The Crystal Cathedral in Southern California has taken the surprising step of asking its choir members to model a biblical lifestyle, which would include abstaining from homosexual behavior.
This is reportedly the first time the Garden Grove megachurch is asking the choir to sign a covenant, particularly one that takes a stance against homosexuality.
And apparently, choir members are not happy about it.
In a statement Tuesday regarding the covenant, Crystal Cathedral Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said dialogue over "reconciling love and adherence to God's Word" has led to a number of people being hurt.
"We are sincerely sorry," she stated.
"It is true that our new choir covenant includes a definition of marriage that may have contributed to the hurt."
According to The Orange County Register, part of the covenant states: "I understand that in an era where images of family relationship and personal sexuality are often confused, Crystal Cathedral Ministries believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view. I understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman."
Coleman explained that the covenant clarifies expectations placed on staff and volunteers and is part of an "ongoing effort to grow the leadership."
"[A]ll ministry leaders are expected to live a lifestyle exempt from sexual immorality ... because these are improper for the Lord's people," she said.
She also added that the church adheres to the traditional definition of marriage that its denomination – The Reformed Church in America – affirms. The RCA currently does not affirm homosexual behavior and holds that it is contrary to the will of God.
Notably, the Crystal Cathedral is known for its positive messages and de-emphasis on sin. Founder Robert H. Schuller chose to depart from the messages he grew up with – a bunch of "not to do's" – and preach instead in ways that would lift people up and build their faith.
"To only preach against the sins of commission is to cause unbelievers to perceive preachers and well-meaning Christians as 'holier than thou' hypocrites," he says on the church website. "I came to a conclusion that sin is caused by 'lack of faith' in God and His ways. So my God-given mission became to build faith in the minds of doubters."
While he may not have preached on sins, he still held to a stance against homosexuality.
In a 2006 interview with CNN's Larry King, Schuller said, "I feel that heterosexual marriage is the more excellent way, and it surely is approved holy by the Holy Bible, and it holds so many more possibilities – the possibilities of having children of both the mother and father, the male and the female."
He noted though that they had homosexuals as representatives of their church for the last 40 years and that they do not attack homosexuality.
"I think, in the gay liberation movement, they respect my commitment to our historic viewpoint, the classic historic Judaic Christian viewpoint. They also respect the fact that I do not add to their problems, which they all have, as we all do, by intentionally embarrassing and shaming them," he said.
The Crystal Cathedral claims over 10,000 members and its internationally televised "Hour of Power" reaches millions of homes.