Should I Attend my Child’s Gay Wedding???

Through Beyond Ex-Gay, Christine and I received a message from a parent wondering if he should attend his son’s wedding. In corresponding with this man, I felt moved by the humility and openness I sensed in his e-mails.

After considering conversations with friends whose parents did attend and those who did not attend their ceremonies, I wrote some thoughts down. Below is his original message followed by my response.

As a Roman Catholic, and the father of a Gay son, I am at a crossroad. As a devout member of my faith and Church, I don’t know if I should attend a ceremony if my son decides to marry one of the same sex. I love my step-son very much. That is why I used the word father instead of step-father. I have never had any problem with his choice of living, nor do I forbid him joining us at holidays and bringing his partner.

But the idea of marriage is something that my wife and I are debating quietly. Could you help me?

Here’s my answer:

Thank you so much for writing. Your message touches me deeply. In it I hear your love for your child. Mixed with love I hear the religous conflict that creates complications in regards to a possible marriage. That you seek out answers and communicate your thoughtfulness and concern reveals much about you.

I know of gay men and women who have fairly decent relationships with their parents, but because their parents chose to not attend their child’s wedding, the son or daughter felt deeply hurt and disappointed. They understood that their parents did not endorse the wedding. The son or daughter never wanted an endorsement. They wanted to share their special day, perhaps the most important day of their lives, with the people they love the most. In some cases, as a result of the parents opting out and the hurt and tension it produced, a wall of sorts has developed between parent and child.

When you go to your son’s wedding, it is a statement that you love him and that HE is more important than any issue in either of your lives.

Family members do not always approve or feel thrilled about the partners people choose. Awhile ago a female cousin of mine married a man that most of us could not stand. Loud, obnoxious, opinionated, he alienated lots of people with his big mouth. But my cousin loved him, and through the years we have seen how happy she has been and how wonderfully he treats her. I went to her wedding so many years ago because she is family. My love for her trumped any misgivings or discomfort I had.

You can be loving and loyal to your son without compromising your faith. This wedding will be his special day, and it sounds like he would want you there regardless of how you feel about two men marrying. Your relationship runs deeper than that, and from what I can see in the Gospels, Jesus cares about relationships, good loving relationships, above making a point. In fact, I think that was his point when he dined with folks that the religious leaders rejected. Besides the first miracle he performed was at a wedding (after his mother asked him).

I do hope you attend your son’s wedding even if it causes discomfort. I believe that in the end you will have far less regret if you go than if you do not attended.

A lot of people ask me about the Bible and what answers we can find in it about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Some people want to know: What does the Bible say about homosexuality? I think there is a richer question: Who in the Bible transgress and transcend gender? Who are the sexual and gender minorities in the Bible? I took a great deal of time to look into this and found some unexpected discoveries.

Official Trailer Transfigurations-Transgressing Gender in the Bible from Peterson Thomas Toscano on Vimeo.


This post has 19 Comments

  1. Evan on September 28, 2008 at 11:36 am

    You are such a sweetheart.

    That’s all.

    Bye, now.


  2. carol on September 28, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Those are such good reasons to attend a wonderful event, and I agree wholeheartedly. But I have another dilemma. In a couple of months, I will most likely be invited to attend a wedding of a heterosexual couple, and I am good friends with the young man’s mother.

    Here is the problem: I know that the young man has quietly dated men during his college years. His mother, my friend, does not know this, or she could just be in a very convincing stage of denial. Now he has chosen to become engaged to a nice girl and the wedding is in 4 months. I’m fairly sure that my friend does NOT know about the same-sex dating, and I do know that she’s neither accepting nor affirming of people who are gay.

    Added information is that this man is a preacher’s son, and very active in church – albeit an “emerging church” style of church, but it is basically one where homosexuality is rarely mentioned. Even this weekend they held one of those, “Every Man’s Battle,” seminars, and the thinking is that all behavior can be sorted into sin/non-sin, and it is assumed that heterosexuality is the norm.

    I should let others know (you do know, Peterson) that I was married to a gay man for a LONG time. I know the heartbreak of giving up my husband and our life together. Even though I am fortunate enough to have wonderful loving children and great memories, nothing compares to the soul-damage that has been caused to me. Because my husband has recently come out very publicly, we have no more secrets, including the fact that my friend knows how devastating this has been for all of us.

    I’m not even saying that the young man is gay (but why else does a guy date a guy, and it is my opinion that he is) but when the time comes, do I go? I’m not about to out this wonderful young man (he’s a gem!) but how do I stand by and watch this? At the LEAST, I think that the girl should know the reality of the situation, and maybe she does.

    Question: Do I have any say in this? Do I just go and go quietly? Can I speak into this at all prior to it happening?

    Plus any comments?

  3. JoshH on September 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I want to point out something:
    binary “gay/straight” views are deeply spiritually wounding for people like me. I’m bisexual; I’m interested in men *and* women. I know men who are afraid of relationships with me for fear that I’ll just leave them for a woman, as well as women who have concerns that I’ll leave them for a man. Of course, this problem has become less common over the last ten years.

    A very large number of people five years younger than me (and younger) don’t really have any concepts of “gay/straight.” They like who they like and that’s it. This is particularly the case among those who weren’t even old enough to understand what in the world Ellen DeGeneres was talking about when she had her famous “coming out” episode.

    I’m guessing that the guy is my age, in which case I’d urge you to be very careful. My advice is to talk to him and “get the score” if you talk to anyone.

  4. Joanna on September 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    To the man whom Peterson quotes…

    Go and support your son. He will know it is because you love him deeply, not that you have come to firm conclusions that you support his marriage.

    My partner and I are coming up to our sixth wedding anniversary (we had a service of commitment, prior the civil partnerships being legally recognised in this country – England). My partner’s parents attended, mine did not. Six years later, it still grieves me on a very real level. I have recently talked to my mother about this and it was an extremely difficult conversation, but also very healing one. There have been times when I think she did the right thing not coming, because I know how difficult she would have found the day and I would have wanted her there, giving her blessing, not struggling. However, when we recently spoke, she told me that my wedding day was the hardest day of her life because she knew how much she was hurting me by not being there.

    It will be a mixed day for you, perhaps offering joys and sadnesses. But don’t look back and regret not going. You might be surprised; it might be a beautiful day.

  5. Brad on September 29, 2008 at 10:26 am

    I love your response, Peterson. Often, families have “issues” when a family member gets married – are they ready, is he mature enough, etc – but they still go and celebrate, knowing that the chances of a successful and happy relationship are enhanced when there are family and friend supports.

    As to the second response (the man who also dates men) – the big issue is not the person’s sexual orientation, but honesty in the relationship. When one spouse entering a marriage is hiding something big (infidelity, addictions, etc) it sets up for a very tough time.

  6. p2son on September 29, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    JoshH, I hear what you are saying. Too often in the LGBT community and in the Ex-Gay Movement people do not recognize the existence of bisexuals. I have met many bisexual woman and some bisexual men and know that they are wired very differently from me. Their sexuality and experiences are valid and need to be heard.

    Though regards to the circumstances that Carol shares, I need to agree with Brad. It is one thing for someone to be open his potential partner, family and friends about his bisexuality. It is quite another to have had a secret past that included male sexual partners. I have met too many men who have hid their pasts thinking they left it behind them only to end their heterosexual marriages to go an pursue a relationship with another man.

    Perhaps Carol’s friend is genuinely bisexual, but does his future spouse know this? I believe she deserves to have informed consent to this marriage. If the husband carries shame and guilt about his sexuality along with secrets, it will only serve to undermine the marriage.

    I know a wonderful man who is married to a woman and is also openly bisexual. They have two children who also know their father has had boyfriends in the past just like they know their mother has former boyfriends. He remains committed to his wife, content in that relationship, while acknowledging that he is also attracted to men. In this case I see lots of openness, honesty and intimacy that helps to keep this marriage strong.

    Carol, I agree with JoshH. I think you need to speak directly to your friend, not his wife or anyone else. Share your story (if he doesn’t already know) and the pain you experienced. Share your concerns and even your doubts. He may welcome a talk with you, in fact, he may right now be wishing he could talk to someone about all of this.

  7. JoshH on September 30, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Well said.

  8. Straight and not changing. on July 9, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I am a female who attended a gay wedding. It became painful when I was approached and flirted with by lesbian women. I am straignt.

  9. David M. on April 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I am facing this same situation with my daughter. We love her- she has maintained a close relationship with us and though we let her know that her partner is welcome to visit when our daughter comes, she has chosen not to. I have a different view – as a follower of Christ I feel as though I cannot attend a “wedding” that violates the principles of God. I love my daughter but by attending this event I will also be condoning it – my daughter decided not to invite my wife and I although her older and younger brother will attend. Regardless of what post-modern culture may wish to believe, truth is not relative – there are things that are morally right and things that are morally wrong. This is where we must make a decision.

  10. Alice on May 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    We are struggling with our daughter’s plan to marry her same sex partner this fall. We chose to continue to love her and relate to her ever since we learned long ago that she was lesbian. We are Christians who do not believe homosexuality is right. We have prayed about how to respond to being invited to her wedding, and my husband feels that it will alienate her if we do not go. On the other hand, I feel we will be condoning something we feel is not Biblical if we do go. To complicate matters, she feels she is fully Christian and living in God’s will–even believing that the details of the wedding are all coming together because of His leading. This is so hard; no one seems to understand the depth of the sadness and indecision this is causing in our family. We continue to pray, and yet feel so torn. Only He can really speak into this situation.

  11. Yvonne Aburrow (@vogelbeere) on May 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

    He *could* be bisexual. Couldn’t you have a quiet word with him?

  12. Yvonne Aburrow (@vogelbeere) on May 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I feel that christening babies is morally wrong – they should be left to make their own decision on what religion they choose to follow as adults. Yet I have attended christenings. I did not worry about whether my attendance implied endorsement of the ceremony (maybe I should have). I would not become a godparent however, as I feel that that would be hypocritical.

    To the people who feel that their attendance at the wedding might be seen as endorsing same-sex relationships: I am sorry you feel that way, but just go – you will regret it if you do not, and you can always say that you’re doing it for your son/daughter, and not because you’ve changed your mind about same-sex marriage.

    And please read the testimonies of people who are in loving, faithful and Christian same-sex relationships and ask yourself whether you still feel that way.

  13. Gwen on July 16, 2012 at 9:07 am

    David- I agree with you wholeheartedly! This isn’t about whether or not we love the person, it’s about our SOULS! The Catholic Church, the Bible and The CCC expressly prohibit homosexuality. By attending a same sex wedding/union, the Catholic is condoning the behavior and saying they agree with it – in the CCC “By attending or supporting anything which opposes God is in itself, a sin.” My niece is getting “married” to her partner, and is causing all sorts of problems and guilt tripping those of us who are practicing Catholics. In the end, I have to answer to GOD, not my niece. I would not attend a Pro Choice Rally to “support” a friend or show them “I love them”, no difference. I am not going to offend God by showing my support for sinful and un-natural behavior/lifestyle. I think the author gave horribly incorrect advice to this dad and if the dad wanted to hear the TRUTH, he would have consulted a priest who is firmly grounded in the Truth of the Catholic Church, her teachings and the CCC.

  14. etaientclair on August 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I was baptized and raised in the Catholic church; my mother’s side of the family comes straight from Germany, and the Catholic tradition is incredibly important to my grandfather.

    My father was raised Unitarian Universalist, but has always held more of an agnostic belief system, and also believes that organized religion is a flawed and damaging system.

    However, he was willing to: 1) get married in a Catholic church, against the wishes of his own parents, 2) attend the christenings of my sister and I, and 3) attend our first communions. He did this purely because he loves and values my mother and his two daughters more than he frowns upon religion. And I know for a fact, because he told me, that whether I marry a man, a woman, or in a Catholic church, nothing on this earth will stop him from walking me down the aisle to my waiting spouse. Because he is my father, and he loves me, and that means more than anything to him.

    To those who would deny their children anything in the way of love and support in exchange for sticking to their guns on hateful and discriminatory practices and beliefs, shame on you. Feel shame, and feel every ounce of pain you cause your child. You do not love, that is no love. God’s love for his children is unconditional; as your love should be for yours.

  15. Katalina on April 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Oh, I completely get how you feel…..I am a female who recently attended a straight wedding. It became painful when I was approached and flirted with by straight men. I am gay.

  16. Sam C. on April 26, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    1 John 4:20 comes to mind when reading this article. I am a gay man planning to marry my same sex partner of 22 years in less than 2 months in an Episcopal ceremony. Being raised in the Assemblies of God denomination, I had to decide whether or not to invite them as the mere act of extending a wedding invitation knowing their views may have been seen as insulting. I decided to view the invitation through my eyes, not theirs, as an expression of love and generosity. We all understand each other’s positions and attending or not attending does nothing to add to or subtract from that understanding, but we are all family, a family that God created. Marriage is a sacrament, an outward or visible sign of inward and spiritual grace. God’s love is unconditional, unexplainable really and because He loved us with no reason to, He calls us to love others regardless of how we feel about them or whether or not they share our spiritual understandings. I hope that my family will accept our invitation or at least acknowledge our relationship as a recognition that they are part of our lives and we are a part of theirs. If they don’t, I love them anyway as I know their choice is based on their own understanding of what their love for us requires them to do. Judgment, for all of us, comes later by One much more qualified to execute it.

  17. Christian woman on June 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Reading through these comments, it seems every circumstance is somewhat unique. For me, a former mainstream feminist type turned Christian, with many life experiences including past and present gay, lesbian and bi friends and colleagues, including a gay brother who died of AIDS and who I loved very much and was very close to, I’m not exactly uncomfortable with gay people.

    But thinking about my brother, had he lived to see gay marriage legalized and decided to get married, I honestly don’t think I could attend his wedding, because for me it is a spiritual issue that affects me personally. But I would not decline without first having a long conversation with him about why I could not attend, to make it very clear to him it has nothing to do with whether I love him or not.

    I would want him to understand that I love him deeply, but I also have a deep spirituality that is at odds with his decision. I would not use words like “you’re a sinner” etc. I would use words like “I can’t do what I believe to be spiritually harmful to my soul, or spiritually harmful to others. I know you have a different belief system and I don’t expect you to share my beliefs. And I wish very much I could attend your wedding, because I love you deeply, and I look forward to continuing to celebrate all other significant events in your life. Nor do I object to getting to know and spending time with your partner at other times, so long as he also understands that I have certain limits based on my belief system. But I DO want you to know that I love you very much and will be there for you in every other way that I can. I hope that you can forgive me for not being able to go. I love you.”

    And knowing my brother, I think he would be sad, but I also think he would understand. It’s not simply “Can I go or not as a Christian,” but also “how do I communicate about it to my loved one, so they do not feel more hurt than they already are?” Because gay people are, I believe, in some way deep down very hurt, and I do not want to increase their hurt. I want to increase their healing, which means they need to feel loved very deeply as the man and women they are, while at the same time not compromising who I am, and what I need.

  18. Ralph on August 25, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Christening babies is essential for every parent. As an adult you can choose any religion you want to, but how can you do that unless you have been taught by your parents from childhood. At age 18 they will not all of a sudden feel religious. God is real and so is Baptism. Today we live in a world where no one wants to follow any rules, but instead make everything easy.
    As far as attending your child’s gay wedding it is a most important message to not do so if you firmly believe it is wrong by your beliefs. Why can’t the children understand that, especially if otherwise they have not been rejected.

  19. Ralph on August 25, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    It’s not hateful or discriminate at all. Why does anyone have to go against their beliefs and everyone else can justify anything they do?

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