Of all the questions I am asked, this is one of the most frequent. A relative, a friend or someone at work who has identified themselves as being "gay" has invited you to their wedding or "commitment ceremony", and you feel unsure as how to respond. Would it be wrong to attend considering the Biblical sexual ethic that you try to live by and teach others? Would accepting the invitation be misconstrued as approval of a relationship that you believe is sinful? This predicament is only magnified when it is a loved family member who has offered the invitation. How should you proceed?
Looking Through a Different Set of Lenses
In today's cultural climate where traditional marriage is under attack from a very well funded and forceful "gay rights" movement; activists who are intent on redefining the institution of marriage as something other than the joining of one man and one woman; the answer to this dilemma at first glance may seem obvious to you; a firm "no, thank you." And, you may be right; we all have to live according to our conscience. But I would ask you in this article to look at this topic through a different color lens; the hue of which I think will permit you to accomplish these three goals successfully; not offending the invitee and in doing so be a worthy ambassador of Christ; holding to the Biblical sexual ethic, and staying true to your conscience.
Manoeuvring through these issues as a Christian is difficult, to say the least, so permit me the right to begin this discussion with a disclaimer; I realize that my position is going to draw some fire, not everyone reading this will agree and that is fine. These are confusing issues, so it is good that we are addressing them together, trying to find ways to best communicate the message of Jesus with the lost. Regardless of where you stand on this topic, I put before you that this is not a black and white issue, the answer is not definitive; indeed, there is no perfect answer.
What Should Your Ultimate Objective Be?
So how would I suggest you proceed? Using the Great Commission as our guide, I suppose there are two primary questions that must be asked. The first question is this; what response to a gay wedding or commitment ceremony would most express Christian love and respect, allow the doors to be open for future dialogue and relationship? To answer this, I would suggest you consider this reality; your rejection of the invitation will speak much louder than your acceptance. The chances are great that the individual inviting you will already know that you are a Christian. I can almost guarantee that this person would have already suffered a life time full of rejection and they most likely will have anticipated your negative response. With that in mind, I would suggest you accept the invitation and go. The refusal to do so will only inhibit your ultimate objective; which is not to make a declaration in defence of the Bible by refusing, but to consistently find ways to build trust in this relationship so that you can eventually share the good news about Jesus and the Bible.
It's All in How YOU Look At It
How can you do this in such a way that you are not giving into worldly tolerance and breaking your conscience? It's all in how you approach it in your own heart and mind, not in how the gay couple thinks of your attendance. I would encourage you to think of going to this ceremony in the context of being used by God to show love and to keep the doors of communication open as opposed to you supporting homosexuality. Your presence at that event does not have to mean that you are approving gay marriage, but it can show that you are accepting of them as valued human beings, and willing to carry on a relationship with them in spite of their brokenness even though they know you disagree with their choices in this regard. With this mindset, it is possible to attend such an event without adhering to society's definition of tolerance, where you tolerate everything and stand for nothing.
You can't affect people by only telling them what you are against.
The whole idea of sharing the good news of Christ is to be able to construct a bridge with a world that we know will do many things with which we do not agree. But how can we build these bridges with people who need to hear this message if we aren't willing to be with them, live with them, mingle with them and share our lives with them?
Christ did not approve of how the tax collectors, drunks and prostitutes lived, but that did not stop him from mixing with them, sharing meals with them, and befriending them. There is a difference between acceptance and approval. We are all guilty of participating in multiple activities and thought patterns of which God most certainly does not approve, but he does unconditionally accept and love each one of us.
Attending a gay wedding or commitment ceremony does not mean that you have to approve of gay marriage or that you are giving way to gay activists intent on redefining the definition of marriage. In fact, the gay couple whose wedding you are attending are most likely not gay "activists" for they are but a tiny group in the gay community. Most likely the friends you are there to impact are just regular people, living their lives, not wanting to offend anyone. If the day ever comes that you are given the opportunity to share your Biblical beliefs, you definitely should. The bottom line is always this; Jesus is better than anything homosexuality can provide; he's better than anything else, period, but how will you ever be able to share that reality if you have so offended everyone around you by your stance that they no longer care to hear what you have to say?
My viewpoint is that refusing to attend would only confirm people's prejudged idea of what a Christian would do, close down future dialogue and communication, and close the doors to you being able to effectively share the good news of Jesus. I say go, having decided that your goal will be to be a loving representative of Christ, as opposed to being one who fears he or she is being tolerant of a union with which they disagree.