One of my relatives — I won’t say who, despite being confident this person doesn’t know what a blog is, much less reads mine — didn’t accept an invitation to a same-sex wedding.
This relative felt that beliefs alone were a good reason to stay home.
A few months later, the same couple threw a big party, and those same relatives of mine were invited. They attended, even the one who refused to attend the wedding. It wasn’t that the person was against the homosexual couple being gay, just that a wedding ceremony seemed inappropriate.
As more and more state bans of same-sex marriage are falling because of court rulings that they are unconstitutional, I think such a scenario is something more and more people will face.
So when a Christian happens to be invited to a same-sex wedding, what should he do?
I read a blog post recently from a pastor who answered that question from a reader. One of the first things the pastor said really ticked me off: in stating how easy it would be for him to answer the question for himself, he justified his refusal to attend on the basis that the couple would be “mocking God’s intent for marriage.”
I’ve heard this from a lot of my fellow Christians, and it bothers me. That’s because I wonder how, after all this time, these people can’t take a break from their Biblical talking points for a moment long enough to put themselves in the place of a gay person. Many of us have little difficulty trying to put ourselves in someone else’s place; to do so, after all, is pretty much required if we’re following the Golden Rule.
When I look up the definition of the word mock, I find this: “to tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner.”
Let’s stop and think about this for a moment.
A gay couple falls in love and wants to spend the rest of their lives together. They see marriage as something positive, something worthwhile, something they want badly enough for their lives that they’re willing to fight for the right to be married.
In what way is that teasing or laughing in a scornful or contemptuous manner at the institution of marriage? Is isn’t. If anything, it’s appreciating it.
Granted, they don’t fit the traditional description to be eligible for it in a Biblical sense. But they’re not trying to poke fun at marriage by trying to be married.
I would argue, in fact, that there are plenty of heterosexual couples who get married for the wrong reasons who are far more guilty of “mocking” marriage than a loving couple who wants to make a lifetime commitment, but who happen to be the “wrong” gender combination.
I’m also reminded of another family member who, years ago, decided to get married. This particular family member was a he, and the person he wanted to marry happened to be a she. By all accounts from some Christians, this, apparently, is enough to make them fully support the marriage with seemingly no other questions asked.
I had questions. A few mutual friends also had questions. More specifically, we had suspicions, which we voiced to him, as delicately and as gently as possible. We suggested that things might be moving a bit too quickly, and that he should give it a little more time. After all, we suggested, anyone this in love in six weeks (or however long it was before they started seriously talking marriage) would still be in love in six months. And it’d give them more time to get to know each other better.
But he wouldn’t hear of it. They kept moving forward. And I was invited to the wedding.
By then, I had heard extra details I hoped weren’t true. But I was invited to the wedding.
I had every reason to believe the marriage wouldn’t last, despite the fact that he was clearly in love with her and ready to spend the rest of his life with her. I had serious doubts about her ability to be able to make the same commitment to him, based on her past.
But I was invited to the wedding.
I could have, as that pastor suggested, written them a note, grandstanding about my Christian faith, and suggesting, perhaps, that I felt they weren’t “evenly yoked.”
But I chose to go. I chose to be supportive. I chose to pray one-on-one with God, asking Him to help things work out. My choice, had it been up to me, was that they didn’t get married at all. But it wasn’t about me on their wedding day. It was about them. And I hoped God would either help make things work or would be there to pick up the pieces when they didn’t.
Maybe I was wrong to go and hope for the best, to hope that God would intervene and touch these two hearts and show them the right path.
Then again, I’ve attended plenty of weddings over the years when I only knew either the bride or the groom, and didn’t really know the other well at all. Should I, as a Christian, not attend such a wedding if I’m not willing to put my faith on the line in vouching for the faithfulness of the person I don’t know? Or am I supposed to set aside all of the questions I might have about someone I don’t know and attend solely because the couple is heterosexual? If my attending a marriage ceremony, as some might have us believe, is a kind of a testimonial that the marriage lives up to Biblical scrutiny, doesn’t this mean I have a responsibility to interrogate both the bride and the groom on matters of faith before the ceremony begins?
I’m not so sure about that.
But in the case of my family member, who I felt was rushing things in his desire to marry this woman, I was smart enough to know two things.
First, if I chose not to attend, it would not change their intentions. They were going to get married, regardless of what I might say about it. It was a done deal. Period. End of discussion. And pass the wedding cake.
Second, if I chose not to attend and arrogantly inform them of my reason against attending, promoting my morally-superior stance, it might push them to be that much more determined to get married, thereby making themselves that much more determined to make what I already thought was a mistake.
In either case, what would I have accomplished?
By attending, even though he didn’t have any idea how much I didn’t support his choice to marry this person, I was at least showing my family member I was someone he could turn to, with the hope that if he needed me, I could be there. That, to me, was a far better way to minister than to grandstand.
But it comes down to the person.
It seems to me that if a Christian can’t go and just be a friend to the person who invited him, he should just not go. If the person knows the invitee is a Christian, it probably won’t be a surprise that the Christian doesn’t attend. But not receiving the rudeness of a letter condemning the marriage might be a surprise that speaks more loudly to the would-be recipient.
It seems to me that a Christian should decide whether to go based on how he’d feel if someone behaved at his own wedding the way he’s most likely to behave if he attends a same-sex marriage.
The answer to that question might be the easiest way to determine what to do.