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?