Views & Voices

A gay dad sounds off on Christians debating whether to attend a friend’s same-sex wedding

Catrina Burks is assisted up the steps in Bronson Park before Rev. Nathan Dannison unites her and her wife Marashette Burks in marriage in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Catrina Burks is assisted up the steps in Bronson Park before Rev. Nathan Dannison unites her and her wife Marashette Burks in marriage in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Friday, June 26, 2015. Daytona Niles, AP

Catrina Burks is assisted up the steps in Bronson Park before Rev. Nathan Dannison unites her and her wife Marashette Burks in marriage in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Friday, June 26, 2015.Daytona Niles, AP

Catrina Burks is assisted up the steps in Bronson Park before Rev. Nathan Dannison unites her and her wife Marashette Burks in marriage in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Friday, June 26, 2015.

On the Friday of the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, the news hit like a rainbow colored Tsunami. As I woke up that morning, I got a message from my friend Kevin of Stop-Homophobia. As one of my marriage equality heroes, he was the one from whom I would have wanted to hear the news.

“We won.” I could barely breathe.

That day, for me, and many LGBT people I know, was a awash with shock, awe and wonderment. Everything was coming up dancing rainbows.

Waves are only temporary however, and the tide that thrusts them forward, quickly retreats them. That is what happened the next day. Some heads had exploded, and it was not pretty.

I began to realize that many people who had been long silent in this conversation were now engaged. On Friday, it seemed new participants in the debate woke up, the ones who had apparently been in a political issue coma for the past few years.  Suddenly the anti-gay discussions were not the same ones we had been arguing about last week. It was like we were starting the conversation all over.

I guess that is to be expected. Patiently, I found myself in the old discussions about polygamy, gay pride parades and “sin”. The feeling of astronomical progress now felt like a reversal into retro thinking.  Even if the points were old and worn out, there was something new about the conversations. Rather than exuding homophobia, these seemed to be more from a place of heterosexism.  The opponents were not specifically looking to condemn and demean, but only to assert their own “obvious” superiority.

This tone played out in post after post, tweet after tweet, but it really hit home for me when someone sent me an article titled “Would You Attend a Gay Friend’s Wedding?” by Brian Orme

Mr. Orme presented a theory and then invited discussion: “There are two kinds of Christians in the world today—those who would and those who wouldn’t attend a gay friend’s wedding. So who’s right?”

His treatise was basically that, in his experience of Christianity, Christians might choose to love and not focus on judging the sin of the couple, and attend the wedding to which they had been invited.  Or they might see their own attendance as an “endorsement of sin” and not attend.  So to him, that was the only choice, that, in his words, the Christian guests would either be “humble sinners” or “bold witnesses”.

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Nowhere in his discussion does it dawn on him that maybe, just maybe, the invitation to a couple’s wedding, a day they hold incredibly dear, might be… and is, a privilege.

I have officiated for three couples, facilitating their process into deeply felt and precious life commitments. In each case, we told their story of their lives coming together, their commitment, their evolvement into life changing love. In each case they wrote their own vows, showing their mate and all in attendance feelings, thoughts and desires they had revealed to no one before that moment.

These events were life changing, not just for the couples involved, but for the community that surrounded them. I wanted to respond to Mr. Orme’s discussion therefore, with one of my own.

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