As I read this, I recalled a conversation during a M15 side-session dealing with homosexuality and the church. In this session, a question was posed asking if the audience would attend the wedding of their gay or lesbian son or daughter. The one asking the question said they would not, while Dan Boone (the speaker for this session) and the majority of the audience (consisting of primarily pastors and leaders) said they would.
As an ordained minister, and someone who has been wrestling with these questions myself, I want to share a few thoughts as to why I would attend.
You versus Me
As Christians, somewhere along the line, we have come to this belief that if we disagree with someone, we have to show it through our refusal to spend time with them. For many, disagreement must result in exclusion. Disagreement means keeping someone at arm’s length. We might have coffee with them, but we must always make sure they know this isn’t a true friendship. There is a serious issue standing in the way of real community.
We see this happen politically (republicans and democrats, along with those who vote from them, refuse to talk to one another).
We see it theologically through our arguments and refusal to listen to those who think differently (oh, how many times I’ve heard people say Catholics aren’t Christians).
And we see it in this conversation dealing with LGBTQ equality and marriage.
This question is nearly always posed like this: “If we attend the wedding, aren’t we saying we affirm that union?”
However, I think there is a deeper question being asked.
This question being, “if I attend this wedding, what would people think of me?”
This past year I listened to the speech of a very well-known evangelical leader who represented a very well-known evangelical organization. This leader told the story of how he has a very good friend who is gay, and is married. This friend currently lived in a city where this leader would soon have to spend a few days. When this gay couple found out, as an act of hospitality they invited him to stay at their home. He accepted. Soon, the organization he represented asked him to cancel, saying their constituents wouldn’t understand and it would give the organization a bad name. An order he followed, refusing the hospitality of his friend, which (understandably) hurt his friend and placed a wedge between them.
This leader used this story as an example of times when Christians must do difficult things in the name of Jesus.
However, I’ll be honest. I don’t accept this.
What’s in a name?
We are Christians. Christ-followers. Little-Christs.
As Christ-followers, we are commanded to model our lives after Jesus.
This leads to the question: How did Jesus live?
Jesus enjoyed being with people. Especially those on the outside.
He spent much of his ministry eating, laughing, and loving people the church refused to love or acknowledge.
He ate with tax-collectors, prostitutes, and affirmed the place of women in society. (Lk 5:27-32)
He made a Samaritan (those who Jews saw as sub-human, half-breeds) the hero in his sermons. (Lk 10:25-37)
Consistently, Jesus refused to let the respectability of the church dictate how he loved.
This resulted in him being called a glutton and drunkard and the friend of sinners (Matt 11:19).
Why a wedding and dinner are the same
Many will say, “but dinner and weddings are very different things. I will eat with my lesbian or gay friend, but a wedding takes it to another level.”
Using a modern cultural perspective, this would be true.
However, in the time of Jesus, to accept the invitation for dinner, and to eat at a person’s home, was a statement that you approved of them. That you loved them. That you affirmed them.
Not only did Jesus accept these invitations, he often did so without requesting a change of life/opinion/action. He sometimes requested this, but not always. Over and over, Jesus ate dinner with outcasts, and only offered his presence. (Lk 7:36-50, Matt 9:9-31)
Change was never a qualification for belonging. Did change happen? Absolutely, but in its own time. At the pace and speed of the Spirit.
Ultimately, I would attend this wedding because I believe Jesus would attend. Love should compel us to attend.
My question is this:
Why wouldn’t we go to the wedding of a gay or lesbian family member or friend?
Why wouldn’t we show that we love them (even in disagreement)?
Most importantly, who cares what others think of us?
After all, if our actions receive the criticism of those within the church, we can rest in the knowledge that we’re in good company.
Thoughts? Would you attend the wedding of a LGBTQ family member or friend?