More people have asked me this question recently than ever before: “Should I attend a friends same-sex wedding?” Or, “Should I attend my brother’s same-sex wedding ceremony?”
I’ve actually been encouraged by some fairly wise Christians not to write very much on this. Backlashes can be unprincipled and vicious, and my children are quite young. The gay community, like many communities, is split among people who disagree virtuously and unvirtuously with those they do not approve of. The same could be said of some Christians. That is not to say that each group acts unvirtuously to the same degree.
The short answer I would offer is: “no.”
Celebration is exuberant approval. It is personally supportive through the structured means of celebrating an action and institution, in this case, of gay marriage.
For a more complete discussion, see the following blog posts:
This one from The Gospel coalition by Matthew Hosier. Here’s his bottom line:
So should I attend a same-sex wedding?
There are two competing tensions to reconcile in answering this question:
1. The fact that you love and care for the person getting “married” means the answer should be “yes.” It is difficult to see how not going to the ceremony demonstrates love and care for the person.
2. The fact that this is not really a marriage at all means the answer should be “no.” It is difficult to see how going to the ceremony communicates anything other than your approval—so if you don’t approve but go anyway you act dishonestly or with hypocrisy.
My personal position is that answer #2 above outweighs answer #1, so I would not go. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is not the thing that on the surface looks most loving. I don’t want to do something in order to make someone else feel more positive about me if by doing it I am in effect encouraging them to do something harmful. Going to a same-sex wedding is not the most loving thing to do because I don’t want to encourage my friends in actions that run contrary to God’s command.
Here is another.
There are some nuances here that could be considered.
If Jesus was constantly hanging out with sinners – does that mean he was in places where he could be seen as approving of what was taking place? I’m not sure you can push that argument very far, and not sure it will actually lead us anywhere. However, there may be some legitimate distinction between whether or not the wedding is religious or nonreligious. For example, I would be much more open to considering going to a civil ceremony where two gay or lesbian people were making a public contract to permanently care for one another. What I have a difficult time imagining myself doing is going to a same-sex wedding ceremony in a church in which the result of the ceremony was supposed to create a biblical Christian marriage.
There is also the objection of what an action communicates as opposed to what is actually logically consistent. Most Bible believing Christians who argue that we should go to the wedding ceremonies of our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors say that, while staying away from those ceremonies may be the most logically morally consistent action, it may not communicate well – and therefore be functionally counterproductive. They might quote Colossians 4:5, “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; making the most of every opportunity.”
Because of the confusion that can come from that relationship of church and state, as well as the question of logical consistency versus communicational reality, there are some who believe that this is an area of “Christian liberty.” That is, each person should do what they are convinced in their conscience they should do, perhaps even on a case-by-case basis.
For my part, as a pastor and elder, I would not exert church discipline on a church member who decided that they should go to a same-sex wedding ceremony. However, it is also my practice to counsel people that they probably should not attend, though I am much more adamant when the ceremony is being held in a church and being officiated by a member of the “Christian” clergy.
Feel free to comment below. Please be respectful and use appropriate language so the dialogue can continue.