Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Roger will respond in as timely a manner as possible. Due to the large volume of questions, patience is requested. When questions involve mental health issues, no part of any response to an “Ask Roger” question should be interpreted as a substitute for seeking professional counseling from a licensed mental health professional. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
First, thank you for so many wonderful years in your church, we love and miss you. I read and shared your message on gay marriage with my wife and we are unsure about whether or not we should attend our niece’s lesbian marriage this fall. We’ve loved our niece her whole life and we care about her partner as well. By attending the marriage, I feel I’m lying by showing support for an unholy union. If we don’t go I feel that all future relations are forever damaged. And, if the minister claims to be a Christian, I fear that I would walk out. Please help us sort this out. Thank you, Roger!
Thank you for your question. I am so honored that you were part of our church family.
First, let me ask, is your niece a believer?
If not, your first obligation to her is to pray for her salvation and to share with her how to have a personal relationship with Christ. Don’t be preachy, but let her know you love her and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words to share the gospel with her clearly and simply.
John 3:17 states: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
Second, pray earnestly for both your niece and her partner.
Unless the Holy Spirit convicts her, your words will fall upon deaf ears. Pray for yourself to avoid being angry at her. Paul writes:
So I want the men in every place to pray. I want them to lift up holy hands. I don’t want them to be angry when they pray. – 1 Timothy 2:8
Of course, you may be angry at sin and sinful behavior, (Be angry and sin not) but unbelievers see right through anger, bitterness, or judgmental attitudes. Let your love for her be Christ’s unconditional love.
Pray against the deception of Satan in her life. 2 Corinthians 4:4 reveals: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They can’t see the light of the good news that makes Christ’s glory clear.”
The most familiar passage on homosexuality is Romans 1:18-27. The Bible teaches that when a person rejects God’s light for whatever reason, he or she is susceptible to deception including same-sex desires. It is a faith issue, a choice of believing and responding to God.
Third, I don’t think stepping out of her life will do anything but make her bitter at God.
The reason many LGBTQ individuals hate Christianity is because all they see are people in their lives who have deserted and condemned them.
Fourth, your reservations are understandable.
Mike Haley, author of 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality makes a thoughtful observation:
“Suppose a Christian could attend a gay wedding and somehow communicate clearly that he is supporting only the individuals getting married and not their lifestyle. The individuals he is supporting are still holding an event that celebrates their immorality. There is no way around the fact that a gay wedding ceremony is a celebration of sin. We support an alcoholic friend by helping him refrain from drinking, not by going to a bar with him…In the same way, we support a homosexual friend by helping him out of the lifestyle, not by signing a guest book at a celebration of homosexuality. We do not truly help our friends by attending an event where their sin is applauded.”
Fifth, seek wisdom from God about whether you should go.
If your conscience won’t allow you to go to the ceremony, I would send a gift and write a letter, assuring that she is always welcome in your family. Tell her you love her dearly, but you deeply believe that true marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman before God.
Remember, Sam, once you step out of her life you may have lost your opportunity to bring her and her partner back to God. Meeting someone’s needs is the best way to open a heart. There will come a day when she is hurting, and at that point you can comfort her and bring her back to a loving, fulfilling life in a relationship with Christ.
Finally, if someone asks you why you are at the wedding, let them know that you are there for your niece.
You are a loving, committed uncle.
I believe God will give you direction. I know you will follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
For more from Roger on this subject, check out 8 Things You Should Know about Gay Marriage.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Motortion