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Allistair Begg & Transgender Weddings

There are times when you may be unsure what to do in a certain situation. A grandmother was unsure what to do when her grandson decided to marry a transgender person. She had already voiced her displeasure to her grandson. But now that she had decided to go through with the wedding anyway, what was the grandmother to do? Should she go to the wedding or show her opposition by staying home? She eventually asked Pastor Allistair Begg of Parkside Church if she should go to the wedding or not. The following is his response:

“I asked the grandmother, does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus? Yes. Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life? Yes. I said then, okay, as long as he knows that then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony and I suggest that you buy them a gift. Oh, she said, what? She was caught off guard. I said, Well here’s the thing. Your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said these people are what I always thought—judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything. … But I think we’re going to take that risk a lot more if we want to build bridges into the hearts and lives of those who don’t understand Jesus.”1

From what I have read, his advice was given to this grandmother during the summer of 2023 and it has recently been found out and responded to by many Christian leaders. While Allistair Begg does not condone sexual perversion, his advice seems to lead this grandmother to condone the wedding by her presence. Others have this same opinion of his comments. The American Family Radio network has dropped his Truth for Life broadcast on their stations.2 Pastor John MacArthur has disinvited Pastor Begg from his church’s Shepherd’s Conference.3 There are probably more responses that I have not had time to research. But all of this leads us to an important question: What should a Christian do when faced with such a situation? As always, we must look to the Bible for the answers.

  1. What does the Bible say about sexual perversion?

    While there are many other passages that speak about God’s opposition to sexual perversion of any kind, the following are two very clear statements of His opinion.

    It is rebellion against God (Rom. 1:24-32).

    In Romans 1, Paul contrasts the wonderful gospel of Jesus with the rebellion of mankind. Although the gospel is the power of God to salvation, many have rejected it and rebelled against God’s ways. In verses 24-32, Paul shows how rejecting God’s truth led men and women to become involved with vile passions including homosexuality. God judged these people with a debased mind that kept getting worse. And the people involved in these sins know God’s righteous judgment against them but also approve of such sinful lifestyles.

    It brings God’s wrath on those who do it (Eph. 5:3-7).

    In Ephesians 5, Paul lists fornication (sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage) as something that should never be characteristic of Christians. Those who practice such activity will not inherit God’s kingdom and are under God’s wrath. It is clear that such activity is something that God hates. And since God’s wrath will fall on those who practice it, we cannot condone it. Being involved with them would cause us to be partakers with them of God’s wrath.

    In both cases, the Bible tells us that sexual perversion of any kind is something God will judge. Although He lovingly calls people to repent of their sin and be saved through faith in Jesus, He also warns that such sin will result in God’s judgment. There is not way to explain away sexual perversion as something that God approves. These passages are clear evidence that God hates this kind of sin.

  2. What does the Bible say about a Christian’s relationship to sinners?

    We need to remember where we came from (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

    In this passage, Paul reminds us of where we came from. While all of the sins listed here may not apply to you, some of them might. Notice that some of the Corinthians were perverted people before they were saved. But they were washed from their sin, sanctified to God, and justified by Jesus. This is a good reminder to us when we interact with those who are still practicing these sins. We were that way before God saved us from that sinful lifestyle. Remembering our own sinfulness may not be a pleasant memory, but it will keep us from acting as if we are better than others by our own doing. Always remember that Jesus changed you and it wasn’t a result of your own doing.

    We should not have fellowship with the works of darkness (Eph. 5:8-12).

    In this passage, Paul once again reminds us of our dark past but then follows up with our bright new life. Instead of continuing in our past sinfulness, we are to live our lives differently. This should lead us to seek what is acceptable to the Lord. We should also not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This is another way of saying that sin never accomplishes anything good. It is unfruitful in producing anything that is acceptable to God. But once we know what is right, how should we respond? We should expose the sin for what it is – shameful rebellion against God.

    While we remember where we came from and what God has done in our lives, we mustn’t forget that we are now God’s children. Being part of God’s family involves speaking up for what God says and wants us to do. If we are to be faithful to the Lord, we mustn’t celebrate what God hates. We must speak out against it. Yes, we need to temper this speech with love and humility, but there is no way to sugar coat God’s opinion about sexual perversion.

  3. What results could come from celebrating an unholy marriage?

    Coming back to the current controversy, how do these biblical facts help us to make a decision about whether to attend the wedding ceremony of someone who is clearly rebelling against God’s commands? In particular, should a Christian attend the wedding ceremony of someone marrying a transgender person?

    Some think that attending would show love for the sinful couple.

    Those who want to create a bridge into the lives of the sinful couple, think that attending the ceremony would keep the relationship open. By attending the ceremony, they would be showing love for them and would keep from unnecessarily alienating them. Some would say that this is what Jesus did. If Jesus ate with sinners, shouldn’t we do the same? Remember how Jesus ate at the homes of Levi and Zacchaeus? In both cases, his time at their homes resulted in their lives. Zacchaeus, in particular, repented of his sin and was a changed man. Jesus’ love for these sinners overcame any hesitance to visit them because of his goal to see their lives changed. In both cases, there were good results.

    But was Jesus’ time at these men’s homes just a show of love. Was he there to just show them love or was he seeking to lead them to repentance? I think it was both. His love led him to confront them about their sin (which they left). He was not ignoring their sin but lovingly confronting them about it. Jesus went to his house with the idea of bringing each to repentance but not to affirm him in his sin. It is possible to show love to someone without affirming their sinful lifestyle. And this leads us to the next point.

    Some think that attending would celebrate the sinful couple’s choices.

    Several online comments make this position clear:

    “When we are at a wedding, we are there to give a blessing. The guests are witnesses and give approval. Make no mistake about it. This is why we have the phrase – ‘Does anyone object to this union?’ … As you said, the question is asked whether anyone opposes the marriage. Do you keep your mouth shut? Doesn’t staying quiet indicate approval? If you speak up, isn’t that more ‘offensive’ than simply not attending? Likewise with smiling, clapping, even standing when the ‘bride’ enters.”1

    While it would be difficult to turn down such an invitation, there would also be negative repercussions from affirming a sinful marriage. By attending the wedding, you would be giving tacit approval of the marriage to all that attended. It wouldn’t matter if the couple already knew your position on the matter. The others at the wedding would see your attendance as affirmation of what was taking place. At this point, it would not be loving them toward repentance. Instead, it would be leading them to continue in their sin with your presence showing them it was okay.

Conclusion

Decisions often affect our relationships with other people. And some of these decisions may make it more difficult for us to interact with when they see our opposition to their sin. But there is another relationship that we need to think about at the same time. That is our relationship to the Lord. When Jehoshaphat returned from helping evil King Ahab in a battle, the prophet Jehu, confronted him with a question: Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” (2 Chron. 19:2). He noted that helping this wicked king was offensive to the Lord and was equal to hating God.

We should have a desire to love and befriend sinners. Jesus did this. And we should note that without love, our gospel message will not be well received. But at the same time, we must remember that God has called us to be His children first. We must love Him and follow His commands even when doing so seems to diminish our opportunities to reach the lost. God’s way is best. And doing things God’s way means that we must be careful to accurately represent both the love of God and His holiness. If we value the one over the other, we will have problems. Instead, we should strive to do both.

Footnotes

1“Should Christians attend…”
2 “Radio ministry drops…”
3 “John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference removes…”

Bibliography

“Alistair Begg clarifies his answer on gay weddings” as viewed at https://www.reddit.com/r/Reformed/comments/1aee0nv/alistair_begg_clarifies_his_answer_on_gay_weddings/?rdt=43811 on 2/11/2024.

“Compassion vs Condemnation” as viewed at https://www.parksidechurch.com/learn/resources/media-center/sermon/compassion-or-condemnation on 2/11/2024.

“John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference removes Alistair Begg from speakers’ lineup” as viewed at https://www.christianpost.com/news/john-macarthurs-shepherds-conference-removes-alistair-begg.html on 2/12/2024.

“Radio ministry drops pastor over same-sex wedding comments” as viewed at https://afn.net/culture/2024/01/24/radio-ministry-drops-pastor-over-same-sex-wedding-comments on 2/09/2024.

“Should Christians attend LGBTQ weddings? | Alistair Begg vs. Voddie Baucham” as viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiCHcxTQelY&ab_channel=WrathandGrace on 2/11/2024.