Alistair Begg, gay weddings, and love

“Christians who attend gay weddings are just like Christians who obey a transgender person’s preferred pronouns: they’re tacitly affirming sin.” - CPost

Discussion

As usual, the claim is made that the act of using a pronoun or attending an event conveys a certain message, but little or no supporting argument is made as to why that must be the case. This sort of writing assumes what it needs to prove.

(Edit to add: I get that the point is obvious to many. But it’s not obvious to Alistair Begg, or he wouldn’t have said what did. So this is really where much of the debate should focus. Begg did actually include some reasoning in his statement, though I doubt he intended that reasoning to be a complete case. If you want to respect Begg, which the author of the CPost article clearly does, the way to do it is to examine what his reasons are—not to simply declare that his position is “indefensible.”)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

"just like Christians who obey a transgender person’s preferred pronouns: they’re tacitly affirming sin"

I am not sure if I am aligned around affirming sin. Pronouns are structure used to communicate in a given language. Some languages use pronouns entirely different. For example, all french nouns are either masculine or feminine and use pronouns to refer to them. Why is one word masculine and another feminine? Who knows. I can refer to someone in such a way as to be kind to them, without affirming anything.

I can refer to someone in such a way as to be kind to them, without affirming anything.

Why should their narrative triumph over mine? They are engaging in a war about meaning. Why should they get to define me? Insisting I use their made up ideas is an act of verbal warfare. I don't think I have to put up with it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

"Why should their narrative triumph over mine?"

Because I think that "love your neighbor" triumph's over my narrative. We are often kind to people saying they looked nice, knowing they spent a lot of time making them look nice, even though I may not truly feel that completely. When faced with the situation of pronouns, I can state my own view, which invariably will be offensive to them and shutdown any conversation. But my preference is to first avoid the use of any pronoun when talking to or about the particular individual.

If people perceive that your response gives any degree of approval to someone's actions which you (or the Bible) disapprove of, then you do not respond in that way. If people force you to respond in a certain way (words or behavior) which your conscience and Biblical principle forbid, then you cannot submit to what they want. "Love your neighbor as yourself" is the 2nd greatest commandment, not the 1st.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

dgszweda

I am not sure if I am aligned around affirming sin. Pronouns are structure used to communicate in a given language. Some languages use pronouns entirely different. For example, all french nouns are either masculine or feminine and use pronouns to refer to them.

I’m not following your thinking here. In English, pronouns contain meaning about gender. French doesn’t change that.

Aaron says, “. . . the way to do it is to examine what his reasons are—not to simply declare that his position is “indefensible.“

I am not sure I have much concern with what Mr. Begg’s reasons may be for suggesting that the loving thing would be to celebrate the solemnization of something that is vile. Anyone of his stature, maturity, and giftedness should surely understand this matter more clearly than he seems to. I have to wonder if he would have given the same advice if the situation were, say, the blessing of a “marital” union between a mother and her son (or daughter?) Maybe I have lived too long or something. I just can’t fathom that these are conversations we would ever be having among Bible believing Christians!

I think it is fair to ask if attending a same-sex marriage is the same as affirming that marriage. It seems as though this would likely be the case but perhaps not always. This seems to be a matter of the application of truth rather than a clear demand of scripture. The same goes for using a person’s preferred pronouns. I don’t necessarily think the primary problem is in what he is saying but rather that he is saying it. Application of scripture will always vary from believer to believer based on the guidance of their conscience so I think there is room for some disagreement here on attending gay marriages or using preferred pronouns. I think that Begg encouraging Christians to attend a same sex marriage is problematic. Preach and teach the clear truth from scripture. Let the Spirit convict and the believer’s scripturally informed and Spirit led conscience apply. I would likely never attend a same sex marriage. I may use pronouns depending on the situation. There are certainly situations where I would not use preferred pronouns. But I don’t think my personal opinion or convictions need to be normative for every believer. This is where I think Begg has overstepped.

Phil Golden

Fist off let me say I don’t think Begg has denied the faith or anything that serious. I think he is wrong but I don’t agree with some who make this a ministry qualifications issue.

That being said, weddings involve several expressions of approval:

Presence-we usually avoid things we don’t like or are commanded to reject.

Clapping-this is pretty universal in our culture. I guess a person could sit there and not clap by why go if they are going to do that.

Gifts, hugs, hand shakes, congratulations- I can’t see avoiding all of this at a wedding and I believe we would approve of sin to do any of the above. Like the poster above, I’m actually pretty surprised that Bible believing Christians would choose to attend a same sex marriage. Maybe surprised is not the right word since we have discussed this on SI before. I will say I continue to be perplexed.

The elevation of the human response to the Gospel over the human responsibility to glorify God leads to pragmatic thinking, especially in this context redefining love according to human terms instead of according to truth.

How is condoning the sin of homosexuality loving?

How is affirming a lie regarding the fundamental nature of personhood loving?

I have to operate in the real world, as many of you may also. As a senior leader in a company, I have a choice to make when I am confronted by someone who may ask to use a specific pronoun. I can refuse to use the pronoun, thus offending that person and those around me, as well as most likely loosing my job and supporting my family. I could even start espousing how bad they are, how what they are doing is evil and how dare they force me to adhere to their wishes and/or belief system. I will at the end of the day get nowhere. I will not change their position, I will anger many others and I would need to figure out how to put food on the table and a roof over my head for my family. I could pray and ask God to restore all of these things to me, such as a job, which He may or may not do. Or I could choose to navigate through the scenario by instead of referring to their preferred pronoun and instead, use their formal name. If I let a pronoun slip and I am confronted by it, I can apologize and use another avenue such as not using a pronoun at all, or using their formal name. I can skip the idea of being offended because someone wishes to impose their will on me. I can love them, in ensuring I navigate through it respectfully, and I can maintain a relationship in which my testimony could continue to influence that person for months or years to come, exposing opportunities to share my testimony.

I choose not to live in a view where someone is trying to impose something on me, and try to find a way to navigate in loving that individual. Not abandoning my faith, but trying to live out my faith in difficult situations.

I think that using names only or finding some other way to speak may be prudent in some workplaces and such, but if the error is never confronted, how will those trapped in this thinking ever change. By "confronted" I don't mean get in their face with a lot of offensive bluster, rather find ways to challenge the thinking by engaging in conversation, asking good questions, pointing towards the truth.

I do wonder at folks who insist the only way you won't offend them is by being offensive to you.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

The pronoun thing is a somewhat different discussion than the Begg situation. There is a difference between being confronted with a choice regarding pronouns to keep a job and voluntarily going to a wedding. I agree that using a person’s name seems like the wise thing.