This is such a tough question and one that many Christians are facing all across the world. How do we love and accept people because they are made in the image of God; yet not affirm choices that are contrary to God’s word? Its also extremely difficult to do this when our current cultural moment cannot (or refuses to) differentiate between acceptance and affirmation. So the first thing I want to encourage you in is that you and your wife can love your nephew with all of your heart and yet not support his worldview. Do not for a second believe the lie that if you love someone that means you affirm every decision that “makes them happy.” As a Christian, our goal isn’t to do what makes us happy, its to honor God and glorify him… now there is a fullness of joy to be had in following his design and commands (for all people, not just heterosexuals), but that is secondary.
Secondly, I want to tell you that my answer to this question is often circumstance specific. I do not think we as Christians need to have an overly-broad rule on whether or not to attend a gay/same-sex-attracted wedding. I believe there are times where attending these ceremonies can be the most loving thing we can do and I think there are times when it actually goes against our convictions and is wrong. There are differing opinions on how to go about this, but I will give you some pointers on how I try to address this specific case.
First I ask, what is my goal? Is my goal to show this person that I have the truth and they dont? Is my goal to remind them that their actions are sinful? Is my goal to clearly show them that I am a Christian and that if I attend their wedding I will be going against my convictions? Or is my goal to Love them the way Christ loves them in Grace and Truth?
You are really going to be faced with two types of scenarios. A gay wedding of non-professing Christians (which seems to be your situation) and a gay wedding of professing Christians.
When it comes to the second I think wisdom shows that we as Christians should not attend the wedding. Why do I say this? We are currently living in a time where denominations of Christianity are changing their understanding of sexuality and now affirming gay marriages. Now I fundamentally disagree with this and believe it is a misconstruing of scripture. I think someone has to do a form of hermeneutic gymnastics to try and show that the Bible does support committed gay relationships. Therefore, for a professing christian gay couple to invite me to their wedding and I attend, I would be acknowledging their understanding of scripture and somewhat supporting it. I am sure there are many people who would disagree with me here, but I think it is far more dangerous (as in what you would be conveying) to attend a gay wedding of two professing Christians because then it would be almost impossible to decipher what is your stance. We as Christians need to boldly stand up for and defend the Word of God and call out any change or adaption to orthodox Christianity… especially against those within our churches. False teaching insidiously pervades the church if we aren’t willing to stand up. It is only recently that churches have made these “new” understandings of sexuality, but I firmly believe this understanding (in the hopes to be more loving and open) have diminished marriage and sexuality to no longer reflect the ultimate marriage of Christ and his Bride the Church (even though that is truly what marriage is supposed to point to). That is typically my stance on this situation. Also, we are given much more freedom in discussing/renouncing sin with other believers than we are with non-believers. Therefore, I think we can call this out as sinful with the authority given to us within scripture in addressing other believers. But we are not given this privilege (or at least as explicitly) to non-believers.
The second scenario, of which you are currently in, is attending a gay wedding of non believers. I would attend this wedding if it is very clear that while I do not support this understanding of marriage, I love my nephew and he knows it. If your nephew knows your views, knows that you take a Biblical view of marriage, and that you are not somehow changing your beliefs within our progressive times… then I think it could be ok to attend. That means having a rather difficult conversation with your nephew (but I can assure you that many Christians have done this and it has gone well). Now why do I say this? Well, as Christians, its not our role to tell non-Christians that they are sinful or convince them of their depravity unprovoked. Its different if they are asking our views or opinion. We know it was Christ’s kindness and not his condemnation that led us to repentance. Our role is to love people, to speak truth when given the opportunity and to show grace in the way the Lord has shown us grace. I think it is very possible to attend a gay-wedding of this sort and simply be showing love to your nephew. I never want to burn a bridge when it comes to a relationship, especially when it comes to family. I pray that the Lord uses me to speak to my friends and family who are gay. I pray that he would give me the ability to speak in love and truth yet never fold on my convictions. Your goal is to be a light to your nephew so that he might see Christ for who He truly is. If I were you I would be prayerfully discerning whether or not God would have you attend.
Like I said, I think its very circumstantial. And I think we should always follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit. If you find yourself folding on your convictions if you attend this type of wedding, then I say dont go. But if you find yourself in the unique position where in going you are certain that it is clear to the couple that you accept them as image bearers of God and want to show them your love for them yet without affirming their choice in marriage, then I say be that light.
There is often so much pain and baggage brought into the LGBTQs understanding of Christians. And quite honestly, many of them have been marginalized and mistreated by the “church.” I think we need to get much better at listening to their pain and scars. I think we also need to be more clear about our standings and do so with authenticity, and not leave it up for them to think what we believe. I have had to very lovingly and very gracefully explain my understanding of sexuality and marriage to many people of the LGBTQ(IA) community and it has actually gone very well. Now they dont jump on the Christian bandwagon or anything, but they see that I love them and would never mistreat them or marginalize them. Effective communication is so key within this area. I would really encourage you to have a conversation with your nephew if you are up for it. The more we as Christians are bold and loving about our stances I think the better off we are since there is “no room” for the LGBTQ(IA) community to guess what we believe. We should condemn all behavior towards that community that is done “in the name of Christ” that is harmful and bigoted, but we also need to speak clearly as to what we actually believe. Show your nephew that you are a Christian, but you would never spew hate or wish ill upon him. Make sure he can’t place you in the radical caricature of christianity that this society paints. Dont give him any room to even place you in it. Show him in your actions that you love him regardless of his decision to marry someone of the same sex. I hope this helps.
If you end up deciding that it is unwise for you to attend, then I think you should ask your nephew and his partner to come over for dinner or to take them out. Show them that you still value their friendship; however, you found yourself convicted to attend a wedding since its a sacred ceremony instituted by God.
I know thats a long answer. And like I said, even some of the RZIM speakers may disagree with my stance on this, but I do think its a case by case basis. Ask the Lord to guide you and your wife. I hope this helps. Please let men now if I can clarify anything or if you have more questions.