“Sue, I love my sweet gay neighbors, and after the SCOTUS decision I figure we’ll be invited to a wedding. Do we go?”
Christians take different positions on this question, just as Christians take different positions on the issue of homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular. I believe that regardless of our feelings on this issue and about our friends and loved ones, we need to follow what the Word of God says.
Both Old and New Testaments clearly state that homosexual behavior is sin. Regardless of how we feel about those who engage in it, the Word of God is internally consistent on this issue: all sex outside of marriage, which is restricted to one man and one woman in a lifetime covenant, violates God’s created intent for us. And that includes homosexual sex. Redefining marriage does not change the unnatural, sinful nature of same-gender sex (Romans 1).
A wedding is a communal event where society gathers together to witness the union of two people coming together to start a new family, a new building block of community. The point of a wedding is that the guests witness, support, bless and approve the marriage. Contrasted to lovers making promises to each other in a private intimacy, the communal witness and celebration of a wedding elevates and formalizes these vows as a covenant (a promise on steroids), and the new one-flesh union becomes a recognized part of the community.
So there is a huge difference between having dinner with gay neighbors, and attending their wedding. When people attend a wedding, it makes a statement. Attendance at a wedding means one is offering support, approval and blessing to the couple.
I suggest that since God has already spoken clearly about the nature of homosexuality, He would not contradict Himself to endorse and celebrate what He has declared to be sin (Leviticus 18:22). Neither should we.
Beyond that, the scriptures also direct us not to support other people’s behaviors that God calls sin:
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph. 5:11).
1 Timothy 5:22 instructs us not to “take part in the sins of others. . .”
How can one attend a gay wedding without participating in “deeds of darkness,” without “taking part in the sins of others”?
To be consistent, Christians should examine why we attend any wedding. Since the Bible is equally unequivocal about believers marrying unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), it would be wrong to attend that wedding as well. It would be saying, “I support, affirm, bless and celebrate this union.” Just like going to a wedding of a Christian who dumps his wife without biblical grounds to marry a younger trophy wife. No!
Lots of people scoff at this position: “God is a God of love! Who are you to judge anyone’s love?”
It’s true, God IS a God of love, and He has described love for us:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
If love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but God has declared that same-sex relationships are not right, then it is not loving to engage in unrighteousness. If same-sex relationships are outside God’s created intent for human sexuality, then it is not loving to support and bless relationships that grieve God and will result in pain down the road for the people involved.
So, to answer my friend’s question: “How can you attend a gay wedding without making a clear statement of support and endorsement, approval and blessing? And since you know what God says about the nature of their relationship as sin, what statement would you be making as His ambassador?” I encourage my friend to keep loving her wonderful neighbors, to continue to be their friends and to be salt and light to them.
But not to go to their wedding.
And if they ask why, to kindly and lovingly say, “I am a Christ-follower, and He has spoken about His intention for marriage. Just as He loves you more than you can imagine, I love you too, but I’m so sorry, I can’t stand with you that day. But I’ll look forward to visiting with you, as usual, on the other side of that day. And I will be praying for you.”
This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/should_we_go_to_our_gay_neighbors_wedding on Aug.25, 2015
Good answer Sue! Not an easy answer, not a PC answer, but a true and loving answer.
Thank you, Anthony!