As founder and host of the "New Life Live" radio program, one of the more frequent questions I'm asked on air is whether or not it's a good idea for a conservative Christian to attend a same-sex marriage ceremony. The desire for most who call is to show support for the friend or family member, while not wanting to appear to advocate same-sex marriage.
It's a bit of a tricky question for many people and we usually get a critical comment or two on our answer. We emphasize that just because we don't agree with a large portion of the evangelical Christian community, does not make us heretics. It just means we differ on a very tough issue.
I think there are two perspectives in responding to this question, and one pretty good answer. The first perspective is political. Many Christians wish the political scene didn't allow for same-sex marriages because it dismisses the biblical teaching that marriage should be between a man and a woman. They would never want their actions to indicate they don't take this teaching seriously, so attending a same-sex marriage ceremony would be totally out of the question.
The second perspective is a personal one. Even some Christians who would never dream of attending a same-sex marriage ceremony discover that one or more of their children is gay. My father experienced this. He was extremely conservative and discovered my two brothers were gay. Others find themselves in this dilemma because of a dear niece, nephew, child of a friend or associate, or simply a friend. They want to show support, but it feels to them that their attending the ceremony would be putting a stamp of approval on gay marriage -- and that makes them uncomfortable.
When I first looked at this issue I asked what might seem trite to some: "What would Jesus do?" As a Christ follower, the priority would be to follow the example of Christ. The best way to answer what Jesus would do today is to look at what Jesus did 2,000 years ago. One of the most famous stories in the Bible is the story of Jesus turning water into wine (being raised Southern Baptist I was taught it wasn't real wine, but I knew differently). Jesus did this miracle, his very first miracle, at a wedding. It is an interesting parallel to the question at hand.
This wedding must have been one amazing scene, because people drank so much they ran out of wine. And there was Jesus, obviously not worried that his presence or role as instant vintner green-lighted drunkenness. He even went so far as to turn the water into a higher-quality wine than what was first served at the festivities.
Other times in Jesus' life also give us hints at to what he would do today. He did not avoid people who were not following his teachings, he connected with them. He talked to and supported a cohabitating woman at a well -- an absolute scandal for a man of his heritage. He affirmed another woman's effort to wash and dry his feet with expensive oil and her very own hair. And an adulterous woman, about to be stoned, received his protection rather than his condemnation. He chose love and grace rather than appearing "spiritually correct" to those locked and loaded with their rocks.
When I reflect on these examples and the complaints Jesus received for dining with tax-collectors, prostitutes, and drunkards, I have to extrapolate that Jesus would be all for attending a same-sex marriage ceremony. By attending, we are supporting real people who are of tremendous value to God. By attending, we are imitating Christ and allowing his love and grace to flow through us -- rather than worrying what is right and proper in the sight of our religious buddies.