Wouldn’t I implicitly endorse the union if I attended the wedding? Or took pictures?
Well, have you ever attended a wedding where you were opposed to the union? Where you thought the marriage was a bad idea? Maybe because one spouse was a non-believer?
Well, yes, but it would have been so incredibly rude. I had a relative marry a guy I just knew would treat her badly (and he did), and the whole idea of marrying such a bad person sickened me. But it was someone whom I loved dearly, and I went. It was awful, but for her, I went. I mean, she was going to marry the jerk whether I went or not, and I couldn’t destroy what little happiness she had left before he ruined her life by being a … jerk and not attending.
And I knew a dear girl, a faithful Christian since she was little, who chose to marry a Muslim. I think she really was “unequally yoked.” It guess it was a sin to marry him. And now her children don’t believe in Jesus and she’s suffering. She loves her husband but can’t stand having children who reject her own faith in Jesus. But I went to the wedding — and cried.
[These stories are fictionalized a bit, but the real stories make the same point.]
But are those really the same? They aren’t inherently wrong. It’s almost as though a lesbian wedding is a political statement, and attending is participating in that statement.
That’s an intriguing point. If they are marrying to insult God and Christianity, you have to stay away. But if they are marrying because they love each other and think that’s what people who love each other should do regardless of gender, then it’s still a marriage God can’t bless. But I don’t think he approved the marriage of one of his daughters to a Muslim. And yet God’s disapproval doesn’t mean you don’t attend.
Think about it: when you attend a wedding in the normal case, what does it say?
Well, I don’t go for the punch! I go because I love the bride or groom and I know they want their friends to be there to enjoy the celebration together.
And even if it’s not a celebration for you, even if you mourn the wedding, if you love either the bride or groom, you go?
Yep. Attending is no endorsement. I know many a mother who cried at a wedding because she knew her son or daughter was making a bad match. But mothers go whether they endorse the wedding or not.
But what about the photographer?
I don’t know. What does taking pictures at a wedding say about the photographer?
Well, in a non-politicized setting, it means he’s in business taking pictures and they’ve agreed to pay him. He may barely know the couple’s names!
So in the ordinary case, there’s no implied endorsement. Refusing to go may symbolize a rejection of their values, but participating normally only means that you’re in the business of taking pictures.
But there are plenty of cases where the wedding is a show of political and social values. It’s not just a wedding.
Agreed. And I don’t think Christians can be part of a show-wedding. Those kinds of events use people, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be used.
I’m still not comfortable with being a participant.
Nor am I. It really is a hard one.
Could a Christian photographer participate in a porno shoot? Isn’t that the same thing?
I don’t think so. There’s no sin in walking down an aisle. It’s the homosexual activity that happens elsewhere at another time that’s sinful. But taking pictures of couples engaged in fornication is to photograph sin itself — and the pictures will be used for directly sinful purposes. In other words, a lesbian wedding is at least one step removed from sin, whereas pornography is sin itself.
Could you, as a merchant, sell pornography?
No, because you’re aiding sin.
But isn’t being a wedding photographer aiding sin?
No, because the couple doesn’t need to be married to engage in sin. It doesn’t make it any easier. It’s the sexual activity that God forbids, and I’m sure they aren’t waiting for the marriage!
True. But it is a celebration of their relationship, which is sexual almost by definition. I mean, one central element of marriage is to approve sex between the marrying couple.
Among Christians, that’s certainly true. I’m not sure it’s still true among most secular Americans any more. Non-Christians no longer condemn sex between consenting adults. It’s so common that the stigma is gone even among many Christians (which is very wrong but very true).
Therefore, among secular Americans, a wedding isn’t to approve sexual union. The couple will usually have been living together for years. It’s to celebrate commitment — which is an approach to marriage that is very foreign to Christians, but non-Christians tend to find commitment at that level very difficult. They are afraid to commit because they’ve seen so many horrible marriages. Therefore, they’ve normalized sex without marriage, and only marry when ready to make a commitment they find very, very difficult.
So it’s okay for a Christian to celebrate the commitment two women make to each other after they’ve lived together for years and finally decided to be truly committed.
Not so much to celebrate as to participate in the celebration. Let me offer a different example.
I don’t drink. Not at all. But I sometimes eat with friends and clients who do. They drink. I don’t. And I don’t judge. We eat and talk and enjoy one another’s company, and I don’t participate in the alcohol. Now, for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that it’s sin to drink [I don’t want to start a thread]. Is what I do okay?
I think so, but you’re refusal to drink speaks volumes about what you oppose. It sends a message!
No, it doesn’t. I could be the designated driver. I could have an allergy. I could be alcoholic. I may have to go back to work that night. There are lots of reasons not to drink — and there will usually be a few others at the bar who don’t drink at all.
Well, then they likely figure you’re endorsing their drinking!
Not at all. In this part of the world, there are lots of teetotalers, and many do as I do. In fact, my friends know it’s a matter of conscience for me. I don’t say anything, but they know I’m a church goer and they figure it out well enough. But the others at the bar just know that I’m willing to be seen with those who drink — but they aren’t looking for an endorsement or approval. They really just don’t care what I think, and so such questions never cross their minds.
So attending a lesbian wedding would not be taken an endorsement by non-Christians?
On the whole, if I’m there for a friend, no. It’d be taken as a gesture of friendship.
But some events are political theater. It’d be crazy, but imagine a party with an open bar, held to protest a law against drunk driving. I wouldn’t participate in that! I wouldn’t be caught near it. It’s not dinner with my friends; it’s drinking to make a political statement that I would abhor.
And, in fact, a significant number of homosexual marriages are conducted as political theater — to endorse homosexual sexuality. And I couldn’t participate in that.
The problem is that it’s an extremely difficult line to draw in practice. Motivations are hard to judge — although sometimes the motives will be entirely clear. I can’t imagine how a baker would draw such a line. A photographer might be close enough to the couple to know, but many service providers would have no idea what the couple’s motivation is.
But if — ironically enough — gay weddings were to become an accepted part of society, so that attendance doesn’t suggest that you’re there to make a political statement but merely to support a friend, you’d go — just as you’d go to a wedding of a Christian to a Muslim even though you think it’s wrong.
I think probably so. It wouldn’t be comfortable for me, but I’d go for the same reasons I’d go if a friend was marrying an atheist or otherwise making a choice I disagree with. At least, I think I would.
[To be continued.]