It was heartbreaking enough that Joe and Mary’s favorite granddaughter, Emma, “came out” a couple of years ago. They couldn’t believe that the little girl they used to take to Sunday school, the teen who gave her heart to Jesus at a Young Life Camp, was now declaring herself a lesbian.
It took all the grace they possessed to treat her gay girlfriend like family at Christmas. They prayed Emma would come to her senses, but those hopes were dashed when they received a wedding invitation from Emma and her girlfriend.
Joe and Mary couldn’t decide what to do. They deeply love Emma, and if they stayed away from the ceremony, it would break their granddaughter’s heart, causing a rift in the family and destroying any future influence they might have in leading Emma to embrace Jesus fully. But neither could they affirm their granddaughter’s unbiblical choices. Their very presence at the wedding would condone what Jesus declared to be wrong.
For guidance, we must look to Scripture to see what Jesus might do in such a situation. Jesus understood all too well that we live in a post-Genesis 3 world, and he had compassion for those trapped in sin. God set his design for sex, gender, marriage and divorce in the Garden of Eden. But, in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and plunged all of creation into sin, which twisted everything, from creation itself to the creatures who inhabit it. In such a world, neglected and abused children grow up to be messed-up adults.
So, we must strive to be like Jesus in showing compassion without compromising his holiness. We don’t have to affirm either heterosexual or homosexual sins to show the graciousness of our Lord Jesus toward sinners.
Jesus interacted often with tax collectors and prostitutes, so does that give us free rein to attend a gay wedding or provide a guest room for a child or grandchild and their unmarried partner or gay spouse? On the surface it seems to, until we note Jesus’ response to his religious critics: he has only two reasons for keeping such company – he loves the lost sons and daughters of God and he wants to bring them home from the far country.
The synagogue saints are quick to point out that his very presence is tantamount to condoning the sinful lifestyles of reprobate tax collectors and prostitutes. We could argue the same for a Christian attending a gay wedding or other events that celebrate LGBTQ values and agendas.
So, the first issue is always “What is your motive as a Christian for being there?” Is it to keep peace in the family or the goodwill of the person who invited you? Or, is it because you are afraid your refusal will negate any chance to lead them to Christ later? Do you really believe that their salvation is dependent on you? Like that of Jesus, the purest motive is to do that which honors God and brings others to Christ.
When the Scriptures aren’t crystal-clear on what you should do, do what Jesus did: he went off alone to pray. He got his marching orders from his Father. Martin Luther said, “We pray not so much to get God’s answers as to get his heart. When we have his heart, we will do what he would do.” Maybe that’s why Luther famously said, “Love God, and do what you will.” Next, if prayer doesn’t make things immediately clear, seek counsel from godly people who have a well-balanced view of God’s Word. Ask them to check your motives, help expose where they are self-serving and give you spirit-led counsel.
While our motive matters, so does the situation. It was one thing for Jesus to go to dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes. It would have been quite another for him to take a seat next to them at their tax booths or sit on the front porch at the house of prostitution as they waited for their customers to show up.
In the same way, it’s one thing to socialize with LGBTQ folks, but it’s quite another to condone, by our attendance, a ceremony that violates everything God has designed for marriage. One might argue, “But why single out gay weddings, when there are heterosexual marriages that violate God’s design for marriage?” We might respond, “You are right. Some heterosexual marriages ought not to be sanctioned by the church or condoned by the happy presence of Christians.” What goes for gay marriages, goes for all violations of God’s plan for heterosexual marriages too.
Here’s the rub when it comes to going to a gay wedding. If we go because we feel pressured to please our loved ones or keep peace in the family—but at the same time don’t want to condone what’s happening—how do we show up without ruining the affair? Do we smile during and after the ceremony, giving the impression that we approve? Or put on a sour face to make sure everyone knows we don’t approve?
Do we give our congratulations to the bride and bride (or groom and groom), or do we withhold any words that might encourage them?
There may be reasons to attend, but for the one who does, attendance will be fraught with peril. Either we will displease God by our behavior, compromise our own integrity, or displease those who are there.
Jesus had no doubts about the rightness of his association with sinners. He had a single passion in life that motivated everything he did: “to seek and to save those who are lost.”
However, we are not Jesus. Our sinfulness and human frailties will get in our way when we try to figure out answers to disputable questions like going to gay weddings. So, here’s a principle to live by: if you doubt, don’t do it. If your motives are not totally to glorify Jesus and lead others to him, don’t do it. If you are making your decisions to please Christian friends, do not do it to placate them.
St. Paul says, “Keep these things between you and God.” In other words, what pleases him is the only reason to do (or not to do) anything. Do his will, and leave the consequences of your action to him to take care of.