Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Gay Ministers in Civil Partnerships

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships – BBC News.

Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against.

The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favour of change.

A further vote will be held this week on whether or not to extend ordination to ministers in same sex marriages.

Supporters said it was time for the church to be inclusive and recognise the “mixed economy” of modern Scotland.

Opponents warned that the move was contrary to God’s law, would prove divisive and lead to resignations.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said that the current stance meant that the Church had adopted a position which “maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to ‘opt out’ if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership.”

-more at  BBC News.

This is impressive.

Just a few years ago, there was widespread controversy in the Scottish Kirk, as it is popularly known, when one local congregation appointed an openly gay minister. Now, a comfortable  majority in the full General Assembly (63% – 37%) has agreed to approve not just openly gay men (and lesbians), but even those publicly committed to their lovers in civil partnerships, and may later approve the appointment of pastors in same – sex  marriages.

Some people may be surprised by this. This is Calvinist Scotland, which has a reputation for a rigidly harsh approach to Sunday observance, and the Kirk is is as close as the Scots get to a national church.The 1992 statement explaining their understanding of Christian faith in jargon-free non-theological language, “God’s Invitation”, puts strong emphasis on biblical fidelity. In spite of its name, the Church of Scotland is not a Scottish counterpart to the Church of England or the Church of Ireland. It is not part of the Anglican communion, which are generally perceived as relatively liberal. But with this decision to open a path to ministry for men and women in same – sex civil partnerships, without the fudge of requiring that these be “celibate”, the Kirk has already moved further ahead on the path to full lgbt inclusion than the Church of England, or the Church of Ireland,

The key to understanding this, I think, is in seeing the Church of Scotland as part of the Presbyterian / Reformed tradition, which is theologically quite conservative, but respects individual liberty in belief. Wikipedia has this:

“Its longstanding decision to respect “liberty of opinion on matters not affecting the substance of the faith” means it is relatively tolerant of a variety of theological positions, including those who would term themselves conservative and liberal in their doctrine, ethics and interpretation of Scripture.”

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