[Please note – this is written on the basis that gay sexual activity is inherently wrong. If you disagree with that, then what follows will be irrelevant to you. And, to be clear, I regard the attempt to redefine marriage and therefore weddings to include gay relationships as totally flawed. But it’s easier to use the terms as commonly understood to present this argument.]
Given that we now have gay ‘weddings’, as Christians we need to work out how to respond when the invite arrives. The discussion that follows is about how to choose whether to attend or not; how to actually respond to the invitation is a separate issue.
The reasoning varies depending on whether the ‘wedding’ claims to be a Christian event or not.
If the wedding is a ‘Christian’ occasion, then we need to be applying the principles of 1 Cor 5. This offers:
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
Therefore if we endorse the behaviour of the ‘Christians’ participating in the wedding, either as the partners being married, or the celebrant of the occasion, we are clearly associating with someone ‘who bears the name of brother who is sexually immoral’. This we are commanded not to do…
This is relatively straight forward IMHO, although I would add that it’s important that we recognise the purpose is to challenge the behaviour of the people involved, not out of a sense of disgust.
The more complex situation is where there is no attempt to add a religious content to the occasion. The challenge from the above passage is ‘For what have I to do with judging those outside?’ So does this mean we should go along out a willingness not to judge? I have some sympathy with the view; however in practice I think we need to consider what we are going along to. In attending a gay ‘wedding’, we are attending an event that is intended to celebrate something that we believe to be wrong. So we are being invited to an event that, if we are serious about believing God’s word, is celebrating sin. It’s the moral equivalent of going along to a party to celebrate a new porn website or a paedophilic relationship; would you want to go along to the wedding of a man to a 10 year old girl? So why would you want to go along to a similar celebration of sin? Sin is sin. We should not celebrate it, we should mourn it.
The difficult bit comes from holding Paul’s clear command to be involved with non-Christians in light of this. There is a tension between a clear Christian witness and being non-judgemental to those outside the faith. Paul’s comments in 1 Cor 10 about meat offered to idols may offer a way forward:
If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I mean the other’s conscience, not your own.
Thus in responding to an invitation to a gay ‘wedding’, we shouldn’t volunteer an explanation. However if challenged, we should gently explain why it would be a problem for us. The problem of course comes from the confusion within the church on the issue these days, with the result that even if we are known as a ‘Christian’, that may not be heard as a challenge to the gay relationship, whereas Christians in Paul’s time would have been known for their resistance to idol worship. But I think Paul’s approach justifies a willingness to leave alone until asked.