Would You Attend A Same-Sex Wedding?

That’s the question that Southern Baptist blogger Mark Lamprecht  (Here I Blog) poses in a recent post, “Accept the Invitation to Son’s Same-Sex Marriage?,” part of his always thought-provoking Wednesday posts, “Applied Ethics.”  In Mark’s hypothetical — which, sadly, will become all-too-real for many families, Christian and non-Christian alike — the invitation to the same-sex wedding comes from a son to his parents. The scenario unfolds as follows:

A real dilemma came the day one of your sons confessed that he was gay. When your son told you he was gay you still loved him, but you still loved God more. So, you expressed your love for him by encouraging him not to engage in homosexual activity explaining that such temptations are not sin, but acting on them are. Your son stayed celibate until his last year away at college. While attending his college graduation you inevitably met his boyfriend. Then, two months later you receive a letter and a wedding invitation from your son. He was not able to tell you in person that his boyfriend was actually his fiancée (he lives in a state where same-sex marriage is legal). Your son invites you to his same-sex wedding and wants you to walk him down the aisle.”

Such a hypothetical would have been outlandish just ten years ago and completely unthinkable 25 years ago when I was a senior at George Washington University. Although there were members of my fraternity who eventually came out, none did before my graduation in the spring of 1988. Fast-forward a quarter century and we have been transported to a brave, new world indeed! With same-sex “marriage’s” legality and normalization a virtual certainty with the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop. 8 (expected sometime this summer), those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman will be faced with many dilemmas, not the least of which will be receiving an invitation to attend the wedding of a family member, friend, co-worker, or college buddy.

So, for those of us who have religious and/or moral objections to same-sex “marriage,” how will we respond when we get that first invitation? Mark posits four choices for the Christian parent who is invited to the nuptials of a gay son:

  • Attend and grant his wish because he’s your son.
  • Attend, but don’t walk him down the aisle.
  • Decline explaining that you love him, but God must come first.
  • Get the family together and plan to boycott the wedding.

 

If that wedding invitation does not come from your son or daughter, but rather comes from a friend or colleague, does it make your decision more or less difficult? Would it be easier to decline an invitation to attend the same-sex “marriage” of a friend from college? What about your first cousin? How about your best friend from high school? What message (if any) do you send by attending the wedding? What message (if any) do you send if you choose to boycott the marriage ceremony? Does it make a difference if the wedding takes place in a church or if the ceremony is outdoors at the beach or a public park?  Does it matter if the couple getting married claim to be Christians?

So many questions, but no easy answers. There will be some who would beg to differ and state unequivocally that the choice is clear-cut and that there can really be no dispute as to what the right (i.e., Biblical) answer to these thorny questions are. I think I know what the right answers are. I am fairly confident of how Scripture — as applied to this ethical/moral conundrum — would lead a Christian to answer these questions.

But . . . Well, you knew that there would be a “but.”  As of now, my own experience with the question that my blog post asks is in the world of hypotheticals. In other words, I have never been confronted with this question in an honest-to-goodness, real-life situation. I would venture to guess that most of my readers have likewise never had to make a choice whether or not to attend a same-sex “marriage.”  Yet! That will change. And, sooner rather than later.

When it comes right down to it, the best course to take when that invitation arrives in the mail is the one that Jesus would take — WWJD. Would Jesus attend a gay wedding in 21st Century America? Did He eat with sinners — including tax collectors and prostitutes — during His earthly ministry? Yes. Did Jesus tell the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more?” Of course. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of both grace (love) and truth. You can’t have one without the other. How will followers of Christ — living in a post-Christian culture where same-sex “marriage” will become both tolerated and accepted — model grace and truth to their neighbors, many of whom see Christians as nothing more than hypocrites, especially when it comes to the types of “sin” that we speak out against?  I wish I had an easy, pat answer to that question. However, that will be the challenge that Christians face in the days ahead. Will we be up to the challenge?

 

18 comments for “Would You Attend A Same-Sex Wedding?

  1. April 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    MY answer is easy. No. Will I be kind to them? Yes. But a wedding is not sitting down to dinner with someone. A wedding-like this- implies official recognition of ongoing sin. What if a hetero sexual child asked you to attend a dinner where they would announce they are ‘officially’ living together with their partner? I wouldn’t attend that either.

    • April 11, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      Clark,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment this morning. I think you make a good point with the heterosexual couple and their announcement that they are going to be living together. That scenario is probably more likely to occur in a family than even the homosexual marriage issue, but we will need to be consistent in now we approach both situations. Thanks again and God bless,

      Howell

  2. Bennett Willis
    April 11, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Refusing to go looks good to your preacher buddies, but it does not do much for anything else.

  3. April 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    It’s a great question. I haven’t thought this through, but I think I would not attend, and not because it “looks good to [my] preacher buddies…” A wedding is a time of celebration, joy, and whether the participants personally affirm it or not, a recognition of a divine institution. If I attended, I’d not feel much like celebrating, would not have a shred of joy in me. In fact, I’d probably be miserable. Further, I think it makes a mockery of an institution God gave man, a divine blessing, and I wouldn’t want to be part of it. To tell you the truth, I’d be praying that the participants would repent and the “marriage” would dissolve.

    • April 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Scott,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this today. I can’t say that I disagree with anything that you said and, in fact, your thinking is probably where I am on this issue. I do think that we will be faced with the reality of choosing whether or not to attend a same-sex wedding ceremony. We definitely need to think through how and why we would respond when confronted with that situation. Like you, “I think I would not attend,” but I have not been confronted with that choice in real life. That’s why I think the question for Christians is — at least on some level — not as easy to answer as people seem to think, IMO. Thanks again for stopping by and God bless,

      Howell

  4. Susan Marshall
    April 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Well I’m sure you know that I would attend and celebrate their commitment and love for one another, but then I’m not faced with the same moral dilemma you and other Christians have. I cannot grasp the “loving God more than your son” concept, but again – probably because I’m not a Christian. I hope that all Christians (or people of other faiths that have the same issue) continue to treat their homosexual family, friends and community members with love and respect. I would hate to think that a parent would shun or revile their child or best friend – that doesn’t seem very “Christian” to me. Attendance at the actual ceremony is a different matter if you don’t mind the fact that no matter what your child or friend may say, they will be hurt and that hurt will be there – under the surface, for a very long time and may damage the relationship permanently.

    On the other hand, wouldn’t God forgive the parent for attending the ceremony if that is really considered a sin? Wouldn’t a benevolent supreme being want you to be there – in all ways – for your friends and family? I realize I’m not very well versed in what “God” would want, but then again – that’s why I had to leave that particular institution behind. Doing what I consider benevolent, compassionate and loving doesn’t always seem to mesh with Christianity.

    Just my two (ten) cents.

    Cheers,
    Susan

    • April 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Susan,

      Always good to hear from you and have you contribute your two or ten cents to the issues at hand :-) Hope you and Rob are doing well and that you were able to close on your house. You make some very good points. In fact, here is the dilemma that I face in this situation. I would tend to agree with what you wrote, just as I would tend to agree with what Scott wrote. How could I agree with you — who said you would attend the wedding — and Scott — who thinks he wouldn’t — at the same time? This just goes to show that there are no easy answers to the main question I posed and to the other questions I asked in the OP. There maybe answers, but anyone who says that they are easy — particularly as you rightly point out, when relationships maybe irreparably damaged by whatever choice you make — are being naive at best.

      Whatever choices we make in regards to attending or not attending a gay wedding, we must do so with a balance of both truth and grace. This issue, perhaps like no other in our culture, requires us to walk a tightrope from 500 feet in the air. Who wants to take a step in the wrong direction? I don’t and I’m not sure there are too many people — Christian or otherwise — who would want to plummet to the ground because they made the wrong choice. I guess the $64 million question is how do you model both grace and truth at the same time, without sacrificing one for the other? If there was an easy answer to that question, I would have included it in my post :-) Thanks again for your thoughts on this and God bless,

      Howell

  5. Jeff Moore
    April 11, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    I must live in a black and white world. There is no conundrum here. The answer is a simple no! 1 Corinthians 13:6 tells us, “(love) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”. So the loving thing to do would be to avoid the whole disgraceful debacle. A Christians has no more right to attend a gay “wedding” than he does to drive his daughter to an abortion clinic. Wrong is wrong. And it is never loving to aid and abet the sinner. To act in love would require us to saturate the place with our absence.

    • April 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      Jeff,

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and to answer the question that my post asked. While the answer might be a “simple no,” I’m not sure that it is an easy no. Of course, whenever you speak the truth in love in a culture that does not want to hear the truth and has redefined love, then we should not expect “easy.” Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  6. April 11, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Howell,
    Appreciate the post and the thought provoking questions. I think the answer to all of your other questions hinges around one of the last ones you mentioned: “Does it matter if the couple getting married claim to be Christians?”

    If we look at the example of Jesus as a guide, He saved His harshest admonishments and strongest statements for those who claimed to live by God’s standard and yet absolved themselves from it in one way or another. There is no way to sidestep God’s views of homosexuality as sin. Human love doesn’t “overcome” or cancel out God’s eternal standards. It isn’t as though God couldn’t foresee the 21st century when He gave us His Word. For those who claim to be Christian and seek to justify continuing in any sinful lifestyle, I think we must respond in the same manner as Christ did; with rebuke and truth in the hopes that repentance will be sought at some point (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 has an example of this). I do not think I would not go to the “wedding” of two people who claimed to be Christian and gay based on that principle.

    In the case of two people who are gay and do not claim to be Christians, I could see myself as being willing to go, depending on the situation itself. I would certainly have problems with it being called a marriage as that institution is reserved for a man and a woman as it was instituted by God. Marriage should not be defined by the state, even though we have allowed them to encroach on that territory long ago. I don’t expect non-Christians to live like Jesus or follow His teachings and yet I won’t back away from declaring what is right and wrong either. But we have no way to speak into these issues if we won’t even talk or interact with those who are enmeshed in them. If I were dealing with this question in a real situation, it would mean that I had enough of a relationship with at least on of the two individuals that they wanted to invite me to be there. In that situation, I would be certain to let them know where I stand on the issue itself; although I can’t say for a fact it would keep me from being there.

    Like you, this is all hypothetical for me at this point in life, but this is my thought process in how I would deal with the situation if it were to come up.

    • April 11, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Jeff,

      Thanks for the thoughtful response. I am probably very close to your line of thinking regarding my response to a “Christian” couple vs. my response to a non-Christian couple. I do think it makes a difference whether or not the gay couple getting married claim to be followers of Christ. As you rightly point out, we should not expect non-Christians to act like Christians or to obey the commands of Christ. Your observation about a potential relationship with a gay couple and your being able to “speak into these issues” is one that resonates with me. As I shared with several others, there maybe simple answers to the questions I posed, but there are not easy answers. Hope all is well with you. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  7. Samone
    May 1, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    I have a gay daughter who has invited me to her wedding. Our church teaches marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is the basic unit of society. It is against my beliefs to attend a gay ceremony and I will not be attending. I explained to her that I respect her free will and choice, but I will not be attending. I expect her to respect my choice as well,… –exercising my right of religion and what beliefs come with it. “I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’

    Attending a gay marriage ceremony is the same as supporting the underlying theology of the union. “I think attending a gay “marriage” ceremony or civil union implies tacit approval of an artificial substitute to marriage that is an affront to the sacredness of it.”
    Any way you slice it, a same-sex marriage is clearly not part of God’s plan for marriage, and as a parent, my presence would simply be encouraging this couple and other such homosexual couples to continue in their sin. It’s a struggle to love your daughter and her partner while simultaneously mourning their choices. Choosing not to attend does not reflect a lack of love for the people involved, even if they see it that way… If they choose to walk away in anger or disappointment from a parent who loves them enough to speak truth, then as heartbreaking as that would be, so be it. We’re so afraid to offend other people that we end up offending God in the process.

    And by the way,… It has come to my attention that my daughter’s girlfriend was married to a man who during (my daughter’s gay courtship) they were having an affair…, sad but true. I would not even attend a hetersexual couple’s marriage if I had know there was an affair involved and it broke up a family…

    “In a speech given by Masha Gessen, she is an author and outspoken activist for the LGBT community. The push for gay marriage has less to do with the right to marry. She says it’s about diminishing and eventually destroying the institution of marriage and redefining the traditional family,” “…it’s a no?brainer that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no?brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.” >youtube: Gay Marriage is a Lie: Destruction of Marriage, Masha Gessen
    CLEARLY THIS IS NOT COMPATABLE WITH GOD’S PLAN…!

    The progressive agenda with gay marriage is really about transforming the institution of marriage through the government. Once personal conscious and faith are replaced by a collective conscious through the government, it will no longer be acceptable for churches to only define marriage as between a man and a woman. Progressives are looking to fundamentally transform the definition of family and the role that parents play in their children’s lives. Once government defines marriage, faith and churches are taken out of the equation. I personally do not believe the Constitution gives the federal government of the U.S. the authority or responsibility to “define marriage.”

    I hope people will wake up to what’s really happening here…

    • May 1, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      Samone,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your personal story and your thoughts on this issue. As you have beautifully written, I think that the ultimate answer to the question posed in my OP might be black and white, but it is not an “easy” answer, no matter which side someone comes down on. I appreciate your openness in sharing about your own daughter’s marriage and how you have chosen to respond to her choices. As you rightly point out, “choosing not to attend does not reflect a lack of love for the people involved.” Our culture will probably see it that way, but that does not make it true.

      I recently read the Masha Gessen quote that you included. I do not think that “tolerance” was ever the endgame in the radical homosexual movement. I do not beleive that churches will be forced to perform so-called same-sex “marriages,” but I think the next step in the war on Christianity and the church is to take away the tax exempt status from churches and other religious groups who “discriminate” against homosexuals. I think the Supreme Court will overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and perhaps rule CA’s Prop 8 unconstituional. If, in that ruling, they classify homosexuality as a “protected class” like race and gender, then it is assured that the radical gay rights lobby will go after churches which do not fully embrace homosexuality. Most people, including many Christians, are asleep on this issue and do need to wake up. Thanks so much for stopping by today. God bless,

      Howell

  8. Seeker
    June 4, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I was amazed to find this blog since I had recently been posed with the very question you have asked. My brother invited me to his backyard wedding to his partner this past weekend. In addition, he asked me to hold his ring for him. Before faced with this question myself I probably would have fallen in the category of people who would respectfully decline and state my beliefs and where I stood upon the issue and tell him I loved him. The difference was that for this situation my brother knew my beliefs already. He knew where I stood on his relationship and actions and choices. And yet he still asked me to be there. Not to approve, not to come with the condition that I agree with what he was doing, but to simply be there by his side. The reason I decided to agree (and I am still mulling over all of it, otherwise I never would have searched for this blog post), was because even though to the world my actions appear odd and possibly supporting gay marriage, to my brother, his fiancee, and the many other gay couples who knew my brother and our family, standing up with him showed a humbleness in servitude, showing a love and commitment to my brother despite his sinful acts and our disagreements on the will of God. It showed love with integrity and a lack of righteous pride, allowing me to be a light in the midst of darkness rather than safely shining from the edge of darkness. It taught me to truly speak truth WITH LOVE in my presence there as has been quoted so many times in these comments. And I don’t know if a similar situation would ever arise or if I would have attended a different gay ceremony. But for this one I felt called by God to serve and express God’s undeserved grace to all who would simply believe, not grace to all who agree and know all truths. Please let me know your thoughts as I am still trying to seek God’s will and look ahead in learning better how to serve Him and His children.

    • June 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Seeker,

      I am glad that you found my blog and my post about attending a same-sex wedding. I know that there will be many people who would strongly disagree with your decision to attend your brother’s wedding. It is easier to disagree with a position from a distance, but when you are faced with making that decision in a very personal situation, I think the decision — whichever it is — is never really easy. While my own beliefs about homosexuality and same-sex marriage are clear, I honestly do not know how I would answer that question if I was confronted with a real-life situation. I do understand where you are coming from and I personally would not question your decision to attend and stand by your brother. If you decided not to go, I likewise would not question that decision. I guess I am not dogmatic on the issue of attendance because there is a part of me that would rather err on the side of grace than legalism. I’m not saying that it is legalistic not to decide to attend a same-sex wedding, but I am saying that to go perhaps would be an example of underserved favor (i.e., grace). Hope that helps. If you have any other questions or thoughts, please do not hesitate to comment or to contact me by email. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  9. Hypatia
    August 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    So for those of you that would refuse to attend a loved one’s same-sex marriage….I suppose you would also refuse to attend a loved one’s Jewish wedding?

  10. Pamela Hilton
    August 25, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Trumping my love and deep compassion for my gay family members and my strong desire to love them as Christ does, is the overriding fact that marriage represents that profound mystery of Christ and his love for his bride, the church. I cannot imagine Christ, with a celebratory smile, affirming a gay couple at their ‘wedding’.

Leave a Reply