The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Lorna Hood has called for respect to be shown by those on both sides of the homosexuality debate.
General Assembly is today debating the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships.
In a sermon on Monday morning, Mrs Hood invited the 723 General Assembly commissioners to share the peace and remain united in spite of their differing views on the issue.
She said: "By seeking first to love one another as Christ loves us we do not ignore our differences but we do commit ourselves to resolving them without destroying one another and the Church Christ died for. And that can be messy and frustrating and at times discouraging and disappointing.
"Of course our convictions are important....a church without convictions, even differing convictions lacks integrity. But our convictions must never become blind passion or dare I say lead us to separate one from another.
Mrs Hood reminded commissioners that other denominations and many people outside the Church and around the world were "listening and watching".
"Whatever the decisions we make our motives and conduct will be scrutinised and debated," she said.
"Inches of column space ... letters of comment for and against ... But what is commented upon ...what journalists and others write about is yet to take place.
"The paint has yet to go on the canvas....the colours and hues still to be decided.....What picture will we paint? How will we define ourselves? What distinguishing characteristics will we emphasise?"