— Church of Scotland (@churchscotland) May 21, 2016
Notice that they couldn’t resist that horrid, unnecessary bar graph.
The Kirk caved. Dateline Glasgow: “Church of Scotland votes to allow ministers to be in same-sex marriages“.
The Church of Scotland’s highest law-making body has voted to allow its ministers to be in same-sex marriages.
The church’s general assembly, which opened in Edinburgh on Saturday, voted in favour of extending a law passed last May that permits ministers to be in same-sex civil partnerships.
The decision, after years of deliberation, means the church maintains the traditional view marriage as between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to “opt out” if they wish to appoint a minister or deacon in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership.
This is sort of like saying the church maintains the traditional teaching that Jesus is God, but allows individual congregations to “opt out” if they wish to appoint a minister or deacon who is a heretic.
Being good democrats (though not so hot theologians) the Kirk allowed the matter to put to a vote, which was 339-215, or 3/5 majority. The only surprising thing, we might think given the tenor of publicity, is that the margin of defeat wasn’t larger. So if there is any good news, it’s there.
Commenting on the retreat from tradition and Reality, one local paper ran letters under the headline “Is rejection over sexuality a thing of the past in Christian Church?” One gent said:
[This decision] can be looked upon as an exercise in ecclesiastical pragmatism in efforts to avoid the prospect of profound disruption in the Church of Scotland. There is something inherently illogical about a Church allegedly not interfering with its long-standing, theological definition of marriage and yet, permitting congregations to depart from that definition.
Moreover, where is the common sense and consistency in having a message which states ministers in the Church of Scotland may be in a same-sex marriage, but not be able to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies? The service, which someone else has performed for them, they are unable to carry out for others.
Wanting to avoid disruption, profound or not, is not a core tenet of Christianity, which brings (according to its Founder) a sword, not peace. The disruption in the Kirk is there and can’t be removed, not if they continue to allow “opt outs”. How long those will last is an interesting bet. Once some congregation does “opt out”, it can’t be long before the move is painted as “homophobic” or “bigoted”, and there will be Hell to pay.
Funny, as the reader notes, the Church of Scotland tries to pretend there’s a distinction in allowing gmarried clergy but forbidding gmarriage ceremonies. I suppose Kirk members can always travel to the USA and get gmarried in a Presbyterian church. This is another restriction that will soon fade to nothing.
As proof comes a second letter from one Rev Dr Iain Whyte, who says
Although there may be some way to go in bringing full equality, the Assembly decision by a large majority on Saturday marked another significant milestone…
At last the fear of openness over sexuality which has recently been banished in law and in civic society looks as if it will also be a thing of the past in the Church that many of us belong to.
So it’s full-blown heresy for the good Rev Doc. Since he’s on the inside looking out, and as he assures us himself, he’ll be working to see everybody else converts, too.
It’s not just he. Another paper also ran letters, one including a missive from one Rev Dr John Cameron, who is bitter about the wishy-washiness of the result. He says “I look forward to the day when a cleric ignores [the Church’s] unctuous dictates and marries a gay couple in his congregation.” I’m thinking that day comes in 2016. Any bets against?
Now it’s surely a coincidence, but when I was searching for commentary on the Kirk’s decision, I came upon a news item which, I suppose, isn’t that surprising. It turns out that the daughter of Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu has herself entered a gmarriage. The kicker is that she is, or at least was, a reverend in the South African Anglican Church.
Once that Church heard of her gmarriage, it “revoked her licence to preach”.
The Anglicans are still hanging on, but the widespread sentiment is that they won’t last.