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By Campbell
January 31, 2024

WHEREVER we look, the church continues to get itself tied in knots over same-sex weddings. We have seen the Pope get the entire Roman Catholic hierarchy at odds with itself over whether or not they should bless same sex-couples. Pope Francis issued a Vatican document, Fiducia Supplicans, which authorises priests to give spontaneous, non-liturgical blessings to couples in irregular situations, which includes same-sex couples.

This naturally has caused a storm within Roman Catholicism: it has been rejected by the entire Catholic church in Africa, while in Europe LGBTQ-etc activists within the church see it as a watershed moment in their struggle for full recognition.

As recently as last Friday, Pope Francis apparently tried to rein in certain interpretations of the document. He insisted that what he is doing is authorising the Roman Catholic Church to make a pastoral gesture directed at the individuals involved and not their union. Rather than approving the blessing of same-sex unions, Francis says the document should be seen as approving the blessing of the people involved in a same-sex union.

To my no doubt sluggish Protestant mind, it seems that when two people who live together as a couple present themselves together, and are blessed together hand in hand, it is extremely difficult to argue that the two individuals as a couple are blessed but not their union.

But just in case evangelical Protestants heave a sigh of relief and shake their heads at the fankle Rome has got itself into, up pops the highly respected Alistair Begg. Originally a Scot, Begg is now a US citizen and senior pastor of a Baptist church in Cleveland. He is a frequent speaker at the Keswick Convention, and his sermons on YouTube are widely followed and appreciated for their biblical content as well as his preaching style.

Last month Begg's answer to a request for advice from a godly grandmother emerged. She wanted to know whether she should attend the wedding of her grandson to a transgender person. Begg told her to attend and to buy them a wedding gift. His reasons were concerned with the impact non-attendance would have. 'Well, here's the thing: your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, "These people are what I always thought: judgemental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything".'

The desire to 'build bridges' with the LGBTQ community may be motivated by goodwill but it is flawed. Jesus did not instruct us to build bridges by denying Scripture. He told us to be salt and light, and sometimes salt stings. We are instructed to live a life of contrast with the world, not conformity with it. Holiness is our aim in life, not worldly acceptance. Yes, we may be hated for it, but 'keep in mind that it hated me [Jesus] first' (John 15:18).

To accept such an invitation on the grounds that refusal might be seen as a sign of hatred is to accept the understanding of the woke world which thinks refusal to affirm sin a sign of 'hate'. This is to accept a secular standard and not a Christian one. Likewise, refusing such an invitation may well cause offence, but making offence a moral category turns ethics from being a matter of right and wrong into a matter of taste. When aesthetics become determinants in ethical discourse we have lost any fixed standard of morality, and as taste changes so morality will change.

If the world believes Christians to be judgemental, we have to accept this as inevitable. The mere fact of having firm standards will inescapably come across as judgemental to those who have differing standards or none. Christians are not villains if we uphold Scriptural commands concerning accepting the sexually immoral.

This question is occurring with greater frequency and Christians, whether pastors or not, will need to think this through before being put on the spot. It is not difficult to find reasons a Christian might give for attending a same-sex wedding: a desire not to cause offence or hurt, perhaps a hope to avoid a rancorous situation within the family or amongst friends, or a wish to make Christianity appear loving. But if these arguments influence the decision decisively, something has gone askew.

Refusal may come at significant personal cost, but the cost of acceptance is higher.

If a Bible-believing Christian were to attend a same-sex wedding, at some point in the proceedings the question is likely to be asked if there are any present who know any reasons why the couple should not be joined in matrimony. Is the Christian going to be honest and stand up and say that there is? Remaining silent is to affirm that which God has called sin. The price for the Christian of attending a same-sex wedding is a significant one.

The supposed gains that might come about by being 'kind' or by not giving offence are more than offset by the price to be paid. One of the major reasons why people do not know Christ is because Christians too readily water down his claims in order to avoid difficult situations. Attendance at a same-sex wedding sends a message that Christians hold their principles to be negotiable.

Evangelicals may smile at the pope's linguistic gymnastics trying to explain away his attempt at bestowing a blessing on same-sex couples. We evangelicals can find ourselves in the same situation. Christian attendance at a same-sex wedding in order to show 'love' or to avoid giving offence is a form of blessing, just without the name.

Refusal may come at significant personal cost, but the cost of acceptance is higher. Attendance at a same-sex wedding involves being silent when we should speak out. It means giving approval through that silence to a ceremony which mocks biblical teaching. It involves undermining the proclamation of the gospel. This is a high price to pay to be 'nice'. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says: '[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.'


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