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Relatives livid after church cancels lesbian’s funeral

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Protest beginning for lesbian woman denied funeral at New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado, January 13, 2015 (Credit: 9NEWS/Ryan Haarer)

Last Saturday, over 180 people gathered at the New Hope Ministries sanctuary in Denver, Colorado to mourn the passing of 33-year-old Vanessa Collier.  Those in attendance included her wife, Christina Higley, and their two children.  The family paid $400 to rent the church facilities for the service.

They also prepared a video which included intimate pictures of Vanessa and Christina to be played before the service began, and sent it to the church a week in advance.  The church lost the video, however.  When church leaders saw it 15 minutes before the service was scheduled to begin, they said they would not show it in their sanctuary.  This decision forced the attenders to move the memorial service across the street to another facility.  Protesters gathered on Tuesday to voice their anger at the church’s decision.

Was the church’s action right or wrong?

Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran was fired last week by Mayor Kasim Reed.  At issue was a book Cochran wrote regarding sexual morality.  More than 162 pages in length, on one page the book mentions homosexuality as one of many sexual sins.  Albert Mohler called Cochran’s firing a tragedy of epic proportions; Franklin Graham said that the former fire chief was a target of politically-correct bullying.

However, according to the mayor, Cochran was not fired for his views but for failure to follow protocol.  He did not get formal approval to work outside his full-time job, then distributed the book in the workplace to those who did not request a copy.  The mayor says that Cochran was first suspended, but violated the terms of his suspension by speaking out publicly.

Was the mayor’s action right or wrong?

Pope Francis is being criticized for demoting U.S. cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken conservative and critic of the pope’s leadership.  The pope has also been criticized by progressives for stating that women should not be priests.  Across his years of service, the pope has been alternately praised and pilloried by both sides of the cultural divide.  New York Times writer Albert Hunt notes that Francis makes Democrats squirm and Republicans wiggle.

What do you think Jesus would do about the funeral in Denver?  The fire chief in Atlanta?  The pope’s apolitical leadership?

When I first became a pastor, a veteran minister gave me some excellent advice: tell the truth and love the people.  Didn’t Jesus do this in all he did?  He sought solutions that declared God’s word and displayed God’s love.  His wisdom will help you do the same today.  But you must ask for such wisdom before he can give it (James 1:5-8).

Billy Graham used to say, “I’m not left-wing or right-wing—I’m for the whole bird!” So is Jesus.  Are we?