Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Church weighs in on burying criminals

Published:Saturday | November 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith

The issue of whose bodies are worth being officiated over in religious institutions awakened last weekend following the funeral of the man once dubbed as Jamaica's most Wanted, Marlon 'Duppy Film' Perry.

The service celebrating the life of Perry, who was shot and killed by the police in September, took place at the Lloyds Seventh-day Adventist in St Thomas and was presided over by pastor of the Yallahs District of Churches, Seventh-day Adventists, Linton Hamilton.

However, following the proceedings, the clergyman told Family & Religion that he is unmoved by the judgement.

"Whenever I'm transferred to a new area, I believe that I am one of the pastors for that entire area, and it is not only about the church community, but also the community at large," he said, adding that he has been in the Yallahs district for approximately three years.

Likening his actions to that of Christ, Hamilton noted that when Jesus was on Earth, He moved into the community and hung out with the 'small people'.

According to him: "If we disassociate ourselves from the community, I think we are disassociating ourselves from people outside of the church (unsaved). We don't want to segregate ourselves and say we are church people and we don't have a lot of sin so we should stay one side, I don't believe in that. I live in the community as well, and I don't want to reach the place where I segregate myself because I have a mission, and my mission as a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to take the gospel to the world, and that is why I am here."

GOD IS LOVE

One woman of God, who admitted that she recently had the same discussion with another, said: "Despite the life you lived, God is not partial. His agape love still abounds. If we're Christians, we model Christ and God is love. Do not judge people's life because forgiveness is instant. We can sin against God at 12 o'clock and be whole at 12:05.

"Just as how the thief was able to receive salvation right there on the cross, there's a great chance that the criminal may have reached out to God prior to his/her death."

Often used to try and justify the view that churches shouldn't accommodate the funerals of people of a criminal nature is the scripture in which Jesus stated "Let the dead bury their dead ..." (Luke 9:60).

However, when presented with the belief, a few clergymen laughed.

Pastor of the Praise Deliverance Ministry in Kingston, Fitzroy Kerr, shed some light on the scripture, dismissing the notion that Jesus was forbidding the accommodation of certain funerals.

"Jesus was referring to those who are dead spiritually. He was saying, let those who are dead spiritually go and bury their dead and those who want life come and follow me (Jesus). It has nothing to do with not churching the bodies of 'criminals'."

He was trying to emphasise the fact that He is the Giver of life so those who want life come and should follow Him. He was talking to his disciple who wanted to go and bury his father. Jesus was simply saying you can't put a funeral service in front of finding life," Kerr said, adding that the scripture doesn't mean that Christians shouldn't attend funerals either.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com