R.S.V.P. Please

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A quick Google search yields many opinions addressing the question, “Can a Christian attend a same-sex wedding?” Many articles say Christians should not attend same-sex weddings. I will attempt to answer this question by sharing how I engaged three other questions and came to a “yes.” I answer this way because I believe the best way for some Christians to communicate love to their close friend or relative is to attend their same-sex wedding. This will serve to maintain the relationship, and may even be more pleasing to God than automatically declining the invite.

The first question to consider is: “Are you currently involved in this person’s life?” For example, if my former co-worker, who I barely know, is just plain nice and invited me to their same-sex wedding, I’d likely decline. But when my wife and I were invited to the same-sex wedding of one of our closest friends, it caused us to pause, reflect, and pray. We were involved in her life. Our friend invited us because we love each other. It even occurred to us that the invite was not an inquiry into our views on marriage and homosexuality. In fact, she already knew what we believed. This led us to our next consideration.

The second question to consider is: “What do you want to communicate?” We asked ourselves, “How can we best communicate to our friend that we love her?” We decided that attending the wedding was the best way to communicate to her and her wife-to-be that we loved them. Some Christians argue that attending a same-sex wedding communicates approval of their lifestyle and that your presence implies you will hold the couple accountable to their vows. I suspect this view is rooted in how people historically have viewed attendance at a wedding, but it does not seem that this is supported biblically. Further, do we even attempt to hold professing Christians accountable to their wedding vows? I realize that my presence may have been taken by some people to be approval, but I cannot control what people assume, nor do I care to control their assumptions. If you attended one of the rallies of President Trump, would you want someone to assume why you were there? Does your presence in a room communicate your approval? Is it not the case that we all would rather want others to ask us why we are there? Being curious and asking questions is far superior to assuming.

The third question to consider is: “What is motivating your response?” We were tempted to decline because we were afraid of what other Christians would think of us. We ruthlessly examined our motivations. One of the ugliest motivators was fear. We feared others would believe we were liberal, that we had compromised, or worse: that we were apostate! That is because some argue that attending a same-sex wedding is participation in and celebration of sin. We took this possibility seriously. We asked ourselves the question, “Does our simply being present implicate us in a celebration of sin?” It occurred to us that if our mere presence was akin to celebrating sin, we would need to leave the world. Yes, we are called to separate ourselves from those in the community of faith that are continuing in sin, but we do not judge those outside the community by the standards of the Church. We even agree with those who say we must call sinners to repentance. But does calling someone to repentance mean we cannot associate with the person until they agree with us? Individual Christians should resist the temptation to believe that we can change people by our actions or by our words. The power to change lives lies in the Word of God.

Then we considered the wider implication of attending the wedding—that is, the tension between our freedom in Christ and our responsibility to other Christians. We even sought wise counsel from Christians in our community. Romans 14 was especially instructive. We decided to attend because our desire was to be pleasing to God. For us, we became fully convinced that attending was not sinful. If we were mistaken, we are prepared to give an account to God.

Our views on marriage haven’t changed. We don’t have all the answers. But, we don’t need to have all the answers in order to love people or to get close to them. For us, we attended our friend’s same-sex wedding because we wanted to love her. We may disagree with her, but for us, agreement is not the perquisite for love. We are okay with others misunderstanding and criticizing our decision. Love risks misunderstanding. We realize that deciding how to respond to an invite to a same-sex wedding is a contemporary issue. If only Calvin had included a section on how to respond in his Institutes. We love and respect our brothers and sisters who come to different conclusions on the matter. Attending the wedding maintained the relationship and allows us to continue to be involved in their lives. We aren’t just waiting for the opportunity to tell them they are wrong. Our relationship is about loving one another, listening and learning from one another, and continuing to establish trust. Christ loved and accepted us while we were still sinners. Recently, someone explained this truth as such: “Christ was diametrically opposed to us, but He loved us deeply.” Therefore, we believe learning to love those we disagree with cannot begin with, “I disagree with you, but I love you.” It begins with, “I love you.” My formation into being a disciple of Jesus has been most significantly impacted by the people who loved me and accepted me before I was transformed. So our hope and prayer is that as we continue to be involved with our friends’ lives, Jesus will grant them the gift of repentance and they will come to know Him deeply. ∞

Written by Anonymous as part of the Anonymous Issue (November-December 2017).