February 22, 2024

Should a Christian Attend an LGBTQ Wedding?

Nathan W. Bingham & Burk Parsons
Should a Christian Attend an LGBTQ Wedding?

In recent years, the question of whether a Christian should attend an LGBTQ “wedding” has become increasingly common. Today, Burk Parsons helps us understand the biblical response to this question.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Joining us this week on the Ask Ligonier podcast is Ligonier's chief editorial officer and the senior pastor of Saint Andrew's Chapel, Dr. Burk Parsons. Dr. Parsons, should a Christian attend an LGBTQ wedding?

DR. BURK PARSONS: This is a question that comes up a lot and has come up a lot over the past really ten, twenty years. For me as a pastor, parents and grandparents asking this question: “Should I attend my daughter’s or son’s or granddaughter’s or grandson’s wedding or marriage or union, being that they’re homosexual or they identify as transgender?”

And over the years, as members have come to me from our church, it’s a heartbreaking situation for them. They are filled often with grief and sadness and praying for their children, their grandchildren, their loved ones. It’s a question that most Christians have had to face in recent years. And if we haven’t faced it, it’s certainly a question that we are going to face with someone that we love and care for, even a child or a grandchild, perhaps even a father or mother, perhaps. And so, it is a question that we hear in a question that, thankfully, the Bible answers clearly for us.

I know there are some who think that this question is a question of Christian conscience and that Christians can make different decisions based on different situations and based on their own conscience. However, the Bible doesn’t place this question in the area or the realm of conscience. It does that with many issues in our lives where there is freedom of conscience. We see in Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 10, where the Apostle Paul is not dealing with a thing that is in and of itself inherently sinful. There are matters of conscience where Christians can make different decisions, where we can discern different things in different ways. But this question is clearly answered in Scripture, and not just in one place or another; it really is the whole of Scripture from which we get our answer.

Perhaps a passage that is most poignant in helping us to answer this question is what we read from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5. And it’s really beautiful because Paul has been teaching the Ephesians about grace, and faith, and the nature of good works and how we can bear fruit in our lives as Christians. And then, through a good portion of Ephesians, he helps them to understand the practical outworking of the principles of our faith—the outworking of a gospel and the outworking of our salvation, and how we as Christians in our society, which in many ways is very similar to the culture that the Ephesian Christians found themselves in, a corrupt culture where the early Christians had to decline the attendance, or the celebration, or even being associated with so much of the pagan culture that was around them, and the Christians were persecuted for it. We see even John the Baptist, who would not countenance an illegitimate marriage, who was eventually beheaded for it. Christians lost jobs. They lost money because they would not take part in that which was clearly an undeniably heinous sin before God.

And in Ephesians 5, Paul tells the Ephesian Christians, and God instructs us, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1). This is to define the whole of the Christian life, that we are to strive to imitate God, and that is the teaching of Scripture: “Be holy because I’m holy.” This is something that God iterates throughout the Old Testament, something Paul reiterates in the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 6. This is the teaching of Scripture, that we are to be imitators of God, and we are only to countenance that which honors God and glorifies God because God is holy. And I love what Paul says next.

In instructing the Ephesians in how to live their Christian lives in a culture that is filled with abominations and sinfulness and that which is an affront to God and His character, Paul says, “And walk in love” (Eph. 5:2), because we as Christians are to be a people who are defined by love because our God is defined by love, because our God is not only a holy God and a consuming fire, but He is a God who is love. He characterizes, defines love.

And our love for one another is to mirror the love of Jesus Christ, as Jesus said in John 13:35: “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Our love for one another is the greatest apologetic to the watching world. And it’s not just our love for one another, but as Jesus teaches in the Sermon of the Mount, as we see throughout the New Testament: we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. And that means even loving our enemies. It means loving those who are persecuting us, those who hate us, those who think we’re judgmental, those who think that we in our differences with them and our ethics and principles as Christians—even when they call us names like dogmatic and unloving and unkind and uncharitable or pharisaical, if they know biblical language, or just judgmental. Well, Jesus said that all that would happen. They will revile us as they reviled the prophets before us.

And throughout Ephesians 5, Paul explains to the Ephesians how they’re to live their lives and how they’re to work out the Christian principles and ethics in all of life. And what’s interesting is that in verse 10 of Ephesians 5, Paul writes, “And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” So, we understand that as we strive to make decisions on conscience in matters of what we should do or not do, or what we should attend or not attend, there are certain areas in life where we need to discern from Scripture, from wise, older, experienced fathers and mothers and sisters in the faith.

But then Paul says something fascinating. Just after he says we need to strive to discern what is pleasing to the Lord, He wants to make it clear that there are certain matters that we don’t need to worry about trying to discern because certain matters are clearly wrong, sinful, and evil. And so, in the very next verse, in verse 11, Paul writes, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness.” The language there is, “Have no fellowship, have no association with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” And the language of “expose” is to rebuke it. Now, that’s pretty strong language, but again, this is the language of Scripture. We are not to have any part in the unfruitful works of darkness. And when it comes to an LGBTQ wedding—and I could also just throw in there a number of other events and other occasions and other things that are the unfruitful works of darkness—we as Christians are to have no part. We’re to have no fellowship and no association with that, because some people want to say: “Well, what if our loved one or our family member going to be ‘married’ or there’s going to be a ‘wedding ceremony’ or a union,”—whatever it’s called is really secondary—“What if we make known to our loved one that we disagree with their union, that we disagree with their lifestyle? What if we make it clear to them that according to our faith and according to the standard of the unchanging and authoritative Word of God, we disagree with them? Can we not then attend the wedding or ‘marriage’ or the union?”

And the answer is no, because it’s secondary whether we are approving of the wedding or secondary if we’re celebrating with them in the wedding—the point is that we are taking part in that which is clearly an unfruitful work of darkness because God established marriage. He defines marriage. And marriage is defined clearly by God in Scripture as that union that God is instituted and ordained between one man and one woman.

And so, to attend a union, or “marriage,” or wedding, or whatever it is, is to take part, to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. And we as Christians must lovingly, compassionately speak the truth and speak the truth in love because, as Jesus came in grace and truth, full of grace and truth, we as Christians are to be the most loving, gracious, kind, and charitable people that our unbelieving friends and family members know—whether they are unbelievers, whether they are taking part in an unbiblical divorce, whether they are in one sin or another, or whether they are in a relationship, in a sin that is contrary to nature, such as homosexual sin. No matter who they are, we are to be the most loving people they know.

And yes, it is true that Jesus ate and drank with sinners, but because He was a true friend, He called those friends to repent and believe, and He would in no way ever take part, have fellowship with their unfruitful works of darkness.