Interesting little piece by Al Mohler on the question of whether Christians ought to attend, let alone participate, in “gay weddings”.

Former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara attended a wedding a few days ago, and it made national news. According to The Washington Post, the elder Bushes attended the wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, held at Kennebunkport, Maine. The two lesbians, co-owners of a general store in neighboring Kennebunk, were married in an outdoor celebration attended by family and friends. The 41st President of the United States was present, along with the former First Lady. Bonnie Clement told The Washington Post, “Who would be best to acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world? When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgement of being ‘real and normal.’”

As it turns out, President Bush did not merely attend the wedding. He also served as an official witness, signing the legal documents for the ceremony and the Maine wedding license. Under a photograph with the former president the couple added the words, “Getting our marriage license witnessed!”

The news coverage of the Bushes’ attendance at the same-sex wedding points to a reality that must be understood—and fast. Attendance at a wedding is not a neutral act. The history and context of the wedding ceremony identify all those present as agreeing to the rightness of the marriage and acting as witnesses to the exchange of vows. This is why the venerable language of The Book of Common Prayer, used in the overwhelming majority of Christian weddings, calls upon anyone with knowledge that the proposed union is invalid to speak, “or forever hold his peace.” Anyone remaining silent at that point is affirming the rightness and validity of the marriage, and all who are present are counted as both witnesses and those who celebrate the union.

Indeed. Mohler’s reference to the Book of Common Prayer Wedding Service (“Solemnization of Matrimony“) deserves just a moment more consideration. Not only is attendance presumed to signal consent, but in the introduction that the minister reads out we also hear this,

…holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence

“Adorned and beautified with his presence”. Jesus’ presence at a wedding in Cana of Galilee was an express endorsement by his authority of the institution before Him. So it is with us. Tough call. Mohler again…

No one said this was going to be easy, and this is hardly the end of the predicaments and perplexities that will challenge Christians who stand on biblical teaching in the days ahead. This is one question, however, that Christians had better think through fast. A wedding invitation might soon be headed your way.

May God grant us the grace to handle this one well. It’s coming.

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5 comments on “Attending IS Affirming

  1. It is indeed a hard thing to think of, especially if you have friends who are same-sex oriented who want to express this.
    Whilst I am not in that boat, I do have a similar issue which I am currently wrestling with. My father and mother divorced, in effect, because my father has felt, for some time, that my mother has mental health problems that she wasn’t getting treated (or perhaps treated properly, either way it’s too complex to go into details) which were causing a strain on their marriage. This finally led to my father refusing to go to marriage counselling at the request of my mother and so she felt that the only way forwards was for them to divorce. Whilst she was the instigator of the legal process, my father was at the very least equally to blame for it happening. Since they got divorced, by dad has met someone else, who is currently going through her own very messy divorce (not her fault, but it is taking it’s time). When she eventually gets divorced, there is the very real possibility that they will get married, thus my father will be committing adultery as a result of the marriage. If I were to be a part of this wedding, or even attend, am I affirming this behaviour or am I merely being supportive of the fact that my father has chosen to spend the rest of his life with someone after the breakdown of his marriage to my mother?
    Whether my situation or anyone who is in the situation outlined in the post, it is in no way an easy call and one that I pray very few have to ever make!

    • Hi James.

      It’s a fair question. My situation was a peculiar one and I think it’s clear to everyone involved that my attendance certainly didn’t communicate approval.
      Call it a special one-off outside the scope of what Mohler discussed and which in general I agree with.

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