Here We Go and the Devil is a Lie: Church of Scotland Ready to Approve Same-Sex Marriage; Traditionalist Minority Worry Disagreement on the Issue Will Make It Harder To Work Together On Mission

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Church of Scotland Fairmilehead Parish Church in Edinburgh

The Church of Scotland—the largest Protestant church in the country—is another step closer to allowing its ministers to officiate same-sex weddings.

While clergy will not be required to marry same-sex couples, the move makes the minority who oppose the national church’s involvement in gay marriage worried about further division.

“There’s still a continued struggle within the Church of Scotland,” Mike Goss, a minister in the presbytery of Angus who opposed the change, told Premier Christian News. “The group of folk are called traditionalists, folk who stand by the Bible, we’re not going away. We’re still there.”

The traditionalist wing of the church has debated its response to the moves toward affirming same-sex marriage for years. Even as the Presbyterian church prepares to allow the practice, the denomination’s official stance recognizes the tension.

“The Church recognises that there are diverse views on the subject of same-sex marriage,” it says. “We are committed to ensuring that debates on this subject are held in a spirit of humility and grace, that the tone and tenor of discussions are civil and people are respectful of those who hold opposing views.”

Scotland legalized civil partnerships for same-sex couples in 2005 and marriage in 2014. The Church of Scotland—also known by its Scottish name, Kirk—endorsed clergy in same-sex relationships back in 2009 but so far has not allowed ceremonies to take place in its churches.

The Scottish Episcopal Church, another mainline denomination, began allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies in 2017, a year after the Episcopal Church USA. To the south, the Church of England does not officiate same-sex marriages. Last year, the Methodist Church became the largest denomination in Britain to marry same-sex couples.

Nigel Kenny, the Scotland officer for the UK-based Christian Institute, criticized the Church of Scotland’s move away from defining marriage as between a man and woman. “This is a very sad development in the life of the National Kirk, which has in its constitution a commitment to the Bible as the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice,” he stated.

The trend toward LGBT inclusion among Europe’s mainline churches, including the Church of Scotland, has corresponded with ongoing membership decline, according to Evangelical Focus.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today – KATE SHELLNUTT