A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a pastor’s luncheon at Focus On The Family with guest speaker, Alistair Begg. I jumped at this opportunity and thoroughly enjoyed my time listening to Pastor Begg rightfully divide the Word of God and encourage us pastors with the importance of faithfulness to God and to his Word.
Recently, Pastor Begg has fallen under criticism for his latest comments, and the American Family Association has chosen to remove his program, “Truth For Life,” from its programming due to Pastor Begg’s advice regarding the attendance of a Christian at a same-sex ceremony.
Pastor Begg believes that if the person you are supporting knows you don’t approve, it is okay to attend their same-sex wedding and “bring a gift.” Here is an excerpt from Pastor Begg’s comments:
We field questions all the time that go along the lines of, “My grandson is about to be married to a transgender person, and I don’t know what to do,” which is a huge responsibility.
And in a conversation like that just a few days ago—and people may not like this answer—but I asked the grandmother, “Does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus?” “Yes.” “Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life?” “Yes.”
I said, “Well then, OK. As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.”
Begg went on to explain that Christians not attending such a ceremony could reinforce “judgmental” stereotypes the culture holds about the church.
I said, “Well, here’s the thing: your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, ‘These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.'” And it is a fine line, isn’t it? It really is.
Let’s break down Pastor Begg’s comments from a definition of countenance point of view and then a biblical point of view.
The internet’s universal definition of countenance is: If someone will not countenance something, they do not agree with it and will not allow it to happen.
It appears Begg’s advice goes against the universal definition of “countenance.” If you disagree with something, you are not only to disagree with it, but also not allow it to happen. In this case, that at least means not attending and certainly not taking a gift! As Christians, when we engage a formal ceremony with our faces turned toward the “altar” of this ceremony, we are giving credence and approval to the ceremony we are attending and anything beyond this is a representation of approval.
Marriage is primarily a symbol of Jesus’ relationship to us the church (Ephesians 5). Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding. Marriage is the centerpiece relationship of God’s created world. Adam and Eve were not just the first humans, they were also the first male and female to be married, and the first two to give us the example we are to follow as a society. Outside of your relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no more important relationship in human society. Once it is removed, tampered with, or redefined, as Romans 1 tells us, this is the beginning of the end. Once this occurs, God eventually turns us over to a series of unfortunate realities that produce greater and greater self-destruction.