The sexual revolution has revolutionized everything, to the point where questions that once had simple answers have become complicated. For instance, the question “Can I attend a gay wedding?” comes up with increasing frequency and is proving less and less easy to answer, as Bethel McGrew’s closing paragraphs in her recent World column indicate.
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.
There are also obvious reasons why a Christian should never attend a gay wedding. Many wedding liturgies, including that of the Book of Common Prayer, require the officiant to ask early in the service if anyone present knows any reason why the couple should not be joined together in matrimony. A Christian is at that point obliged to speak up. I would hazard a guess that such an intervention would be far more offensive than simply refusing to be at the service.
The issue can also not be separated from the broader question of sex, gender, and human nature. If marriage is rooted in the complementarity of the sexes, then any marriage that denies that challenges the Christian understanding of creation. It is one thing for the world to do that. It is quite another for Christians to acquiesce in the same.
Further, the biblical analogy between Christ and the Church means that fake marriages are a mockery of Christ himself. Of course, that applies beyond the issue of gay marriage. A marriage involving somebody who has not divorced a previous spouse for biblical reasons involves that person entering into an adulterous relationship. No Christian should knowingly attend such a ceremony either. As Francesca Murphy declared at First Things some years ago, to lose sight of the religious dimension of marriage risks allowing people to commit “blasphemy against themselves and against God.” That means Christians have a moral responsibility to stand firm on this issue. We fool ourselves if we think the bride and groom as individuals are the most significant part of any wedding. They are not. What their union symbolizes with regard to Christ and the Church is far more important.
From Carl Trueman in First Things