Is It Possible for Everyone to Win in the SSM Debate? Bob Hyatt Thinks So

Sometimes we must choose against our natural impulses. In fact, Jesus describes his followers as those who always choose against their normal tendencies when he describes the way of self-denial. We Jesus followers, Christians, tend to think our way of self-denial should be the standard for all others. If we would just be honest about our own lack we might be taken more seriously.

Bob Hyatt thinks there is one last chance for a win-win on the issue of same-sex-marriage (SSM). He appeals to those of us committed to Jesus to recognize how our long held assumptions may need to be subverted by a change of heart.

We have long had a difficult time parsing Church and State issues. For instance we do not want the State inserting itself in religious matters but do not think twice about signing a marriage license issued by the State. We not only sign the license but we note where our credentials to do so are recorded “Book and Page.” We even utter the words signaling the right we have under the State to solemnize marriage. But, when the debate treks in a way we find blatantly violating our sensibilities, we want to tell the State what we are doing is different than what we have been doing. Huh? A little late isn’t it.

Bob’s suggestion has long been my suspicion. Let’s be honest about what marriage is under the rubric of the State and let’s find a way to address the legal implications. Then we could be free to express the sacramental or sacred visions we have of marriage in the Church. But, until we in the Church own our history with the State regarding marriage as something different than what we think we are doing before God and witnesses we will always be at risk of fighting with ourselves.


About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

5 comments on “Is It Possible for Everyone to Win in the SSM Debate? Bob Hyatt Thinks So

  1. Seth says:


    I agree with Bob’s suggestion and have ever since I heard it proposed elsewhere a few months ago. While I agree marriage is something that Christians consider sacred, I also believe that a realization is necessary that regardless of what the government labels the legal union that is currently labeled marriage, it has been and always will be exactly that – a union of two people recognized by the government and should not be equated with marriage as proposed by the Bible and practiced by Christians. With that said, I believe that the government recognized union (under whatever label they decide to give it) should give equal rights regardless of sexual orientation or religious choice.

    1. Seth,
      Glad you commented. It would be helpful for the entire discussion to include a history of marriage from the standpoint of both State and Church. It would be telling. We have to admit that the common vocabulary creates some of these issues.

      Congratulations and enjoy the family heading up for graduation.

  2. If you ask any conservative bible believing evangelical christian whether they were married before God OR before the state, you will get a near unanimous response for the former.

    Every time I bring up this subject though, I get a cultural argument against the idea of recapturing the religious marriage concept, that we will lose something essential as a culture if we take away the state’s involvement in marriage.

    Has anyone noticed that heterosexual marriage (i.e. “real marriage”) is already on the decline? The American culture has already weighed in on marriage and is by and large not buying it.

    1. Mike,

      I just had a conversation with a friend over this issue/post. It seems to me the State, if it is going to be in the marriage business, must find ways to maintain the integrity of the recognizes institution. We know how well the maintain the integrity of other sanctioned ventures. But, before Christians begin poking the State in the eye, Christians have not maintained the sanctity of Christian marriage any better. In fact, the only means to maintain the sanctity of marriage is not in legislation but in practice. If the Christian practice of marriage is not exceptional then the the moral ground upon which we lay claim seems to crumble beneath us. That is why it seems interesting to me that we take up this issue in the manner we do while not addressing it’s sundry other angles.

      Glad you raised the reality of how marriage plays in the wider culture. I want to contend the Church has had something to do with that.

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