Forward Together, which has more than 300 members, have called for the proposals laid down in the report to be debated “calmly and sensitively” when they are put to the General Assembly by its Legal Questions Committee in May.
The controversial report asks that Kirk members refrain from seeking discipline by the Church against ministers who might conduct religious services marking a civil partnership, while also ensuring that no minister shall be compelled to conduct such a service against his or her conscience.
In a press statement, Forward Together said, “it considers that this raises wider matters for the Church than the strictly legal questions arising from the law passed last year by the Scottish Parliament.”
The new law makes clear that a civil partnership is not to be equated with marriage. “The group maintains that the Church should be equally careful not to confuse what the legislation has deliberately kept separate,” read the Forward Together statement.
|QUOTE|Rev. Gordon Kennedy, FT Chairman, said: “There is a danger of putting the cart before the horse here. Before addressing the legal points about pension rights for ministers’ civil partners, the Church must first reach a clear view concerning such relationships in the ordained ministry.
He continued: “The biblical and theological questions about human sexuality have been well aired in the past, but the General Assembly has never passed a ‘deliverance’ [i.e. a motion] affirming homosexual practice as a valid option for the
Christian, or for the ordained ministry.”
“Many church members have significant and genuine concerns at ministers being allowed to conduct religious ceremonies to mark a civil partnership. There is likely to be particular concern at the prospect of civil partners living in manses in the future.”
“We welcome the opportunity at the coming Assembly to debate these issues calmly and sensitively, and with due respect for the strength of views held on both sides of the debate.
“But the Church should be in no doubt that the proposals, if adopted, would open the way for a significant departure from the Bible’s teaching and from historic Christian practice. We believe that such a move would cause dismay to the great majority of church members, and also to many of our ecumenical partner churches.”