Questions From Readers
Is it proper for one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to attend the wedding of a non-Witness relative or acquaintance?
Weddings are joyous occasions, and it is understandable that a Christian would like to share in that joy. Of course, minors invited to attend should defer to their parents or guardians, who have the final say on the matter. (Ephesians 6:1-3) But what if a man who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses asks his Christian wife to accompany him to a church wedding? Her conscience might allow her to go merely as an observer determined not to share in any religious acts associated with the occasion.
Basically, then, whether to be present at a certain wedding or not is a matter for personal decision. However, each Christian should be aware of his accountability to Jehovah and ought to consider a number of Scriptural principles when making a decision about attending the wedding of a non-Witness.
Foremost on a Christian’s mind should be a desire to have God’s approval. Jesus said: “God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not engage in interfaith activities, such as prayers, rituals, or ceremonies that are in conflict with Bible truth.—2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
A Christian recognizes that his or her decision could also affect others. If you decide to attend, will your relatives be offended if you do not fully participate in the wedding festivities? The potential effect on fellow believers also needs to be taken into account. (Romans 14:13) Even if you or other members of your household conclude that attending a non-Witness wedding does not pose a problem, could your spiritual brothers and sisters be adversely affected? Could it injure the conscience of some?
Wedding ceremonies involving non-Witness relatives can present challenging situations. What if you are asked to be a member of the bridal party? Or what if your mate is not a Witness and wants to participate fully? If the wedding is a civil ceremony conducted by a judge or a secular officer, attending it may involve little more than witnessing a legal proceeding.
However, a wedding ceremony held in a religious building or performed by a clergyman raises additional concerns. In order to follow your Bible-trained conscience and avoid compromising your religious convictions or doing something that might prove embarrassing to the wedding party, you may decide to refrain from attending. (Proverbs 22:3) You could spare your family and yourself much stress by explaining your Bible-based convictions beforehand, indicating to what extent you are willing to participate or perhaps suggesting an alternative course of action.
After carefully weighing all the factors, some Christians may decide that it would not be improper to attend a non-Witness wedding as a quiet observer. But if a Christian reasons that by being present, he might be tempted to compromise godly principles, he may conclude that the risk outweighs the possible benefits. If he decides not to attend the wedding but to go as an invited guest to the festivities held thereafter, he should be determined to “do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) In making such decisions, “each one will carry his own load” of responsibility. (Galatians 6:5) Whatever you decide, therefore, remember that preserving a good conscience before Jehovah God is vital.