An invitation always seems like such a “nice” thing. Here, sometimes out of the blue, comes a nice invitation to a birthday party, a wedding, a religious ceremony, a family event, retirement party, or some other kind of celebration. We are honored to be considered close enough to the subject(s) of the celebration, or their family, so as to be invited. Socially, it builds the expectation that unless we have a conflict in our schedule, we should go. There is almost an “obligation” to attend under these circumstances in the minds of many.
Over the years, I have been asked many times about attending certain social events. It creates a real conflict in the minds of many Christians when they are invited to something which they cannot endorse or cannot support. This has grown more and more acute as the culture and morality have traveled further and further down the road to relativity. But no Christian should feel obligated to accept an invitation to attend an event or activity which would undermine, ignore, or otherwise deny biblical truth and morality.
In Ex. 34:12-15 God says to Israel, “Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice.” Israel was to make no covenant, no social contract if you will, to join in with those who engage in or celebrate sinful idolatry and sacrifice to their Gods. Yet, today, this is just what many Christians are doing. Rather, we should decline invitations to social events, social settings, worship activities, cultural observances, and activities that would be contrary to biblical morals, principles, and propriety. What are some of these areas?
- Remarriage/marriage without biblical warrant
Divorce today is so common as to be almost the expected norm. Rarely, if ever, does a Christian even ask the question of the proposed marriage, “is this in any way warranted in Scripture?” Remember now, God’s rules for marriage are not just for believers. They are universal. So, whether the marriage is “Christian” or not makes no difference. What does make a difference is whether or not the remarriage has biblical warrant. I personally do not attend weddings where such is not the case. With the above reasoning, it would go without saying that attending a same sex marriage ceremony would be outside the pale of acceptance. Some like to say, “well, we are not going to support the same sex marriage, but we are attending out of love for our family/friends.” We want to be a “good testimony to them” and show them the gospel. But we don’t “show them the gospel” by ignoring gospel morality. To attend a wedding, any wedding, is to lend your approbation to the event. You are not a noninvolved bystander at a wedding, you are there to affirm the couple as approving witnesses to the event.
Here are some other areas where genuine prayer and consideration should be exercised before accepting an invitation:
- Infant baptismal regeneration ceremony
- Bachelor/bachelorette party where distinctly immoral activity will occur
- Parties and gatherings where drunkenness is likely to be a major feature
- Family gathering to celebrate what God does not celebrate
- Religious ceremonies of cults, false religions, and apostate organizations where the event is celebrating error or theological falsehood.
God told Israel that when they were invited by pagans to participate in activities that were unbiblical and idolatrous, they were to decline. To accept the invitation would be a result of “making a covenant” with them. We need to be careful not to “make a covenant” with those who are celebrating unbiblical things. Socially, even when the event is generic and not a moral or biblical issue, an invitation is not an obligation. You don’t have to go. We usually want to but do not have to. But when the event is anti-biblical, not only is it not an “obligation”, it becomes a duty to not go. We cannot celebrate what God distains.
These are tough contemporary issues and each person must “work out their own salvation” on these and various other events. The rule of thumb should be, “if God approves of this, then I can attend.” But if biblical Christians do not stand up for truth and biblical morality, who will?