In preparing our book Compassion without Compromise, we collected questions from lots of people — too many to cover in a short article. Some of them arise from people’s own experiences. Some are hypothetical “What if?” queries that set up scenarios any of us would find daunting. Like you, we are learning the complex balancing act of reaching out in love, speaking truth with compassion, opening the doors for the gospel and trying to be a good friend or family member.
We hope these practical responses will be helpful in your context. Even more—we pray that you will be able to grow in discernment, and exercise biblical wisdom in real life situations. As you seek to exercise compassion without compromise, we encourage you to keep two key principles in mind: a) mission, and b) true love.
My gay brother has invited me to his upcoming wedding. As a Christian, of course, I don’t agree with what they are doing, but if I refuse to go to this ceremony or speak out against it, I risk any sort of relationship with my brother and his partner in the future. What should I do?
– Submitted by “Tim,” a 40-something, married father of three who works as a school counsellor.
This will be one of the most painful realities we will face in the coming years. Normally joyful announcements—engagements, showers, wedding invitations, adoption announcements— have become potential relationship bombs. As heart-wrenching as we find it to give this answer, we advise believers not to attend a gay “wedding.” The crux of the issue is summed up simply: We cannot celebrate what the Bible censors.
Weddings are a worshipful celebration of the God who made marriage. Marriage is not a man-made institution. It was designed by God as a source of joy for people and glory for Himself. The marriage bond is not merely an emotional, relational connection between a husband and wife. It is an objective, spiritual reality created in heaven. (Genesis 2:24 ; Matthew 19:3-9) Ultimately, human marriage is a creaturely analog of Christ and the Church.
When we attend weddings, we are joining with the assembled congregation and the host of heaven to say “Yes!” We are not only agreeing with the decision of two people to enter into a holy bond. We are agreeing with marriage as a God-ordained institution. We are agreeing with the God who designed the marriage bond. We are actually glorifying the God who seals two souls together.
But none of these things happen when two men or two women determined to call their relationship “marriage.” Though they will it with all that is in them, their relationship is not marriage. It is, in fact, a thing that will destroy their souls if they insist on it. (Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) The “wedding” that takes place is a celebration of something that deeply offends our God. In a very real way, it is a worship service for a god of our own invention. How can we join such a God-dishonouring event?
We should not expect a gay family member or friend to understand these realities. From their perspective, our refusal to attend will be interpreted as a rejection of them. At some level, that feeling is inevitable. From their point of view, we are skipping out on a life-defining event. That is why it is important to communicate your love for them when you let them know that you are unable to attend. It is also important to remember that God is absolutely capable of rebuilding this relationship and will honour your decision.
This article was adapted from a section of Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing The Truth (Bethany House Publishing, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2014), and is used with permission.
For more resources, visit www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.