Sunday, November 17, 2013
I have been asked a number of times by fellow Christians: How do I respond when a family member or friend invites me to his or her same-sex wedding ceremony? These are people we love, yet how can we affirm what we do not believe in? Here is a sample letter I recently developed (in the singular case that can be made plural as need be). I am seeking a) to be clear in terms of biblical conviction about human sexuality, and b) hospitable to the humanity of those with whom we disagree. The truth is, that in time, hospitality always wins out over rejection.
As well, and this is key, we give hospitality on the terms of the Gospel, which is open to all people (e.g., Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest"). But we do not participate in receiving a hospitality that requires us to compromise our convictions. The truth is, also, that the invitation of the Gospel touches eternity in the hearts of people; whereas an invitation to a same-sex marriage wedding serves only a fading and broken hope. Feel free to send this along to others, and I am glad for your input.
Thank you for your kind invitation.
It presents me with a need to share the central essence of my Christian faith. I am thinking of when Jesus summed up the Hebrew Bible with the Golden Rule – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
As you may imagine, I believe that marriage is given by God as a covenant between one man and one woman for one lifetime. And though many of us have experienced broken promises in this regard, most of us still pursue it. When guests attend a wedding ceremony, they are called to be witnesses who affirm the vows taken.
But what happens when I cannot affirm certain vows? I hope you can see the situation I am in. I fully affirm you as created in the image of God, sharing the same humanity we all have. But if I were to attend your wedding ceremony, it would require me to affirm same-sex marriage, contrary to my faith in the God of the Bible.
And this is where the Golden Rule comes into play. I would never wish to place you in a situation where you felt compelled to affirm something you do not believe in – especially when it comes to matters of core identity or beliefs. And I am sure you do not wish to do the same to me.
Thus, I pray you can understand why I must decline your invitation, and that regardless of our differences in this matter, my hospitality to you always remains the same.
Most sincerely –