There are Christians of my acquaintance who are against the legalization of same-sex “marriage” and its threat to religious liberty, but cannot see how their attendance at a gay friend’s wedding would undermine those values and their Christian witness. Quite the opposite, they believe that declining the invitation would be hurtful to their friend and contrary to the ethic of Christian love.
Although homosexuality affects only about two percent of the population, most people know someone—a coworker, friend, cousin, son, or daughter—who is gay or lesbian. As more gays take to the altar, the chance that you will be invited to a ceremony becomes increasingly likely. Before you receive an RSVP, it is essential to think through a few questions:
- What do I really believe about same-sex “marriage” and its validity?
- What would my attendance signify?
- How can I support a gay friend or family member who decides to “marry”?
- What would Jesus do?
The Question of Validity
Morally, since the bible contains no expressed or implied approval for same-sex “marriage,” it has no scriptural warrant. To the contrary, when the subject of marriage came up, Jesus reaffirmed its intrinsic and exclusive heterosexual nature, adding that it is not for everyone. While he mentioned eunuchs specifically, the exception would also apply to homosexual pairings that, like eunuchs, can form emotional attachments, but do not conform to the design of marriage, whereby “multiplying and filling the earth” is accomplished by complementarity not sameness.
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Lacking any sanctifying institution for homosexual sex, the numerous biblical proscriptions against it stand, regardless of a “committed” relationship, church blessing, legal union, or civil “marriage.”
Legally, the Framers understood that just laws derive from the Law of Nature and Nature’s God. Since a same-sex coupling conforms to neither, it can never be a legitimate “marriage,” regardless of the pronouncements of nine robed oracles.
Caesar is free to grant those couplings special privileges and benefits if he so desires, but he has no legitimate claim to call them “marriage,” any more than he has to redefine “salt” as any combination of sodium and chlorine atoms.
The Significance of Attendance
A wedding is a solemnizing ceremony that attendees come to witness, honor, and bless through liturgy, songs, and celebratory expressions—applause, cheers, toasts, well wishes—that serve to give social and moral validation to the union of two people.
A Christian who thinks that, by attending, he can support his gay friend but not gay “marriage” is sorely mistaken. Attendance, in and of itself, is more than a show of support for the individuals involved; it dignifies a transmogrified sexual union and the institution sanctioning it.
Even passive attendance confers approval, most pointedly when the officiant perfunctorily asks, “Does anybody have any reason why these two should not be married?” and the believer, not wanting to break with decorum, remains silent.
Across the country, organizations and individuals are being sued and forced out of business for refusing to offer adoption services to same-sex couples, promote the “virtues” of homosexuality to their foster children, and provide services for same-sex weddings.
Some have lost jobs and livelihoods for simply expressing support for natural marriage. Others have lost their businesses, been fined, and had their assets seized for providing their services to homosexual customers, but not for same-sex weddings.
When a Christian attends a gay wedding, he undermines the courageous stand for religious freedom these people are making for him, at great personal cost. He adds credence to the opinion that religious objections to “marriage equality” are fig leaves for animus and bigotry toward gays. It’s an opinion that has gained currency in courts and legislatures and is causing the erosion of “conscience clauses” and “religious exemptions” in the public and private sectors.
Supporting a Gay Friend
Christian friendship is not based on approval or agreement, but love—sacrificial other-centeredness that seeks the supreme good of others, desiring them to become the persons they were created to be: children of the Father, formed in the image of the Son, and indwelt by the Spirit.
Christ demonstrated that love not by affirming us in our sins, but by dying for our sins, calling us to repentance, and showing us how to live according to his life-giving principles. He who commanded his disciples to love as he loved, also said, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” And those he loved, felt the sting of his rebuke on numerous occasions, and were instructed to do likewise (“If your brother sins, rebuke him”).
Loving our friends and relatives, gay or straight, is not supporting them in immoral and harmful lifestyle decisions, it’s walking alongside them, encouraging them to live in accordance with the created purpose of sexuality, and challenging, even rebuking them when they willfully choose otherwise.
Attending a gay friend’s wedding is just as contrary to Christ-love as it is for attending: the marriage of a friend who left his wife for his “soul mate,” a house-warming party for cohabiting couple, or a friend’s abortion party (yes, there is such a thing).
Christ-love demands that I graciously decline the invitation (preferably, face-to-face) with an honest and clear explanation of my reasons. To go-along-to-get-along is to allow fears about my friend’s feelings and our relationship, to overcome my concern for his soul and his relationship with God. That’s not love; it’s cowardice.
And while our friendship, if close, should survive and even thrive a loving reproof, there is always the risk it will cause a rift, possibly permanently. Did not Jesus warn that he came “to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” and, I add, friend against friend?
However, the outcome of a rebuke lovingly done is on the receiver and God, not deliverer. For, as St. Theresa of Calcutta once said “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful,” the measure of which is not when it’s easy, at the ballot box, but when it’s hard, telling a friend or relative, no. Indeed, now that homosexual pseudotrimony is law, people who were opposed to it in principle, will have to decide if they will oppose it in practice.
Would Jesus attend a gay “wedding?” I think that he just might, if only to break the traditional silence after the officiant’s question with a withering response, making it piercingly clear that joining together what he has left asunder is as equally offending to him as tearing asunder what he has joined together.
I’m sure there would be gasps of unbelief, hurt feelings, enflamed tempers, and some convicted hearts—the same things experienced by those who felt the sting of his rebuke two millennia earlier.