Pastor Alistair Begg Says Christians Should Attend Gay Weddings So They Don’t Come Across as ‘Judgmental, Critical’
Alistair Begg is the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio and is perhaps best known for his syndicated radio program, Truth for Life. He has authored and coauthor of several books, including Preaching for God’s Glory, Name above All Names, and the Christian Manifesto. With a reputation as a sound teacher, he can occasionally be found on the conservative preaching circuit, and is a speaker at the upcoming Shepherds Conference alongside John MacArthur and Steve Lawson.
During a recent program of Truth for Life, Begg offers a scenario where a Christian woman called in saying that her grandson is about to marry a ‘transgendered person’ (either another man who has ‘transitioned’ to a ‘woman’, or a woman who has ‘transitioned’ into a ‘man’) and wants to know if she should attend the wedding.
Noting that “people may not like this answer,” Begg says that as long as grandson knows that she believes it is sinful and she does not agree with it, then she SHOULD attend the ceremony, and even buy them a gift, because if not, her absence will simply reinforce the fact that she is “judgmental” and “critical.”
Bob: I think every pastor who preaches, every author who writes a book like this, comes away thinking, “I hope my readers or my listeners will think differently as a result of their interaction with this, will feel differently and will act differently. As you think about this book and your prayer for this book, what do you hope will be different? How do you hope people will be different after they have read this book and they’ve meditated on this sermon?
Alistair: Well, first of all, you know, I hope that I will be different. The old song that we never sing—you know, “It’s not my brother nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer”—I mean, that is foundationally the case. And so I hope that that would be multiplied. I hope that our church family, those who choose to read this book, that it might have an impact among us. Because learning to say, “I’m sorry,” learning to say, “Please forgive me,” learning to say, you know, “I’m not at my best at the moment; can you come alongside me?” learning to say, “Yes, I know that these people believe a very different agenda, that their lifestyle is orientated in another direction,” and learning to say, “But I have no basis upon which I could argue that I myself would not be where they are were it not for the amazing grace of God, were it not for his compassion towards me.”
And in very specific areas this comes across. I mean, you and I know that we field questions all the time that go along the lines of “My grandson is about to be married to a transgender person, and I don’t know what to do about this, and I’m calling to ask you to tell me what to do”—which is a huge responsibility.
And in a conversation like that just a few days ago—and people may not like this answer—but I asked the grandmother, “Does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus?”
“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?”
I said, “Well 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.’”
And it is a fine line, isn’t it? It really is. And people need to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. But I think we’re going to take that risk. We’re going to have 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 and don’t understand that he is a King.
Bob: John tells us he was “full of grace and truth,”and we have to figure out how we can be full of grace and truth at the same time, don’t we?
Alistair: Yeah. Yeah, our words should be “full of grace” and “seasoned with salt.”
Alistair: It’s so easy to get that upside down. And when a pastor does, then that will take on a role in a congregation as well and flavor it. And so, you know, “Let not many of you become teachers.”