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Occasionally people email me asking for my opinion on various personal or church problems. Not long ago I received the following question, which is followed by my response.
I am a follower of God wanting to walk in His truth. I have been invited to a same-sex celebration of marriage by two, long-time Christian friends. I could attend because I love both of them and could celebrate their happiness but I could not celebrate their union as a marriage. If I go I feel like a hypocrite and if I don’t go I feel like a hypocrite. I am seeking counsel.
It’s easy to understand your dilemma. You don’t want to completely alienate the people you love. On the other hand you don’t want to leave the impression you are endorsing immoral behavior either. Most importantly, you don’t want to displease your Heavenly Father.
This would not be a difficult decision for me. I would not attend. You are invited to participate in a ceremony that mocks what God intended marriage to be. The Scripture teaches that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman and God. Marriage was not man’s idea. It was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden and “..what God joins together man is not to separate.” If I were invited to a polygamists ceremony of a man marrying four women I wouldn’t attend because that ceremony would desecrate the sacred covenant that God ordained.
Another consideration is that your presence would leave the impression that you endorse homosexual relationships. You may rationalize, “I’m not endorsing their behavior I’m just being a friend.” But your very presence says to your children and others you influence, that gay marriage is okay; maybe God destroyed the entire population of Sodom and Gomorrah for this kind of behavior, but times have changed. However the Bible clearly states that God is, “… the same, yesterday today and forever” and, ‘He does not change like shifting shadows”.
In the first chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul documented the immoral behavior that characterized the world of his day – a list that included same-sex relationships. He concludes the discussion with these words, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”. (emphasis mine) We need to be careful not to leave the impression that we’ve have caved into the world’s pressure and approve of what God’s Word has so clearly prohibited.
There’s one other factor. Your attendance not only puts you in an uncomfortable position but an untenable one. You’ll be expected to respond to favorable comments like, “Isn’t this exciting?” “I’m happy for them, aren’t you?” That setting would not be an appropriate environment for you to voice your convictions. That’s probably why you state that you would feel like a hypocrite if you went. Unless you are prepared to create a scene or get into arguments, it doesn’t seem wise to attend. You speak more eloquently by your absence than you could by your presence.
You are understandably concerned about alienating your friends, but by their decision to have a public ceremony they have deliberately put you on the defensive. They could have chosen to continue their relationship without flaunting it or requesting their Christian friends approve of it. But they are asking you to violate your conscience and place your stamp of approval on their immoral behavior.
While I wouldn’t attend, I think I’d write a kind note saying, “Dear friend, Thanks for inviting me to your ceremony. I really appreciate you thinking of me. However, as a follower of Jesus Christ I cannot endorse same-sex marriage so I will not be attending. As your friend, I want you to know that I love you and want God’s best for you and your partner in the future. Again, thanks for thinking of me. Sincerely, ____
If they choose to distance themselves from you because of your convictions, that’s their choice. That’s obviously not what you desire, but don’t be devastated by that. Jesus said, “Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter in law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me….” (Matthew 10:34-37)