Should a Christian Attend a Homosexual Wedding?

Stephen J. Drain's picture

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention” (Ephesians 5:11-12).

Not too long ago my wife was listening to New Life Live, a Christian radio and counseling program she has listened to for years. But she was shocked when she heard one of the hosts, Stephen Arterburn, say he would attend a homosexual marriage; though he admitted the other hosts might not agree with him on this decision. I was also stunned to hear about this, so I searched the web to find out what he and/or others were saying about this. I found that he had written a column about it, entitled, “Should a Christian With Traditional Values Attend a Same-Sex Wedding?[1]

 

First, I agreed with the dilemma as he expressed it: “[S]ome Christians who would never dream of attending a same-sex marriage…. find themselves in [a] dilemma because of a dear niece, nephew, child of a friend or associate, or simply a friend. They want to show support, but it feels to them that their attending the ceremony would be putting a stamp of approval on gay marriage -- and that makes them uncomfortable.”[2]

Secondly, I believe Arterburn is sadly and dangerously mistaken in the conclusions he draws after asking himself “What would Jesus do?” in the column. His first example is the story of Jesus turning the water into wine. He writes, “This wedding must have been one amazing scene, because people drank so much they ran out of wine. And there was Jesus, obviously not worried that his presence or role as instant vintner green-lighted drunkenness.”[3]

This is what is called “eisegesis” or “the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one's own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text.”[4] Tell me, where in the biblical account do we read of people getting drunk at the wedding? He’s assuming they were simply because they ran out of wine. But in Eastern cultures a wedding is often an affair which includes the whole village or town. One could just as easily assume that they ran out of wine because more people came than were expected. I’ve been to plenty of Christian weddings and never was at one where people were getting drunk. Shall we assume that a Jewish wedding would prove to have more drunks than the average Christian wedding? Yet he superimposes drunk people on the text and then uses what he has superimposed to drive his decision on another issue. It is just as easy to superimpose that Jesus changed the water into wine so the bridegroom would not be embarrassed in front of the guests. So Arterburn’s first support fails.

He continued with his case: “Other times in Jesus' life also give us hints as to what he would do today. He did not avoid people who were not following his teachings, he connected with them. He talked to and supported a cohabitating woman at a well -- an absolute scandal for a man of his heritage. He affirmed another woman's effort to wash and dry his feet with expensive oil and her very own hair. And an adulterous woman, about to be stoned, received his protection rather than his condemnation. He chose love and grace rather than appearing ‘spiritually correct’ to those locked and loaded with their rocks.”[5]

Here we have a non-sequitur. His conclusion that Jesus would go to a homosexual wedding, does not follow from the premise presented—that Jesus did not avoid sinners and that he “spiritually connected” to them. Certainly, in order to be Christ-like, we should always be open to love and connect with all manner of sinners. I have a friend who is in prison for life because he murdered someone. We were friends before he did it… We are still friends today. But if he had invited me to help him plan out his detour into self-destruction, I would have had walk away. We should love the people that God has allowed to cross our paths in life, but we should never support them in their sin. I note his use of the wording when he writes that Jesus “supported” the woman at the well. What does Arterburn mean by that? After a few moments of conversation one can already see that she had an interest in spiritual things and Jesus reeled her in through that. Yet no where in Scripture do we see that Jesus “supported” the sinful lifestyles of any of the women in the examples given. He talked to them, yes. He was happy to see their inquiries about God and the kingdom. Certainly he was overjoyed when he saw their repentance. But we do not see that he went to the brothels and said, “Bless you guys!”

I’m not trying to sound trite or disrespectful. I’m trying to argue a point.

Arterburn finishes by writing, “When I reflect on these examples and the complaints Jesus received for dining with tax-collectors, prostitutes, and drunkards, I have to extrapolate that Jesus would be all for attending a same-sex marriage ceremony. By attending, we are supporting real people who are of tremendous value to God. By attending, we are imitating Christ and allowing his love and grace to flow through us -- rather than worrying what is right and proper in the sight of our religious buddies.”[6]

I believe he has this completely wrong. When Jesus received and dined with prostitutes and drunkards, does it mean that they were prostituting and getting drunk in His presence? Or does it simply mean that is what those people were known for? These tax collectors and sinners were interested in being with Jesus and Jesus said, “The one who comes to me I will never send away” (John 6:37). They weren’t interested in turning away. We know that the woman at the well did not turn away from Jesus but accepted Him, nor did the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair, nor did Matthew or Zacchaeus, both tax collectors. As for the woman brought to Jesus, the woman caught in adultery, in not condemning her in that moment Jesus also told her, “Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (John 8:11). We don’t know what she did from that point on, but we know what Jesus commanded her, in love and compassion. So, in order to be like Jesus, would the author suggest that any Christians who attend a homosexual wedding should tell the couple, “I have not condemned you at this time. Now go, and from now on do not sin any more?” Doubtful.

And as for his last sentence: “By attending, we are imitating Christ and allowing his love and grace to flow through us – rather than worrying what is right and proper in the sight of our religious buddies.”[7] He takes a huge leap here and, in my opinion, is in danger of bearing false witness, against Christ! (Why am I here reminded of the words of God in Jeremiah: “I did not send those prophets. Yet they were in a hurry to give their message.  I did not tell them anything. Yet they prophesied anyway” – Jeremiah 23:21.) And his wording that we should not be worrying about doing “what is right and proper in the sight of our religious buddies” is off base. I don’t know of any Christians who say they would not attend a homosexual wedding because of Christian peer pressure, but rather it should be about honoring God, first and foremost, and loving others a close second. We are also told to love God through Christ first and foremost, even to the point of dividing and separating from family, friends, etc. This is the long history of Christ and Christians gone before us.

Think of Christ’s words: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53).

What does this mean? Why would a family divide? Because someone decided that to follow Christ and honoring Him was more important than loving or “supporting” their own blood and family.

Elsewhere we read Jesus’ words saying, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Although Matthew softens the wording a bit (Matthew 10:34-38), the wording is still difficult; there will come times when we have to decide whether we choose ties to God or whether we choose ties to people we love here on earth. So what do we do if those we love defame or hurt Christ with their lives or actions?

You see, the problem appeared even in the title of Arterburn’s column, “Should Christians with traditional values attend a same-sex wedding?” No, the question should be, “Should Christians (followers of Christ) who desire to be holy (set apart) and righteous (obedient to God) attend a same-sex wedding?” We’re not talking about traditions here, or traditional values. Traditions are things that arise over time and are manmade constructs, but God is eternal and His truths are eternal. So we are not discussing traditional values, but what is right and wrong. Can I borrow the Apostle James’ wording when he writes, “Do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God?” (James 4:4).

Homosexual marriage does not come from God, but it comes from the world. God has warned, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21, NIV 1984). God does not sanction something that makes a mockery of His creative purposes (Genesis 1:27, Matthew 19:4-5), nor does He sanction something that makes a mockery of His redemption of a people for Himself (Ephesians 5:31-32), nor does He sanction something that pledges a commitment to sin and rebellion against Himself (Psalm 50:16-21, Jeremiah 8:6, Romans 1:24-28, etc.).

I believe Arterburn’s entire argument has collapsed at this point.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 17-23).

Now allow me, by the grace of God, to build a much stronger case:

Certainly I understand the love that a Christian may have for their homosexual friends or relatives. And, yes, we are called to love, as Christ loved. And I agree with what a similar column at Gotquestions.org says: “[I]f you are the kind of friend that a gay couple would invite to their wedding, then you are probably doing something right.”[8]  But does attending the friends’ homosexual wedding demonstrate Christ-like love or does it demonstrate the exact opposite?

I know that there are those who are concerned that NOT attending their friend or relative’s homosexual wedding may be tantamount to putting an end to, or slamming the door shut on the relationship they currently have with them. And since, in many of these cases, the relationship the Christian has with the homosexual seems, in the Christian person’s thinking, to be the best opportunity for God to shine the light of the Gospel into the homosexual person’s life, many Christians balk at potentially losing that relationship. But this assumes three things that are not true: 1. It assumes that taking a stand and not attending the ceremony will end the relationship period, forever. This may or may not be true. 2. It assumes that God has no other methods and no other people with whom He can reach those people with the Gospel. This is certainly not true. Lastly (and this is not original with me), sometimes it is not entirely the fear of losing the opportunity to be a light in that person’s life, but it is more so the fear of potentially losing that dear person from our own life.

Yes, the Bible tells us to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). It also tells us to “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:17-18, NIV 1984). Note the words “be holy” (set apart) in the first verse again. Now note the words “as far as it depends on you” in that second passage. Both passages hint at doing what is right, but if others decide they do not want to live at peace with us, what can we do, especially when they are offended by our attempts to live holy and do what is right? So if the Christian still loves the homosexual friend or relative, and they are not harsh or abusive, and they leave the door open for relationship, then what more can be expected? If the door is slammed closed by the other person, that is not the fault of the believer, it is the choice of the other person. Here is where the rubber meets the road and where the words of Christ in Luke 14:26 and Luke 12:51-53 come to bear. Why would we not believe that sometimes doing right and following Christ would require us to separate from, in some way, or even lose relationship with, those we love?

In the epistle of 1 John, a short book that uses the word love about 45 times, a book that constant tells us to love our brothers (though it primarily means, first and foremost, that we are to love our Christian brothers and sisters), we read, “Therefore do not be surprised, brothers and sisters,  if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Why would the world hate us if we are doing nothing but loving God and loving others? Because love is obviously more than just keeping peace and making others feel warm and fuzzy about us. Love is true compassion and concern for others that is moved to do right for them, even if doing right for them might not feel so good at the moment, for them or for us. True love is yelling “Stop!” when someone is going down the road to death and destruction, heading away from Jesus Christ. And doing so will often make others angry at us or inspire them to lash out at us. But please remember the words of Peter, that “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:16-17).

Now as to the argument that attending such a “wedding” would be a demonstration of Christ-like love, let me ask what such a ceremony is or does. (By the way, the first two definitions for the word “ceremony” at Dictonary.com use the words, “solemn and important” as well as “religious or sacred.”) So here we have a ceremony which they are calling “marriage.” Are they calling it “holy matrimony”? Is it truly “holy”, set apart, for God? It cannot be when it violates God’s design and command. Is this ceremony something that will draw them closer and closer, to God? No, since it is a pledge to continue in sin against God, to violate His commands, to solidify a trajectory away from God and continue in that course “until death do us part”, sworn by an oath in the presence of witnesses (and, we can assume, God). In essence it is a ceremony and an oath promising to give themselves over to sin, permanently; it is the very opposite of repentance (which is, I hope, what we Christians desire for them). They are binding themselves to sin and separation from God. It is a Romans 1 given over and they are doing it volitionally. I am reminded of the verse of Scripture which asks, “Are they ashamed of their conduct? No! They do not even know how to blush!” (Jeremiah 8:12).  So homosexual “marriage” is notthe essence of something beautiful and good, but instead it is the essence and picture of God’s wrath. If this is a definition of God’s wrath, then how can a Christian believe that supporting it is showing Christ-like love?

Yet some say, “The ceremony is a celebration of love, and love is always a beautiful thing.” This is incorrect again. 1 Corinthians 13 love, of course, is a beautiful thing. But note that in this biblical definition of love we read that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness [evil, wrongdoing], but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). A homosexual wedding ceremony is actually a denial of the truth, a seeming denial that men and women are made with different and complementary physical parts, a denial of the truth that men and women were created for each other, not only physically, but also in order to reflect the image of God. It certainly denies the truth that God has called homosexuality a sin and it is a violation of his commandments and holiness. And, to turn the 1 Corinthians 13:6 back upon the Christian who thinks it would be loving to attend a homosexual wedding ceremony, we can understand that attending such a ceremony would not be a demonstration of love because it is not rejoicing in truth, but instead is partaking in a  celebration of unrighteousness. It is the very opposite of the definition of love.

Our former pastor, preaching on the verse which says, “Love must be sincere; hating what is evil and clinging to what is good” (Romans 12:9), explained that there are not three separate statements in this verse, but one; a proper reading tells us that sincere love hates what is evil and clings to what is good. Therefore, “If I say that I love you and I see you going down a path of destruction and I do nothing about it, I do not love you,” he said. “If I say that I love you but I am not willing to step in and say, ‘This isn’t okay.’ ‘This is wrong. You’re hurting yourself. You’re hurting other people. This is bad. This is inappropriate.’ If I am not willing to do that, it’s not love. In fact, quite honestly, it’s just the opposite of love. If I am willing to say, ‘Oh, it’s okay. It’s not that big of a deal. We’re all supposed to accept each other, right? You do your thing. I’ll do my thing.’ Can I tell you something, I don’t love you at all. Quite the contrary. I’m treating you like an enemy. It may sound nice, but in reality I’m saying, ‘I don’t give a rip about. I [only] give a rip about me and how you perceive me….’ If I see you walking down a path of destruction and do nothing about it, I’m not hating what is evil; I’m actually allowing you to continue in it.”[9]

Allow me the use of some parallels in order to ask if a Christian should support such things: Say this same friend was not homosexual, but was heterosexual, and very much so. Say he or she became a porn actor/actress and then asked you to come to the premiere of the first movie. Would you go, so as to not hurt them and damage the friendship? Is this example too extreme? My one friend thought the example was not fair because it would be asking us to view their sin and, in that way, participate in their actions. Then allow me this example: What if I, married man that I am, asked you to give me a ride to my girlfriend’s house. You might ask me what I meant when I sued the term “girlfriend.” What if I told you it meant just that, my sweetheart, the girl I’m dating, the girl I’ve fallen in love with. “But this isn’t right,” you would say. “You can’t have a girlfriend; you have a wife at home.” None of that matters to me. Love is love. I would still like a ride to her house. Would you give me the ride? If I wanted to borrow money to take her to a motel room, would you lend me the money? Would there be any way you would celebrate my “love” for this other girl and “support” me in it? The response might now be, “But you profess to be a Christian and therefore profess to believe what the Bible has to say about loving your wife, committing adultery, etc. Yet we can’t hold unbelievers to the same standard or belief. They are not professing to follow God or do what is right.” By that logic, you would then, of course, drive me to my girlfriend’s house if I was an unbeliever who had a wife. By this same logic you would drive your unbelieving female friend and drop her off at the strip club at which she works. Would you give money to a friend who wanted to buy himself some heroin. Would you buy a rope for, or celebrate the rope purchase with, a person who told you they were going to hang his or herself? I’m sorry for the “reductio ad absurdum” but I’m trying to underscore the point as strongly as I can.

I note again Arterburn’s use of the word “supporting” when he writes, “By attending, we are supporting real people who are of tremendous value to God.” Yes, I agree, sinners are of tremendous value to God, so much so that He sent His Son to die for sinners. And, yes, I agree that attending such a ceremony would indeed be “supporting” them. Unfortunately it would be supporting the homosexual in his or her sin and unrepentant state. My friend Howard would call it “co-signing.” Consider the final verse of Romans 1. After his long treatise on mankind’s turning away from God in rebellion, followed by a long list of sins, Paul then writes, “Although they [those who turn away from God] fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Christian, guard your own self and do not even give the appearance of approving homosexuality or such a ceremony. You do not want to find yourself in Romans 1:32, approving those who practice sin. Better it would be to heed the words, “Stay away from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

So I must ask: How can a Christian possibly attend a homosexual “wedding”? Certainly the Christian is not going to “support” the homosexual marriage, because a Christian cannot be in support of it. Certainly a Christian cannot say they are “celebrating” with their friend, as  it would be being a willing party to their death so to speak (using the words of Proverbs 19:18 out of context, though remaining true to Romans 1). Certainly a Christian cannot say they are going simply to “witness” it, as it would be nothing more than witnessing two people binding themselves over to God’s wrath, and then, perhaps one day, this Christian being called to the witness stand on the Day of Judgment only to testify against the friend or relative they loved so dearly. How can you attend such a wedding? What will you say to them on that day? I’m so happy for you two? Congratulations? God bless you? Is this what Christ said to the woman caught in adultery? It simply doesn’t make sense.

“The true friend of the homosexual is not the church [or friend, might I add] that affirms his lifestyle, but it is the one that condemns it,” writes Bailey Smith, in a recent issue of Decision magazine. “To accept their lifestyle is to betray them. To tell them the truth is to save them.”[10] As Charles Chandler writes, “We can’t sanction what God is against.”[11] It is my belief that attendance, like acceptance of the sin does nothing but “invalidate the need for repentance”.[12]

“[We] are supposed to love sinners. In order to love sinners we must take their sin seriously, as God does. If we do not, we rob sinners, including ourselves, of the dignity God bestows on us as his image bearers…. To allow sinners to sinfully respond to their sin and not be confronted by it is unloving toward God and unhelpful for them.”[13] If some think that the only way we can love homosexuals is by accepting their lifestyle choices or even attending their homosexual wedding ceremonies, then what they are really asking is that we love homosexuals less, not more.[14] Overlooking sin or winking at sin, is not loving. Besides this, a “missional life does not condone or partake in the sinful worldly aspects of a culture.”[15]

We are called to rescue those being led away to death and slaughter (James 5:20, Proverbs 24:11), not be a willing party to it. As Jude wrote, “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 23). Mercy, for the sinner, mixed with fear. Fear of and respect for God and His holiness, but also fear and respect for keeping ourselves clean and pure and holy, “hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”[16] The call to be separate from the unbeliever would well apply here also:

[F]or what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? And what mutual agreement does the templeof Godhave with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, ‘I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore ‘come out from their midst, and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and touch no unclean thing’””(2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

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Feel free to read columns I have written elsewhere here:
http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-philadelphia/stephen-j-drain

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[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[9] It’s amazing how well his words fit the subject matter here. After all, he did not mentioning any particular sin or current issue at all. And, providentially, I just happened to listen to this 2 year old sermon for the first time while writing this column.

[10] Decision magazine, February 2104 issue.

[11] Ibid.

[12] A phrase that caught my eye in a column by Charles Chandler in the February 2104 issue of Decision magazine.

[13]Doctrine, What Christians Should Believe” by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, copyright 2010 by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, published by Crossway, page 170.

[14] This gist of this idea is found in J. Budziszewski’s writings, namely one of his columns found here: http://www.boundless.org/relationships/2000/homophobia-an-unfinished-story

[15] “Doctrine, What Christians Should Believe” by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, copyright 2010 by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, published by Crossway, page 240.

[16] This last line takes us back to the Old Testament ceremonial laws of cleanliness and avoidance of those things which would make God’s people unclean.

Comments

I agree. There is no good or healthy reason for a believer to attend a gay wedding. I’ve had gay friends in the past, and after coming to Christ I have discussed the gospel with a few (it must be done in love, gently and with truth). I know all have sinned and fall short, therefore, I don’t believe homosexuals are any guiltier than other sinners or fornicators. We are all law breakers. Therefore, they need to be brought the gospel of peace just like anyone else. We can love them, in the same way we would love any other idolater, thief, greedy person, drunkard, reviler, or swindler; as we once were. This can be done without compromising our witness by attending (appearing to be in agreement), with a gay, or polygamous wedding. I believe scripture is clear enough on this matter, as you have properly pointed out. 

Bob wrote: "This can be done without compromising our witness by attending (appearing to be in agreement), with a gay, or polygamous wedding."
 
Okay, let's add polygamy to this conversation.  King David (a man after God's own heart) had how many wives (and mistresses)?

If your unmarried, heterosexual friend is living with her boyfriend and gets pregnant, would you attend the shower for her?  Would you visit her and her new baby when they come home from the hospital?  Would you attend baby’s first birthday party?

Would you attend a dinner party of an overweight friend?  I believe gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins, is it not?

You bring up Luke 12:51-53:
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
 
Then you said: "What does this mean? Why would a family divide? Because someone decided that to follow Christ and honoring Him was more important than loving or “supporting” their own blood and family."

But I offer up to you the seven things that are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 6:16-19):
"There are six things the Lord hates - no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family."

I say that not attending could be considered sowing discord in a family. 

If attending a homosexual wedding is a sin, then just add it to the LONG list of sins the Lord has forgiven me of.  Yes, I may knowing commit that sin, but I knowing commit hundreds of sins (lying, selfishness, lust, hate, etc).  I think the Lord is smart enough to know that my desire to love my friend by attending the wedding is not my approval of that lifestyle.

Bob Miller's picture

“Devil’s advocate” -
When pointing out Luke 12:51-53 which Steve referred to, and the verse, Proverbs 6:16-19 Are you implying that Jesus sins by bringing a sword of division in a family? The NIV uses “a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” And the KJV uses, “he that soweth discord among brethren.”

Bob Miller's picture

“Devil’s advocate” –
Let’s revisit the verse you quoted in light of a gay wedding…
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV): There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes (gay pride), a lying tongue (telling God He is wrong about designing a man and a woman to be coupled; and that a man with man and woman with woman is just fine), hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes (Isn’t gay activism all about devising schemes against God’s order of things), feet that are quick to rush into evil (a wedding group quick to make a pact against God’s order), a false witness who pours out lies (it is a lie to say gay marriage is right to do) and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
For a person claiming to be a Brother in Jesus, touting the name “Devil’s advocate”, what are you stirring up? Without showing firm biblical grounds for what you stand on. 
Titus 3:10-11

Great article though I only made it half way through the article and will read the rest later...but I did want to comment at this point and say that I completely agree with you.  There may be a fine line as there is between the world and God which makes it difficult to see because satan can be very subtle. He twists the truth and so will deceive many.  He's not always an obvious liar though he is always a liar.  This is why Jesus tells us to "keep watch."  We must always hold up what we see and hear in light of what God says whether we like it or not.  And if we don't like the answer then we have to work it out before the Lord and allow Him to change our thinking, our mind, our heart because He will not change the truth for us. That would be disastrous.
Being at any wedding is being a witness so unless you stand up and object to the union when the officiator asks, you are condoning that union (you may have talked about this in the 2nd half of the article which I haven't read yet).
Also, I've heard things on New Life Live that were not from the Lord but from themselves.  I'm sorry to have to say this, but they have much worldly knowledge with some truth mixed in.  

Stephen J. Drain's picture

You ask: "If your unmarried, heterosexual friend is living with her boyfriend and gets pregnant, would you attend the shower for her?"

I would tend to say, "No." here. But a follow up question is: Is the shower a celebration of her pregnancy or an opportunity to provide some things for the soon to be born baby?

You ask, "Would you visit her and her new baby when they come home from the hospital?  Would you attend baby’s first birthday party?"

Why wouldn't we? We are not supposed to punish children for the sins of their parents. This is not how God works. (Read Ezekiel 18.)

You write, "Would you attend a dinner party of an overweight friend?  I believe gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins, is it not?"

Let me ask you: Where do you find a list of seven deadly sins in the bible that includes gluttony? (Be careful of assuming what things are in the Bible without double checking.) Yes, gluttony is a sin. But I think GotQuestions.org answers the question of gluttony well here: http://www.gotquestions.org/gluttony-sin.html

Your question might be better phrased: "Would you go to a wing or hot dog eating contest?" which I probably wouldn't. Those people are also harming themselves, especially if they continue in that life course.

BTW, there is a list of 7 detestable sins, which you yourself allude to (Proverbs 6:16-19), yet you assume the words that since the Lord detests those who sew discord amongst family members that Christ's words in Luke 12:51-53 that he came to bring division poses a problem. I believe that the former speaks of those who purposely try to divide families and the latter refers to the natural result of Christ's ministry. The first is an "affect" and the second an "effect." But feel free to give your opinion on the matter, We can dig into the commentaries if you like.

Devils' Advocate again: "I say that not attending could be considered sowing discord in a family."

I think my argument still stands: There will come times that you have to choose God over people you legitimately love, because you love God more. Scripture is fairly clear on this.

You write, "If attending a homosexual wedding is a sin, then just add it to the LONG list of sins the Lord has forgiven me of.  Yes, I may knowing [sic] commit that sin, but I knowing commit hundreds of sins (lying, selfishness, lust, hate, etc).  I think the Lord is smart enough to know that my desire to love my friend by attending the wedding is not my approval of that lifestyle."

All true Christ followers have sins that we must continue putting to death. I have not said this is an unforgivable sin, but it is an avoidable sin so long as someone who is unsure is given a wise biblical argument. I have not heard, seen, or read any good biblical arguments in support of attending just yet.

I really do not see how attendance shows love (in light of a verse such as 1 Corinthians 13:6 for instance) and does not show approval.

But thanks for your response.

Much appreciated.

 

 

Would you attend the second marriage of a friend if his first marriage did not end on a Biblical basis?  

Stephen J. Drain's picture

Steve J.,

I will admit I have struggled with your question in the past.

I will also say that I did not attend my own brother's second marriage. (And we are still brothers/"friends" to this day.)

And so my first follow up question for you is this: Do you believe that people are justified and given carte blanche to disregard God's guidelines and commands when you see that others do the same (i.e. "I saw you ignored what God has said, so I will also ignore what God says")? Do you think that's a wise thing to do?

You asked: "Is the shower a celebration of her pregnancy or an opportunity to provide some things for the soon to be born baby?"
 
A shower is both.  A time to celebrate the pregnancy and to bring gifts.  In the same way that a birthday party is a celebration of the persons birth while at the same time bringing gifts.
 
========================================
 
I asked, "Would you visit her and her new baby when they come home from the hospital?  Would you attend baby’s first birthday party?"
 
You replied: "Why wouldn't we? We are not supposed to punish children for the sins of their parents."
 
Who is the visit or the first birthday party for, the baby or the parents?  When you attend a first birthday party do you really believe it's for the benefit of the baby or the mother and father?  Are other one-year-olds invited to the party or adults? You visit after birth to rejoice with the parents and you attend a first birthday to do the same.  The baby probably doesn't even know you came to visit it after birth or for the first birthday.
 
========================================
 
You said: “I have not said this is an unforgivable sin, but it is an avoidable sin so long as someone who is unsure is given a wise biblical argument.”
 
ALL SINS are avoidable, how is this one any different?  While we are all sinners, every sin we commit could have been avoided.

Stephen J. Drain's picture

You write, "You visit after birth to rejoice with the parents and you attend a first birthday to do the same. The baby probably doesn't even know you came to visit it after birth or for the first birthday."

Going to "rejoice with the parents", yes, rejoice WITH the parents in the birth of a beautiful little human being that has come into our world. Rejoice WITH, not rejoice IN the parents who may or may not, by that time, have honored God and their child by getting married. Of course the baby doesn't know, but we can go to love on that child anyway.

I'm also not sure you can say "ALL SINS are avoidable" because most Christians realize that God opens their eyes to sins they'd never been aware of before, over and over and over again throughout their lives.

So let me ask you a few questions:

1. Do you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

2. Is homosexuality a sin, according to God's revealed word?

3. What is the definition of holiness according to God's word?

4. What is "friendship with the world" according to God's word?

5. Are there ever times we must choose to love/follow/obey God over our own families and friends?

6. Can you think of any reasons why family and friends would divide over Jesus Christ? Can you think of any reasons why the world would hate Jesus Christ and hate us?

7. Are there ever times we would hurt our family or friends because we loved them?

8. What is your definition of love?

9. According to the biblical definition of love, how would attending a homosexual wedding without objecting or saying, "stop!" be considered loving?

10. Tell me what words you would say to your friend or relative at their homosexual "wedding".

Bonus question: Please explain Ephesians 5:11-12, Jude 17-23, and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

You said: "Going to "rejoice with the parents", yes, rejoice WITH the parents in the birth of a beautiful little human being that has come into our world. Rejoice WITH, not rejoice IN the parents who may or may not, by that time, have honored God and their child by getting married."
 
Then I'll ask you:
 
Going to "rejoice with the couple", yes, rejoice WITH the couple in the commitment they are making to each other. Rejoice WITH, not rejoice IN the couple who may or may not be followers of Christ despite their sexual orientation.

What's the difference?

Stephen J. Drain's picture

D.A.,

There still remains a difference, which I addressed in my column:

You write that, in essence, you would go to a homosexual wedding in order to "rejoice WITH the couple in the commitment they are making to each other. Rejoice WITH, not rejoice IN the couple who may or may not be followers of Christ despite their sexual orientation."

How can a Christian "rejoice" at all in something that mocks God's created order and God's example of marriage? How can a Christian rejoice at all in a "ceremony" which uplifts and celebrates unrepentant sin? How can a Christian rejoice at all in a commitment that, for all intents and purposes, promises to remain in an unrepentant state "until death do us part"?

Should you not rather be weeping over your loved one making such a commitment?

I have addressed all of these things in the column.

May God rescue all those we know and love from their unregenerate and unrepentant state.

To answer some of your questions, yes, I'm a Christ-follower and yes, homosexuality is a sin.

You said: "I'm also not sure you can say "ALL SINS are avoidable" because most Christians realize that God opens their eyes to sins they'd never been aware of before, over and over and over again throughout their lives."

Name me a sin that is unavoidable.  Just because you might not be aware of your sin doesn't mean it's unavoidable.  Because if you were aware of it you could have avoided it.

If some sins are unavoidable, how did Jesus avoid committing any sin?  Doesn't the Bible say He was tempted in every way?  He avoided every sin, didn't He?

I'm not saying it's possible for we humans to avoid sinning altogether, I'm saying every sin (individually) could be avoided.

If attending a homosexual wedding is a forgivable (albeit avoidable) sin, where is the problem?  All sin is forgivable is it not?  What sin does Christ's blood not cover?  If I choose to sin by attending a homosexual wedding then I am no different than you choosing to sin if you lust, or hate, or lie, or act selfishly, or whatever sin you do.  I'm sure you know it's sin when you do it, yet you chose not to avoid it.

If the homosexual person knows my beliefs about their lifestyle and knows that I am only attending because I love them, I see no problem.  And I'm sure, God understands that I'm trying to win them to Christ by showing them my love, instead of segregating myself from them.  That's one of the biggest problems with "Christians."  Instead of loving sinners (like Christ did), they just like point out where non-Christians fall short.  And yes, I know we all fall short, but can't we use love to relay that message instead of using self-righteousness?
 

Stephen J. Drain's picture

D.A.,

I think the question of avoidable v. unavoidable sin (in the context we have been discussing above) is answered by Jesus in Luke 12:48. There are those who do and do not know what their Master's will is.

You write, "If attending a homosexual wedding is a forgivable (albeit avoidable) sin, where is the problem?  All sin is forgivable is it not? What sin does Christ's blood not cover?  "

So are you saying, "Let us sin so that grace may abound?" (Romans 6:1). No, you can't be saying that.

You write, "If I choose to sin by attending a homosexual wedding then I am no different than you choosing to sin if you lust, or hate, or lie, or act selfishly, or whatever sin you do.  I'm sure you know it's sin when you do it, yet you chose not to avoid it."

Are you here saying that because all Christ followers sin willfully in one or more areas of their lives, that we then are given carte blanche to sin also? That's a dangerous precedent to set.

I would note that by saying those things above you would appear to be confessing that attendance is in fact a sin.

You write, "I am only attending because I love them" which I addressed in my column.

You write, "God understands that I'm trying to win them to Christ by showing them my love, instead of segregating myself from them." Then why all the Scriptural injunctions about remaining separate? All the talk about loving sinners like Christ did but still no one can show me in the Bible where He participate in their celebrations of sin.

You write that "Christians" (interesting that you used the quotation marks) like to point out where non-Christians fall short. Did Jesus point out where unbelievers fall short? Are we called to be like Jesus? When Jesus told unbelievers where they fell short, did He do it "in love"? (Not in a fluffy bunny kind of love way, but in a true, "I care about you enough to warn you" kind of way.) Are we not called to be like Christ? In fact, are we not the body of Christ in the world now, by the Spirit doing the same things that Christ did when He was here on earth? Then are we not also called to tell sinners to "repent!"

Finally, I appreciate you answering the first two questions I asked. However, it is very important that you interact with the rest of them, whether you answer me here or not. If you choose to answer me here, I have no problem continuing the discourse. However, if you dig into the biblical answers to those questions, we may no longer have any disagreement.

-Steve

You said: "I would note that by saying those things above you would appear to be confessing that attendance is in fact a sin."
Make no assumptions, I did not say attending a homosexual marriage was a sin, I said "IF" it was a sin.
Should we sin more so that grace may abound?  I'm not saying that either because again, I don't feel it is a sin.  Again, I was saying IF it were a sin. 
The fact remains; nowhere in the bible does it say attending a homosexual marriage is a sin.  It says that homoxexuality is a sin.  I'm not practicing homosexuality by attending the wedding.
How about this; you live in America.  Is America following the Christ?  Is America obeying the Bible?  Then by you living here, working here, playing taxes here, does that mean you approve of how America is being run?  My guess is you don't approve of where America is going as a culture.  You probably do your best to fix America and change it.  But why are you still here?  Why didn't you leave and distance yourself from America like you distance yourself from homosexual marriage ceremonies?  The reason is, being in America doesn't make you part of the wrong American culture is up to.  In the same way, being at a homosexual wedding ceremony doesn't make me part of the wrong those 2 people are doing.  I don't participate in homosexuality by being there, and the 2 people know fully where I stand and what I believe.  But I don't avoid the ceremony just like you don't leave the country.
I think I will stop here because you are starting to sound like a self-righteous Pharisee.  Scorning people with your rules and judgments instead of loving your neighbor.  You may be correct about attending a homosexual wedding with it comes to the "letter of the law" but I believe you are incorrect when it comes to the "spirit of the law".  I choose to love my neighbor while still making it known to them my feelings on their lifestyle.
You win more people to Christ by loving, not scorning, judging and segregating.

Stephen J. Drain's picture

I note your wording about homosexual marriage: "I don't feel it is a sin" (emphasis added).

Feel?

You also write, "I choose to love my neighbor while still making it known to them my feelings on their lifestyle" (emphasis added).

Your feelings?

As opposed to feelings, the case I made in the column above relies heavily on the Bible, the parallels drawn are valid. You interact with none of the argument. Instead you seem to prefer a subjective definition of "love" over a biblical one. You entirely avoid any discussion of holiness or of being separate from the world.

That you have ignored the questions I posed to you is telling. You are not interested what the Bible might have to teach us in this case.

“I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:104-105, NIV 1984).

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2, NIV).

 

 

 

 

I was wondering for conversation sake, what do you mean when you say "Marriage". I feel like that terms clarification would result in a better understanding of why or why not a Christian should be attending such an event. Thanks so much!
Agape,
Brian

Stephen J. Drain's picture

Brian,

Marriage, of course we have given it that name, so we can call it husbands and wives, the intention from the beginning, male and female (one each coming together) as made by God in the beginning, as underscored by Jesus (who actually did the creating, btw) in Matthew 19:4-6, as underscored by Paul, husband and wife as being a picture of Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:31-32.

As another writer has said, "Man didn’t originate the above—that is God’s definition of marriage. Jesus cited it as being 'from the beginning” the original intent for marriage.'" (See here.)

I hope that helps.

Steve

Stephen J. Drain's picture

I appreciate the encouragement from friends and pastors, as well as other writers who believe that what I wrote above is true and biblical.

My current Christian mentor said, "Welcome to the front lines. Most Christians either don't speak up or have misinterpreted Jesus' association with sinners. Remember what our Savior said: 'Narrow is the way that leads to life and few are those who follow it'.... fight the good fight, stand for righteousness boldly.... Your original post was dead on. Let the truth stand and the Spirit convict."

One of my pastors wrote, "I don't believe Jesus would've attended that which would make a divine institution a mockery..."

A fellow writer, the Wilmington Religion and Politics Examiner, after reading some of the above, wrote the following to me: "[Calling someone a] 'Pharisee' is the 'religious'" person's version of the race card. It is a non-sequitur almost every single time it's pulled... Sola Scriptura OUGHT to be the rally cry of the church. Sadly it mostly isn't these days. Folks are too into their 'personal prophecies,' errant politically correct teachings, and feel-good, milquetoast, watered-down version of Christianity..."

I've read some other authors who make some great points or similar points. Michael Brown of Charisma News writes, "if we condone something God opposes – which means that it is not good for the people involved – how are we showing them love? To the contrary, we are actually hurting them." (Read his column here.)

Another writer named Bill Randles, has a column entitled, "How Young Christians Today Have Come to Deny Christ Through Their Views on Homosexuality" in which he writes some things that seem to apply very well here:

"'Christian' young people align themselves with the cause of homosexual marriage at the expense of those who seek to proclaim the Word of God to this generation.... This is how they deny Jesus and don’t even realize it: they repudiate His teaching on a very important subject [that God created male and female for marriage], and they side with a world in rebellion against God’s moral order. Not only do they not realize it, in fact they actually believe they are being more merciful and Christlike than other Christians. Sides are being taken in this culmination of the cosmic struggle between righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, the truth and the Lie, and neutrality is impossible."

I was also reading Voddie Baucham Jr.'s book entitled, "The Ever-Loving Truth, Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture?"  In it he writes, "[O]ver the years Christianity in America has been more American than Christian....Currently much of what we believe is shaped by our culture, and, unfortunately, much of what our culture believes is diametrically opposed to biblical truth" (pages 6-7). He continues, "Many of us can't remember the last time our Christian convictions cost us something.... it has been increasingly difficult to distinguish between those who follow Christ and those who do not" (pages 8-9). Though not a proponent of cultural isolation, Baucham writes, "Cultural immersion is the de facto approach for most Christians.... [The "I don't want unbelievers not to like me" approach.] The obvious drawback to cultural immersion is that it offers no alternative. The position allows the sinner to feel comfortable in his or her sin. It compromises the gospel message. This approach loses the game before it even starts" (pages 193-194).

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