Modern America is all about love. That love expresses itself in many different ways, but on a societal level it is all about embracing who you are, loving yourself so that you can better love others, and loving others by showing them tolerance, no matter what their beliefs or lifestyle may be.
Tolerance. Since when did that become such a positive word?
"Hey, we're all going to hang out at my place after school. Wanna join us?"
"Sure, I think I could tolerate being with you guys for a few extra hours."
Regardless, to show tolerance is to show love, and to be intolerant is to express hate.
Which is why, when Christians speak or behave in ways that show a refusal to tolerate gay marriage - by such hateful acts as refusing to host gay weddings in their churches, bake gay wedding cakes, or produce pro-gay t-shirts - America responds in shock.
These people are Christians.
God is love.
Jesus doesn't condemn.
Two people who love each other - how could anyone not want them to get married, if they so chose?
As a Christian, I would like to clarify something about this issue. Christians have always been, and will always be, passionate about traditional marriage. It is even more than an expression of love to us. The subject is at the very heart of our beliefs. Far from betraying a hateful, intolerant spirit, to defend marriage is to defend Christianity's most loving and wonderful doctrine. But to understand that, we've got to take a look at marriage throughout the Bible.
When God created marriage, He designed it in such a way that husband and wife were to become one. (Genesis 2:24)
When God rescued Israel from Egypt, He made a covenant with her. God promised to be their God, their provider, their shepherd. Israel's side of the bargain was to be faithful to her King. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)
But Israel was unfaithful. Over and over again we see Israel turning away from God, then facing the consequence and crying out for His rescue once again. And over and over again, God returned to them. In the life of the prophet Hosea, we see an earthly picture of this relationship played out vividly in the life of Hosea and his wife Gomer. Hosea loved Gomer, yet she was unfaithful to him.
But is didn't matter. She turned away from him several times, only to find herself on the streets and in despair, rejected by the objects of her infidelity. Yet Hosea always sought her, found her, brought her back to him. (Hosea 3:1)
Then in the New Testament, Jesus uses parables to speak of the church as a bride and himself as the bridegroom. When He died on the cross, He rescued His bride from punishment for her sins. Although she had been - and would be - unfaithful, His sacrifice washed her clean once again. When the New Testament outlines the roles of husband and wife in marriage, it bases them on this profound truth, of Jesus' love for the Church. This also echos Genesis' proclamation of two becoming one by declaring that when Christ cares for His Church, He cares for His own body. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
The Bible concludes with Jesus' return: the groom sweeps His Church into eternity with Him in a scene referred to as the Marriage of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7-8)
So you see, the Bible is a romance, with Jesus, God incarnate, the hero of the story. Marriage is a very big part of that; God created marriage to present to us an earthly picture of what the relationship between Christ and His Church looks like. And Christ's love for us is greater than we can imagine.
It is for this reason that a Christian cannot accept gay marriage - or any other twist on marriage, for that matter. Whether society tries to redefine marriage by allowing for polygamy, gay marriage, open marriage, or two-year marriage licences, Christians will stand up and not accept it. When society tries to devalue marriage, whether by decrying it as an institution that oppresses women or by accepting extramarital sex as normal or beneficial, Christians will take a stand for the truth.
Marriage was designed to remind us of Christ's boundless love for you and me. Redefining it twists that original, God-ordained purpose.
So next time you see another newsworthy incident of a Christian portraying intolerance of gay marriage, try to understand that he is only being true to his dearest beliefs.