Q: Should I attend a same-sex wedding of a relative?
A: Your question is undoubtedly one that may arise more frequently in the days to come. At the heart of the question is more than a query about our beliefs regarding the issues related to human sexuality. For example, our Manual states:
Homosexuality is one means by which human sexuality is perverted. We recognize the depth of the perversion that leads to homosexual acts but affirm the biblical position that such acts are sinful and subject to the wrath of God. We believe the grace of God sufficient to overcome the practice of homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We deplore any action or statement that would seem to imply compatibility between Christian morality and the practice of homosexuality. We urge clear preaching and teaching concerning Bible standards of sexual morality (2009-2013 Manual of the Church of the Nazarene).
Additionally, we have this official statement:
"The Church of the Nazarene believes that every man or woman should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual orientation. However, we continue to firmly hold the position that the homosexual lifestyle is sinful and is contrary to the Scriptures.
We further wish to reemphasize our call to Nazarenes around the globe to recommit themselves to a life of holiness, characterized by holy love and expressed through the most rigorous and consistent lifestyle of sexual purity. We stand firmly on the belief that the biblical concept of marriage, always between one man and one woman in a committed, lifelong relationship, is the only relationship within which the gift of sexual intimacy is properly expressed." —Board of General Superintendents (2011)
While this question is enormously complicated, there seems to be a consensus that emerges from our passionate pursuit of Christlikeness that can guide us in these kinds of situations. To quote: "The Church of the Nazarene believes that every man or woman should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual orientation."
Having said all of this, I would not attend the event. However, the answer to your question requires prayerful consideration as well as the Lord's wisdom. The Holy Spirit was given to us so that we might receive his counsel, guidance, and remembrance of all that Jesus taught.
Without belaboring the point, we can responsibly infer that Jesus understood marriage as a divine institution between a man and a woman. To acknowledge marriage as any other arrangement seems contradictory to the Scriptures and to the witness of our Lord. For me, my presence might be seen as an endorsement of an increasingly invasive heresy that is affecting the Christian Church.
I believe the Holy Spirit will assist you as you make your decision. As Nazarenes, we have always been guided in the following ways:
- Scripture is our authority.
- The tradition of the Church can illuminate our way.
- Reason, illuminated by the Word and the Holy Spirit, helps us think through options.
- Experience, comparing similar situations, can heighten our awareness of what is appropriate.
Grace and peace to you as you discover the Spirit's leading in this situation.
David J. Felter is editor in chief of Holiness Today and general editor for the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, September/October 2011