The following article is from Biblical Insight to Tough Questions Vol. 11, Chapter 1, “Should I attend a same-sex wedding?”
What was once a theoretical question has become the lived experience for an ever-increasing number of Christians: Should I attend a same-sex wedding?
Unfortunately, there is not an easy answer.
However, before we delve deeper into this question, it’s helpful to discuss four biblical facts that must serve as the foundation for our larger discussion:
One: Scripture forbids same-sex sexual relations.
See “What does the Bible say about homosexuality?” for a more in-depth explanation of how that is the case, but the Bible is consistent in its stance that a same-sex marriage contradicts God’s intention for us.
Two: God created and defined marriage.
In God’s view, marriage is only between a man and a woman (cf. Genesis 1:28; Jeremiah 29:6; Matthew 19:4–5; 1 Corinthians 7:14). Therefore, a same-sex “marriage” is not a biblical marriage.
Some claim that God’s word doesn’t address this subject, alleging that such marriages did not exist in the biblical era. This is not true. Same-sex relations were known in ancient Canaan; the emperor Nero was married to two men in separate ceremonies. Biblical writers had abundant opportunities to endorse such relationships, but they consistently forbade them.
Three: We should not endorse what the Bible prohibits.
Paul refused to engage in behavior that would make his brother “stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Our witness is vital to our public ministry as followers of Jesus.
Four: God loves gay people and calls us to do the same.
We are all broken by sin (Romans 3:23). Jesus died for all sinners (Romans 5:8) and loves us unconditionally (John 3:16). Now we are to love others because “he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
How do these facts help us decide whether to attend a same-sex wedding?
Does my attendance endorse the relationship?
To start, we must understand that attending a same-sex wedding is likely to be seen by both the couple and those in attendance as a tacit endorsement of their relationship.
Even if you meet with the couple beforehand to make clear that, though you love them, you hold to the biblical position that such a relationship is a sin, others at the wedding are less likely to know your stance. As such, choosing to attend the wedding risks making it appear as though your views on this subject run counter to the witness of God’s word. That is obviously something all Christians should seek to avoid.
At the same time, choosing not to attend—particularly when a family member or close friend is involved—risks alienating those God has called us to love and losing the opportunity to maintain some degree of influence for Christ in their lives.
Ideally, we could mitigate this risk by demonstrating our care for them and our desire to be a part of their lives both before and after the wedding. But we cannot force a relationship to exist when one party decides they’re not interested.
However, such fears could be used to justify acquiescing to any number of sins, and we must never allow the potential fallout from standing for God’s truth to prevent us from doing so.
So how should we proceed?
Three steps before making your choice
First, pray and ask the Lord to help you understand your own heart and mind on the subject.
It can be much easier to say that you agree with Scripture’s stance on homosexuality and same-sex relationships when the issue isn’t personified by someone for whom you care deeply. If doubts persist, seek to resolve those before you get to the point of having to take a potentially difficult stand.
God’s truth can stand up to any honest examination, so don’t be afraid to dig into what the Bible teaches. The article from Dr. Jim Denison mentioned above is a great place to start, and our ministry has addressed various aspects of this debate from a number of perspectives.
And know that it’s possible to dislike what the Bible says while still acknowledging its truths.
One of the chief reasons people embrace the exegetical gymnastics necessary to justify a position that runs counter to the plain teachings of Scripture is that they wish it taught something different. Especially when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, it’s not a sin if you would have preferred that the Lord took a different stance. Just make sure that your preference doesn’t become more important than God’s truth.
In the end, we believe that the Bible’s position on this subject is clear, but that is a conclusion you must reach for yourself before it offers much help in deciding how to approach those who think differently.
The second step is to sit down and talk with the couple, if possible, or the person to whom you are closest if both are not available.
Make your views clear while also affirming that, despite your differences, you love and value them as people. God does not define people by their sexuality, and helping them know that you don’t either is an important truth to make clear.
Again, that’s not to say that God can bless a same-sex relationship or that we should ever waver from the biblical view on the subject. Far too often, though, it seems like this singular aspect of a person’s life becomes the focal point of their identity. Let them know that, to you, they are far more than their sexual orientation and that, while you do not agree with that aspect of their life, you do not love them any less as a result.
In the vast majority of relationships—both with family and friends—people are able to disagree about various subjects without cutting the other person out of their life. While you cannot control what others choose to do, making clear that you earnestly desire to remain close with them despite your disagreement can go a long way toward helping them to do the same.
Last, go back to God and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance on whether or not you should go to the wedding.
Do this after you have talked with the couple and gotten a sense of their views on the subject. It’s possible that, knowing your stance on their relationship, they may prefer you not to attend.
But remember: it is vital in this step that you go to the Lord looking for his answer rather than confirmation of what you want him to say. He can see the bigger picture of how your decision will impact your witness, your relationship with the couple, and a host of other factors you may not have even considered.
So set aside the necessary time to earnestly seek his answer and do not act until you have it.
But know that the burden of proof that you should attend needs to rest on demonstrating why your presence is worth the risk to your witness. For the reasons outlined above, the question we must ask God is not, “Can I prove that I should not go?” but rather, “Can I prove that I should?”
For more on this topic, see Chapters 3 and 4 of How Does God See America?.