Sermon for Sunday Evening, February 11th, 2024 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Hebrews 13:4a – “Let Marriage be held in honor among all.”
This is another sermon in a series on “Living in these times.” So I’ll be looking at particular issues that we must deal with in these times. And we’ll be looking at Biblical answers to the problems that face us. This evening, we look at the subject of “Attending Weddings.” Specifically, I’ll address that question “Should I attend the wedding of my son/daughter/nephew/niece/friend /etc. who is marrying outside of the Biblical norm and rule? If you’ve been invited to a wedding of a man and another man, or a woman and another woman, or any countless number of situations, anything outside of the Biblical rule of marriage as one man and one woman … should you attend?
The answer, to be upfront, is a clear NO. You should not attend. But why exactly is that so? And how can we love our neighbor even though we can’t in good conscience or in good Biblical truth go to their wedding?
I. In the News
In recent weeks there has been a storm of writing over the comments made by the minister Alistair Begg on his call-in radio show. Begg is a Scottish-born man who has preached in Cleveland OH for decades and is a well-known Christian minister. He has been generally well-liked and considered orthodox in his theology.
However, his recent comments have rightfully brought down upon him great criticism from many Christians.
I want to read a transcript of exactly what Begg said.
I know that we field questions all the time that go along the lines of, ‘my grandson is about to be married to a transgender person and I don’t know what to do about this and I’m calling to ask you to tell me what to do.’
Which is a huge responsibility… A conversation like that just a few days ago. And people may not like this answer but I asked the grandmother]:
‘Does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus?’
“Yes.” “Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life?”
I said, “Well then, okay. As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.”
“Oh,” she said, “what?” She was caught off guard.
I said, “Well, here’s the thing: your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, ‘These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.’”
For these comments, Begg and his program “Truth for Life” have been taken off of American Family Radio, and Begg has been removed from the list of speakers at an upcoming conference to be held at John MacArthur’s church.
American Family Radio publicly responded to the matter saying:
“We believe it to be an act of unfaithfulness to God to attend a ceremony that celebrates any union outside of the biblical model of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Members of our leadership team held a call with Alistair Begg’s team and were unsuccessful in convincing them of his error. As a result of this, we will no longer air Pastor Alistair Begg’s Truth for Life program.”
Various others have likewise pointed out the error and have tried to reason with Begg to convince him to repent.
But, unfortunately, Begg has doubled down and even tripled down on his answer.
One rebuttal Begg gave is as follows:
“My response to one grandmother whom I have never met was not in any way a blanket recommendation to all Christians to attend LGBTQ weddings.”
But this really misses the point. The advice is bad advice for ANY Christian.
But the intent of the sermon today is not primarily to address Alistair Begg. We use that just as a segue into the Biblical direction on the subject of “Attending Weddings.”
I. Marriage is to be only between one man and one woman.
First, it is important to look at what marriage is Biblical.
It is a covenant between one man and one woman. That’s it. There can be no additions or subtractions to that definition.
Here are some of the Biblical passages that bring us to that conclusion:
There is the basic foundation in Genesis:
[Gen 2:24 ESV] 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Jesus quotes from that passage and reaffirms it in the Gospel of Matthew when he says:
[Mat 19:4-6 ESV] “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
And Paul assumes the truth of “one man and one woman marriage” when he says:
[Eph 5:33 ESV] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
All singular. His wife. Her husband.
There are also a number of passages where a wedding is spoken of; in every case there is only 1 bridegroom and 1 bride.
[Isa 62:5 ESV] 5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
[Jhn 3:29a ESV] 29a The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.
So marriage is to be between one man and one woman.
What is our conclusion then in regards to all other wedding ceremonies that don’t fit this criteria?
II. All others supposed marriages are in fact not marriages.
The conclusion is that all other supposed marriages are in fact NOT marriages.
Therefore the “wedding” brought to Alistair Begg’s attentions is not a wedding at all. It is a parody. It looks like a wedding, but it isn’t one.
We have a picture of this church in 1935 with the kids outside on the steps and they are all dressed up. It is a Tom Thumb wedding. A parody of a wedding. And they KNEW it was a parody of a wedding. The boys dressed in suits, the girls in dresses. And it would have never crossed the minds of the people then that a wedding was anything but one man and one woman.
But today we are supposed to pretend that these other ceremonies are actual weddings. Hogwash. Nonsense. It is a parody. It pretends to be something that it is not. And the sad thing is that the people (both those in the ceremony and those watching) are so confused, so twisted in their minds, that they buy into it. They even say it would be unloving not to buy into it.
But this isn’t love.
III. Love abide with truth. It is not loving to buy into lies.
Love abides with truth. It is not loving to buy into lies.
The great Christian book title that came out a few yeas ago is “Live not by lies.” That title is sufficient in itself to get the book’s message across. On whatever subject that comes up in our time, we should remember that line, “Live Not By Lies.” Economic lies, Moral lies, Gender lies, Scientific lies, Political lies, Military lies. You can’t live by these.
And it is one thing to make a mistake, to believe something for a while that turns out to be a lie. But it is another thing altogether to promote a lie when you should know better and people have pointed out your mistake.
We should neither accept, promote, sponsor, tolerate, or celebrate lies.
Therefore we should not attend a celebration which celebrates a lies.
What if we did? If you were at a supposed “gay wedding” or “transexual wedding” and the officiant said the tradition line “If anyone sees any reason why these two should not be wed, let them speak now or forever hold their peace” you would have to speak up. I KNOW A REASON!
It is like the boy in the “Emperor has no clothes.” A small child could say “I KNOW A REASON.” Isn’t it obvious. You know what R.C. Sproul used to say, his forever-remembered and oft-repeated line? “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?” So we would have to say at a “wedding,” “I KNOW A REASON, THE BRIDEGROOM IS NOT A MAN! or THE BRIDE IS NOT A WOMAN!, or (and this is coming) THAT’S NOT EVEN A PERSON, ITS A DOG.
So if someone asks you to come to such a “wedding” how would you respond. Well, you have to be nice about these things. But we are New Yorkers, and if they want it straight, you might say “It’s not a wedding.” And you might say “You know that thing about ‘speak up now or forever hold your peace,” I think it would be embarrassing to you if I attended and spoke up. Maybe it is better that I don’t attend.”
The truth is that false marriages are dangerous to the person you love; dangerous both in this life and for the life to come.
While naturally there are debates over the studies and statistics, it is generally thought that the life expectancy of people who consider themselves transgendered is significantly less than the average of the general population. The drugs, the surgeries, and the mental issues associated with this lifestyle are extremely dangerous.
How you could show any sign of celebrating a person’s decision to do this to themselves?
The life expectancy of people who consider themselves homosexual is not quite as bad. It has even improved since the AIDS epidemic has waned.
All of these types of lifestyles, however, fall into that general category of a culture of death. It is not the direct link to death like the pro-abortionists. But it is a medical fact that it takes a man and a woman to produce a child. All other combinations are unable to produce life, unable to propagate the species. It is an attitude that ends in death, not life.
The dangers in this world are nothing compared to the punishments that await in Hell that are to come to those who do not repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Would you attend a wedding of a man and his dog? Or a woman and her cat? Or a wedding of 3 men? Or of 4 women? If by your attendance, you are approving, countenancing, encouraging, or supporting in any way such lies and travesties, then you are contributing the delusions of your friends/relative/neighbor and not loving them in the least. You are allowing them to go down the wrong path; going into the tunnel in which the train is coming head-on.
We are called to love others, and we are to love others by no other standard but the truth of the Bible.
Begg seems to have a concern that this will cause the world to despise us. But that is to be expected. Christians are promised that the world will hate them. This is not a surprise but a badge of honor.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.
V. What Weddings Can We Attend?
To move to a positive response, let’s look at the question “What Weddings Can We Attend?”
You can attend a wedding of unbelievers. Marriage is a creation ordinance.
I think you can attend a wedding even of a person of another religions, so long as participation in the wedding doesn’t require participation in their religious rituals. This would require some discernment of course. You probably don’t want to go to Satanist wedding, or a Wiccan wedding. But you might not have a burden on your conscience if you attend a Catholic or Jewish wedding.
There are many other scenarios that could be brought up, and not all can be answered here. It is, for example, a difficult question as whether you should attend the marriage of a believer with an unbeliever. I can tell you that I would not OFFICIATE that marriage.
We must use discernment.
Then, as for loving others, let’s consider the example of Christ.
Jesus attended a wedding, spoke with woman at the well, and to the tax collectors, and sinners of all sorts. And his message was always the same: repent and sin no more. Never do we see Jesus buying into or approving sinful lifestyles. He doesn’t go to the ceremonies of other religious. He doesn’t worship the Baals or the Astaroths.
Perhaps his approach and ours can be summed up in that old phrase “Be IN the world, but not OF the world.”
Be kind to ALL your neighbors. Be friendly. Invite them to things. Communicate with them. Be there for them. But don’t support their sins. This applies to weddings and much more; even life in general.
VI. “Let Marriage be held in honor among all.”
Well, it would be a shame if I didn’t mention our Scripture text more in this sermon.
Hebrews 13:4a – “Let Marriage be held in honor among all.”
This has broad application.
Don’t commit adultery.
Don’t marry in order to get citizenship.
Don’t marry to appease your parents.
Don’t marry thinking that divorce is the back door out of it.
Rather, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.”
Don’t cheapen it.
Don’t call something marriage that is not marriage. But love others, speaking the truth at all times. Amen. Let us pray.