My older brother invited me to attend his homosexual wedding ceremony. He claims to be a Christian, though for obvious reasons I doubt he is. Would it be wrong for me to attend anyway?
We understand the difficulty of your decision. Many Christians have elected to forgo participation in homosexual weddings, including caterers, photographers, venue owners, dressmakers, caterers, pastors and even guests and family members. We certainly understand and respect these decisions.
The question we must answer is does the Bible set down specific guidelines for this decision or is it merely a question of personal conviction? Before we answer this question, we recommend you read the following articles on attending weddings of atheists and on the biblical view of homosexuality.
Turning to your question directly, the Bible teaches that if a man or woman professes to be a Christian while engaging in immoral behavior, the Church must refrain from associating with such a person:
Paul commands that any immoral person who calls themselves a Christian must be put outside fellowship from the body of Christ. Therefore, if a practicing homosexual claims to be a Christian, then the Bible commands us not to associate with such a person nor even eat a meal with him. The purpose for this strict treatment is to encourage the believer to repent and cease the immoral behavior, and in the meantime, to protect the flock from their immoral influence.
It doesn’t matter if we doubt the person's profession of faith (i.e., whether they are truly born again or merely pretending to be a Christian). Even Paul himself acknowledged that an immoral person may be a false confessor (i.e., a “so-called” brother). Nevertheless, Paul says in this situation we must take any claim of faith in Christ at face-value and respond by distancing ourselves from such a person.
Obviously, the vast majority of practicing homosexuals do not profess faith in Christ, so our guidelines for associating with them are more flexible. In fact, Paul specifically stated he did not say don’t associate with immoral unbelievers. Therefore, association with unbelievers – no matter how immoral – is possible, and in most cases necessary to accomplishing the mission of the Church. Remember, even Christ elected to enter the homes of prostitutes and eat with “sinners and tax collectors,” who were the immoral people of His day.
Consequently, a Christian may accept an invitation to eat in the home of an unbelieving homosexual couple, or attend their birthday party or even study scripture together with them, etc. All of these encounters hold the possibility of witnessing to them regarding Christ and the salvation He offers by His grace. Unless we are willing to associate with the lostness of the world, we can never hope to influence it for Christ.
On the other hand, there are some situations where our participation holds little possibility of producing fruit for Christ but yet holds great potential for personal corruption or an erosion of our Christian witness. For example, Paul chastised the Corinthian church for abusing their liberty when they joined in pagan rituals at pagan temples:
Paul acknowledged that idols were merely stone and wood, therefore they held no power over the believer. Nevertheless, he instructed believers to steer clear of these ceremonies because they hold potential to confuse and mislead less mature Christians.
Furthermore, Paul told the church not to get comfortable spending time around immorality or idolatry, since even Christians can be tempted into sin by such things.
Finally, scripture makes clear we can sin by approving the sin others:
Consequently, we have a mission as Christians to balance to commandments: associate with the unbelieving world so we may reach them for Christ while guarding ourselves from entering into sin or approving the sin of others. We are called to represent the truth to a world lost in darkness and deceived by the enemy’s lies, but we can't do that effectively if we compromise on the truth ourselves or agree with the lies through our behavior.
To sum up his point, Paul gives these basic guidelines:
Paul says all things are lawful, in the sense that we have liberty to make many different choices in matters that are not explicitly regulated by scripture. Nevertheless, our rule for how we act isn't merely whether something is permissible. Our decisions should be guided by whether a course of action is both lawful and spiritually profitable.
Attending or participating in the wedding of a homosexual couple is lawful in the sense that scripture doesn’t prohibit our involvement explicitly, but the question remains is doing do spiritually profitable for us and for our unbelieving friends? Paul says in answering that question we must seek the good of our neighbor without acting contrary to our conscience. Furthermore, Paul says don’t give offense to anyone, including to the church of God. Seek the profit of the “many” not merely your own profit.
Applying these standards, we must conclude that participating in or even attending a homosexual marriage ceremony is unprofitable for the Christian. Unlike other types of gatherings (e.g., meals, birthday parties, etc.), a wedding ceremony is a formal proceeding where those in attendance serve a role as witnesses gathered in support of the union.
In fact, many wedding ceremonies still incorporate an opportunity for wedding attendees to offer reason why the couple should not wed. This tradition reflects the importance of attendees serving as witnesses at a wedding ceremony, therefore a person’s decision to attend any wedding is an implicit statement of support for the proceedings.
On the other hand, the Bible teaches clearly that the only appropriate sexual union permitted by God is in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Any other sexual union is immoral and ungodly, and therefore a Christian cannot be party to such sin. When a Christian attends a marriage ceremony for a homosexual couple, the believer serves as a witness to the union and implicitly approves another's sin.
In doing so, the believer acts contrary to scripture and to the believer's own convictions for even if the believer silently disagrees with the proceedings in his or her heart, nevertheless attending the ceremony communicates public approval. As Paul said in Romans 14, believers will be judged by the Lord for the evil we approve.
Finally, in 1Corinthians 10 Paul says believers must not give offense “to the church of God.” The church of God is a reference to Christ Himself, His Gospel and all who are His disciples. When a believer acts in ungodly or immoral ways (or approves such things), he or she is giving offense by shaming the name of Christ, undermining the Gospel call to repent and believe in Christ, and dishonoring the sacrifices of past disciples who have given their lives standing for the truth.
According to these biblical guidelines, attending a homosexual union (or granting our approval otherwise) is an offense to the church of God. As Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ, so we must always stand for truth, including the truth of biblical marriage and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While our decision not to attend homosexual weddings will likely offend some, we cannot make pleasing men our highest goal. Instead, our highest goal is pleasing the Lord.
Remember, the message and values of Christianity have always offended the unsaved world, so we should not be surprised when we face scorn and persecution for living according to biblical truth. Just as prior generations of martyrs were persecuted for the faith and as our Savior faced the cross for His testimony, so will we suffer at times. While we shouldn't invite persecution, neither can we run from it.
As Jesus said:
Although attending a homosexual wedding ceremony may allow us to preserve a friendship or perhaps open opportunities to share the Gospel with those in attendance (we argued this point as reason to attend an atheist wedding), nevertheless these potential benefits do not justify our attendance given the serious risks. Therefore, if a Christian receives an invitation to such a gathering, he or she should politely decline.