Church of Scotland debates gay ordinations

The Church of Scotland General Assembly is debating the ordination of gay ministersPA

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is today debating a report on same-sex relationships and the ministry.

The report sets out the traditionalist and revisionist views on the ordination of ministers who are in same-sex relationships.

Drawn up by the Church's Theological Commission, it notes that some of the views expressed will be met with "anxious concern" and that some may feel they can no longer remain within the Church of Scotland.

Revisionists argue in the report that "God is calling the Church in this generation to acceptance and affirmation of stable, committed, faithful same-sex partnerships".

They propose a "mixed economy" of Church that would allow for the ordination of gay ministers in civil partnerships without any requirement of celibacy.

They acknowledge that there are already gay and lesbian ministers serving the Church of Scotland, and offer a liturgy for the recognition and blessing of civil partnerships.

They argue that there should be "liberty of opinion" within the Church that would allow traditionalist and revisionist views to co-exist.

"The Theological Commission has been unable to come to a united conclusion on this matter. It would have been unrealistic to expect otherwise," the revisionists say.

"The question then becomes one of how far it is possible to live with a profound difference of opinion on issues of human sexuality, when that difference has exposed a deep-seated division within the 'One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church'.

"Those who have argued the traditionalist case want the Church to accept that their reading of Scripture is the only admissible one, and insist that issues of human sexuality are to be determined by appeal to Biblical exegesis alone.

"Those who have put forward the revisionist case, while equally convinced of the validity of their argument, and its Scriptural foundation, wish to allow for the profound complexity of the experience of each person made in the image of God and to affirm that in that very complexity the image is revealed more fully."

The traditionalist position is the current official position of the Church of Scotland on same-sex relationships.

The traditionalists maintain in the report that Scripture condemns homosexuality and that there is no biblical basis for changing the Church's stance on homosexuality.

"We do not believe that the revisionist trajectory is in agreement with the Scriptures, nor with the [Westminster] Confession and therefore it is at odds with 'the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic faith' founded upon the Scriptures," they say.

They fear that adopting a revisionist position would "severely impair" the communion of the Church of Scotland with other Churches both within and beyond Scotland.

The traditionalists further warn of the most significant breakdown in relations within the Church of Scotland since the Disruption of 1843, when 450 ministers left over issues relating to Church's relationship with the State and went on to form the Free Church of Scotland.

"Since the General Assembly of 2011, our Church has suffered greatly from disharmony and disunity arising directly from the decision to choose the revisionist trajectory," they say.

"Some ministers, elders and members have already left the Church of Scotland and others will do so if the revisionist trajectory is upheld. The Church is thus faced with a disruption, something which has not occurred since 1843."