This week I asked someone, “Imagine that same sex ‘marriage’ was approved in Australia and a workmate invited you to his ‘same-sex marriage ceremony’, would you attend?”
I asked that question because recently in the US a past President, the older George Bush and his wife, Barbara, attended the ‘marriage’ of two women. He was criticised by many people for doing that. What had made his attendance somewhat more controversial was his claim that he had not attended as past President of the US but simply as a private citizen. That sounds good until you discover that that one partner in this relationship is on record as saying that she thought it wonderful that her ‘marriage’ had been affirmed by non-less than a past President of the US. So was he there as a private citizen or as a past President? I guess that Uncle George has discovered that it’s not so easy to separate one’s public persona from one’s private identity.
But that’s not the real issue. The real issue is whether we ought to support such an event by our presence or whether we ought to stay away, realising that by our attendance we are not merely condoning ‘same-sex marriage’ but actually approving of it.
This is a tough call because it means balancing love and truth. On the one hand care, concern and compassion for a friend, on the other hand faithfulness to the Biblical teaching about marriage.
This is a tough call and it has been made more difficult by the fact that Christians are not agreed on this matter. I’ll hazard a guess that most Christians (certainly most evangelical Christians) are opposed to same-gender relationships being united in holy matrimony. However, some Christians are supportive.
Last Thursday evening, on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, there was a segment about an Anglican clergyman who was also presented as a stand-up comedian. This man spoke out in favour of redefining marriage. He wanted to be inclusive and argued that this was a matter of justice and of accepting that these people too had rights. His view put all the emphasis on love and acceptance but it failed when it came to truth. The Bible is unambiguous when it comes to a definition of marriage. It is also unambiguous in declaring that a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God’s will. It just will not do either to argue, as some do, that Jesus never condemned homosexual relationships. That’s playing Scripture off against Scripture.
So in these situations how does a Christian balance truth and love?
Some years ago a friend told me about her visit to a son who lives overseas. This man lives in a homosexual relationship. She made clear that she has not rejected her son. She visits him regularly. But she also made clear that she does not approve of his lifestyle so when she visits she stays in a hotel and does not enter the house where her son lives with his male partner. Instead they do some outings together and have meals together at various restaurants. In this way this woman balances love and truth.
Another family I know have a daughter living interstate in a lesbian relationship. This daughter occasionally comes back to visit her parents but they have told her that she is not welcome to bring her partner. They have pointed out to her that this is not because they dislike that woman – it’s just that they don’t approve of their lifestyle.
So, let’s come back to the question. If you got an invitation to such a ceremony, would you go?