Feb 032015 4 Responses

Why Our Church Hosts LGBTQ Funerals (Reader’s Question)

A reader asked: “Would you officiate, or your church host, the funeral for someone who is gay or lesbian?”

Answer: Absolutely.

Here is why:

It’s a standing offer to local funeral homes—if they need a place for a service, they are welcome to use our building. In most situations a family has a home church or can use the funeral home chapel, but on occasion, when a large crowd is expected, a funeral home calls needing a larger building.

When the call came, I had not heard about the person’s death. I didn’t know her and didn’t realize the funeral might be larger in size than normal. The funeral home was inquiring about our availability. I assured them they could use the building when the funeral director said, “I want to make sure you know of one thing. She had a partner.”

While I appreciate his sensitivity, it wasn’t necessary. “Well, we have a family room and a front row where the partner can sit,” I said. (See: The Time I Almost Died by Rear-ending a Hearse)

Some churches choose not to perform funeral services for those who live a lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or transsexual lifestyle. While I do not fully understand their reasoning, I do uphold a church’s right to do as they please.

Notice the twisted irony of the gay community condemning some churches for refusing to do funerals. It’s as though they are saying, “We have a right to do as we please, but you do not.”

A religious group should have every right to exercise their religion as they see fit.

We see fit to host funerals for those who may not live a lifestyle that we completely agree with.


Because none of us live a lifestyle we completely agree with.

As a pastor, if performing a funeral put my seal of approval on the lifestyle of the deceased, I would never be able to perform any funeral. I would have to spend days researching and investigating the moral decisions of the person. Without fail I would find decisions, actions, or ideas that are not Biblical.

When I perform a funeral, I’m not approving of everything a person did; I’m recognizing our common humanity and pain. I’m seeking to serve the family and honor the memory of the loved one. I’m directing the attention of the survivors toward God.

Why would anyone identify this one issue as something which would prohibit being served by the church?

If a church refuses the funeral of someone who is LGBQT, what other issues would prevent a service within a church? Do they refuse to bury non-tithers? What about those who fail to love their wives? What do they do with those members who act one way at church but act another way at home?

While it would be fair if we chose to only conduct funerals for members who are in good standing, we have chosen a different direction. We have done so, in part, to serve others and also because every church member wouldn’t be in good standing at some point in their lives.

I believe in marriage the way it is defined in the New Testament. (See: An After the Funeral She Hit Him in the Nuts)

I do not see the New Testament as being unclear regarding proper sexual expression, yet adherence to that teaching does not define whether or not I have a responsibility to assist you in a time of need. It will not prevent us from opening the doors of our building if we can be of assistance to someone.

Our church includes people from all across the sexual orientation spectrum. Some are members, some are regular attenders, and some only visit on occasion.

This doesn’t prevent us from promoting proper sexual expression as we encounter the issue in book studies of the Bible or as we cover current trends in topical sermons.

It also doesn’t prevent us from teaching those who have same-sex attraction or attraction to someone who is not their mate, to abstain from sexual activity.

We can promote the truth while at the same time serving, mourning, and loving those who do not agree with everything we teach. (See: Always Attend the Funeral)

When I perform the funeral service of a person, I rarely spend much time considering what I think they have done right or wrong in this life. I normally spend time reflecting on the value the person had and the pain their friends and family will experience in their absence.

Churches have a right to operate however they desire. It is our desire to serve the community in which we live and to honor the dignity of those we see every Sunday morning as well as those we never see on Sunday morning.

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