Sadly, this is a question that many Christians will have to have wrestle with sooner or later. Whether it involves a family relation or friend or coworker, there are no easy options for someone who wants to be faithful to God and His Word and loving toward his neighbor.
Christians know that same-sex “marriage” is sin. It is a clear and blatant rebellion against God (1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-11; Rom. 1:24ff). It rejects His work as the One who created us male and female (Matt. 19:4). And in so doing it corrupts and undermines faith in His work as our Redeemer. For it is the Man Jesus who laid down His life for His elect Lady, the Church (Eph. 5:25ff). God is a husband to His chosen people, His Bride (Is. 54:5). The fact that we are created male and female is a reflection of the nature and the ways of this God who is love (1 John 4). Same-sex marriage, then, is not only the breaking of a commandment, it’s a denial and an overturning of God’s order of creation and redemption.
Where most Christians struggle is how to respond to this sin in a way that does not come across as hateful or unloving in our hyper-sensitive and easily offended culture. Family relationships may be involved. Often, the “wedding” will be for gay or lesbian children or grandchildren of long-time friends or co-workers. We want these people to know that we don’t wish ill on anyone and that we care about everyone involved. So how do we show true Christian love?
Part of the struggle we have is that we falsely pit faithfulness to God and love for others against each other, when in fact they are two sides of the same coin. The best way that we can love others is by holding faithfully to God’s Word and confessing its truth clearly and compassionately, speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). For God’s Word of Law and Gospel gives eternal life (John 6:68). It works repentance and the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:44-47). It brings true peace (John 14:27). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:33). To set aside God’s Word in the name of love or for the sake of some supposed future greater good is a delusion. Real love cares for a person’s salvation and never condones sin which brings death to a person’s soul (Ezek. 18:20).
What is loving is to grieve with parents who are having to deal with a child who has openly departed from the faith in this way. What is loving is to encourage them to continue to look to God for help in prayer and to trust His Word for guidance and comfort. And when the people involved willingly embrace sin or approve of sin, what is loving is to call them to repentance. What is loving is to point people to Christ who died for all sins and who desires that we turn from our evil way and live by His mercy and forgiveness (Ezek. 18:23).
The truth is that the reason some Christians might feel compelled to attend a same-sex “wedding” is because we don’t want to let go of our favorite idols. For some the idol might be money. A job or a business relationship might be at stake. To such people Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke16:13). “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). Others simply want to be thought of well by the world and not looked at as the bad guy. To them Jesus says, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15; see also Galatians 1:10 about seeking favor from men or from God). Or still others want to keep peace in the family rather than to act according to the truth. But to those who bow down to the idol of family, Jesus says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). Even harsher are the preceding words, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt. 10:34-36).
Our media-saturated lives have desensitized us to the grave spiritual seriousness of this matter. We’ve forgotten what was common sense only a couple decades ago. So consider this: Would we think seriously about attending a wedding where not just two people were getting married but three or four people were entering into a sexual union among themselves? (Yes, this is happening now.) Would we want to be supportive of their choices even though we disagreed with them? I mean, #lovewins right? Would it really help the family to show up at a ceremony that condoned that? How, then, is a same-sex wedding any different? Both reject and corrupt what God Himself has given and created in marriage on a fundamental level.
Some try to suggest that Jesus would go to a same-sex “wedding” since He spent time talking with and even eating with sinners. There is no doubt that what Jesus did raised some eyebrows. But what was He doing in those encounters? He was calling people to turn from their sin to the freely given mercy of God. “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:27-32). Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke19:10), never to condone sin (Matt. 5:17-19). No one is suggesting that we should cut off all contact with unbelievers or those engaged in sinful lifestyles. For then we would have to leave the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11). God places us into our various vocations precisely so that we might show love to our neighbor in both word and deed. Those relationships provide the opportunity to confess our faith in Christ the Savior. But it is supremely dishonest to think that by attending a “same-sex” wedding you can do as Jesus did. Do you seriously think you’ll be able to call people to repentance in that venue where sin is being celebrated and the words of Jesus are explicitly being rejected?
At a wedding you are obliged to congratulate the couple, to smile politely and happily at what is going on, to laugh at the jokes. Being present means joining in the celebration, affirming the goodness or at least the acceptability of the union. Under what circumstances can a Christian justify doing that? Plus, when the people involved are ones we naturally care for and are close to, there is a very real possibility of being tempted to compromise the truth and to be drawn away from God’s Word ourselves. After all, weddings are nice and positive and fun. And there you are feeling like a wet blanket. Being present at such events and witnessing the counter-preaching of the world can make you question the Scriptures. The very nature of the event whispers to you, “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1).
In the end there is simply no way in good conscience that a Christian can attend a same sex wedding. For there is no realistic scenario where doing so does not lend aid and support to sin and rebellion against God. There really is no middle ground on this one. Jesus Himself said “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt.12:30).
This is a defining issue of our times. Let us take our place with Christ, even in the face of worldly scorn. For He took His place with us, even unto death. He is our Immanuel, God with us, God who is for us to rescue us sinners that we may share in His resurrection life forever.