Our culture is in the throes of dealing with same-sex marriage, both legally and relationally. There’s a good chance many of us will soon face the challenge of knowing how to respond to an invitation to a same-sex wedding. What’s a Christian to do?
As Brian Brodersen recently shared in his article on this, I also have been asked this question and have entered several discussions on this issue. Many Christians have stated their opinion that the Christ like and loving thing to do is to attend. Brian makes a good point when he refers to Jesus’ association with “publicans and sinners,” and how controversial that was for the time.
I have a question: Is attending indeed the loving thing to do? It’s certainly supportive. But ought the follower of Jesus be supportive of a homosexual lifestyle? We’ll come back to that.
Although a wedding ceremony is a cultural-social event, it’s also a sacred event at which those who attend are assigned a duty of bearing witness to the covenant entered by groom and bride. An ordained minister presides over most weddings, because Western society recognizes the roots of marriage in the Judeo-Christian tradition. While many today opt for a civil magistrate, for hundreds of years, marriage was conducted within the realm of the church. Otherwise King Henry VIII could have just divorced Catherine via a civil court and used a justice of the peace to marry Anne. The point is, until recently, marriage was recognized as a sacred covenant that linked a man and woman before God.
Guests at a wedding are called as witnesses of that sacred covenant. They are there to hold the groom and bride accountable to the vow they hear them make. Witnesses aren’t just passive attenders; they have an ongoing assignment to support the couple in their life together. Attendance at a wedding is a public statement of approval of the union. While not used much today, a part of the vow used to be, “If there is anyone here who knows any reason these ought not be wed, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
Understanding that marriage is sanctioned by God, that HE is the One who makes two into one, and that marriage is a sacred covenant of a man and woman to be husband and wife; and seeing that the people who attend a wedding have an assignment to be witnesses who endorse and support that sacred covenant, how COULD a Christian attend? Those who attend give assent, approval and support of that union. They endorse a relationship that promotes sin.
It seems to me that those who attend a same-sex wedding because “it’s the loving thing to do” need to ask whom they are loving. Will a homosexual couple find real and lasting happiness? Since all sin leads to grief, no, they will not. So it’s not loving a same-sex couple to attend their wedding; it’s harmful because it commends and endorses a false promise.
Nor is it loving God to attend a same-sex wedding. It’s saying what He’s designed for marriage doesn’t matter; that we know better than He about who can marry and what sexual relations are acceptable.
In all things, God in His great love aims for our flourishing. The principles of morality revealed in Scripture all point to enhancing life, never to diminish it. When we follow God’s prescriptions for life, especially in regard to sex, we flourish. When we ignore them, we suffer. There is no ambiguity in God’s Word that sex is to be between a husband and wife within the confines of the sacred covenant of marriage. Any and everything outside of that leads to sorrow.
That is the message Christians ought to be clearly presenting today. We are NOT haters because we resist sin, in whatever form it takes. We are not against anyone’s “rights.” On the contrary, we are the world’s chief advocates of that which makes for genuine human flourishing.
No one “loves” a same-sex attracted person by encouraging them to indulge their desires any more than by encouraging a heterosexual to indulge their lust. It’s a false premise to say not attending a same-sex wedding is unloving. And the person who desires to show love to a homosexual can do so beyond the wedding by being a friend, as Jesus was a friend to sinners without joining them in their sin. Attending a same-sex wedding, even of unbelievers, seems to me to skirt a line of approval of which it is wisest to steer clear.
Final Note: While I’ve attempted to reason through this issue biblically, we can class it in that realm of moral choices Paul describes in Romans 14 as a “disputable” or “doubtful” thing. As we follow Christ, we will need to make moral choices that aren’t clearly defined in Scripture. Different people will come to different conclusions. The example Paul uses was over whether or not a Christian can eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. Some said it was fine, others said it was prohibited. Paul didn’t resolve the issue by saying one was right, the other wrong. He said each of us must follow the dictates of a Spirit-informed conscience. And having done so, we are NOT to argue or judge each other. If I eat and you don’t, we can’t declaim one another’s spiritual walk or maturity. We must not let our differences over these moral “gray-zones” harm our respect for one another.
I’ve laid out what I think is a cogent and biblically sound answer to the question, Should a Christian attend the same-sex wedding? I realize other Christ followers arrive at a different conclusion. While I disagree with their position, I still honor and respect them, and I expect them to show me the same.