When I studied church history and ministered God’s Word in Scotland, I preached at a fair number of funerals. None of them lasted eight hours (the local crematorium, owned by the city, gave us twenty minutes), nor did anyone sing a solo in a mini skirt. I was not in a position to grope a young woman on stage in front of a live and television audience, nor did I give any eulogies on race and politics. I actually preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ because I knew that for most people in Scotland, today, funerals are about the only “church” they ever have in practice.

Funerals have gone wild. This is especially true for the rich and famous in America. They have become platforms for diverse displays of narcissism, “Aretha is dead, but what an opportunity for me to gain the spotlight of fame and notoriety!” Or elsewhere, “John is dead, but here is another opportunity for me to bash my political opponents in the public spotlight!” The base nature of popular political and entertainment figures, especially those who make careers out of fusing those two identities, is simply depraved.

The open discourse and displays of immorality, along with perverse ethics, is a sure reflection of the state of Christianity in our nation. These are the leaders we have exalted, in our failure to discern right from wrong. Of course, God is happy to give us political and religious leaders, who accurately represent our own foolishness.

Death has become a circus show. People demand respect, but in their crass tomfoolery they have not earned any. They flaunt their lust to be worshiped, like a half-naked pole dancer performing for a kindergarten class (yes, that’s another topic for another time).

Even one pastor, who tries to speak some cultural sensibility into these morons is publicly shamed for being “offensive and distasteful.” You have a cultural problem because you have a family problem; and you have a family problem because you have a moral problem; and when you have a moral problem, it is because you have a sin problem. Even with my slight extension of logic from said minister, a charge of bigotry, misogyny, and racism can be expected.

Death is the wage payment for our sin problem (Rom 6:23). Even babies, who have not worked hard for sin, are given sin, as an inheritance of Adam’s transgression (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12). There is absolutely no one who is innocent, and no one gets a free pass to heaven by virtue of dying in infancy. Death is an enemy to all of Adam’s progeny. Death’s trophy lies in the casket at the front of the room. Death is faithful to sin for all its labors.

There is a man assigned to each funeral, who has been entrusted with a stewardship by God, to preach the truth about the status quo…not in society, nor culture, but the death evidence in the room! This is not a mystery, nor rocket science, and certainly not a platform for comedy, politics, entertainment, or vengeance. Funerals are a solemn assembly to acknowledge the victory of sin and death over a person, who is now a lifeless corpse before us.

If there is any hope for this dead body, and for the walking dead in attendance, then it is the minister’s duty, from the living God, to tell the rest of the story. There is a resurrection for all of the dead (Jn 5:28–29). It will happen on the last day, at the consummation of the ages (Mt 24–25; Mk 13; Lk 21). On that day, the Lord Jesus Christ will come to judge (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). His angels will gather the elect — those who belong to Christ (1 Cor 3:23), as His blood bought possession (1 Pet 1:19), the church (Eph 5:25), His holy nation (1 Pet 2:9), the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).

The saints of every age and place will be raised from the dead, to glory (Rom 8:30; 1 Cor 15). Their eternal souls will be conjoined with their new immortal, imperishable, indestructible, glorified bodies. They will be caught up together with their Lord (1 Thess 4:13–5:11), who has come for them, to fulfill His promise of a bodily resurrection and eternal life (Acts 13:48).

There will be a resurrection from the dead, for those who are not in Christ, but who lived and died in their trespasses and sins. These are raised from the dead for the purpose of final judgment (2 Cor 5:10), and with their home in hell, they will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15), where an inescapable eternity of torment awaits them under God’s just punishment (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7).

The funeral preacher is there for this purpose: to comfort God’s elect, redeemed people with the reminder of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13, 16; 3:4, 6), who was raised from the dead (1 Pet 1:3; 3:21), as the first born from the dead, and the first to be clothed with the resurrection life of glory. We shall be like Him (Rom 6:5).

The minister is also there to warn the unregenerate unbeliever of the consequences of his inherited and practiced disobedience to our holy God. He calls everyone present, to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30), and for each one to trust Christ and His finished work on the cross. For him to do anything else obligates him for the bloodguilt of those he neglected to warn (Ezek 3, 33).

It is now the time and place to call for a repentance from reprehensible funeral follies. With the last word, the apostle Paul, “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame (1 Cor 15:34).”

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

November 24, 2021

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher