Southern California's Crystal Cathedral megachurch, known for its breathtaking glass arches and financial woes, has caused a mini-firestorm for asking all of its choir members to sign a covenant saying that they agree "that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman," according to the Los Angeles Times. In a statement on the Church's website clarifying the covenant, the church explained:
The church of Jesus Christ at large is grappling with the challenge of reconciling love and adherence to God’s Word, even those passages that challenge us. As the church has been engaging in this sensitive dialogue, people that we care for deeply have been hurt. We are sincerely sorry. Those of us in church leadership ask for understanding as we seek to obey God and love all of His children.
That statement doesn't explain why the church specifically singled out its choir members at this particular moment, nor has it stopped opponents of the covenant from calling it "anti-gay." Naturally, there's been some local and national outrage at the incident.
"In my opinion, I keep thinking that they've made as many mistakes as they can make and they've sank as low as they can sink — and behold, they sink lower," former choir director Don Neuen tells the LA Times. "If I were still in the choir and if that was presented to me, and if a gay person had walked out, I would have walked out with him or her," said long-time Cathedral member Ann Moore Waltz to The O.C. Register.
The Cathedral's covenant, however, isn't particularly out of the ordinary for churches or religious institutions. Many private religious organizations (universities, seminaries) have similar policies in place for students or faculty. But the church's reputation as a "massive glass church/tourist attraction" has brought much more visibility to the issue.