Hey Clay

Letter No. 5: Should I Attend My Gay Friend’s Wedding?

Hey, Clay,

I’m a 62-year-old heterosexual male who grew up in the South with all the beauty and values southern living afforded. It wasn’t exactly a “Gone with the Wind” existence, but there were clear lines drawn between accepted and unaccepted behavior and right and wrong. Most of those distinctions were moral ones I learned according to a Christian upbringing which I needed to operate successfully in society, but when it came to Blacks and gays, there was an inherent and practiced prejudice taught by society and not by the Bible. I have spent most of my adult life discarding or un-learning the negative, racist ideas instilled in me from a young age. however, some of those beliefs still are attached to my core and may stay until I am gone from this life.

Along the way, I have met many exceptional people instrumental in changing the way I view other human beings, for the better I may add; many of them in some minority groups I was taught to shun as a child.  One of these is a successful, gay businessman, who has gained my respect for both his business prowess and ability to thrive in a hostile environment.  We have become friends.

Now the question: should I attend his wedding?  Please read on.

With the change in the laws of the state of Florida and in our country, he is about to celebrate a marriage to his long-time partner.  I have been given an invitation and this would be my first gay wedding. I suspect, if I go, I will be somewhat uncomfortable due to my elemental belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I am not concerned about my discomfort. I am concerned that any discomfort I bring to the event will be sensed by my friend, and this day is about him.  I do not wish to make him or his spouse uncomfortable. Your views please.

Just a Regular Guy

Hey, Just a Regular Guy.

When I hear stories of people expanding their worldview to include others who look, live, or love differently from themselves it makes my heart smile for two reasons—

  1. Acceptance lessens the impact of personal or societal prejudice and
  2. An inclusive worldview makes room for others at the table

We’ve all inherited beliefs—good and bad—and held on to them for a while because we didn’t know better. For example, most children in our culture are raised to believe in Santa Claus, but at a certain point that closely held belief is modified to encompass a larger worldview. As we grown older, hopefully we gain insight and wisdom into the world, others, and ourselves in it. The result is our view of the world enlarges and becomes less us versus them and becomes more “we.”

Despite the fact that your gay friend knows of your Christian beliefs he has invited you to his wedding. This simple gesture is a testament to your relationship as friends, in that neither of you has used your faith or sexuality as a cause célèbre or a weapon with which to beat the other into submission. So … obviously your friend values your friendship enough to invite you to his wedding, difference in sexual orientation and definitions of marriage notwithstanding. And since your friend is a successful businessman, we can assume that he has a variety friends in several social circles; both straight and gay. Rest assured, you won’t be the only straight guy in attendance.

JRG, you give a too much credence to the notion that your uneasiness will spoil the day. If you’re anticipating unmanageable uneasiness during the ceremony, chances are you will experience it. If you’re the type of guy who has a history of demonstrative displays of anxiety (bursting into blind fits of rage, vomiting, cold sweats, et cetera) in novel situations, I strongly recommend that you not attend your friend’s wedding or any other public event where your behavior might be disruptive for fear of being physically removed from the premises.

But I’m willing to bet that’s not you at all.

Ultimately, you see attending a gay wedding as a conflict between your Christian faith and your friend’s sexuality. Let me offer a different point of view: what if this is an opportunity for you to grow your faith?

I’m no theologian by any stretch of the imagination, but as I understand it, Christ turned rabbinical law on its head with his words and actions; the least of which included having meals and hanging out with those their society viewed as outside the approved Jewish mainstream. Christ made room at his table for not only them, but the Gentiles, and even the Jews’ Roman oppressors.

Christ’s teachings are summed up two commands: to love God and to love one another as he loves us, despite our flaws and foibles. In following his example, we are called to indiscriminately extend that same love to everyone, not just in words but also in deeds. Christians are to spread the good news of the Gospel, not determine who merits an invitation to wedding feast.

Should you as a straight Christian male attend your gay friend’s wedding? This is a loaded question as “should” implies correctness, duty, or obligation. But here’s my take on it—

Would it be correct of you to attend your friend’s wedding? In the environment you grew up in, definitely not. That myopic viewpoint makes no allowance for the tolerance of otherness. In the realm of friendship; yes, of course. Your attendance would not be a renunciation of your faith.

Do you have a duty to attend your friend’s wedding? Some would say yes, as a friend it is your duty to RSVP yes, and others would say no. It all depends on if your friendship transcends your faith and his sexuality.

Do you have an obligation to attend your friend’s wedding? From a secular point of view, you are under no compulsion to attend the wedding. Given the charge to live out Christ’s love, not only should you show up, but you should bring a fetching plus one along with a memorable wedding gift. And in doing so, you demonstrate that you are one of Christ’s disciples.

Besides, gays throw fabulous parties.

Continue walking in faith,

If you have a situation that you’re currently dealing with that you’d like me to address, send an email (with a clever pen name instead of your real name) to me at heyclay@clayrivers.com, and tell me all about it. I’ll read through the submissions, pick one, and on Thursdays I’ll post the chosen letter along with my response here on my blog, my Facebook author page, and my Twitter account. Rest assured, I will not publish email addresses. Ever.

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2 thoughts on “Letter No. 5: Should I Attend My Gay Friend’s Wedding?”

  1. mlfedde says:

    “Fabulous parties,” love it! 🙂

  2. Cindy says:

    nailed it!

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