Should I attend a same-sex couple’s wedding?
After having some conversation with other committed Christ-followers about attending homosexual weddings, I’d like to hear your thoughts. As Christians, obviously, we know this is sin against God’s design; however, we also want to love homosexual friends and show we support them but not their homosexuality. So if a homosexual friend or family member (not claiming to be a Christian) invites me, as a Christian, to their wedding, should I go? They know I’m a Christian, and though we are friends, they know I do not agree with their lifestyle and believe it to be sin.
In the discussion among Christian friends, issues were brought up such as we go to weddings of nonbelievers who have lived together and weddings of friends of other religions. They know we do not agree with their choices, but we value the friendship and relationship and are honored to be a close enough friend to be invited to the weddings and attend (refraining from participating in prayers to idols, etc.) With these unions, however, the pair may come to know the Lord and their relationship be pleasing to Him, whereas a homosexual union will never be pleasing to Him.
This is a timely and weighty question. Thanks for writing and giving us the opportunity to “come and reason together.” As Christians, we must think carefully about these issues that are neither easy nor light because much is at stake. A wedding is unlike other social events and celebrations — it has deeply spiritual and eternal implications. You are wise to think in advance about what you will do when invited to attend a same-sex ceremony.
It is helpful to start with your examples of attending weddings of nonbelievers. Where a man and a woman who already have been living together decide to solemnize their relationship, even though they don’t know God, by getting married they receive His common grace. God “makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). There is much about His creation that blesses everyone who lives in it. Rain and sunshine and seasons and good food and babies and yes, marriage, are examples of these “common graces” that are given to all, regardless of their faith convictions. The benefits of marriage flow to everyone who enters into it — believers and unbelievers — when they receive the gift as it was designed.
The problem with homosexual unions is that they reject marriage as God made it: a lifelong monogamous joining of one man with one woman. Marriage is not something we invented; it was given to us. As such, we are not free to change it into what we might like it to be. Homosexual marriage isn’t marriage but something altogether different. Calling it marriage doesn’t make it marriage any more than calling candy bars broccoli turns chocolate into vegetables. But it’s more than semantics. Giving something that is harmful the name of something that is good does not remove the harm.
This is why it would be unloving to attend a “wedding” of two friends of the same sex. Why unloving? Because a wedding is a proclamation of acceptance and celebration of the relationship being forged. In the case of homosexual weddings, the relationship that is being formed is forbidden by God. If you are a Christian and your friends know you are a Christian, your presence at their wedding will give the appearance of approval and put you in the position of denying God.
These are difficult days, indeed. But Jesus’ commands are unchanging. If we love Him, we will obey Him. And part of obeying Him means loving our neighbors. The problem is that in our culture, we’ve confused love — which is the active pursuit of the good of another — with the tacit endorsement of whatever the other feels is good for them. Just because someone wants something, doesn’t mean that giving it to them is loving. In the case of a homosexual wedding invitation, what your friends want is your approval. In this case, the most loving thing you can do — the truly loving thing — is to withhold it.
As my friend Dr. Denny Burk wrote recently,”There is no need to be embarrassed by the truth of God. … holding firm to the biblical message is the only path to the good life—indeed the only path to eternal life—in spite of the culture’s message to the contrary.”
Scripture says God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Jesus came to “to bear witness to the truth.” He said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). For a powerful example of what can happen when we follow Jesus’ example of “eating with tax collectors and sinners” while calling them to repentance and belief in Christ, see Rosaria Butterfield’s autobiography, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. While on earth, Jesus befriended sinners. He loved them. And it was out of His love for them that He called them to believe, to go, and to sin no more. As you rightly say, an unbelieving married couple who comes to faith has the ability to live out their marriage vows in a manner pleasing to the Lord. By contrast two people living together as though married will never be able to please God with their sexual relationship. And as a Christian, it is loving to tell them so in kindness and gentleness. To attend their wedding is to say that what they are doing is good. But we know from God’s Word that it is not.
It is possible to disapprove of a homosexual wedding and yet continue in friendship with those trapped in this sin. If you hope to share the Gospel with them, this is the only path. To say that attending this wedding is the loving thing is to lie about love. It is not love to celebrate what God says He will not tolerate. I realize it is incredibly divisive to say this. But God says it, and if we are to follow Him, recognizing Him as King of creation, Lord and final judge, we must walk humbly, but faithfully, in obedience to His Word.
I would encourage you to use the occasion of receiving such an invitation to talk with your friends about why you can’t attend. Tell them you love them and you long to see them thrive, to have a flourishing friendship with each other, but that you can’t support their union because it will never be pleasing to God. Pray for them. Ask God to open their eyes to the truth.
It is never easy to call wrong what so many are praising as right. But “we must obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Celebrating what God forbids will not model the obedience of faith that Christ died to make possible. They need the good news as much as we do. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel — it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes! This is a matter of eternal life or death. And this is the issue of the hour.
I will be praying for wisdom, courage and conviction for all who call on the name of the Lord.
May He reveal himself in saving power.
Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of Boundless.org and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at FamilyMaking.com.