The Church of Scotland has passed a resolution to allow same-sex partners in civil partnerships to act as Ministers and Deacons. As the rule change was first proposed before Scotland legalised gay marriage as a result the move has been widely seen as a ‘fudge’ which makes the Church’s position on the issue unclear.
At the end of last year gay marriage was passed in Scotland and at the time all civil partners were entitled to convert to married status automatically. After that gay couples were entitled to either civil partnerships or full marriage, whereas straight couples were only allowed to marry.
The Church had been debating how to deal with civil partnerships for some years, and this culminated in yesterday’s vote. The decision was made by the General Assembly in Edinburgh, and the motion was passed by 309 votes in favour with 182 against.
Officially the Church claims that only allowing civil partners to become ministers means it can “maintain it’s traditional view on marriage, between one man and one woman”. In reality there is no practical difference, not least because of the ease with which these relationships can be converted into full gay marriage.
The outgoing Moderator, the Very Rev John Chalmers told the Daily Record:”It is time to stop calling each other names, time to shun the idea that we should define ourselves by our differences and instead define ourselves by what we hold in common – our baptism into Christ, our dependence on God’s grace, our will to serve the poor and so on.”
Despite her words the change in the rules will be seen as a major blow to traditionalists, who have had to accept a number of departures from long standing rules in recent years. There will also be suspicions that the ruling will be the ‘slippery slope’ towards full acceptance of gay marriage.
Traditionalists will point to examples such as the ordination of women, which resulted in women Bishops despite assurances that liberal elements would not push for them. The Church insists individual parishes will be able to refuse to have ministers in civil partnerships.