God’s Word is Man’s Standard

By: Lisa Van Houten

In recent weeks, prominent, respected pastor, Alastair Begg, made headlines for encouraging a grandmother to attend her grandchild’s transgender “wedding.”  His advice to this grandmother shocked the conservative evangelical community because Alistair Begg has a 40-year history of solid, uncompromising Biblical preaching – including speaking strongly and forthrightly on issues of homosexuality.

This article is not intended to “bash” Alastair Begg, who up to this point had shown himself to be a careful handler of God’s Word, but rather to discuss why the counsel he gave in this instance was so grievously unbiblical.

For those who have missed the online firestorm that has ensued, here is the gist of what caused the initial controversy.  A Christian grandma (not a member of his congregation) contacted Pastor Begg asking for counsel on whether she should attend her grandchild’s transgender “wedding.”  He first confirmed that the grandmother had previously expressed her Biblical convictions to her grandchild regarding the sinful lifestyle in which the grandchild is engaged.  Alastair Begg then encouraged the grandma to attend this transgender wedding and bring a gift to show her love.  He stated: “Your love for them may catch them off guard. But your absence will reinforce the fact that they said these people are what I always thought. Judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.”

So, should a Christian attend a LGBT “wedding” as a means of demonstrating love for that family member?  I Corinthians 13 says, “love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”  Is it loving to affirm someone in their sin?  Those who attend weddings are referred to as witnesses and celebrants.  What kind of witness to the truth would one have by celebrating such an egregious attack on God’s design of marriage – condoning, by one’s attendance, that which He calls an abomination.

God’s Word makes very clear that marriage is a sacred, covenantal union established by God between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:18; Mark 10:6-9).  There’s a reason marriage has often been referred to as “holy matrimony”.  Furthermore, God uses marriage as a symbol of the covenantal union between Christ and His bride, the Church.

An LGBT “marriage” makes a mockery of God’s created order and design and is an open act of defiance and rebellion against Almighty God.  Hebrews 13:7 says: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

To attend a homosexual or transgender “wedding” is giving tacit approval of a union that God detests, as well as affirming and celebrating the LGBT person in their sin.  What would a Christian do if the question were asked: “Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”  Whether or not the question is asked, remaining silent is an endorsement and validation of the “marriage” and is a direct violation of Ephesians 5:11 – “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

For the Christian, love for Christ should be greater than anything or anyone else – including our family.  Jesus makes that clear throughout the New Testament (Luke 14:25-27, as just one example).  Our primary allegiance must be to God and His Word.  Preserving a relationship with a family member, which Alastair Begg stated was his main concern with giving the advice to attend the transgender “wedding,” can never supersede our obedience to Christ.

Some have wrongly argued that the example of Jesus eating with tax collectors and prostitutes (considered the “worst” sinners of the time) is the equivalent of attending a gay “marriage.”  Jesus ate with sinners to show them the Way of Life and call them to repentance.  Do you really think that Jesus, who flipped over tables and used a whip in His Father’s house because they desecrated it by turning it into a market, would respectfully attend such an unholy ceremony, which mocks God and desecrates His design of marriage?

However, Jesus did not shun those lost in sin, and neither should we.  We are to seek their salvation and repentance from sin, but affirming a loved one’s gay “marriage” is not the way to do so.  Rather, attendance at an event that is so clearly contrary to God’s Word compromises one’s witness and sends the message that we are willing to set aside our faithfulness to Christ and our biblical convictions in favor of a family member.

Love must be coupled with truth (Ephesians 4:15).  We shouldn’t cut off our loved ones lost in sin, but strive to maintain communication and a relationship with them, if possible.  Pray diligently; share the Good News.  Better counsel for the grandmother would have been to invite them to her home, show love, but also express concern for the road they are on, while telling of the new life, forgiveness, and joy that can only be found in Christ.  This post shows how a grandma might respond in a way that expresses both love and truth.  It may cause alienation with those who refuse to hear.  Yet Jesus told us that following Him will cause separation (Luke 12:51-53). Continue to pray, and by God’s grace, one day those lost ones may remember how their grandma loved them enough to tell them the truth.

The Biblical definition of love is far different than the world’s.  Christians should love holiness and hate sin, while the reverse is true for unbelievers who love sin, and hate holiness.  That will lead the lost to view Christian love as “hate.” In our post-Christian culture, the LGBT have gone from asking for tolerance to now demanding our affirmation of their sin.  Anything less than that is considered “hate.” However, we can’t make decisions based on what those lost in sin think of us.  We shouldn’t strive to win their approval, but God’s.  We can never put a loved one’s feelings above our love for Christ and His Word.

Carl Trueman, writing at First Things, sums up the issue this way:

“In short, attending a gay wedding involves remaining silent when one should speak. It involves a concession on bodily sex that undermines any attempt to hold fast to the importance of the biological distinction between men and women. And it involves approving of a ceremony that makes a mockery of a central New Testament teaching and of Christ himself. That’s a very high price tag for avoiding hurting someone’s feelings. And if Christians still think it worth paying, the future of the Church is bleak indeed.”

We will be maligned and hated for our stance, but as I once read somewhere, “when the wind blows fierce only the deeply rooted trees will stand.”

As I wrote above, my intention is not to revile Alastair Begg, who I have no doubt loves the Lord and desires to serve Him well.  However, I hope you will join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will convict Pastor Begg’s heart and mind on the unbiblical counsel he gave.  It should also serve as a warning to each of us to guard our Christian testimony and our walk, looking to God’s Word as our only rule for faith and life.

For years, I have often listened to Pastor Begg’s messages and I’ve heard him repeatedly say “the best of men are men at best.”  Each of us will falter, but forgiveness and restoration are found in Christ.


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