If you have not been invited to a same-sex wedding ceremony yet, the odds are increasingly likely that you will be. Many of us know, work with, or are in family’s with men and women who are openly gay, and the new SCOTUS ruling has opened wide the door to wedding ceremonies. It’s important, then, that we all think through this issue prior to being asked. We want to do so with an eye towards two primary commitments: (1) loving our LGBT neighbor, and (2) standing firm on Biblical marriage.
I won’t, in this article, go into all the details about why a gay marriage is not faithful to Scripture. I have written elsewhere about homosexuality, and I want to focus my attention here on the question at hand. It is important to state, however, that a gay wedding ceremony does not meet the Biblical definition for what a marriage is and therefore Christians cannot support it. This is important as we, then, think about attending a wedding ceremony.
Attending a wedding ceremony is, at some level, to serve as a witness to the ceremony that is taking place. It is to stand with the bride and groom and to agree to hold them accountable to the vows that they are publicly making. This means that when I am a guest in attendance I am not merely a guest, I am a participant. As such, and believing what we do as Christians about marriage, it proves exceedingly difficult to justify attending a same-sex wedding.
The challenge we face, of course, is how do we love our LGBT neighbors in the midst of standing for our commitment to a Biblical marriage. It is exceedingly important that we do our best to demonstrate great love for others, even others that we disagree with on important issues. Imagine saying, to anyone else, that you could not attend their wedding because of whom they were marrying. Imagine how that would go over. Imagine how that would impact your relationship. In many scenarios it would be the end of a friendship. Put yourself in their shoes. They do not believe that they are doing anything sinful, they do believe that they are making an important, life-altering decision, they have found love, and they want you, as a friend, to be there to celebrate this new life with them. It’s an honest request in many cases. How we respond should be seasoned with awareness, sensitivity, love, and respect. We want to do all we can, in good conscience, to keep a friendship.
How do we do this? For some this may look like attending the wedding, or at least the reception. I understand that impulse. I would advise against doing so, but at a bare minimum I would say, it must be abundantly clear to your friend that you do not support his marriage. This may be especially relevant to those parents who are invited to their son or daughter’s ceremony. Perhaps if they knew clearly that you were not condoning, not celebrating this event, but that your love and care for them prompted you to at least show up, maybe under such circumstances you could attend the event. I still think this gets sticky and highly complicated in light of all that we believe as Christians, but I sympathize with the impulse to love well.
I think a better alternative is seeking to spend time with the couple after their wedding is over. Get to know your friend’s (or child’s) partner, seek to love and serve them just as you would your friend. This is not a matter of condoning their marriage, it is an attempt to love well. Treat them with kindness, build a relationship that opens the door to many demonstrations and communications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this regard, then, we might say to someone who invites us to a gay wedding, “I cannot attend the ceremony. But I would love to get to know your partner after it is all over. Perhaps we could all arrange to get dinner sometime.” This let’s a person know that while we do not support their same-sex marriage, we still desire to pursue friendship and familiarity with them. We still want to build a relationship, and we want to care about this person who is meaningful to them.
We have many friends, I assume, who don’t believe exactly like we do. We have many friends who participate in practices that the Bible does not condone. This relationship should not be treated any differently than those. We can love, respect, and befriend those who disagree with us. In fact, that is precisely what Jesus models for us. Jesus spends the day with a woman at a well (John 4). She came there in the middle of the day because she is a social pariah, she is an indecent woman. Jesus comes there, knowing it is culturally inappropriate to talk to her. He comes there knowing how the disciples will respond (v. 27). He comes there because He loves this woman. Whether you go to a same-sex wedding ceremony or not (I maintain that Christians shouldn’t), we need to follow Jesus’ lead here: standing for Biblical commitments while loving others well.