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Alistair Begg, gay weddings, and love

Same-sex couple plastic figurines are displayed during a gay wedding fair in Paris in this April 27, 2013, file photo.
Same-sex couple plastic figurines are displayed during a gay wedding fair in Paris in this April 27, 2013, file photo. | Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Alistair Begg recently said Christians should attend gay weddings. He 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.’”

His words made him a trending topic recently on social media. Some progressive “Christians” are using his words to make their LGBT-affirming stance appear more legitimate, and other Christians are denouncing him.

One of the people denouncing Alistair Begg said

“You have geldings like Begg, who can spend decades in quiet, nice, respectable ministry, but inwardly be total cowards worthy of nothing but disgust. There is a desperation for men who act like men to lead … Conservative evangelicalism is desperate for men to lead, but the pathways for men-as-men to climb their way to leadership are completely cut off to them from the start. The only way forward will be to have churches which incentivize masculine leadership from the get-go and that attract and train young men who are really men and not conflict-avoidant nerds. And the second you do this, respectable men like Kevin DeYoung will attack you for your mood. You have to be willing to step over these people. You have to be willing to let the dead bury the dead. Respectable, winsome, Alistair Begg evangelicalism is dead and soon to be buried.”

That person is around my age and Alistair Begg is twice our age at 71. I know that is increasingly irrelevant to many people today, but how we talk about people matters, especially when they’re significantly older than us. The Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father” (1 Timothy 5:1). 

Of course that doesn’t literally mean we should never rebuke older men. After all, the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy to rebuke all unrepentant church members in front of the entire church (1 Timothy 5:20). It means we should be especially careful in how we rebuke older saints. If we’re supposed to rebuke everyone with gentleness, we should be even more gentle in how we rebuke older saints. 

Especially since Alistair Begg has been a faithful pastor since well before I was born. Does almost 50 years of faithfulness mean nothing to us? If we’re ready to cancel him, then everyone should probably be canceled — except, apparently, zealous and inexperienced young men.

Alistair Begg should be corrected and rebuked for what he said. I’m grateful people like Owen Strachan have done so in a candid yet kind manner. I admire Alistair Begg and I’m looking forward to seeing him at this year’s Shepherds Conference. However, what he said is indefensible. 

I can’t think of any biblical reason for Christians to attend a celebration of what God calls an abomination. If a Christian attends a gay wedding and the marriage officiant says, “If anyone sees any reason why these two should not be wed, let them speak now or forever hold their peace,” wouldn’t the Christian be obligated to speak? 

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

Also, many of us need to stop acting like we’re commanded to disobey God to win the world’s approval. We’re not called to be like politicians. We don’t win our race by gaining the world’s approval. We’re not supposed to worry about how the world reacts to righteousness. We should only be concerned about what unbelievers think about our sins — sins like attending a gay wedding.

In fact, God says it’s our opposition to the world that leads many unbelievers to become interested in the Gospel. So according to the Bible, refusing to attend a gay wedding is more likely to make them repent.

So no, it’s not loving to attend a gay wedding. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says: “[love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

It’s not loving to attend a gay wedding and it’s not loving to cancel Alistair Begg. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Some of Alistair Begg’s critics are seemingly only interested in verse 6, not the rest of that Scripture. God commands us to love Alister Begg by being patient, kind, and hopeful with him. He doesn’t say we should be envious of his influence, boastful about our own supposed courage, arrogant about our so-called masculinity, rude by calling him a gelding (castrated), insist that we must step over men like him, or irritated and resentful towards men like him. 

Alistair Begg will give an account to God over what he says about Christians attending gay weddings and we’ll also give an account to God over what we say about him.

Originally published at Slow to Write. 

Samuel Sey is a Ghanaian-Canadian who lives in Brampton, a city just outside of Toronto. He is committed to addressing racial, cultural, and political issues with biblical theology, and always attempts to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

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