In fact, protesters have even picketed Mormon temples and Christian churches for their perceived role in the passage of Proposition 8. Conservatives view legally accepted marriages between homosexuals as an assault on a sacred institution, whereas liberals view it as a natural progression in the granting of equal rights to a group of people that have been historically oppressed.
In a pluralistic democratic society, how should we respond when there are proposed changes in the law when it comes to those institutions that we consider sacred, such as marriage? One of the major challenges in the discussion of a sensitive topic such as this is to realize that there are actually at least two different senses in which we view marriage. First, it is a union in the eyes of God "til death do us part." Second, it is a legal contract in the government's eyes that can be broken when seen fit by one or both parties. This is wherein the rub lies. In one sense it is holy, sacred and eternal; in the other it is secular, temporal and limited to this age. Maybe the perspective that C.S. Lewis shared on marriage in his classic Mere Christianity needs to be considered:
"Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one.Perhaps those that are advocates for gay marriage are so infuriated at those that are against it is because many that claim marriage is sacred and holy treat it as if it is secular and temporal. According to a number of studies, those that identify themselves as born-again Christians divorce at essentially the same rate as the general population. How can we say that marriage is a holy institution that would be threatened by the legalization of gay marriage when an arguably greater threat is the frequency that Christians cheat on their spouses and the alarming rate at which Christians divorce?
I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the [Muslims] tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not."
In mentioning these realities, I am not attempting to bring greater pain to those that have already suffered the devastating heartbreak of a broken marriage. What I am seeking to do is to cause those of us that call ourselves followers of Jesus to first take a good look at ourselves. There are some in the public eye that are the most vocal critics of gay marriage that have had three or four marriages themselves. And they call it sacred?! When it comes to the marriage debate, the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount resound:
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."For those of us that have not gone through a divorce or physically committed adultery, we don't escape Jesus' warnings either:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."Jesus' teachings went beyond what we find comfortable. He spoke against divorce. He spoke against adultery. And, yes, he even spoke against lust. I do think that marriage should not be entered into lightly and I do believe that it should be reserved for a man and woman for life. But I also think it would do us well to consider that our words ring hollow to the mainstream when we claim to be advocates for that which is God-ordained yet continue to not demonstrate that in our own lives.
None of us are perfect and we will all fail from time-to-time so let us remember that our love will always go farther than our anger and that grace has more power to pierce the human heart than judgment.