A leading figure in the Church of Scotland has told its General Assembly there is “no theological reason” to oppose same-sex marriage, paving the way for same-sex weddings in churches.
The Very Reverend Professor Iain Torrance, Convener of the influential Theological Forum, put forward a report to the Protestant Church’s General Assembly that, whilst acknowledging the Bible condemns same-sex acts, claims Scripture was framed by a “cultural context” that is no longer applicable, reports The Christian Post.
“We say that after reflection we can see no sufficient theological reason for the Church now not to authorise specific ministers to officiate at same-sex weddings,” the Very Rev. Iain Torrance told the assembly, proposing the governing body approve a study of how same-sex ceremonies could be allowed.
The report acknowledged that “conservative arguments” are based on the Bible’s recognition of sexual immorality, including same-sex acts, as sinful.
But the authors of the report justified the Theological Forum’s position on the grounds that “Scriptural condemnations of same-sex sexual activity were framed in cultural contexts very different from our own.”
The Christian Institute reported that a series of amendments put forward by conservative supporters of traditional, biblical marriage were defeated.
The General Assembly of Scotland’s national church has already voted to allow its ministers to enter same-sex marriages and continue serving.
Ministers in the Scottish church who rejected the report did so on biblical grounds, with Revd. Dale London in Angus saying homosexual activity was “contrary to the word of God … it is sinful”, adding: “We cannot call good what God has called evil.”
A spokesman for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said: “Many people in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will be deeply saddened by today’s developments in Scotland, which we believe is at variance with the traditional biblical understanding of marriage between one man and one woman.”
South of the border, the Church of England could edge nearer to a formal split over the issue of homosexuality with evangelical parishes potentially setting up a “shadow synod” to uphold traditional, conservative Christian values should England’s national church deviate from Biblical teaching. In February, the Church of England’s main legislative body rejected a report saying marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
Torrance conceded that authorising same-sex unions should not “prejudice the position of those who decline to do so for reasons of conscience”.
The Kirk (the Scots language name for the Church of Scotland) will conduct legal research to determine how same-sex weddings in churches can be allowed.