Church of Scotland looks set to approve of same-sex weddings and apologise to gays
The Church of Scotland is expected to approve measures taking it closer to performing same-sex weddings.
The Kirk’s General Assembly will next week be asked to look into how same-sex weddings could take place in the church.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014, but different denominations are able to choose whether to opt out of same-sex marriage or not.
A report which says ministers should be allowed to conduct same-sex marriages will be debated by the Church’s General Assembly in Edinburgh.
The document also states that the organisation should apologise for failing to acknowledge that gay people can also be observant Christians “individually and corporately”.
It will be presented by the Theological Forum of the Church of Scotland, an influential body which challenges the theology of the Kirk.
Moderator Designate the Reverend Dr Derek Browning said: “On Thursday afternoon the theological forum will be bringing a report to the General Assembly, and this year what they’re asking to do is for the assembly, first of all, to consider making an apology to the gay community for things that have have been said in the past and the assembly will have to make up its mind on that.
Browning added that there had been “hurt caused” by the debate on same-sex marriage to same-sex couples.
“But also it’s going to be asking our legal questions committee to see what the issues are round about allowing ministers to perform same sex marriage if they choose to do so, and equally for safeguards for those who, for conscience sake, feel that this is not something they can do,” he adds.
Dr Browning added: “Over the years the assembly has been very well aware that on both sides of the debate, very strong things have been said and therefore an apology certainly within the Christian context is always important because there’s been hurt caused on both sides of the debate.
“Hopefully we’re in a position to move forwards, but that will be for the General Assembly to make its mind up on, on Thursday.”
Unlike the Church of England which has a “triple lock” barring it from performing same-sex marriage, the Church of Scotland would be allowed to perform same-sex marriages.
Scott Rennie, a gay minister who was appointed in 2008 – sparking a huge controversy – has welcomed the debate.
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Reverend Rennie said the concept the Church could recognise its failing towards gay people was “one of the most positive and hopeful things I have read in a report to the General Assembly in many years.”
The reverend, who has repeatedly urged the Church to reconsider its opposition to same-sex marriage, added: “It recognises, at last, the diversity of people that make up the Church of Scotland, and Scotland at large.
“It says in its own theological language: you are valued; you are part of us, and we have to do better at including you – and being just in our treatment of you.”
Rev Rennie added that “loving marriages, whether they are gay or straight, can make for a good and happy life.
“Christ’s love for us, his people, is reflected in loving relationships. Marriage is something to be celebrated.
“I look forward to the day when I am able to conduct weddings for all couples, gay or straight, in the name of God.”