As you probably heard last week, an Arlington, TX church rescinded its offer to hold a memorial service for the brother of one of its employees after the church discovered that…. this is where it gets confusing. The church has its version and the family has its version. If you want to catch up on the whole thing, here is a comprehensive timeline.
I’m not sure what to make of the whole thing. Denying a memorial service to a person because of their sexual orientation seems callous and hypocritical. Does that church only allow memorial services for non-sinners? Has it ever held, for instance, a memorial service for someone who lied or cheated or lusted or got drunk? There is no hierarchy of sins in Jesus’ church.
But if a church is denied the ability to officiate or participate or help shape a memorial service (as was apparently the case here) that might celebrate something it sees as a sin, that church has the right to do that. It must have the right to do that.
Would anyone think twice about an orthodox synagogue denying someone a memorial service if they wanted to serve pork chops in defiance of Kosher laws?
This is about preserving and respecting the theological integrity of a house of worship. We may disagree with how it was handled – though I am not sure the facts of the case will ever be fully known. But respecting the decision is important because once we start forcing people to compromise their sacred beliefs – no matter how we might feel about them – we have established a dangerous precedent.