For those of us who do not think “same-sex marriages” are legitimate marriages, how should we respond when invited to attend a same-sex wedding? Al Mohler has some insightful words about this difficult issue, showcased by a recent event in which the elder President Bush and his wife attended a same-sex wedding.
Many people who are opposed to same-sex marriage, nevertheless, say they would attend a same-sex wedding (or have done so). Their reasons for doing so vary. For some, the simple fact of the matter is that they truly don’t see anything wrong with same-sex marriage. Their opposition to same-sex marriage is confessional in nature, and does not reflect their true convictions. It’s just one of those things they pay lip service so they can fit in with their community of peers. They will attend a same-sex marriage because deep down they approve of same-sex marriage. For others who have genuine convictions against same-sex marriage, however, the conflict runs much deeper. As much as they disapprove of same-sex marriage, they feel the need to attend a same-sex wedding to preserve a friendship, to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, to avoid a family feud, or because of social pressure. While I understand these motivations, the fact remains that attending a same-sex wedding will be viewed by others as your personal approval of the same-sex union (if not same-sex marriage in general). This is clear from a statement by one of the brides at the wedding attended by former President Bush, who told The Washington Post, “Who would be best to acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world? When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgement of being ‘real and normal.’”
They’re not the only ones who made the connection between the Bushs’ attendance and their approval of the union. The Washington Post columnist went on to say, “Another prominent Republican has come out in support of same-sex marriage—or, at least, in support of one particular same-sex marriage.” An article in New York Magazine also concluded that the elder Bush is in favor of same-sex marriage “since they not only attended a lesbian couple’s wedding on Saturday, but served as witnesses as well.” The L.A. Times began their coverage of the event by saying, “That’s one way to make a presidential endorsement.” The extensive media coverage of the event is inexplicable apart from the fact that the general public sees a connection between attending a same-sex wedding and approving of same-sex unions. As they should!
Weddings are celebrations, and those who attend weddings do so to celebrate the marriage event (not bemoan it) and offer their public approval and support of the union (not to disapprove). To attend the wedding of a same-sex couple, then, is to give one’s tacit approval of the relationship, and to affirm the validity of the marriage. What could be more obvious?
While Christians should extend their love to the individuals in a same-sex relationship, we cannot celebrate or approve of their relationship. Given the fact that weddings are dedicated solely to the purpose of celebrating a couple’s union, I don’t see how Christians can attend a same-sex wedding in good conscience. To do so is not only inconsistent with our stated (and hopefully genuine) convictions, but it also sends a mixed message to the public and invites the charge of hypocrisy. A Christian who attends a same-sex wedding is like a Jew who attends a neo-Nazi convention. It simply makes no sense.
Let me conclude by summarizing my core argument in the form of a syllogism:
1. Christians should not attend events wherein the primary purpose of the event is to celebrate something immoral, or in which our presence will be interpreted as an endorsement of the immorality being celebrated.
2. The purpose of a same-sex wedding is to celebrate the immoral relationship of a same-sex couple, and those who attend are generally understood to do so because they approve of the same-sex relationship being celebrated.
3. Therefore, Christians should not attend same-sex weddings.
The conclusion (3) follows logically from the premises (1, 2), so if the conclusion is false, then one or both of the premises must be false.
For anyone who disagrees with my conclusion, please identify where the premises of my argument are mistaken, and how. Do you disagree with the moral principle in premise 1? Do you disagree that the primary purpose of a wedding is to celebrate the relationship of the couple getting married? Or do you disagree that people generally perceive one’s presence at a wedding to be a personal endorsement of the relationship?