Trueman: May Christians Attend Gay Weddings?

It is not hard to guess what reasons a Christian might give for attending a gay wedding: a desire to indicate to the couple that one does not hate them, or a wish to avoid causing offense or hurt. But if either carries decisive weight in the decision, then something has gone awry. A refusal to attend might well be motivated by hatred of the couple (though in such circumstances, an invitation would seem an unlikely event) but it does not have to be so. To consider a declined invitation necessarily a sign of hatred is to adopt the notion of “hate” as a mere refusal to affirm. That is our secular age’s understanding, and not that of the Christian faith. A refusal to attend might also cause offense, but to make the giving of offense itself into a moral category is to replace moral categories of right and wrong with aesthetic categories of taste. The latter should always be subordinate to the former in the realm of ethical questions.
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Carl Trueman | “Can Christians Attend Gay Weddings?” | January 25, 2024


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7 comments

  1. The mostly fine reasoning notwithstanding, I take literary opposition to the use of “Can” in the title rather then “Should.” Of course we can, the question is should we?

    I suppose that there is a similar argument that Christians should not attend any secular weddings, after all, such are merely a counterfeit created by government for social purposes. God ordains true marriage, and the Christian wedding ceremony is a formal commemoration of God’s covenant with man and a recognition of a covenantal relationship between a man and a woman. But secular weddings are little more than a legal contract entered into and administered by the state, and therefore make a mockery of true marriage. Now, I’m not advocating for some legalistic standard of what type of marriage a Christian should or should not attend, but rather that such a decision should be a matter of conscience. Obviously there are reasons for Christians to attend a secular wedding ceremony, chief among them love for family. There is always an opportune time to make the point that loving and accepting people is much different than endorsing their behavior. Finally, as for the argument that at some point the administrator of the wedding might ask, “if there is anyone here that has a reason why these two people should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace,” nonsense! First of all, I can’t remember the last time I heard that said at a secular wedding, but even if that were to happen, it’s only an offer, not a requirement to speak. Wisdom dictates that it’s usually wiser to hold your tongue, even if you are right.

  2. I understand where you are coming from, but at least with a secular wedding between unbelievers, they are still modeling God’s truth of how men and women should be united. Truth is truth, and out of their unbelief, we pray that faith may arise. On the other hand, a “union” of two members of the same sex is nothing more than a stillborn abomination. It mocks God at its very core.

    • Very true Jason, and kind of the point I was making when I said that I was not advocating for a legalistic position. By our standards a secular wedding might not seem quite so offensive, but a counterfeit is an affront to God’s standard regardless of how it seems to us. A wedding is a covenantal union or it is not. Once the idea of a covenant is thrown out the window, marriage becomes secular, whether traditional or not, and we fool ourselves if we simply move the bar a little. As Dr. Clark is fond of pointing out, there are two kingdoms…..how we balance our decisions in each sphere becomes a personal matter, with our constant focus on God’s glory. it’s not always easy to choose wisely, which I think is why the “should we” question is so important to discuss.

  3. Is blessing the person necessarily the same as blessing his actions? Jesus told us to “…bless those who curse you,…” (Luke 6:28). Matthew’s account of this (5:44,45) makes it clear that this was not to show approval of their actions, but “…so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

    • Exactly right Brenda…..It’s right to love all people, but destructive to endorse all behavior. That’s a foundational principle in raising children….we love them unconditionally, but we do not tolerate wrong behavior. But it can be tricky to navigate the fine line where our love of the individual might be construed as acceptance of their lifestyle. We can claim the theological high ground, but if we are perceived as hateful because of our theology then we have lost sight of the purpose of theology in the first place. That does not mean we compromise with the worldly kingdom, only that we set the standard at, love God with all our might and love our neighbor as our self. Nowhere was this demonstrated more fully than on the cross….”For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. I take great solace that God’s love for me is not based on who I am or what I do, but rather on who He is. To God be the glory.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Clark, for the link to your May 13, 2014 essay. Since I have already had to make hard decisions re: both the Roman Catholic mass and the Masonic Lodge, that gave me a framework for comparison which helped to clarify the situation for me.

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