You might as well prepare yourself now. Someday soon, the invitation will pop into your mailbox. Gay marriage has been legalized by vote, legislative action, or (more often than not) judicial fiat in 36 states at the time of this writing, with many more still in question. Whereas a decade ago, state after state passed laws or constitutional amendments affirming marriage as between a man and woman, those winds have changed quickly.
But this change isn’t all theoretical or “out there.” It’s down-on-the-street, in-your-family close. Many Christians, in fact, will face the important question of whether we should attend a gay wedding or not.
For Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the answer is a clear and emphatic no:
“A wedding is a public recognition of a union, and those in attendance are there to help celebrate and add their assent to the union. There is a reason that the traditional ceremony includes the bit about “let him speak now or forever hold his peace.” The witnesses are not merely spectating. Their mere presence implies their support of the union. Because our Lord has told us not to celebrate or approve sin (Isa. 5:20; Rom. 1:32), Christians should not attend gay weddings.
“Can we invite our gay neighbors to dinner? Can we welcome them as guests in our home? Can we work alongside them as colleagues at our places of business? Can we offer real friendship and love? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But we may not attend their wedding. We should vigorously pursue other ways to love our gay friends and neighbors that don’t include compromise on issues of truth. No one relishes the conflict that comes with declining such an invitation. It’s a tough call, but it is the right call….”
What about Jesus, though? He spent time feasting with tax collectors and speaking with outcasts. He touched the untouchable; He called the unclean. Shouldn’t we, then, go to a gay wedding to reach out to those most in need?
According to Peter Ould, a “post-gay” Anglican priest, we can’t count a wedding in the same category as eating with Matthew and his friends. Here’s why:
“…Marriage is a God-given ordinance that speaks to more than just the love between two people. Biblical teaching on marriage shows us that the union of a man and woman is the icon of the union of Christ and his church. The Book of Revelation envisions the great wedding feast at the end of time, the union of the Bridegroom and his bride.
“So doing marriage incorrectly is an act of idolatry. It’s a rejection of both the ordinance God has given and the meaning of that ordinance. Since the gender of the participants in marriage is important, mixing those sexes up destroys the point marriage was meant to represent. How can a Christian be involved in such a thing?”
However, following this path may prove difficult for Christians, especially as Western society becomes more supportive of “alternative marriages.” When a Christian florist refused to provide flowers for a same-sex marriage in Washington state, a judge informed her that she didn’t have the right to do so. Dr. James Emery White recently posted a blog post that examined this turn of events:
“Let’s not be naïve about the not-so-subtle agenda that seems to be creeping into the cultural discourse on such matters. For many, it is not enough for homosexuality to be allowed; it is not enough for it be accepted; it is not enough for gay marriage to be legal. The end game for some seems to be the penalization, if not criminalization, of any and all convictional opposition.”
Your turn. As a Christian, do you think we should attend a same-sex wedding for a friend or family member? Have you done so in the past?