What if you’re invited to a wedding you do not feel comfortable celebrating?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We all love a wedding invitation – a chance to celebrate with friends and family, to dress up smartly and catch up with people we haven’t seen in ages.

But what happens when the wedding you have been invited to is one that you do not feel comfortable celebrating or feel completely unable to celebrate?

The obvious scenario that Christians often consider is that of a same-sex couple. Same-sex marriage has been legal in the U.K. since 2014 and several denominations now allow same-sex weddings in their churches. The Church of England is considering services of blessing for same-sex relationships in church that would look very much like a wedding. But is that the only time we should stop and think about a wedding invitation?

What about a scenario where a husband or wife has left their partner and children for another woman or man and now wants to get married to them? Do we consider whether we should attend that wedding?

What about if a church family member decides to get married to someone who isn’t a Christian?

Another possible scenario (which can take place in the Church of England) is marriage between two people of the same sex if one has transitioned and is living as the opposite sex. What about that one?

You might think that some of these weddings would be OK to attend but not others and maybe you haven’t thought through how you might handle some of these scenarios. Of course, some of you reading this article may be of an age where you have little choice and need to obey your parents if they have a different view.

There are different views among Christians about each scenario. It is important to look carefully at what the Bible says and consider what it would mean if you attended the wedding as well as how you would approach declining the invitation.

What are weddings for?

When people decide to get married, they usually invite family and friends (a few or many) to witness them making vows to each other and to celebrate with them at some kind of party afterwards. The Church of England wedding service includes these words: “You are witnesses of the marriage, and express your support by your presence and your prayers.” These words make clear that by attending this wedding you are supporting it and by joining in with the prayers you are asking for God’s blessing on the couple. Wedding guests are not just spectators!

What does the Bible say about marriage?

In Mark 10 when asked a question about divorce Jesus quotes Genesis: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

This tells us several things:

  1. We are created male and female by God
  2. Marriage is between one man and one woman
  3. Sexual intimacy takes place after the husband and wife have committed to each other
  4. The bond is lifelong.

This is God’s good design for marriage and as our creator he knows what is best for us. Whenever we do not follow his ways we are not only disobeying him but risking harm to ourselves and others. So we need to think very carefully about agreeing to attend any wedding that may fall outside of God’s good design for marriage because, as we have seen, attending the wedding means supporting and celebrating that relationship.

Practical tips if you find yourself in this situation

  1. Pray for wisdom
  2. Discuss your concerns with your parents and/or a church leader
  3. Pray some more!
  4. If you decline the invitation, consider very carefully how you will communicate this to the couple
  5. Examine your heart and your motives – is your desire to lovingly point your friends/family to Christ or are you more concerned about passing moral judgement and protecting your own reputation?
  6. Make sure you continue to show your love for your friend/relative even though you disagree with their actions
  7. Pray for your friends and family!

…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:15