Occasionally I receive emails from church members asking for my opinion on various personal or church problems. With this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for same-sex marriage in 30 states, an inquiry I received recently is relevant to all Christians—particularly pastors.
Since many church leaders will inevitably receive this kind of question, they must decide now whether they will advise their members to choose a biblical stance or “go along” with our society’s ever-lowering standards.
“I am a follower of God wanting to walk in His truth,” this person wrote. “I have been invited to a same-sex celebration of marriage by two, long-time Christian friends.
“I could attend because I love both of them and could celebrate their happiness, but I could not celebrate their union as a marriage. If I go I feel like a hypocrite, and if I don’t go I feel like a hypocrite. I am seeking counsel.”
I told this individual it was easy to understand his dilemma. He doesn’t want to alienate those he loves, but he doesn’t want to leave the impression he is endorsing immoral behavior. Most importantly, he doesn’t want to displease his Heavenly Father.
However, I told the letter writer this would not pose a difficult decision for me: I would not attend. He is being invited to participate in a ceremony that mocks God’s intent for marriage.
“The Scripture teaches that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman and God,” I said. “Marriage was not man’s idea. It was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden and (to paraphrase Matthew 19:6): ‘What God joins together man is not to separate.’ If I were invited to a polygamists’ ceremony of a man marrying four women, I wouldn’t attend because that ceremony would desecrate the sacred covenant that God ordained.”
While one can rationalize, “I’m not endorsing their behavior, I’m just being a friend,” his presence says to his children and others that gay marriage is OK. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for this kind of behavior. And, Hebrews 13:8 states that Christ “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” James 1:17 teaches that God “does not change like shifting shadows.’”
In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul documents the immoral behavior that characterized the world in his time. The list included same-sex relationships. He concludes with these words: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32, emphasis added). I counseled this person that we must be careful not to leave the impression that we have caved in to the world’s pressure and approve of what God’s Word clearly prohibits.
“There’s one other factor,” I said. “Your attendance not only puts you in an uncomfortable position but an untenable one. You will be expected to respond to favorable comments like, ‘Isn’t this exciting?’ (or) ‘I’m happy for them, aren’t you?’ That setting would not be an appropriate environment for you to voice your convictions.