The Rev Scott Rennie, a gay minister whose appointment is threatening to split the Church of Scotland, has spoken about his struggle to face up to his sexuality and reconciling it with Biblical teachings.

In an interview with the spring edition of OneKirk Journal, he said he felt “battered” by the speculation over his private life.

“On the other hand, and for the greater part, I feel hugely strengthened and supported by the hundreds of messages I have received from people both inside and outside the Kirk,” he added.

Arguing that some passages in the Bible could be taken to support slavery, he said: “Lifting verses out of their original context leads to misinterpretation.

“It seems to me that the four passages in the New Testament that are claimed by some to address homosexuality must also be interpreted within their first century context. A context that knew nothing of loving, committed lesbian and gay relationships.”

Speaking about the day he decided to live openly as a gay man, he said: “I remember listening to Radio 4 one morning after my marriage broke down. I felt a sense of despair – that all of life had collapsed in on me wondering where God was in all of this and a woman said on the radio: the things you run from in life are the very things that run your life.’

“And I realised that day that I couldn’t sweep my sexuality under the carpet any longer. I accepted that my sexuality was an issue I had to face and deal with – for my own health and wellbeing and those who are closest to me.”

A petition against the appointment of the Rev Rennie to Queen’s Cross church has collected more than 5,000 signatures, it was revealed yesterday.

A fifth of Church of Scotland clergy signed the petition.

He was elected by 86 per cent of the church’s congregation, a vote ratified by the Presbytery of Aberdeen in January, by 60 votes to 24.

The Church’s General Assembly will debate the controversial appointment on May 23rd.