a bunch of white washed hypocrites who focus on labelling a group of people you don’t understand as unlovable, because you’re too lazy to even reflect the love that God has shown your pitifully bigoted souls.

I hope you can learn to understand the grace that’s been afforded to you in Christ. So you can stop being as absolutely pathetic examples of Christ’s love, as you have been in this case. I pray that God lifts you from your ignorance and affords you a good deal more wisdom. (because you sorely need it.)

PW
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

If you have a dog who likes you and your family but hates and bites strangers, you have the responsibility to put up a ‘Beware of dog’ sign on your backyard fence, and you warn others of the dog’s tendencies. Too bad this church didn’t have a ‘Beware of reactionary staff’ sign out front when Mr. Sinclair’s family showed up to make funeral arrangements.

Bein in Oakland
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

What part of “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is unclear to you? What exceptions can you find to the commandment “Love one another as I have loved you”? At what size does “the speck in another’s eye” or the “beam in your own” make the whole advisory inadmissable? There is no hypocrite quite like a religious one, is there?

All those good samaritans at High Point church…… « the faithful skeptic
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

[…] August 11th, 2007 | LINK […]

Ron
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

I believe that homosexuality IS a sin. BUt it’s not worse than any other sin.

I think the church should have honored it’s committment but “preached” a message of salvation.

Kensington
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

Hey… thanks for the link to the Pastor. I am going to email him. I am going to give him my support and my encouragment in this diffacult decision. I don’t know him, but if what has been said here is any indication of the compassion he has been receiving, then he needs to know someone cares that he did the right thing!

To the partner, you said you were okay with him speaking a salvation message, but would you really have been alright with him speaking to the idea of homosexuality being a sin in the sight of God? Because, as you sat on the front row, that is what he would have been saying. You need to repent, Let Jesus cleanse you of your sins, and receive his grace for your life. That is salvation, and that is what happens when someone calls you to salvation, and gives an altar call. Sin is spoken to, and a call to repent is given.

Kensington
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

Heya David… WOW, you sure told him! Gosh… but good!

Imagine using all that hate to tell someone they aren’t walking in LOVE the way you think they should.

You are planting a church? Are you sure? Where is God in your plan? Just curious.

Kensington
August 12th, 2007 | LINK

BTW David, thanks for showing all of us your “comments” so we could see what a great job you did. Everyone can applaud and be proud of you telling the brother in the LORD off… Whay to go! Woo-hoo!

Does this ring a bell with you? … “You have your reward”?

Gay Believer
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

A SHARING FROM A GAY BELIEVER: So this church which denied funeral services to a gay man did it because they have the duty to uphold the Bible? Totally absurd. Total Hypocrisy. They think they do. The ecclesiastical system today (which includes this church in my opinion), has, since decades ago (in my own beliefs), has become their own voice–many of them had already kicked the Spirit of Love, which is Christ Himself from their pulpits, pews, and chapels and replaced Christ with their own manmade dogmas and rules that they use to control their congregations. These ‘rules’ that are often from their own interpretations of the Word–this is obvious in how many of these supposed churches of God behave in the eyes of us “heathens and thieves and liars”. Many of these churches (or church systems) think they speak for God, they think they represent the Word, but overall, a great many of them (not all), speak not for God but for their own selfish bellies, always hungry and thirsty for power, money and even for politics. They think they follow the Word but they really don’t. A great majority of them think they are saved but they really aren’t. Many of them (including this one) are hypocritical in my opinion and in due time, at the end of this dispensation, will receive their dues from God. Here’s an excerpt from the Bible: Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” God is a God of Mercy, and of Truth, and of Grace. Humanity is the essense of all mankind–that essense has many imperfections (called SIN and it has many attributes, both visible and invisible) because all are flesh(not divine)–that’s why Christ died for ‘all Mankind’ because all have sinned–this applies to all. In “SIN”, we were ALL Conceived! What saves us is our ‘faith’ in Christ (gay or straight) and what follows after that is between that individual and God for He is a God of and for individuals in His invisible CHURCH and each individual in this invisible CHURCH is unique and has a unique purpose in life. One group of that imperfect group called Humanity has no right to judge and single out another group who happen to be only expressing their unique humanity because they (the so-called ‘church system’) themselves are not perfect and have also failed to uphold God’s righteousness in many, many other ways. For this church to say that they have the duty to uphold the Word which they think justifies their denying this funeral service, is just pure hypocrisy on their part—and, this hypocrisy is very, very clear to the world now for acting so shamefully. They’ve failed to express mercy, grace, and love—the same mercy, grace and love that they received as sinners themselves when they first believed.

Ron
Gay Christian

Bein in Oakland
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

For ron and Kensington and the pastor of this church: it always amazes me how you good christians wil say in one moment we’re all sinners, and the next moment go on to treat gay people (and our families) like we’re not quite even human, and that our sin is really not just quite like yours. Gay Christian has it right. as I said in an earlier post: what part of “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is unclear to you? What exceptions can you find to the commandment “Love one another as I have loved you”? At what size does “the speck in another’s eye” or the “beam in your own” make the whole advisory inadmissable? There is no hypocrite quite like a religious one, is there?”

yuou judge gay people with quite a different set of values than you approach any other of your so-called sins. you pretend you are not judging us, for your own comfort.

Timothy Kincaid
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Barry,

Sorry I was critical. This poem reflects your personal experiences and for that I honor it. The message of your poem is, sadly, too true in the church of culture warfare and divisions and intractable positions on issues of little real relevance. We can only pray for the eventual unity of the Body of Christ.

Kensington,

Thanks for providing a very clear example of the hostile, dismissive, arrogant and uncaring attitudes that prevail in much of the church today. Self-congratulations over the hurtful actions taken to “make a stand” might feel good (self-righteousness generally does). But they harm not only the family of this man, but also the message of Christ. Sadly, you rejoice at the pain.

Ben in Oakland
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Let’s talk about respect and kindness.

Actually, let me put this a different way that will, i hope, shine the spotlight on what your comments are really about.

As a jew, there is not one word in the bible after the last one in the book of Malachi– in other words, the whole of the new testament– that i accept as having any truth or value in my life.

That i reject the whole of your theology, not just the parts you find interesting, probably does not bother you or anyone other than the most die-hard fundamentalist. It doesn’t register on your radar, most likely. no lenthy postings on anti or pro-jewish websites, no lectures, no political campaigns to restrict my rights as a jew, no support of anti-jewish politicians, no lengthy contorted, mythology-based pronouncements on the appropriateness of my jewish beliefs, no twisting of actual facts to suit your agenda, no nothing.

Certainly, no cancellation of funeral.

Most likely, all you say is “well. Your jewish. I can respect that.’ If you are being less charitable, you might even say “Oh well. He’s gonna burn in hell forever. I can live with that.”

So why does this rejection of just the tiniest part of your theology get you so excited– excuse me, exercised? Could it be that it is really not about your religious beliefs at all?

I have no way of actually answering that question for you, but I’ve seen enough in my life to give me enough of an answer. It is not really about your religion. it is about a very deeply held prejudice, given a veneer of respectability by some organized religion. but it is still a prejudice.

Even if it is, how about this? I would like to have the same respect from you, the same live-and-let-live attitude that you extend to all of the other people you believe are going to hell, sent there to burn for an eternity by your just and loving god, just because they don’t believe his pronouncements, or horror-of-horrors, just don’t believe in him at all.

I don’t want to be special for you, just because i am gay.

but you know what? As far as you are concerned, it is special.

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Actually Ben, I was replying to arrogant dismissive comments towards the man of god who once knowing the truth faced making the decision for his church. Sorry you missed that.

I never said I do not have compassion on the gay person. I stand by the pastors right to make this decision. I have a gay niece, I love her dearly. But, I also know what the BIBLE says.

BTW.. the funeral was not canceled. By the words of the partner, it was moved and went on very well. It just didn’t happen in the church.

Where is the patience, kindness and understanding for the CHURCH? Why is the church being held to a standard that no one else can or would keep in regards to love? Look at the comments here alone towards believers and the church about this. There has been no kindness, or christian love. There has been condemnation and outrage, with the word hypocrit thrown in. But, none of the same thing you demand that the church was to give. Why is that?

Christ did not preach that when someone offended you, “go on out and kick em down”… “Hey, everyone join together and beat em down”… Did He? Not that I know of. But, yet… that is what we see here. The church is bad, and the church are hypocrits… well okay, I guess we are hypocrits, and there is always room for one more! I’ll save you a seat. Where is the love and the forgiveness for the church? There is a saying… “If you want to know how a Christian should live, ask a sinner, they are keeping a list”.

I pray for both sides of this, both need healing. But, I agree with the Pastor as to what can and cannot happen in the sanctuary of the Church. And this would have been inappropriate.

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

To the family of the deceased … I am sorry for your loss. I pray for you in this time of letting go.

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Kensington.

The church buries sinners every day. If the church holds homosexuality as a sin, then what exactly does it say when they refuse to bury this particular “sinner”?

The church is held to a standard that “no one else can or would keep” simply because Christ himself held to that standard. So when you ask patience, kindness and understanding for the CHURCH”, surely you’re not suggesting that we should feel sorry for the poor, poor church?

But you are right. Christ did not preach that when someone offended you, “go on out and kick em down.” Too bad this particular church was confused on that point.

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Jim, Christ didn’t do funerals. He raised the dead.

This church did what they could do in clear conscience. I believe the widows offering was considered good enough.

This church did make and serve food for about 100 people too. They ministered in as much as they were able. Now, the pastor is a lying scoundrel? I don’t believe it.

Sure the body falls short. And I pray that everyone calling them names and bashing them, using hypocrit and such are all truely arrived tested and true today. Wouldn’t that be nice?

But, the way I read it, the BIBLE says we are being perfected and will be continually until the day Christ returns and then and only then will we be perfected, when we see Him.

So, if you are expecting the church to walk the abosolute sinless line that Jesus did, you deceive yourself. It is not going to happen. It’s not possible. Christ said so.

The Pastor was not wrong. We are wrong to judge him for his decision. Its a double standard otherwise.

Paul Wagner
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Jim,
I am Cecil’s Partner. I do apologize. It appears that I left a number out of my email address when I first included my comments. You are welcome to email me.

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

We are certainly NOT wrong for judging his actions. We cannot judge his heart, but we most certainly can judge his actions.

I guess you and I view Church differently. I see the Church as the Body of Christ, and I see the leaders of the church are obligated to behave in a manner that is above reproach — at least as often as humanly possible given that individual’s fallen nature.

But when that individual falls short, he is called to repentance. That too, is Christ’s mandate.

And if there is a double standard in that, well so be it. If the Body of Christ does not wish to hold itself to a higher standard, then IMO it ceases to be an embodiment of Christ.

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

I’m trying to view the body of Christ the as God would… Through the blood. Covered by the blood. Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure there is another way for me to do that, unless I want my sins listed in papers and critiqued on websites too. KWIM?

When God looks at me today, I want him to see the blood of His only begotten son covering me. Don’t you?

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Also, unless you know this pastor to be a man without principles in his life daily, then judging him based on this one choice is still wrong.

The WORD of God says to know them by their “FRUITS” (plural), not just one thing they did in a life lived for God. If we are to be judged based on one action in our walk, and any wrong one at that… we’d all be in pretty sad shape before the LIVING GOD.

He has not been found in sin.. He has been found in saying.. “I can’t do that”. That is not sin. I know Christians who every day say they cannot do what other Christians can do.

I can’t pray two hours a day. But, I know Christians who can. I can’t raise the dead, but I know it can be done. Jesus did it. I am asking my fruits be fruits of faith. What else can we do?

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

I only commented on this one action and how it reflects on the Church. How is that “judging him based on this one choice”?

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

You used the term “actions”… not action. And to know them by their fruits is to know their walk.

You cannot possibly know this man’s walk by this one action.

You said he is obligated to be above reproach… Well, By honestly saying, “I cannot do this” He is.

He cannot do it. It’s just that simple. What you are judging is that, He SHOULD have anyway, because its what YOU think is right.

Now, that would be a false walk, wouldn’t it?

What if the man had tried to go on with it, and during the service stopped it, and asked it to be moved when he realized it would be a sin for him to host that funeral?

We can only demand that people live up to what Jesus calls them to be, NOT what we think He called them to be. Maybe next year, He will be in a place different than today, and the result would be different. But, today… He did not sin.

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

Paul,

I just now saw your comment. Please accept my deepest condolences and prayers for your loss.

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

I think you’re playing semantics between “actions” and “action”. I only know about this instance, and yes, I am judging his actions in this particular instance. I’m not judging his heart — others may be, but I’m not.

And I’ll accept his word if his says “I cannot do it.” It’s nice for you to try to speak for him, but unless you are actually Pastor Simons, I’d rather hear his reaction.

But I am curious. Speaking for yourself and not Pastor Simons, under what conditions is it a sin to host a funeral?

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

I think if you read the article in the paper that lead to all of this, You will see his comments include, “I cannot do this”.

Are you saying he owes you a specific explination? How Wooooeed.

Speaking for myself, the conditions under which I would think it was a sin, would be, when I thought it was or would be a sin.

“To them who believe it is a sin, to him it is counted as sin.” We have liberty, but when we believe it is a sin, and we do it, we have sinned.

Its no different than eating meat or drinking wine. If you believe in your heart the action is sin, then for you it is. Paul spoke to this, in areas of liberty and where God had not already specified something as sin in behavior.

There are things that other Christians do that I know, if I did them, it would be sin. My sil believes eating meat on Friday is a sin. But, I eat meat on friday. Do I deem her walk wrong, or she mine. I pray not. She sincerely believes she would be in sin to eat meat on friday.

This man said, “I cannot do this”… What is so hard to understand about that?

Kensington
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

BTW… this one man’s single action doesn’t reflect on the church at all.

Just what you allow yourself to think of them is affected.

Men of God have fallen to the left and the right of me along the way. That hasn’t affected my walk or my faith in God one bit. Nor has it affected what I think of other Christians in any way.

Mistresses, lying, stealing, cheating, divorce, homosexuality… all of it.

I go on by faith in Jesus Christ. Our walk really has nothing to do with what others think of us, it has EVERYTHING to do with the Blood of the Lamb.

Ben in Oakland
August 13th, 2007 | LINK

That poem is very sweet, but it is really nothing more than ex-gay propaganda. Lots of gay men hgave great relationships with their fathers–my very gay husband is one– and lots of straight men have little to none–one of my best straight friends is one of those.
More likely to be the case is that being gay is inborn, and a father recognizes this in his son, whether he knows it or not. The insecure ones reject the gay sone, the good and kind ones do not. sort of a reverse Oedipus complex.

Chad
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

WWJD?

http://www.HighPointHatesFags.com

.

Kensington
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

Chad, Jesus chose to die for the sins of all of us. That’s what Jesus would do.

I guess your going another way, with that link. Huh?

Timothy Kincaid
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

Kensington,

If we feel that God has convicted our heart of some action, then indeed we should not do such a thing.

But the funny thing about God is that he does not convict our heart to be unkind to others. God convict us of those things which are inconvenient to us or an expense to our pocket or our position or our pride.

That is why I have a great deal of difficulty in believing that God told the pastor’s heart that holding a funeral for “a homosexual” would be sinful. This was a challenge for the pastor’s pride and position and attitude and, in my own opinion, he failed.

He failed the grieving family who needed a moment of kindness. He failed the greater community who looked to the church to see how it would behave when there was a need. And he failed Christ who commands us to treat others the way we want to be treated.

You, of course, may believe that condemnation of a “lifestyle” is what God called us to do. I, on the other hand, don’t see that in Scripture. I guess we’ll just have to wait until the day we can ask, “Christ, did you give the ultimate sacrifice, a death of humiliation and rejection by God and man, so that we could condemn our brothers and sisters and refuse funerals to those who live a “homosexual lifestyle”? Or was your sacrifice in any way tied to your commandments that we love our neighbor, do good to those who harm us, and be a light set on a hill, an example of doing good so others will glorify God?”

I’ll take the risk that he’ll answer the latter.

Catlady
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

Why is it ok to condemn the church then? So everyone has to agree that the homosexual lifestyle is ok to be loving? The church did not want to condone a lifestyle that the Bible calls sin. They do not hate the people nor are they promoting ex-gay propaganda. The church offered to pay for the service to be held at another place, they offered food and made the video without the explicit photos…why was that not good enough? They even had people from the church go to the service and offer their support. They did offer love in the way that they felt they were supposed to. Why did they HAVE to have the service in their church sanctuary to show that they love people. It is ok to for them to show that they don’t agree with the lifestyle, isn’t it? Seems strange to me that homosexuals agree with freedom of choice and all that, but if someone chooses to believe that their lifestyle is wrong, then that is not ok.

John
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

August 14, 2007

Dear Pastor Simons,

My heart was saddened by your church’s decision to cease and desist as a “Hospital to the Hopeless”, and opt for the far more common, “Showplace for the Saved” trophy Christian museum church. Seems to me the last time I checked the Bible when trying to figure out “What’s going on in God’s head right now?” I discovered the answer–The lost. God’s heart is beating for those who are far from Him, those that have not yet discovered His love and His forgiveness. He thinks about them day and night!

I once heard another pastor of a very large church talking about the concept of “ministry. “ He made a few points I will never forget. Authentic Christ-centered ministry in today’s churches is messy. Life is hard, details are unpleasant, and the consequences of some decisions will never have a pretty bow on top, no matter how long it takes to get back on track.

The other point this pastor mentioned: The 2 Litmus Tests for Identifying a Healthy Church. He stated that if a church is representing Christ accurately, those 2 qualities are: IMMORALITY AND HERESY. Hmmm….what’s up with that statement? He showed how lives in his church were changed because the church was operating the way it should have. Thos (with all their messy lifestyles and all the bad doctrine they have latched onto over the years) will come pouring out of the woodwork through the doors to meet the Living God who sent His Son to die for EVEN them. This process of loving people with messy lives and bad doctrine should be what every church is all about. Faith is proven real by God’s children investing in one another, operating as ONE family, meeting practical needs, and redirecting destinies….that’s kind of love that changes hearts and restores broken lives.

Back to Immorality and Heresy: His point was beautifully illustrated as he explained, “there are people in the world that sincerely believe they can never step within a foot of any church again and feel the love of God from God’s people. Time and time again these isolated hurting people point to Christians, as their biggest hindrance to receiving His grace and being transformed by the Holy Spirit.” At what point did the New Testament church decide who receives His grace, and who does not qualify?

Ministry is being Jesus with skin on to a world that is literally dying to see authenticity from those who claim to know the Great I AM. Locked doors, rescinded invitations, and a church with people who cannot demonstrate the grace that they were once given—Don’t you see how that just reinforces the old stereotype that Christians are all hate mongers and judgmental?? Christians everywhere will suffer from your churches recent decision.

Pastor Simons, I am not trying to make you or anyone in your church feel like horrible Christians, nor am I trying to sniff out the spiritual pulse of your congregation. That is your sandbox and God-appointed ministry. My purpose in writing you this letter is twofold. First I want to ask you to really pray for the men and women that were not allowed into your church to grieve their friend’s death or celebrate his life. I wonder how many of those people were in such emotional pain over this man’s death? I wonder how many of those filthy people had not stepped into a Jesus-preaching church in decades? I pray that they can look past the humiliation of this situation, which likely reopened deep hurts that many had suffered at earlier stages of their lives–all at the hand of other well-intentioned followers of Christ.

Also pray for your immediate community–those living nearby that may have wanted to visit your church someday. This news has the potential to kill what influence your church has gained as “a light” in your area. I pray they will be shielded from other Christians along their journey who make them feel unworthy, unloved, unclean, and unforgiven. Maybe you can ask God to challenge your church’s worldview on what Grace is all about. It’s fundamental in our redemption story. At the end of my life, when I am face to face with Jesus, I would much rather my life prove that I believed him for way too much, as opposed to living a joyless, unmoved life and acknowledging his place as Ruler and King of the universe and then have to give an account to why I never believed Him for more that what was possible for me to imagine.

Remember, God is neither impressed by your doctrine, captivated with your campus, rejoicing over your opinions and values, or “AMEN!-ing” your moral pronouncements. God is much more concerned about the lost, and how the “found” will treat them. Represent Him well. You are after all, a child of the King.

Praising the only God whose mercies really are new every morning!

John in Plano, TX

Kensington
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

“Pastor Simons, I am not trying to make you or anyone in your church feel like horrible Christians, nor am I trying to sniff out the spiritual pulse of your congregation.”

I’d say… Based on the rest of your post, all of it, this statement is false.

Jim Burroway
August 14th, 2007 | LINK

Okay, enough is enough.

Kensington has been on here dozens of times calling Cecil a sinner. According to Christian theology, that is correct. Cecil was a sinner. So an I. So is Kensington. We all “fall short,” as they say.

But I did not establish this forum to allow Kensington and others to monopolize the discussion with the single-minded insistence that their theology is the only one that matters. And I’m grow quite tired of her splitting hairs, separating the “sin” of homosexuality as though it were worse than all the other sins presented in this forum. And I’ve grown especially tired of her pretending to know the mind of Cecil and his partner and passing judgment on them.

I think I’ve been more than indulgent, but I think we’ve reached the point where Kensington has nothing new to contribute to the discussion. Therefore, I am putting her on moderation for the time being.

It think we’ve all said what we can say, and I see that she’s now repeating herself. Since she is on moderation, I will also ask other commenters to please refrain from addressing her. Otherwise, in fairness, I must allow her the chance to respond.

Ben in Oakland
August 15th, 2007 | LINK

“You don’t hate anyone. Honestly, you don’t. The Biblical message is all about compassion, about loving your neighbor and all that. You love homosexuals. You really do. You just don’t like their same-sex-lusting, public-fornicating, disease-spreading, marriage-ruining, child-molesting, society-endangering ways. And really now, where’s the hate in that?”

Does that pretty much sum it up?

Jim Burroway
August 15th, 2007 | LINK

Hmmm. Where have I hard that before?

Since I know very little about Rev. Simoms, I can’t say that statement describes him very well. Generically speaking, it’s often the case. I just don’t know if it applies to him.

Ben in Oakland
August 15th, 2007 | LINK

Here are some thoughts I wrote in another context, but i think the point is valid for kensington, and thopse who think that what this church did is really just fine.:

This is excerpted from a letter I wrote to judy of new hampshire:

So, you say you’re not a bigot.

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that homosexuality is an inborn as heterosexuality, despite the testimony of tens of thousands– if not millions– of gay people, despite the simple logic of “who would choose a life of discrimination and vilification”, you believe that homosexuality is a choice, and a sin. Your beliefs about us are more important than any amount of actual evidence, but you’re not a bigot.

You say that it is not you that is disapproving of homosexuality, and not you that is judging, but God. Funny, I don’t hear God talking, I only hear YOU talking. I hear you quoting “God’s word”, allegedly on this subject, while ignoring all of the passages in the Bible that don’t accord with your personal prejudices, whether it is eating shellfish or pork, or destroying all of the unbelievers in our midst with a sword. (Deut. 13-6, 8-15)

Apparently God only means what he says some of the time– for instance, when he agrees with you.

But you’re not a bigot.

Let us not get into the appalling divorce figures for ‘sacred’ institution of marriage. You quote your Bible about the “wrongness” of homosexuality, but ignore far more compelling commandments that don’t comport with your prejudices. For example, Jesus was very clear on this subject: divorce is not an option. He also was quite clear about judging others before you yourself have achieved perfection. All of that you just cheerfully ignore, but not for any reasons that could be labeled bigotry.

It’s just what you believe. How can that be a statement of bigotry? we’re all sinners, aren’t we.

Except that some of us are really “special” sinners.

You’re very clear that based upon your religious beliefs, my HUSBAND and I are not entitled to the same responsibilities and benefits of marriage, even in a very obviously second class civil union, that you enjoy. In other words, my and our equality before the law can be compromised because of YOUR religious beliefs. If you said that Jews or Buddhists could not have the same civil rights that you do because they do not share your religious beliefs, you would rightly be labeled a religious bigot. But because it is about gay people, and whatever you imagine my sex life to be makes you say “ick”, you are not being a bigot…so you say. You’re just expressing your religious opinion.

Lest you accuse me of hating you, of being intolerant, of calling you names, as you accuse me, let me be clear. I do not hate you, or really, care anything about you. I only wish that you would mind your own business, take care of your own marriage, and stop insisting that you have the right to mind mine–because of what you call your “religious beliefs”. You can believe whatever you want, and teach it to your children, and spew it in Church to your heart’s delight, however uncomfortable it may be for me to hear it. It’s a free country, at least for white, conservative, preferably Christian, heterosexual people. But why to you accuse me of intolerance when I tell you to keep YOUR religious beliefs out of MY life? I haven’t told you you can’t believe it, or that I will pass laws to make sure that you do not believe it.

What you hear from me is not hatred, nor intolerance, nor anything like that. What you hear is ANGER. I don’t recall god making any recent pronouncements indicating that you as a so-called saved Christian have any business making statements about me and my supposed sins, my supposed un-biblicalness, my supposed brokenness. My life is just fine, except for the likes of you.

I’m sick to death that the course of my life, and my happiness, and those of millions of people just like me, can be subject to your prejudices, whether or you prefer to call them your religious beliefs or just admit them for what they are. I am equally sick that gay people are imprisoned, attacked, murdered, executed, used as political fodder, vilified, condemned, persecuted, jailed, slandered, libeled, fired, outlawed, made into criminals and accused of all sort of things that are simply NOT TRUE because someone doesn’t approve, or believes their God does not approve.

I am angry as hell that any man and woman who met five minutes ago and have $50 for a marriage license can get married and have the full panoply of rights and obligations that go with it, but my friends Andy and Paul, a devoted couple for 40 years, or Lance and Peter, together for 35 years, are legal strangers to each other. I am angry that they have to jump through all sort of expensive legal hoops to secure their lives together, all of which can be undone by the combination of a distant relative, a homophobic judge, and a law that permits it.

I am angry that my HUSBAND and I just had to spend $2000 to secure our legal rights and to protect our life together, while you go smugly on about how wonderful being a perfect Christian is, and could secure the same protections with $50 and trip to city hall.

I’m really angry that my friend Steve could not be at his husband’s bedside 20 years ago when Johnny was dying, because they didn’t have the medical power of attorney documents in their possession when Johnny was struck down. Johnny died alone. Steve grieved for him alone, and didn’t get to say goodbye to the man whose life he had shared for 15 years. All of that pain to satisfy some Christian’s beliefs about what is moral and immoral.

And the pastor of this “church”– does he only avoid burying all sinners, or only some sinners?

I’m furious that people like you can smugly say we’re all not perfect, but you’ll still smarmily judge us anyway, and pretend that you’re not. I’m furious that you prattle on an on about morality, but the IMMORALITY of what is done to gay people every day throughout the world, damage that is inflicted on our happiness, our health, our security, and our lives all the time, does not even merit your notice– let alone an apology. Talk about a crime against nature–what about the crimes against our nature?

You don’t approve of homosexuality, or as you put it, you’re not in agreement with what you see as our “choice”. Let me tell you something. I don’t approve of bigots, either. But the world is full of people just like you, who feel you have the right to do and say whatever you like to people you don’t know, whom you clearly know nothing about, and who have done you no harm.

And why? Because there is something YOU don’t like about them– their race, their religion, their gender, their ethnic group, their language, or their sexual orientation. You may think that condemning our sin is different, but it is not. It is the same. It’s just prejudice given its very thin veneer of respectability by your religious beliefs– just like burning withces.

And if you can’t slip that one by anyone, and really need some “justification” for your bigotry, you’ll even claim that GOD doesn’t like it. I think that God is much bigger than that. Certainly, he is bigger than you.

Please don’t pray for me–what absolute spiritual arrogance. I don’t need it and I find it offensive that you think you have the right and spiritual cachet to do so.

And please don’t tell me you love me, either. I don’t believe it for a moment. I would prefer your naked hatred.

At least there, you are being honest.

Ben in Oakland
August 15th, 2007 | LINK

You are right, jim. that’s why I put it in quotes. I think it is a beautiful summing up of exactly what i see!

Timothy Kincaid
August 15th, 2007 | LINK

Ben, really well said.

The preacher’s kid in me recognized the cadence and rythem. That’s quite a sermon and let’s hope that someone recognizes their “non-bigoted” self in there and realizes that they can be “not a bigot” all day long, but if the shoe fits…

Ben in Oakland
August 16th, 2007 | LINK

thank you, timothy. I think these are things that need to be said. I post on several different blogs, and often recycle what I have to say, altering as necessary to fit the situation. One of the great things about the net is that it is a way to reach lots of people, uncensored, and FREE!!! blogs like this one give people language and thoughts to use as they go through their lives. It makes the arguments that we as gay people can make that much the stronger. It’s not just me speaking, it’s 100 others as well. I loved Jim’s comment. which I posted above my long screed in quotes. It says it perfectly.

Eyrev
September 5th, 2009 | LINK

My god, this is awful.

People can be so hateful.

Eyrev
eyrev.cbcr@gmail.com

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