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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
(11:08 AM) | Stephen:
Purity Over People

On Monday, August 6, Cecil Sinclair died. He was only 46. He was a veteran of the Navy, who rescued downed pilots during the first Gulf War. Mr. Sinclair's brother is employed by High Point Church in Arlington, Texas. He's also a member there, and 6 years ago, when Cecil Sinclair became sick from a heart condition, the church prayed for him. When Sinclair died from complications to a surgery, a minister from the church went to the family to help them.

Cecil Sinclair was not a member of any church, so High Point Church volunteered the use of their facility, a meal for around 100 people and even to have their people put together a PowerPoint show with photos from Sinclair's life. The church asked if they could have an altar call at the end of the funeral service, and even though Lee Sinclair is the only member of the family associated with the church, the family agreed.

The funeral was to be held on Thursday, August 9th. On Wednesday, a member of High Point Church was in the building, working on the PowerPoint presentation for the funeral. As he went through the photographs, Cecil Sinclair's real problem became disturbingly apparent:

Cecil Sinclair was a homosexual.

We can probably assume that none of the photos depicted Sinclair having sex with other men. But we can certainly assume that the photos selected by the family showed him alive, living, with family members and friends, perhaps trips he took. Sinclair was a member of a choir; certainly there were photos of performances and such.

Wednesday night, the evening before the funeral, High Point Church contacted the family and told them that they would not be allowed to have the funeral at the church. That Cecil Sinclair's life was such that no activity which honored his life could be held within the walls of the church.

This isn't just about homosexuality, of course. Oh, no, for

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, Mr. 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."

Emphasis is, of course, mine. Simons' - the church's senior pastor - honesty is refreshing. Unfortunately, that's about the only positive thing that could be said of his idea that being a homosexual is the same as being a murderer.

This is a good example of what I wrote about a couple of posts ago. While I disagree with their understanding of the Bible, I can understand why they feel that their condemnation of homosexuality is not only acceptable but required.

Quite aside from competing interpretations of scripture as to whether homosexuality is a sin like any other, equal in God's eyes to murder, High Point Church was presented with a choice. It is the same choice faced by the priest and the Temple assistant on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. It's the same choice that all of us, no matter our beliefs, face on almost a daily basis.

Last Wednesday, the leadership of High Point Church had to choose between safeguarding their own righteousness or extending love to people in pain. Which is more important? That High Point's doctrinal statements are honored, or that human beings are comforted in a time of grief? What good are beliefs, doctrinal statements, morality - righteousness - if we are forced to sacrifice our fellow human beings for them?

This is why I'm so convinced of the utter depravity of present-day Christianity. The Christ who ate with tax collectors, thieves, prostitutes and other sinners has been lost to us, in favor of a transcendent, ethereal Judge. The Jesus whom the Gospels tell us to worship has been replaced in our hearts by the same commandments, the same laws and rules so carefully guarded and practiced by the Pharisees of the 1st century CE. It's no coincidence that in recent years people have been writing journal articles and books that rehabilitate the Pharisees, that reinterpret the relationship Jesus had with them from antagonistic to friendly rivalry, to the type of conflict between people with similar aims and goals.

Righteousness or love. That's the choice we face. And the righteousness we protect is always my righteousness, my purity. In contrast, to choose love is to necessarily involve and honor the needs of others.

The case can be made for protecting and preserving righteousness. But that case is never made by Jesus, who always chose the other over his own status, who always chose love over all else and commanded us to do the same.

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