Do More Than Say ‘No’
All good pastoral theology begins with Jesus. The Gospels give us clear examples of how Jesus interacts with those who lifestyles are not holy. He dines with tax collectors, hangs out with prostitutes, and dares to speak to unclean foreigners. Jesus has absolutely no problem doing things with sinners.
Based on this reasoning, then, we might conclude that Christians should have no problem attending a gay wedding, even if they do not agree with it. Jesus in his pastoral engagements hardly ever judged. Surely as God’s salt and light, we are called go among unbelievers, live with them, and pray for them through their joys and sorrows in hopes of witnessing for Christ.
But there’s another perspective: Marriage is a God-given ordinance that speaks to more than just the love between two people. Biblical teaching on marriage shows us that the union of a man and woman is the icon of the union of Christ and his church. The Book of Revelation envisions the great wedding feast at the end of time, the union of the Bridegroom and his bride.
So doing marriage incorrectly is an act of idolatry. It’s a rejection of both the ordinance God has given and the meaning of that ordinance. Since the gender of the participants in marriage is important, mixing those sexes up destroys the point marriage was meant to represent. How can a Christian be involved in such a thing?
Like many Christians, I find myself torn on this pressing issue. I describe my perspective as “postgay.” Today, I have a wife and family. Years ago, I decided that my same-sex orientation would not define me. I refused to accept the idea that same-sex attraction validates same-sex behavior.
But my heart wants to come alongside my gay friends and celebrate the joy they have found. Jesus shared his life with deeply flawed sinners. My theologically trained head realizes that we need to make decisions based on the clear biblical witness.
Here’s my answer: There were times when Jesus clearly and publicly identified sinful behavior for what it was—overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple, for example. Perhaps the most Christlike thing to do is to politely decline the wedding invite and explain why. Say “no”—but do not end the conversation there.
Reason alone is rarely sufficient to change someone’s heart and head. When I allow others to look inside my marriage and family, they see the tension Christians face as they live in societies that do not conform to God’s will. We must not isolate ourselves from a fallen world. In going beyond our Christian bubble, we see that ethical choices, even the ones Jesus made, aren’t always as black and white as we might wish. Gospel-based relationships are everything. Attendance at a wedding? Probably not.
Peter Ould is a Church of England priest and a banking consultant based in Canterbury, UK. For eight years, his blog, An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy, chronicled his journey out of homosexuality.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today