On Saturday, January 3, 2004 Britney Spears got married. She got drunk, told a childhood friend, "Wouldn't it be a hoot if we got married?" and after a night of drinking they tied the knot. By Monday she filed for annulment.

You say marriage is a sacrament? I know one couple who got married by pirates: "Arrrrr, and does anybody here know why these two mateys shouldn't be married . . ."

We get married at football games, and at demolition derbies. We have computers and Elvis impersonators perform the ceremony. Tom Green got sanctified on Saturday Night Live. How long did that sacrament last?

Elizabeth Taylor has partaken of the sanctity of marriage around a dozen times. God must have really blessed her.

God doesn't sanctify a marriage. Marriages are sanctified by the two people who stood up there and pledged 'I do'. They sanctify their marriage by putting the marriage before themselves, by being there when their partner needs them, by digging in and going to work when things get rough, by making chicken soup when the other is sick, and by holding their hand when life slips away.

You sanctify a marriage in a thousand unglamorous ways every day of your life together.

You want to talk about sanctity? Let me tell you about Al and Tom, two members of my church. They've been together 25 years, built a house together, helped each other, stuck together through thick and thin. They will be together until death parts them.

It's really easy to be heterosexual. All we have to do is get drunk one night and we get sanctified. As a believer I feel shame that so many of my fellow believers want to deny people like Al and Tom the right to publicly acknowledge what they live every day. Some call Al and Tom's relationship abomination, though they understand more about living and loving than Elizabeth Taylor will ever know, no matter how many times she calls the caterer.

In Matthew 7 it is written:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

How is it that we can judge Al and Tom as lacking while Britney's drunken binge is given sanction? is that how WE would like to be judged?

The gospel continues:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Jesus didn't spend his time among the Pharisees, who represented the pinnacle of religious purity in the time of his life. He didn't uplift the rabbis or the synagogues. Instead he uplifted the lepers, the outcasts, the prostitutes and adulterers as being more in tune with the real requirements of God. Samaritans were outcast by Jews in Christ's time, but in Luke 10:27-35, it was the Samaritan whose charity to strangers marked him as the chosen of God. In John 4 it was the adulteress who gave Jesus water and recognized his holiness. Christ uplifted the Roman soldier and took a tax collector as his disciple. And yet in his name believers seek to exclude people like Al and Tom who live as we would have people live.

We need to cast out the beam of self-righteousness from our eye before we condemn our brothers and sisters. If marriage is a pearl, it is better to cast it before people like Al and Tom who appreciate their love than people like Britney who think marriage might be a hoot.

to be fair, the couple i know who had the 'pirate' ceremony is taking their marriage very seriously. They simply have a sense of humor that's more important than tradition