Monday, August 7, 2017

Your Gay Friend is Getting "Married." What Now?? (Hint: Stop Using Quote-Marks When Describing the Marriage...)

I ran across a blog article called "Decision Time: Your Gay Friend is Getting 'Married'" by Regis Nicoll for Crisis Magazine. The gist of the article was an instruction that you owe it to the Christian faith and to the concept of religious liberty itself to decline any invitation to a wedding, if invited by a gay or lesbian friend, co-worker, or family member.

Nicoll points out that there's no Biblical approved expressed or implied for same-sex marriage. Of course, there's no Biblical objection to same-sex marriage either. But Nicoll believes that it's clear that the lack of expressed approval for same-sex marriage in the Bible means that same-sex couples are forbidden from using the term "marriage" to identify our long-term relationships. And, judging from his liberal use of quote-marks, we're also forbidden from using the terms "committed," or "soul mate," or "wedding."

Nicoll believes that Christians are giving their social and moral validation to gay couples when they attend our weddings. And of course, they really are. Because our marriages and our families are actually socially and morally valid and it's rude to claim otherwise unless you're witnessing bad behavior, such as adultery or abuse or fraud. Nicoll believes that real Christians need to demonstrate their love to their gay friends and relatives by rebuking them and going into all of the reasons for why they are rebuking them.

And if the gay friend doesn't appreciate it? Well, that's his or her problem.

He then added with a bit about WWJD? It turns out that Jesus would make a fuss if invited to the wedding and loudly speak out if/when the wedding officiant asks if anyone objects to the union. That's the implied suggestion for what a Christian should do if he or she actually comes to a gay wedding. Because that won't instantly kill your friendship.

This article was written on August 1st. By the time I read it, over 190 comments had been posted and I wisely chose to ignore the vast majority of them. But I did share a quick response to the article:
You're not a good friend if you put quote-marks around his or her wedding, marriage, or family. Certainly not respectful.
I was quickly asked by one of the commenters if a "good, respectful friend" would also go bar-hopping with an alcoholic friend if he really wanted to do that, which prompted this response by me:
Passive-aggressive claptrap. Your hypothetical friend cares enough about you to invite you to one of the most important days in her or his life and the OP is too busy figuring out how to shit on his wedding and then blame him or her for being upset by the negative response. Newsflash: Unless you're a close relative to this person, you will kill the friendship by attacking the wedding, the marriage, or the spouse. Or by comparing the wedding to an alcoholic binge. Even if you're a close relative, you risk ruining the relationship. Maybe you don't care. But you really should attend the wedding, or politely bow out of the wedding without attacking the marriage.
The concerned commenter then pointed out to me that he was actually placed in this position by a gay relative when he announced his own engagement to another man: "I have far, far too much respect for myself and for my deluded relative to feed his hallucination; thus my simple, polite declination. ...but for an actual Christian, not to mention for anyone with a modicum of intellectual honesty, there is simply no choice other than to admit to the sham using quote marks when referring to it. If a refusal to indulge the lie by doing otherwise is upsetting, then that's a symptom of the potent narcissism that attends to the offended."

Anyway, this went around for a couple of circles. I pointed out that it's not the decision to bow out of a gay wedding that's problematic. It's the need by some to "rebuke" the couple and their decision to gay married that's problematic. It's the insistence that the relative is delusional or indulging in a lie. It's the need to make pointed quote marks over anything that signifies anything connected to the same-sex relationship. There is no respect. So it's disingenuous to even pretend that one is actually a friend to the LGBT person in question.

So why not just send an RSVP stating that you can't come to the wedding and leave it at that?

But of course, the Christian commenters in question claim that they are the ones being disrespected by being invited to the wedding in the first place.

Anyway, I wrote a blog article many years about about how to decline a gay wedding invitation. These were the suggestions back in 2011, and they pretty much hold true today:
1. Speak to a religious leader about your faith's position on attending a same-sex wedding. If you need to, anyway. Maybe you're one of those people who needs to consult her pastor or priest in order to build up your resolve. If so, more power to you. 
2. Appreciate your friend or family member's wish to include you in an important life event. Gay and lesbian couples already know that people look down on our marriages and families. You might not respect or value our families, but that doesn't mean that our marriages and families aren't precious and valuable to us. You were honored with a wedding invitation. Be mindful of that before you send out a pile of Chick Tracks to the blushing brides. 
3. Consider attending the wedding despite your personal beliefs. Ask yourself this: Would you decline a wedding invitation for any other reason? You can attend a wedding, eat some cake, and dance a little jig without fully endorsing the wedding. In theory, at least. 
4. Decline the invitation without citing a reason. Why not send them a card wishing them well? I invited people to my wedding with the idea that they very well couldn't (or wouldn't) attend the wedding. For one thing, the wedding was set in early January. I have family who couldn't attend due to icy roads. I have friends who couldn't attend due to other obligations. And it's very possible that there were some people who couldn't attend because they object to gay weddings. Fortunately, if that's the case, they were tactful about the matter.
Ultimately, don't use your refusal to attend the wedding as an excuse to preach or lecture to your friend or family member. Be polite. And don't deflect your boorish behavior onto the supposed friend who thought enough of your to invite you to his wedding.

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