Is it Morally Permissible to Attend a Gay Marriage?

When the Supreme Court legalized marriage in all 50 states of the union this past summer I knew it would be inevitable that people would be asking whether or not they could attend the marriage of a same-sex couple. May we attend or should we politely bow out? Before we answer, let’s set a foundation.

By attending an event we implicitly show that we are giving approval to the event. Imagine, for example, if we were to show up at a celebration by the Ku Klux Klan. There would be no way we can claim that we were just showing up for the event but not approving of the Klan. Similarly, how could we show up for a marriage celebration that violates what we believe without giving tacit approval to the event? As a rule, therefore, those who oppose gay marriage should not attend a same-sex celebration. Naturally, there will be an awkwardness involved in turning down the invitation. Sometimes someone may feel that they are so close to someone, especially an immediate family member or very dear friends, that they feel it would harm the relationship by not attending. If that is the case, the only way we could attend without implicitly approving would be to clearly let the individuals know beforehand that our presence should in no way be interpreted as approving of what they are doing. I know thMale and femaleat many people will find that a difficult thing to do, but sometimes in life we must do things that are awkward or difficult in order to remain faithful to our beliefs. Others may feel that they are judging the individuals by not showing up; in fact, that is precisely what the gay-rights community has been doing to us: making us believe that we are judging them by not approving of their activities. Nothing of that sort is taking place at all. Do not let individuals put you on the defensive and make it sound like you’re judging them. Actually, there is a breach of charity on their part if they should do that. Charity dictates that we should never deliberately place anyone in a situation where their presence would violate their beliefs, religious or otherwise. Would you invite an animal rights activist to attend the opening of a new fur salon and expect them to attend and be supportive? That would be uncharitable. Similarly, same-sex couples should not invite to their wedding someone they know does not approve of gay marriage. To do so would be insensitive on their part. Same-sex couples may have won the legal right to marry, but they must understand that not everyone approves of what they’re doing and for them to put anyone in a situation whereby they would be forcing them to choose between their relationship with them and their religious beliefs is unconscionable. I find that the onus is on a same- sex couple to be sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and not put them on the spot. If they worry that someone would be offended by not being invited, I would suggest adding a note with the invitation that says, “You are a very important person in my life and so I welcome you to take part in my celebration; however, I realize that this may cause awkwardness for you, and if you feel you cannot in good conscience attend I will understand.” Similarly, it would behoove a same-sex couple to understand if someone says, “listen, you’re very important to me and I love you but you know what you’re doing violates my religious beliefs and I cannot in good conscience celebrate with you.” If they are people of integrity, they will understand. If not, they are merely trying to use their marriage as a means to force you to accept their beliefs, even at the risk of violating your own, and that is wrong of them. They should not turn their celebration into a moral battleground. Let them celebrate with those who support them and understand that some cannot. So if you are invited to a same-sex ceremony, very politely inform the person that you cannot attend because it violates your religious beliefs and you’re sure they understand that and know you mean them no ill will. If you feel you absolutely must attend the event, make it clear to the person beforehand that under no circumstances should they interpret your attendance as approval of what they are doing.

15 thoughts on “Is it Morally Permissible to Attend a Gay Marriage?

  1. Hello Liz! Thanks for the update and for your kind words and prayers. We’re all on a journey to holiness, and your honesty with yourself will bring you very close to Him.

    Permit me to offer something that may help: suppose your daughter was not in a same-sex relationship but was perfectly straight and in a sexual relationship with a married man whom she claimed she loved? Would you then expect God to change the law and allow adultery because “love should be love?”

    Unfortunately, our world is obsessed with sex and insists on following the delusion that happiness can only be found in sexual expression. The truth is that happiness is found in living as God wants us to live, not in what we’ve convinced ourselves is the best for us, and when we find ourselves telling God that his law is preventing us from being happy, we have made a fatal wrong turn somewhere, and it is necessary for us to backtrack to that point and get back on the proper road.

    Hope this helps! Your openness to God in the midst of your struggle is refreshing, and if you are seeking him, you will find him. Do not be afraid!

    Fr. Carrozza

    • Liz says:

      Hi Father,
      First let me say,the closing of your reply made me smile. “Be not afraid” has been my mantra for a year. I actually have been carrying a card in my pocket that says that and it has given me courage to “stay the course” when I am ready to say no to the Church and walk away. I know I am probably a disappointment to God, born and raised to believe everything without question…and I did .then life changed things.and I had to ask.

      As for the rest : I cannot imagine my daughter in a heterosexual situation – even for this instance. Its a fact of our life that she is gay. Her relationships aren’t purely sexua though ; she has an emotional relationship too, but you are right, ” our world is obsessed with sex…” I would never expect God to change the law. I know His word will never change. Its me that has to deal with the situation, and the Word as written, and that is where my confusion and frustration come in. Its hard to sit in church and hear how homosexuality is wrong and sinful and know they are talking about your child. And what kind of a hypocrite am I for being there and listening? anyhow…….
      I am on a journey, back to total faith .but how do you just give it all up and accept without question. Like I have said before, I can’t turn my back on God or my daughter.
      Thanks for letting me say all this.

      • Thanks, Liz! I’m glad my response helped.

        Sometimes we get used to using overly simplified terms when preaching. I try always to speak of homosexual acts and not homosexuality. Someone who discovers that he or she has same-sex attraction has not sinned; you can’t control where your attractions lie. It is in giving into the temptations and committing homosexual acts that becomes a sin. I presume that’s what the priest meant when he said “homosexuality” was sinful. Again, it is not the feelings or the attractions that are sinful, it is the acts.

        Keep up the struggle! You are not a hypocrite; you are trying to reconcile your love for God with your love for your daughter. It can be done. Just ask God to show you how!

  2. Liz says:

    I am both troubled and in trouble by all of this. There are a couple of very important people in my life whose weddings I will attend happily when and if the time comes — my daughter being one of them.
    I am having a hard time with this teaching. My pastor and I have talked many times and I know that it is against the teachings of the Church but God knows my heart, and he knows my daughters heart. She is a kind, gentle soul and deserves to be happy.
    Please don’t lecture me, I beat myself up all the time about this. My conscience works overtime.
    I didn’t ask God for a gay child, and have wanted to walk away from the Church many times because of the teachings that will never change.
    There is so much good though.
    One problem I am blatantly aware of is that there really is no place for the parent of a gay child in the Church. Support your child, disobey God. Support your God turn your back on your child. My pastor did tell me that one thing I can’t do is love my child more than God.. I love them both.
    I guess I really don’t have a point just have been stewing about this since your post came out.
    You are still in my prayers Father Carrozza

    • Hello Liz. I appreciate the delicateness of your situation. But there are some missing elements in what you’ve mentioned. There are in fact good Catholic support groups for parents of gay children. Please go to the following site:

      Remember that God does not merely want us to be happy; in fact, he never once said in Scripture “I have come to make you happy.” He wants us to be holy, which is a very different thing. He actually commands us to “deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.” Further, he says “anyone who does not take up his cross cannot be my follower.” The path to holiness is not easy and Jesus is very challenging. If he were not, I suppose everyone would follow him.

      Have you checked out my post on parents of a gay child? Here is a quick link:

      You’ll be in my prayers. Please let me know if I can help you further.

      • Liz says:

        Hi Father, Just writing to give you an update. While I am still confused about where I belong in the Church and how I feel on homosexuality, I have joined the online EnCourage group and find that there are other people who feel as I do. Most of what I have encountered ithough are people who believe homosexuality is wrong and our children , even though very loved, are troubled, and it causes a lot of stress and sadness in the parents. I do see a positive, faith – filled group of people who really love their God and their children and pray their hearts out for their children and their ability to help and restore them . I already love this group and feel as if am a part of it. They would also pray their hearts out for someone like me, with our common bond, simply because I am part of the group. Its eye opening to me the different situations, and makes me appreciate my daughter and her calm life. YetI know I am wrong to support her and her lifestyle
        I did read your article about parents of gay children and found it interesting, yet I have to agree with Elizabeta . I know you said God never said he wanted us to be happy, but to be holy, but if my child was happy in a same sex relationship, love should be love. I know we won’t agree. I do respect you . You have posted some advice that has changed my life (like the posts on confession)and I am truly grateful for your words. I speak a lot with my heart, and I know this kind of thinking will probably keep me out of heaven. I know I have a long way to go and I do realize this is the cross I am going to carry. I am praying for mercy in this year of mercy.
        Ask for mercy
        Be merciful
        Complete trust. (ABC’s of mercy)
        thank you, still praying for you.

  3. You can’t make this stuff up! That wouldn’t have happened if they’d married in church like they were supposed to do.

  4. The Contrite Catholic says:

    Good article, that expresses the truth of the matter. It isn’t about discrimination of hatred, but that guests are witnesses in support. How do you feel about attending the weddings of Catholics outside the church with no dispensations? Thank you for your time!

    • Thank you. Actually, the prohibition on attending a gay marriage is merely an extension of the prohibition against attending any marriage where a Catholic is not marrying validly in the eyes of the Church. It is scandalous and a public sign of consent with what they’re doing. Unfortunately, almost no one follows this prohibition any more.

  5. Bob Johnson says:

    There’s also the matter of scandal.

    • That too! By attending we give scandal, because it leads others to believe we approve of the wedding, and is one of the ways we participate in their sin: by giving public approval of the sin.

  6. Jean Blair says:

    We were invited to a wedding upstate – a Catholic man and woman. Guess what? The person who performed the ceremony was a lesbian!!!! What a shock!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hello Contrite Catholic!

      In regards to your question about a source to quote for the prohibition of attending an invalid marriage (gay or otherwise), I cannot give you a specific line from any papal statement if that’s what you mean. But there is the list of the “nine ways of aiding another in sin”, which is as follows:
      1. Counseling or advising another to sin.
      2. Commanding another to sin.
      3. Provoking another to sin.
      4. Consenting to another’s sin.
      5. Showing another how to sin.
      6. Praising another’s sin.
      7. Concealing, remaining silent about, doing nothing to prevent another’s sin.
      8. Taking part in, or enjoying the results of, another’s sin.
      9. Defending another’s sin.

      Whenever a Catholic marries invalidly, they are committing a sin. Attending the ceremony and celebrating with them at a party would clearly fall under #’s 4,6,7,8,and 9. Attending the ceremony & party is clearly sinful based on the above.

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