Weddings: Should I Attend?

Weddings: Should I Attend?

Weddings: Should I Attend?

Richard Hollerman

Years ago in America such a question would not be asked. But we are living in a new day with new relationships and new issues. Today, we are faced with decisions that our parents and grandparents would not have faced.

Here are some of the questions that might come to mind in our day:

  • Should I attend a relative’s “wedding” if he (or she) is a homosexual?
  • Should I attend a friend’s wedding if he (or she) is entering an adulterous union?
  • Should I attend an acquaintance’s wedding if it is being held in a Protestant, Catholic, Muslim meeting place or other location?
  • Should I attend a wedding in which a saved person is marrying an unsaved person?
  • Should I attend a wedding for friends who have been living in fornication for a length of time before the wedding?

Although these are unusual questions, surely there are numerous times when we must ask such questions. In other lands where Christianity is not part of their culture or if it has never been practiced, probably these questions come quite frequently.

The questions should be asked

In our day when “anything goes,” we may think that such questions are unworthy of answering. We just assume that everything is fine and participate even when we may not agree with aspects of the culture.

God wants us to have answers

Surely our God doesn’t want us to just assume that we can do anything with His blessing. Many aspects of our culture are faulty and some are totally wrong, immoral, and evil in the eyes of God. He is the One we seek to please and not people. Remember that Paul asked, “Am I now seeing the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4).

We must not assume that everything is permissible

When most of those around us just assume that God is not interested in our lives, we must be different. We must realize that certain beliefs, words, and deeds are wrong and must be rejected. Since God “will render to each person according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6), we must make sure that those deeds are right, pure, and good.

Weddings: Should I Attend?

What would God want us to do about the issues raised at the beginning?

  • Should I attend a relative’s “wedding” if he (or she) is a homosexual?

This question would not have been asked only a few years ago since no one thought that two sodomites could be “married” at all. They would know that such a union is sexually immoral and an abomination to God. Even society would not have thought of calling such a union a “marriage” with the benefits of a “wedding.” However, America has now legalized homosexual “marriages”—although such an immoral relationship can’t really be called a genuine “marriage.” Some European countries and a few others also allow for these unions to be called “marriages.”

Since this sort of arrangement is grossly wrong and immoral, the Christian will have little doubt about the need to avoid a “wedding” in which two sodomites are united by some legal ceremony. As Paul pointed out, this relationship involves “degrading passions” and is “unnatural” (Romans 1:26). It involves “indecent acts” and is in “error” (Romans 1:26-27).Those who would practice this sort of sin cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The Christian surely must avoid attending such a union. If he or she were to attend, it would give an entirely wrong impression—that one would approve of this immoral sexual relationship. But since we don’t want to unnecessarily want to offend others, we should express our love and interest in people who wrongfully enter formal homosexual relationships.

  • Should I attend a friend’s wedding if he (or she) is entering an adulterous union?

For the past 100 to 200 years, the views of people in the United States have been turned upside down. At one time, divorce (and subsequent remarriage) was nearly unheard of. Even secular society thought of this as being sinful and wrong, thus the culture served to promote Christian morality and family relationships.

For the past 50 to 80 years, the “door” has swung wide to allow people to divorce and remarry. Especially since “no fault” divorce became the norm, married people came to accept this “easy divorce” and went on to enter second marriages. As the decades went by and marriage partners became less concerned about “church rules” or “church standards,” they simply assumed that remarriage was their inherent “right”—thus millions of Americans are now in second (and third!) remarriages. This is true in certain other countries of the world.

The problem with this is that Jesus our Lord declared, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9; cf. 5:31-32; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3). Therefore, generally those who divorce their mates and remarry are guilty of adultery. And they will continue in an adulterous remarriage relationship as long as they remain in this illegitimate relationship.

Should the Christian attend a wedding for two people who are entering an adulterous union (since one or both divorced for grounds other than sexual immorality)? Surely the Christian should refuse to be involved in any way with such a relationship. He should not attend—and he should not provide food, take photographs, give gifts, or do anything that would promote this sexually immoral relationship. However, since the Christian loves all people—including adulterers—he or she will want to do everything possible to convey this love to those who are sinfully entering into a sinful relationship like this.

  • Should I attend an acquaintance’s wedding if it is being held in a Protestant, Catholic, Muslim meeting place, or another similar location?

Probably most of us know that God didn’t prescribe a set pattern for a wedding ceremony. There are no set rules, no instructions on who would supervise, or no words that must be spoken to solemnize the union. It would seem that God has allowed people to decide such things for themselves, providing they do all things according to Biblical principles.

We acknowledge that there would be many, many negatives involved in the typical marriage ceremony as held in a Protestant Church, a Catholic Church, or a religious observance supervised by various of the world religions. But we also notice that two non-Christians can legitimately marry. No, they are not in God’s will. No, they are unsaved. No, they do violate various Biblical instructions, but God does recognize the union. How do we know this? If a union like this can be violated by adultery, they the partners must be married in the sight of God (cf. Mark 10:11-12; Romans 7:2-3). Marriage is not a Christian ordinance but a Creation institution (cf. Genesis 2:18, 24).

If a true marriage takes place, we suggest that it would be permissible for a Christian to attend such a marriage. Probably there would be great disappointment as the Christian thinks of what God would want in such a union. Further, the Christian may conclude that the union is quite foolish. Many of the elements of the ceremony and celebration might be sinful—the clothing used, the religious leaders involved, the setting, the activities at the reception. But still we believe that an actual marriage takes place. If this is so, perhaps the Christian could attend such a marriage, without guilt. However, the Christian may want to be prepared to leave if the elements of the event become very offensive and wrong.

  • Should I attend a wedding in which a saved person is marrying an unsaved person?

The Scriptures are quite clear that a Christian widow is “free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). If a Christian widow must only marry a fellow-Christian, it would seem only right that any Christian man or woman should only marry “in the Lord” as well. We are not to be “bound together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14; cf. vv. 14-18). If a Christian is already married to an unbeliever, he or she should remain in such a union (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:10-16; 1 Peter 3:1ff), but it would be wrong for a Christian to marry a person whom he or she knows is unsaved.

This is only logical since a marriage is the most intimate of human relationships. God joins two people together and they become “one flesh” (Matthew 19:4-6). Does it not seem that it would not only be foolish but also wrong for a Christian to marry a non-Christian? How can a Christian who is indwelt by the Spirit of God be joined with a partner who is indwelt by Satan (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18)? How can a faithful child of God marry someone with whom he or she cannot even pray (Proverbs 15:29; 1 Peter 3:12)? How can a Christian become united with someone who is going a different direction in life than the believer?

For this reason, if a Christian were to attend a wedding of this nature, he would be giving his “stamp of approval” on the union. Further, if a disobedient “Christian” (?) does want to marry a non-Christian, that person should have Christian fellowship removed and should be excluded from the fellowship of saints (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-13)—until he or she repents of choosing this relationship. Thus, we believe that the Christian should avoid this sort of wedding.

  • Should I attend a wedding for friends who have been living in fornication for a length of time before the wedding?

This is a difficult question and there is no easy answer. We know that living in fornication is sinful and will condemn a person (cf. Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:3-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). Further, we realize that over half of American couples have “lived together” in sexual fornication before they are married. What shall we do in such a case? Do we refuse to go to the eventual wedding of these fornicators? Remember, this would be only those who have “lived together” (formerly called “shacking up”) but what of those who have committed fornication but not lived together?

Some may choose not to go to these weddings and perhaps only go to Christian weddings. Others may only go to “church” weddings, however statistics tell us that many “church” young people also commit the sin of fornication. Shall we not go to any of these weddings?

Our thought is that it might be permissible for a Christian to go to such a wedding. In many cases, we may not even know the private life of these people—whether they have been fornicators or not. And then there are those who have done all sorts of sexual things but pride themselves in not having “crossed the line” and committed literal fornication. Our idea is that the Christian may be able to exert an influence on those who are marrying and their families—and on the invited guests. We can approve and endorse the marriage of people who do state that they want to live their lives together. Of course, we are not referring to anyone who has married before and the wedding would celebrate an adulterous remarriage. We have already referred to this earlier.

Use Wisdom and Discernment

We are living in unusual times but perhaps this should not be unexpected. Culture does seem to do downward, with immorality increasing and many other sins growing. We might also remind ourselves of the fact that the early Christians of the first century had to encounter sexual immorality of various kinds. The Gentiles generally allowed and even promoted all sorts of sexual sins—including fornication (think of the fact that idolatry was generally connected to sexual activity), adultery (some Gentiles boasted of the many different partners they had), and even homosexuality (the Greeks were known to promote this although the Romans were less inclined to allow this perversion).

As for the Jews, it is true that premarital sex was strongly prohibited and punishments were given to violators of strict purity. However, people would often be in a second marriage, a relationship that Jesus and the apostles would recognize as adultery (Mark 10:11-12; Romans 7:2-3; Luke 16:18).

In all of our activities and relationships, let true Christians remain pure and clean and refuse to allow the world to influence us toward accepting the compromises of sinful society around us (Romans 12:1-2; James 1:27; 4:4). As followers of the Lord Jesus, we do have the permission to go to some weddings—just as Jesus Himself did in Cana (John 2:1-11). But let us be discerning with God’s help so that we might only do that which is right, moral, and good and avoid that which is wrong, immoral, and evil. Let us seek God’s help in this difficult issue.

Note: We know that aspects of this question might be controversial. If you have any opinions that you would like to express, let us know.

 

 

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