Would You Attend a Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony?
Al Mohler says Joel Osteen's willingness to attend a gay marriage ceremony, but not officiate one, is "theological nonsense" and "ministerial malpractice."

Al Mohler is mopping the floor with Joel Osteen's perfectly quaffed hair. Last week Osteen and his wife were interviewed by CNN's Piers Morgan to promote his new book Every Day A Friday, How To Be Happier 7 Days a Week. (I'm sure the board game will be released in time for Christmas.) During the interview Morgan asked the megachurch pastor about cultural issues like capital punishment, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Osteen's ability to dodge the questions rivaled the slickest politicians.

But that's exactly what annoyed Mohler. Unlike Osteen, Mohler is never reluctant to give a definitive answer (even when none is requested). The Southern Baptist leader took particular offense over Osteen's remarks about same-sex marriage. When asked about his opinion, Osteen said:

"You know, Piers, it really never changes because mine was - mine's based out of the scripture. That's what I believe that the scripture says that - that homosexuality is a sin. So, it - you know, I believed it before and I still believe it now. Again, I would just reiterate what I said, I'm not after - I'm not mad at anybody. I don't dislike anybody. But, you know, you know, respecting my faith and believing, you know, in - in what the scripture says, that's the best way I can interpret it."

But later in the interview Morgan asked if Osteen would ever attend a same-sex marriage ceremony. He answered:

"I'm not going to disrespect somebody that's dear to us and say, you know what, you're not good enough for us or something like that. That's the way that I would see it. Now, I'm not going to just run off and go attend, you know, certain marriages just to make a statement because that's not who I am and that's not what I stand for and, again, I don't look down on those people."

This is what sent Al Mohler into a rant. He sees Osteen's position as totally inconsistent. Mohler believe that attending a same-sex marriage ceremony is the same as celebrating and supporting same-sex marriage. In his column, Mohler writes:

"Joel Osteen sees homosexuality as a sin and same-sex marriage to be contrary to God's will. He cannot perform same-sex marriage ceremonies or endorse same-sex marriage, because he is bound by Scripture. On the other hand, he can attend a same-sex ceremony, if the participants are friends, and thus endorse by his presence the credibility of the ceremony itself and join in the celebration of what he believes, or says he believes, is sin. This is beyond mere incoherence. It is moral and theological nonsense. More than that, it is a massive statement of ministerial malpractice."

Is Al Mohler right? Is attending a same-sex marriage ceremony the same as performing one? Is it ministerial malpractice? What would you do?

And if attending a marriage ceremony is the same as supporting the underlying theology of the union, does that prohibit Christians from attending Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or weddings from other religious traditions? Where is the line?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

October 13, 2011

Displaying 1–10 of 93 comments

karen

February 12, 2013  10:44pm

Not many of these comments have been helpful or thoughtful. My daughter is getting married and we are struggling with this. Maria's point was well taken: I think if the people who invited you are close to you (family member, friend from kindergarten on up, etc.), you really have to weigh it carefully, with full counsel from Holy Spirit. A gay child could cut you from their life for years if you refuse to attend their gay wedding ceremony. And if they're close to you, they KNOW where you stand on the whole thing anyway, so nobody's thinking your attendance is an endorsement of the lifestyle. I do have to say, though, that in the case of someone high-profile, like Joel Osteen, that is a little different. His attendance draws a lot more attention, and carries a lot more weight, by virtue of his celebrity status (like it or not, that's what it boils down to; Osteeen is a very well-known preacher, which makes him a celebrity). I think I'm going to go with this.

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Michael Swan

July 03, 2012  7:34pm

There is a misinterpretation of God love when we use the fact that Jesus hung out with sinners to justify attending a ceremony that openly celebrates a sin as detestable as this. We are all sinners and everyone Jesus came into contact with was a sinner. He never supported our sin, ever. How can a Christian support or celebrate a sinful union? Choosing not to attend does not reflect a lack of love for the people involved, even if they see it that way. It is a reflection of my love for Jesus and what is right according to scripture. It would upset me greatly should my friends allow my decision to not attend affect our relationship; however I am accountable to God. Entire cities were destroyed in part because of this specific sin. Gods Holiness is not to be taken lightly. Using the love of Jesus argument to justify certain actions is unacceptable. He loves us greatly but he also hates sin so much that he flooded the earth. We as Christ followers need to stand up for what is right in and God honouring otherwise our message will lose its flavour. We're so afraid to offend other people that we end up offending God in the process. I was shocked and saddened to see the amount of brothers and sisters who say they would attend such a disgraceful celebration. My love and prayers are with you all. Blessings!

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Rob in Ohio

January 07, 2012  6:50pm

Jesus may have eaten with sinners, but he wasn't endorsing their sin. It's not as if he told them "Hey, I think it's cool what you guys do. I endorse your sin. Go and freely live your lives of sin". He wouldn't have attended a same-sex marriage and then simply clapped his hands in celebration of their union, joyfully telling them "Go in peace, knowing I accept your union as holy". He would have said "Repent".

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WoodyYork

January 06, 2012  2:21am

Are we really suggesting that the presence of a Christian automatically endorses a situation?! Just have a look who Jesus spent his time with!

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Hayden

November 11, 2011  1:30pm

There are a lot of comments here. I guess this is an issue that hits close to home with both sacred and secular alike. Homosexuality is a sin like any other. To live in our sin is wrong and immoral, it is against a Holy God. There are several verses dealing with homosexuality, but I do not want to quote them out of context and they would take a long time to explain further. As Christians we are to love the sinner, not the sin. To be in the world, but not of the world. Jesus loves homosexuals this is true. He does not, however, support them in their choices or that sin. We are called to encourage people and to help them see that their sin is wrong. We are not here to judge. As for the hypothetical situation: I would not attend the wedding of my friend. I would not attend the wedding if it was my father, sister, son, or cousin. I think there are other ways to say I love you or I'll be there for you, without supporting a sinful decision. If you are a true friend and you show that you care for that person's soul and life. I do not see them being upset with you for not going. I see them forgiving you if it offended them. Just my opinion and beliefs.

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Meg

November 07, 2011  12:24pm

So yes, this is a very difficult, heart-wrenching, soul-searching question. I am dealing with it right now. My cousin just announced his engagement to his boyfriend. I love my cousin. I am happy he is happy, but am saddened he is committing sin. Yes, I am a Christian and believe engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin. So, my line of thought was, "Well, I attended my other cousin's wedding when she was pregnant. Why is this any different?" I should attend and offer my congratulations as I did to her. Then I thought about what a marriage is, a commitment to follow God's wish for us to marry. So, of course it's a celebration. There was sin in the past, but it was not going to continue. However, in a homosexual marriage, the sin is going to continue. Some thoughts, I still don't know what I'll do.

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paul

October 28, 2011  10:18am

as none of us is perfect,we shouldn't be pointing the finger at anyone

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Intell

October 27, 2011  9:32am

Saying that Jesus ate with sinners is different than saying he celebrated with them in a pagan festival where eating occurred. You do NOT see Jesus partaking in an anti-Jewish ceremony in the Bible anywhere, to my knowledge. I eat with sinners often. I have had friends that are gay, but they have known my stance. I would not attend a homosexual ceremony, as I believe it is condoning the union. I am not a minister but I am a believer ahd I believe that my actions are not only observed by God, but by my fellow believers and especially non-believers. They want to watch and see if what I profess with my mouth actually matches up with my actions. I pray that is does as much as possible.

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Tom

October 26, 2011  2:47pm

Jesus hung around sinners. He hung around people the pharisee's were no longer ministering too. He went to a party and watched people get drunk. In fact, many thought he was a drunkard because he was at parties. How are we to influence people for Christ if we are not willing to enter into their world? It puzzles me why some would not attend. I would not attend just to attend but if I had a relationship with that person I would be there in a heart beat. It doesn't mean you condone what they do but it does communicate you love them unconditionally. I believe this was one of Jesus' main teachings - to love God and to love others. He didn't put any parameters around who we should love - he simply said to love them. Hating what someone does or hating how they live their life and hating their life choices does not mean you have to hate them. Yes it is sin but one needs to remember that we all have sinned - you are no better than gay people getting married. Aren't you glad someone didn't give up on you when you didn't know Christ? Is Mr. Mohler right? Not completely. It does sound like he is pretty bitter. Bitterness to me is sin. Bitterness doesn't alow us to love people - just hate them. Mr. Osteen is partly right but I don't totally agree with him either. I doubt he has many gay people coming to his church.

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Sam

October 26, 2011  11:51am

Al is absolutely correct. Marriage, by definition, is between one man and one woman. Therefore, I would not attend the wedding of an Muslim who wanted to add a second wife to his family.

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