William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Church of Scotland Goes For Gmarriage (Government-Defined Marriage)

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.

11 Comments

  1. If the ecclesiastical powers-that-be think that this move is going to have the like-minded bang down the doors to the sanctuaries and start tithing generously, they are likely to be disappointed. Ditto for the next step into their journey into the modern.

  2. Shouldn’t the headline be: Church of Scotland votes to dump God and embrace society? It happens a lot. The use of the word Church is really quite meaningless. Consider scientology. Nothing a church does in any way means God agrees. It just means commercial interests are what the church has, not religion. Any church that votes on doctrine has nothing to do with God. A simple measure of the truth—you cannot vote on the truth and if you do, you’re not really going for truth, just the vote you wanted. I’m not sure the church ever did have anything to do with God, except perhaps the tiny ones. Churches have been political entities more than actual teachers and worshippers of God throughout history. Churches were about money since at least the Pharisees showed up, if not before. Better to rant about the ridiculous association people have between God and churches.

    As for “is rejection over sexuality a thing of the past”, not in true Christian Churches, just the rest of the social clubs out there.

    Worship of money is what causes this and the desire to be popular. Neither of these things has anything to do with God.

  3. The apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, anticipated this;

    “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

    We should not lose heart. The best we can do is to follow Pauls charge to Timothy;

    “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

  4. They can opt in to opting out. Or is it opt out of opting in. Whichever it is, or isn’t, exceptions are now the norm. Diversity is equality. No matter what it is or what you are, it’s different. That’s the same. Said Alice as she slid down the hole.

  5. While the church is sorting its own house out it could well do without the growth of a rather harder Islamic religion which has a deal of power in some parts of Scotland. This, to me, is directly related to that matter.

  6. Civil mariage was already introduced in the Austrian Empire in 1784 by emperor Joseph II.

  7. Hans, civil marriage between whom? (Not other than male/female, I would think–and humans both.)

  8. With regards to the Anglicans, “the widespread sentiment is that they won’t last” depends on which national Church or church you are discussing. Some of them are dying rapidly, others will be around for a while yet.

    The “official” North American Churches are already in full blown worship of the ways of man, and Scotland, Wales, and a few others are there in practice even if not yet in formal declaration. Then you have others like England and South Africa where the leadership are in love with their itching ears, but don’t want to publicly follow the latest fashions into hell because they are afraid of alienating large the only remaining vibrant parts of their laity who are stuck in those old fashioned traditions like actually thinking the Biblical writers, Fathers, scholastics and reformers might have actually have known just a little bit more about God than your average half-atheist, modern, feminist, p-value worshiping, gender theorist of confused self-identity does; so instead the Church leadership are dragging the church to hell slice by slice while carefully mouthing platitudes that sound nice but in practice display that they know as much about theology and logic as the stupidest of the teletubbies’ pet rabbits. Then you have places like Australia, where half the Church is as solid as anyone, and the others as quick to conform themselves to the patterns of the world as a puddle of water. And then you have got the vast majority of Anglicans, who live in Africa or parts of Asia and South America, who are utterly appalled with what has happened in the West, and as solid as they come. The Anglican church will continue, just not in the official Churches of Europe and North America.

  9. “Civil marriage was already introduced in the Austrian Empire in 1784”

    Neither the Church nor government “introduced” marriage, nor define it. They recognise that a marriage event has occurred, register it, and regulate a few aspects which can have impact on others. It’s similar to their recognition and registration of birth and death. That’s why the same government departments record all those three natural events.

  10. Christianity is being destroyed from the inside out….and yet some in America still obsess about the “threat” of “Shariah?”

    Normal-American culture is under attack from many, many angles–Shariah is not one of them.

  11. Isn’t Gmarriage where everybody’s married to the tax office?

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