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Should you attend a gay wedding? The Contrarian’s response

October 1, 2012

This is the 4th in a series of posts attempting to answer the common question: Should you attend a gay wedding? This question is already common, and will only become more prevalent as time goes by.

So here’s the answer: it depends.

Although some would seek to paint this issue as black and white, I don’t think it is. That’s why in the first post of this series I set up some guidelines for how I would write about it. Ultimately, the question comes down to what is going to help that person know Jesus.

However, I think we can be too quick to answer that at times. What is really going to lead someone to fully submit to Jesus? Most of the time, we don’t really know! We try our best to pray and start conversations and build relationships that over time can lead someone to Christ. But we’re never really sure what ultimately pushes someone to humbly submit to Christ. So this guideline doesn’t seem to help much, because the sides arguing both for and against attending gay weddings would say their view leads someone to Jesus. What are we to do?

There is a question that I believe clears up much of this and will give you the answer of whether or not you should attend a gay wedding. Here is the question: What is the more difficult thing to do? If it is more difficult to attend, I believe you should do so. If it is more difficult to stay home, I believe you should do so. And here’s why…

If your answer is that it is more difficult to attend, that means you are uncomfortable doing so. it means you fear that your attendance compromises your biblical stance and that you communicate to others that flowing with the cultural mores is perfectly acceptable. But it also means that you passionately stand for biblical truth, no matter the circumstances. So if you have built this reputation, it probably is more appropriate for you to attend. The couple will know your stance and how seriously you oppose their sin, so your attendance will show them that in spite of their actions you still want a relationship with them. For example, if Al Mohler were to be invited to a gay wedding, I would unquestionably advise him to go, for these very reasons.

However, if your answer is that it is easier to attend, I think you probably should not do so. If it’s easier, that means you focus a ton on relationships and have built solid friendships with the people in the ceremony. Therefore you are worried that by not attending you will sever the relationship. You are so close with the person that you cannot imagine missing their wedding, no matter how much you disagree with its morality. The problem here is that by attending you show support for the relationship, and are quickly losing the opportunity to communicate a biblical stance. For someone to know Jesus, they have to understand sin. And by focusing solely on being friends and neglecting eternal truth you lose the foundation with which to speak truth and grace into their lives. Because you have built such a friendship over the years, staying home from their wedding would not sever the relationship. Instead, it would communicate your priorities. So, for example, if Brian McLaren were to be invited to a gay wedding, I would unquestionably advise him to stay home, for these reasons.

Now comes a question that I’ve received when sharing this: What if both options are difficult? I have counseled several people recently who feel that both options have opportunities, but they don’t want to do either! Ultimately you just have to figure that out. Remember that God’s Spirit lives in you, that he will guide you into truth, and have confidence that he will work in spite of you. The bottom line is that there is no easy answer, and the Contrarian has learned to embrace the fact that you have to make the best decision for your situation, since you know it better than anyone else.  Yes, you will get criticized. Yes, you may make the wrong decision. No, your friend probably won’t change his/her lifestyle as a result of your single decision. But you can know that you are seeking God’s will above all else as you partner with him in bringing his lost children home.


Should you attend a gay wedding? A reader’s response

September 27, 2012

The following is a response–technically, a string of responses–from a reader of this blog on Twitter.  Remember, part 4, the Contrarian’s answer to this question, is still to come. In the meantime, here’s the response from a North Carolina pastor:

Good article. I land on the side of attending too. However, I think it’s inconsistent to assume automatically that they aren’t Christians & need to be led to Christ. Yes, perhaps their sexuality needs to be more fully surrendered to Christ…but so does many heterosexuals’. I think too often it’s positioned as ‘how does the church respond to gays?’ when all that does is create two separate camps on a specific sin.

We’ve got tons of gays and lesbians in our church. Some are Christ followers, some aren’t. They’re all at different stages of growth. Some are celibate. Some are in long term committed relationships and asking serious questions about what it looks like to surrender sexuality. Some are flat out in destructive sexual patterns. But I’ve found that the most progress in conversation has come with the approach of: ‘Let’s talk about if you want to begin trusting Jesus or not. Then, together, with the Holy Spirit, let’s journey together and discover what trust in every area looks like.’

That’s my two cents for what it’s worth. 

Thanks for that perspective. More to come soon.

Should you attend a gay wedding? “Yes.”

September 24, 2012

This is the 3rd in a series of posts asking the question: “Should you attend a gay wedding?” Every Christian needs to answer this question.  Whether you’ve been asked to attend a gay wedding yet or not, you will be asked. So it’s important to determine your answer now.

In the first post of this series I laid the biblical framework from which I’m working. Today I’m going to present the argument that yes, you should attend a gay wedding. Later I will write a post on how the Contrarian should approach this topic. But for now… below are the 3 most common arguments for why you should attend a gay wedding.

1. You can build a relationship. If you stay home, goes the argument, you’re doing nothing to proactively build the relationship with your friend who is getting married. In fact, if you stay home, it likely will hurt the relationship. Your friend will be offended, feel judged, and consider your relationship wounded, if not ended. So by attending a gay wedding you further your relationship with the person and don’t cut them off.

2. Attendance at a gay wedding does not mean you approve of the union. This is a key part of the argument. The person who disapproves of the wedding but still attends argues that simply attending a wedding is not a blanket statement that gay unions are acceptable and okay to God. Based on argument #1, this part of the argument says that building a relationship trumps any theological you may or may not make by attending or not attending a wedding. And since Jesus’ 2nd greatest command is to love your neighbor, this is a very practical way to love your neighbor.

3. Attendance at a gay wedding increases your chance to impact the couple for Christ. If you are attending a wedding with the point of building the relationship, you keep open the door to develop trust and eventually lead them to Christ. By not attending you likely cut off the relationship. (Or have them cut it off–but it’s the same result either way.) So if the ultimate goal is to have someone submit to Christ, furthering the relationship will be more likely to see that end, than if you cut off the relationship.

If you have any more reasons, please post them below. I believe these are the most prominent arguments, but feel free to add.

In part 4, I will detail the Contrarian’s response to this question.

Should you attend a gay wedding? “No.”

September 20, 2012

This is the 2nd in a series of posts asking the question: “Should you attend a gay wedding?” Every Christian needs to answer this question.  Whether you’ve been asked to attend a gay wedding yet or not, you will be asked. So it’s important to determine your answer now.

In the first post of this series I laid the biblical framework from which I’m working. Today I’m going to present the argument that no, you should not attend a gay wedding. Next week I will present the common arguments for why you should attend a gay wedding. Below are the 3 most common arguments for why you shouldn’t attend a gay wedding.

  1. Attendance at a wedding is giving approval to what is happening, so if you attend a gay wedding you are approving of all gay unions. Part of the reason, this argument goes, to attend any wedding is to support the couple in a communal act of approval. The congregation is not merely an audience, but participants, in the ceremony of the two becoming one. Therefore, if you are to attend a gay wedding under any pretenses, you are showing the couple that you approve of what they are doing and fully support the lifestyle they choose. So it is anti-biblical to attend a gay wedding, since the Bible teaches marriage is between a man and a woman.
  2. Attendance at a gay wedding makes you unholy. This argument sounds a little more religious on the surface, but it makes a good point. God commands his people in the Bible to “come out from them and be holy.” In the Old Testament a plague was sent on Israel and only stopped when a man sleeping with a foreign woman was stabbed through. In the New Testament, a couple who lied about how much they gave to the church dropped dead on the spot. The point in both instances is that God wants his people to be holy. If we are celebrating with those who are practicing gay marriage, how can we call ourselves holy? Are we not joining in one of the very sins for which Christ died? Are we not becoming like the church in 1 Corinthians 5, which boasts about the grace they show, when in reality God wants us to stand apart from those who sin?
  3. Attendance at a gay wedding decreases your chance to impact the couple for Christ. I said in post one that one of the guiding principles for this topic needs to be that our ultimate goal as Christians is to share Christ with people. Based on point #2 above, if you send a confusing signal of what is sin, you lose effectiveness at guiding others into truth. Paul explains that the point of the law is to show us how much we need Christ. So if we do not uphold the holiness of God, people cannot see how far short of that they fall, and therefore cannot see their personal need for Christ.

These are the 3 most common arguments, in one way or another, that I have heard for not attending a gay wedding. They are brief, but I believe they cover the principle arguments people give to not attend a gay wedding. Please let me know if there are other common arguments you have heard that I have neglected to list.

Should You Attend a Gay Wedding? (part 1)

September 17, 2012

Several of my friends recently have been invited to gay weddings. I have yet to be invited to one, but I am helping those close to me think through this topic. The thing that has surprised me is the advice my friends are receiving. I think this is an area that will illustrate how the Contrarian Planter should think, so I am going to write a series of posts on this. For part 1 today, I will lay the basic framework that I believe We all agree on. In part 2 I will present the argument I hear for attending gay weddings. In part 3 I will present the argument I hear for not attending gay weddings. And in part 4 I will present the Contrarian view. So let’s lay the groundwork…

1. I’m writing this for Christians. I think this should be obvious, since this is a blog for church planters. But to be clear, I don’t expect non-Christians to agree with everything I write or to apply it to their lives. So everything I write will be an attempt to understand the Bible, because the Bible is the Christian’s guide.

2. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22.39 the 2nd greatest commandment is to love our neighbors. 1 John of the Bible explains that love is the defining trait of a Christian, and that anyone who doesn’t love doesn’t know God. So our goal in answering this question is determining the best way to express love.

3. The Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. I know there are people who say they believe the Bible and do not agree with this statement. However, I agree with the orthodox understanding of marriage. Jesus himself addresses this in Matthew 19.4-5: “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’” There is a place to debate this, but this is the understanding I’m working with for this series.

4. Our ultimate goal as Christians is to help others give their lives to Christ. Jesus states in Luke 19.10 that his purpose was to seek and save the lost. the great commission in Matthew 28 instructs us to make disciples of all nations. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We will all spend eternity somewhere. So it’s imperative that whatever we do is in light of eternity.

So that’s the groundwork. If i’m overlooking anything let me know. But I will attempt to explain both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ side of attending gay weddings in the next 2 posts.

Contrarian Resource #5: Bill Clinton

September 14, 2012

From time to time I offer up a resource for church planters that is not your normal church planting book.

Over 2 weeks in Tampa and Florida, the United States tuned in to hear people…give speeches. That’s it. They just heard people talk. For all the criticism of preaching today and for all the emphasis on new types of communication and technology, nothing can replace a human speaking to others.

So this contrarian resource is Bill Clinton. Specifically, Bill Clinton’s speaking ability. President Clinton is without question the best public speaker of our generation, and we have much to learn from him.

Bill Clinton was almost booed off the stage when he introduced Michael Dukakis as the democratic nominee years ago. However, he honed his craft and now we could learn much from him. If Bill Clinton can spend years perfecting his craft in order to better present political ideas, should not we as preachers of the gospel do whatever we can to better present the life-saving message of Jesus?

If you did not watch Bill Clinton’s DNC speech from this year you should watch it now:

I won’t make my own observations on why Clinton is so effective and what you should learn from him because that’s been done better here:

If you want to be a better public speaker, Bill Clinton is an indispensable resource for you.

Are you like Kevin Kelley? Question 1

September 10, 2012

Question #1: Are you willing to be yourself if it means foolishly being different from everyone else?  David knew that God wanted his worship, so he worshiped God with all his energy, sacrificing his pride in the process. He cared what no one thought—he just wanted God to know David loved him.  are you willing to be like David?

Here’s the irony about Kevin Kelley’s story.  Even thought the math is on his side when it comes to always going for 2 and refusing to punt…no one else does it.  There are a few outliers at lower levels of football who are intrigued and want to learn from him.  But when you make the jump to the NFL, no one does his style, even though the math still says he’s right.  In fact, Cal-Berkeley economist David Romer published a study on NFL game theory that showed, among other things, that “regardless of field position, on anything less than fourth and five, teams are always better off going for it.”  Romer observed 1068 fourth-down situations in which statistics say the right decision is to go for it, yet the NFL teams punted 959 of those times.

Why?  If NFL coaches are paid millions of dollars to win, why do they make decisions that give them a worse chance of winning?

Peer pressure.

If a coach goes for it on fourth down in his own territory (cough, cough, Bill Bellicheck) and doesn’t get it and loses the game, the analyst shows will bash him all week.  But if he gets the first down he doesn’t get near the amount of praise as he would criticism.

The connection to church planting is obvious, right?  Sometimes the right thing to do is what everyone else thinks is the wrong thing.

You’re going to reach those people?

Your services will be where?

            What are you preaching on?

Has that strategy worked anywhere before?

I’ve never heard of a church doing that kind of outreach before.

A good test of if you are willing to be yourself is if you are receiving criticism.  Jesus could have avoided a lot of criticism if he had just acted like everyone else.  He was criticized for being a drunk, for hanging out with prostitutes, and for bashing the establishment.  If we are following the leading of Jesus, should we expect to be any different?

Sometimes I’ll start to feel sorry for myself when I receive criticism about our church’s style or audience or vision or advertising.  And I think the reason it stings is that it often comes from well-meaning Christians.  But I have to remind myself that this is what I signed up for.  And if I don’t want to be criticized I’d better stop following Jesus, stop being myself, and stop being different from everyone else.

Now honestly, it’s pretty easy most of the time for church planters to answer a resounding “yes” to question #1.  You’re planting a church, which is a huge risk already, so starting a new ministry, strategy or tactic isn’t necessarily the most difficult thing.  And that’s why question 2 is essential, because it highlights our motives and asks if have true humility.