John MacArthur's Shepherd's Conference removes Alistair Begg from speakers' lineup

“Pastor, author and Christian radio personality Alistair Begg continues to face fallout from comments he made in a podcast last year about advice for Christians and same-sex weddings.” - CPost


Alistair Begg Meets the Politically Correct - Russel Moore

An excerpt…

And, as you might expect, he holds strongly to the historic Christian sexual ethic, which defines sexual relations as permissible only within the covenant of marriage, the one-flesh union of a man and a woman. If Alistair Begg were to give a lecture on any number of college campuses, he would be shouted down as a “right-wing bigot.” Really, he’s a time-displaced Puritan with a sense of humor and a pretty good golf game.

You would never know all this, though, from the controversy that’s hit Begg from his fellow evangelical Christians this week. He’s being called a sell-out to the spirit of the age. His long-running radio show was canceled from American Family Radio. Folks are asking, “What happened to Alistair Begg?”

For what my opinion is worth: I don’t know if Begg is right or wrong, but do we really need more “always…” and “never…” in our response to these problems? The Begg case illustrates how difficult these decisions can be for actual Christians with actual close friends and relatives to respond to. Do we have to treat every case as a “cultural problem”—as a category—or can we say, “do the right thing in this case as best you can determine what that is, and I’ll still respect you if I think you’re wrong”?

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.

One outcome of Russel Moore's approach is that if he had an unsaved child who was getting married, he would not attend that wedding. The older I get the more I recognize how messy life is, and that not everything is black and white. It is more about threading a needle through a winding piece of thread. Do you communicate where you stand? Do you make a stand that destroys a relationship? Can a relationship right a wrong?

David's comment points at one thing I've been asking myself.. What do you do when invited to a wedding of a couple that's obviously not doing things Biblically? Not an academic question for me, as my cousin, who's been living with his girlfriend for years, is getting married this April.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

What do you do when invited to a wedding of a couple that's obviously not doing things Biblically?

It's always a judgement call. We have had church members (or at least attenders) who were entering into ill-advised marriages. We strongly urged them to wait, to not proceed at the time, and told them we could not in good conscience attend the wedding. After they went ahead, we tried to work with them to pick up the pieces. Some of these stayed with us for awhile, but I think in every case the marriage ended in disaster.

Not an easy question to answer, to be sure.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


I think it is also challenging from a Pastor and a church member perspective as well.

I try to balance it out with how sinfully permanent the situation is, and how important the relationship is.

  • Is the decision reversible (i.e. marrying an unsave spouse, can result in the unsaved spouse coming to know Christ vs. something like a same sex union)
  • How much influence do I have with the individual (If I have a strong relationship, can I continue to use that relationship to influence the individual to come to Christ)
  • How impactful would it be for me not attending (If the relationship become entirely broken, what positive influence could I still have in the relationship)
  • Have I made clear to the individual that I disagree with their choice, and articulated the reasons why?

These are the questions I use to try to balance out whether I should attend or not. I do hold much closer to Russel Moore's stance in my view of a wedding and significance of the attendance. But I would most likely still attend an unsaved relatives wedding. God instituted marriage as being between one man and one woman for the entirety of life, but did allow divorce. The sin of this world creates choices that while we would prefer to be black and white, most often requires us to navigate grey.

One possible way of putting things is that when a couple has been living together, the blow up is extremely likely whether they get married or not, and getting married does tend to indicate some level settling down--generally a family does not sign up for the income tax penalty and a much more difficult breakup process (divorce) unless they're at least starting to make some better decisions. Working through David's list, it's my cousin that I can have some impact on, so I think it will be worth a trip. Both are unsaved, so making vows is at least a step forward.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

To Bert's scenario of a cohabiting couple finally marrying: I've faced it with an unbelieving cousin. I attended the wedding without any qualms of conscience.

The rule of thumb I use is, Is the marriage a step of overall obedience, or a step of overall disobedience? On the basis of 1 Corinthians 7:2 ("But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.") I would say that even with a previously cohabiting couple, previously living in sin, being married is a step in the direction of obedience.

Homosexual "marriage" is not even marriage and can never be a step of obedience and I'm in the "never attend" camp. (NB: I think Begg is in serious error but I'd avoid slinging more at him than is warranted for this error. From what I know, he still clearly disapproves of homosexuality. But this is a step in a very bad direction for him, and I've heard that the likes of Matthew Vines is leveraging this occasion.)

For a believer poised to marry an unbeliever, where that is somehow pretty well established (e.g., the unbeliever simply has no profession of faith), on the basis of 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Corinthians 7:39, etc., that is a step of disobedience, and I would not likely attend.

For "ill-advised marriage," that's kind of squishy. I'd err on the side of attending but would need to see specific scenarios before making a call.

Related: in Nebraska, I knew a pastor who had been a pastor in upstate New York, and had become something of the community chaplain / pastor in addition to his own church. If a cohabiting couple came to him wanting to be married, he'd refuse unless they moved apart tout d'suite. That's a huge difference from what I heard the Roman Catholic church doing with their couples' premarital counseling, where they had separate tracks, one for cohabiting couples and one for everyone else. Catholics missing a huge opportunity to call people to repentance right there.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA