I have written on this subject before in bits and pieces, but since it keeps coming up for debate, and since I do not have an entire piece devoted just to this, let me do so here. The latest trigger for this was a very recent remark made by Presidential hopeful and Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
But let me first mention that two issues arise here, so I can deal with both since they are related. That is, it is one thing for a small business owner to cater for homosexuals and so on, but it is another matter to have to cater for a homosexual event which conscience may not allow.
It is the same here: of course individual Christians will have homosexual friends, loved ones, and so on, and of course in many areas they have no problems associating with them and doing things together with them. But it is a somewhat different kettle of fish when it comes to official ceremonies and public activities such as a homosexual wedding.
I have spoken to both aspects of this debate previously, and will soon quote from some of those earlier pieces. But here let me begin with what Rubio has just said on this matter:
Although he thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he would attend a same-sex wedding of a family member or friend to show his support for someone he cares about. Rubio was interviewed Wednesday by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, who asked the Republican presidential candidate whether he would attend the wedding of a gay friend or co-worker if invited.
“If there’s somebody that I love that’s in my life, I don’t necessarily have to agree with their decisions, or the decisions they’ve made, to continue to love them and participate in important events,” Rubio answered. The situation would be much like attending the wedding of a person who was previously divorced, which also is prohibited by his Catholic faith, he explained.
“If it’s somebody in my life that I care for, of course I would” attend their wedding, Rubio said. “I’m not going to hurt them simply because I disagree with a choice they’ve made or because I disagree with a decision they’ve made, or whatever it may be.”
Now I normally quite like Rubio, but I happen to disagree with him here. I feel he is sadly allowing politics to influence him in this, even at this very early stage in seeking the Republican nomination for next year’s presidential election. Knowing the tremendous pressure of the homosexual lobby and its mainstream media sycophants, it appears that he is already engaging in a bit of compromise and political correctness sadly.
As mentioned, I have already outlined my reasons why a Christian should think again about attending a homosexual wedding. Let me simply share that again here:
Let’s say your son or daughter announces that he or she is a homosexual, or a loved one does this. Then they tell you they are marrying, and they invite you to attend the wedding. What should you do?
While each individual Christian might have to really prayerfully and carefully consider all this, I know where I stand. And I think we can make it more or less a general principle here as well. I would not attend. I would have to explain it carefully to my friends or whoever it is of course.
I would have to make it clear that while I love them, I cannot in any way countenance, condone or approve of their sinful behaviour. And as such, I cannot attend a wedding which is all about celebrating such a sinful and ungodly union.
Not only is homosexuality a sin that must be forsaken and repented of, but a homosexual marriage is a complete sham and mockery of God’s holy institution of heterosexual marriage. So everything about this is offensive to God, and should be offensive to his people.
Again, I would try as hard as I can to express my love and concern to the individual, and explain as fully as possible why I have had to make this painful decision. But it seems the alternative would be far worse: to actually show up and effectively endorse, affirm and even celebrate such sinful activity.
But I am not alone in thinking this. One of the world’s greatest experts and scholars on all things homosexual is New Testament Professor Robert Gagnon. His invaluable volume The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon, 2002), should be on the shelf of every single concerned Christian.
He has recently written about this very matter. I have not been able to find the original article, but another person offers a good summary of it so I will quote from that. As Sam Storms writes this in his article, “Is It Ok To Attend A ‘Gay Wedding’?”:
Robert Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, recently addressed this question (The Hope Update, an official publication of Restored Hope Network, July 2014, Vol. 2, No. 3). He finds what he believes is biblical precedent for his conclusion in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Paul’s counsel regarding whether it is permissible for Christians to visit pagan temples where idols are worshipped. The apostle’s response is, No. “First, such actions could ‘stumble’ (i.e., precipitate the spiritual downfall of) others with a weak conscience by sending the message that idol worship wasn’t such a big deal (ch. 8). Second, those attending such rituals, at which sacrifices would be made to an idol, were actually offending God by aligning themselves unknowingly with demonic powers (10:14-22).”
Gagnon also points out that whereas “Jesus reached out to sexual sinners” he did not at any time “attend a ritual that celebrated immorality.” He doesn’t believe Jesus would ever have attended such an event “unless the purpose in attending was to call people to repentance.” Gagnon then asks: “What good would I be at a ‘gay wedding’ anyway since I would be visibly weeping my heart out at a ceremony that solemnizes a behavior that puts a loved one at risk of not inheriting God’s kingdom?”
I completely agree with Gagnon’s position on this question. And let me add one more consideration to the mix. Simply put, there is no such thing as a “gay wedding”. I’m not saying that gay people aren’t in fact hosting a ceremony in which they formally commit themselves one to another. I’m simply saying that what they are not doing is getting married. The reason is that marriage, on its biblical definition, is the lifelong covenantal commitment of a man and a woman. No commitment, no covenant, no vow or pledge or promise that involves two people of the same gender qualifies as a “marriage”. Call it a civil ceremony or whatever you will. But it’s not a marriage.
And that is why I would never attend such an event.
And I have also written about how this is similar to the small business owner who for reasons of religious conviction does not feel right about endorsing a homosexual wedding by being involved in making cakes for it, supplying floral arrangements, renting out a reception centre, and so on.
They usually are quite happy to sell cakes to individual homosexuals, flowers to lesbians, and so on. Most of them do this regularly. But it is the event – in this case the homosexual wedding – not the person that conscience forbids them from engaging in. As I wrote elsewhere:
Ex-homosexual Joe Dallas explains this more fully from a Christian point of view:
I really think, in most cases, those objecting to homosexuality have no interest in discriminating against homosexual people themselves. They have no interest in refusing to serve them, make products for them, or welcome them into their business establishments.
Which is as it should be. Surely it’s wrong for a Christian vendor to deny service to someone simply because of their sexual preference, so the idea of refusing to serve a meal to a gay couple, or declining to rent a hotel room to a gay or lesbian person, is and should be unacceptable.
But that seldom happens, and most Christians wouldn’t want it to. Nor would most Moslems, Jehovah Witnesses, or Mormons, for that matter. When people of faith object, it is normally to an event, not an individual. This needs to be underlined: If and when we discriminate, it is not against individuals, but against practices, ceremonies, or events we cannot in good conscience support.
So Christian bakers generally will be glad to bake a cake for a lesbian woman’s birthday party, or a gay college student’s graduation. After all, birthdays and graduations are inherently good, regardless of who is celebrating them.
But that same baker may well object to lending his talents to an event he finds inherently wrong. If other bakers are available, willing, and in the same general vicinity, then no undue burden is placed on the same-sex couple if the Christian baker declines the job. Many businesses, after all, will be only too happy to get the patronage of couples who the Christian, Muslim, or Mormon businessman could not in good conscience service.
Religious freedom has always been a tremendously important social good in America. All that the Indiana law is doing is following in a long and proud tradition of upholding such liberties. As Michael Farris states,
Indiana is a late-comer to this issue. But, there is an enormous body of precedent for the principle that the Indiana law embodies. Not only do we have the federal RFRA and all of these state counterparts, we have nearly 400 years of American history which boldly proclaims that religious freedom is for all. After all, protection from religious intolerance was in fact a primary motivation for a great many of the early settlers of this continent.
But now there are significant forces in society clamoring against this Indiana legislation because it dares to stand with the principle that religious freedom is for everyone. Many Christians and Muslims believe that same-sex marriages are antithetical to their religious beliefs. And we are long past the issue of whether the government can be coerced by the judiciary to grant marriage licenses for such relationships. We are simply debating whether people can be forced to participate in such ceremonies contrary to their deeply held convictions.
Forcing a Christian photographer to use his craft to record a same-sex wedding is tantamount to forcing a Jewish butcher to slaughter pork to sell such products to people who demand a full-range of service. The leftist forces of “tolerance” are demanding unbending adherence to their doctrinal views of sexual ethics. Those who refuse to comply are being persecuted in what amount to heresy trials under so-called non-discrimination laws.
Religious liberty is a far different concept from religious tolerance. The Toleration Act of William and Mary in 1688, allowed very minor deviations from the orthodoxy of the Church of England. You could differ, but not too much, from the standards of the official church or you would be severely punished. Toleration is a cheap imitation of liberty.
We have to decide whether or not we still believe in liberty.
So on this one I beg to differ with Rubio. I certainly hope this is not an indication of further capitulation and a weakening of his position, so that he might appear to be more ‘electable’. What we need now are men and women of strong conviction and solid principle, who will not water things down to chase a few more votes.
Stand strong Rubio, stand strong.