I’m never impressed by stories of gay people trying to find acceptance in a religion. As far as I see religion is totally irrational and not something I would ever fight for. There are non-homophobic churches out there – if you want acceptance join one of those. Or you can do what most of Britain has already seemed to have done – reject religion and leave it to its own bizarre beliefs.
The problem for liberal Christians trying to justify this appointment is not primarily that Scott Rennie is gay – it is that he is married with a child, and apparently, is separated, not (yet) divorced, from his wife. He has been reported as living with his male partner at the manse in Brechin, having formerly shared it with his wife and child.
Were his new partner a woman, this would be considered an unambiguous case of ‘unrepented’ ongoing adultery. He would, therefore be extremely unlikely to be called to a charge as long as that situation persisted.
Whatever we think of ‘Christian’ ethics, and however sympathetically we may view Scott Rennie’s personal situation, this episode in his life hardly illustrates exemplary qualities of Christian spiritual leadership – and it would be much more honest of him to admit that, and get a secular job instead…
As a gay Christian I want to commend the courage of Scott and applaud the willingness of the Aberdeen congregation to call Scott. I can understand Simon Murphy’s comments about leaving religion alone. The gay community has only suffered at the hands of the Church at large. If you don’t believe in Faith or believe it is irrational that is fair enough. But don’t dismiss the faith of hundreds of thousands of lgbt people across the globe or their right to hold it. That faith is real and deserves to be allowed to flourish within faith communities. There are some inclusive denominations which is great. Without homophobic and exclusive denominations there would be no need for them to exist. The argument that there are inclusive places to go so go there or get a secular job is naieve and frankly unacceptable. Would the same arguments be said regarding segregation in the Southern USA or apartheid in South Africa. There are buses/park benches/schools/housing estates/jobs that blacks can do – why do they want to use the same ones as whites?! Ridiculous to argue that way. Or women’s rights – there are plenty jobs they can do why can’t they do them instead of wanting the same ones (or same pay) as men! On too many levels the latent and blatent homophobia existing in society has its roots in religion. By challenging that in the centre of religious institutions that will have eventual transformative effects for those institutions and society as a whole.
There are thousands of lgbt young people growing up in the pews of homophobic churches, petrified of facing who they are. People like Scott are essential for showing these young people they are loveable, normal and accepted. As a minister who was married, came out divorced and was thrown out by his church here in Scotland I am delighted that Scott has survived and wants to continue his essential ministry to the lgbt and straight community in Aberdeen. The wider lgbt community should be there supporting him to the hilt and giving their voice to the hundreds of other closet and out faith leaders across the country.
Re. the comment from Rob Fox – The matter is not one whereby the liberal christians get one over on the evangelicals. Gay inclusivity is not a conservative/liberal issue. Its about interpretation of Scripture rather than the Authority of Scripture. I don’t know if Scott is divorced or not. In traditional schools of Christian ethics divorce or seperation is unacceptable and means someone is not fit for office in the church. Other schools have no such ban on remarriage after divorce. To suggest Christian ethics is monolithic is to give the Traditionalists too much scope. In some schools of Christian ethics a woman is not fit for ministry – does that mean we should accept discrimination? Scott should certainly not leave for a secular job just because a section of the Church is uncomfortable. Clearly his present congregation – knowing his circumstances in full – and the Aberdeen congregation not to mention the Presbytery who have agreed the call – are happy with his call, his skills and his faithfulness. Lets support them and pray (or wish for those without a faith!) that more lgbt leaders are prepared to stand up and be counted – for the benefit of the Church and society.
I was certainly not arguing in favour of Evangelical or Conservative Christianity! God forbid!
My point was that if Scott Rennie is not divorced from his wife his relationship with another partner (of either gender) is adulterous.
What sort of a message does this send from the Church of Scotland to his wife and child – and the wider world – about the value of marriage vows (made in the Kirk)to its ordained ministers???
Where is the compassion for his betrayed wife and daughter in all of this?
No, Malcolm, the cause of promoting a positive image of LGBT people is NOT going to be helped by clutching desperately at straws like this… it just provides more ammunition for the more fundamentalistically inclined to claim they hold the moral ‘high ground’.
I wouldn’t assume that the press gets its information right. In this case, it has definitely gotten at least some of his information wrong. Rev. Rennie is most definitely divorced from his wife, and that happened years ago, entirely separate from Rev. Rennie’s grappling with issues of his sexuality.
My last statement sounded as if I had assumed that Scott Rennie was not yet divorced… I apologise for that.
There are, however, a large number of conservatives in the Church of Scotland, particularly in the Highlands, who view any re-marriage (or sexual relationship) after divorce, as unacceptable and will probably try to create an almighty stink about this, as has happened in the cases of a number of prominent Anglican clerics.
I hope they don’t. If they DO, then I hope that those at Queen’s Cross are fully and realistically prepared for the consequences, AND prepared to back the minister they have called ALL the way – because this situation may make enormous demands of them, as well as Scott and his partner.