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Churches' responses on same-sex marriage

RC and C of SThe Scottish Government has launched a 'consultation' on same sex marriage but prefixed the documentation with its preferred view. The following are responses from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the Church of Scotland respectively.
 

 

Scottish Government consultation on same-sex marriage

 

Update (05/12/11): Click here for Statement from Free Church (Continuing)

 

Update (01/12/11): See message thread attaching to this article for Church of Scotland statement


Roman Catholic Statement

Church of Scotland Statement

Cardinal O’Brien – Same Sex Marriage
Mail on Sunday – 11 September 2011

Just over a week ago the Scottish Government launched a consultation on same sex marriage. Over the next fourteen weeks the Government intend to accept responses from anyone in Scotland on whether or not same sex marriages should be introduced.

On the surface this may seem to be an innocuous proposition. Civil Partnerships have been in place for several years now, allowing a same sex couple to register their relationships and enjoy a variety of legal protections. When these arrangements were introduced campaigners were at pains to point out that they didn’t want marriage for same sex couples, accepting that marriage has only ever meant the legal union of a man and a women.

Those of us who were not in favour of civil partnerships believing that such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, warned that in time marriage would be demanded too – we were accused of scaremongering then yet exactly such demands are upon us now.

Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples through civil partnership and since the number of civil partnerships entered in to has been falling steadily for the last three years, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.

We should be clear that redefining marriage will have huge implications for what is taught in our schools and for wider society.
But can we simply redefine terms at a whim? Can a word whose meaning has been clearly understood in every society throughout history suddenly be changed to mean something else?

Last month as rebel forces in Libya moved towards Tripoli, Colonel Gaddaffi was asked if he would be willing to stand down from his position as Leader to avoid violence and bloodshed. He replied by saying he held no such position in Libya as all offices of state had been abolished and he had created a “perfect democracy” in his country where the people of Libya governed themselves. He simply redefined the term democracy to mean what he wanted it to mean. As with most of his remarks, this comment was, rightly, greeted with derision.

Yet when Scotland’s politicians suggest that they might jettison the established understanding of marriage and subvert the meaning set out in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as a relationship between men and women, the response seems meek and muted. Their madness is indulged.

This proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right. Meeting earlier this week, Scotland’s Catholic Bishops undertook to strenuously oppose these proposals. Preaching at a mass for politicians that evening I told the gathering of MSP’s, which included the First Minister, that the Catholic Church would do everything in its power to defend and protect marriage.

There is no doubt that as a society we have become blasé about the importance of marriage as a stabilising influence and less inclined to prize it as a worthwhile institution. It has been damaged and undermined over the course of a generation, yet marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father.

As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or government. It was not created by government and should not be changed by them, instead recognising the innumerable benefits which marriage brings to society they should act to protect and uphold it not attack or dismantle it. This is a point of view that would have been endorsed and accepted only a few years ago, yet today advancing a traditional understanding of marriage risks being labelled an intolerant bigot.

At the heart of this debate however there is one perspective which seems to be completely lost or ignored, it is the point of view of the child. All children deserve to begin life with a mother and father, the evidence in favour of the stability and well being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal. It cannot be provided by a same sex couple however well intentioned they may be.

Interestingly, in the United States, David Blankenhorn, a prominent supporter of gay rights has drawn a line at same-sex marriage, saying "Redefining marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law, and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child."

He is of course right. Same-sex marriage means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that our society deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.

While same sex activists in this country have framed demands for marriage as a personal matter, some oftheir US counterparts have been more frank and revealing about their long term purpose. American activist Michelangelo Signorile has urged campaigners "to fight for
same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely." He sees same-sex marriage as "the final tool with which to get education about homosexuality into public schools."

There is no question, that normalising gay marriage means normalising homosexual behaviour for public school children. In November 2003 after a court decision in Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary school children were given homosexual fairy stories such as King & King; some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled “The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century”, which the Massachusetts Department of Health helped develop. Education suddenly had to comply with what was now deemed “normal”.

Other dangers exist, if marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their fidelity to one another? Canada has legalised homosexual marriage, and litigation is now underway in one Canadian Province to legalise polygamy. If marriage is simply about adults who love each other, on what basis should three adults who love each other not be allowed to marry?

Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same sex marriage wouldn’t be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is quite staggering arrogance. Firstly, no Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage. Additionally, imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave” would such an assurance calm the fury we would all feel? Would it in any way justify the dismantling of a fundamental human right? Of course not. It would amount to nothing more than weasel words to mask a great wrong.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights is crystal clear when it says that marriage is a right which applies to men and women, it goes on to state, that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” This universal truth is so self evident that it shouldn’t need to be repeated. If the Scottish Government attempt to demolish a universally recognised human right, they will have forfeited the trust which the nation, including many in the Catholic community, have placed in them and their intolerance will shame Scotland in the eyes of the world.
C of S Statement



“We as the National Church will continue to provide guidance and spiritual leadership for the people of Scotland.”  

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, May 2011


Footnote: The above article is in no way an endorsement of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.


Christians Together, 14/09/2011

Feedback:
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Jenny 22/11/2011 17:12
".......I await with interest the Church of Scotland's considered response!...."

I don't envy the Kirk's spokespersons, do you? They know that they would incur the wrath of the world if they dared to speak against the gay cause, and their feet are NOT set upon the only rock that would enable them to face that with equanimity.
Rosemary Cameron 22/11/2011 17:38
Not only the world but the wrath of some of their own ministers I suspect!
Peter Carr 22/11/2011 18:00
Anyone in favour of a referendum?
Peter Carr 23/11/2011 17:51
From the Scottish Baptist Union's fb page (posted today);

"***** ******** and ***** **** will be meeting with Simon Stockwell,the civil servant in charge of the government consultation on civil partnership and same sex marriage, on Friday at 10:30am in our offices at Speirs Wharf. We would invite you to remember this meeting in your
prayers for the next few days. Can we also encourage you to respond to
... the consultation personally and also as local churches before the
deadline on 9th December. Consultation papers are available from";
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/09/05153328/0. Our
assembly resolution concerning marriage is available at
http://www.scottishbaptist.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/Resolution%20on%20marriage.pdf

Editor 01/12/2011 19:26
PRESS RELEASE: THE Church of Scotland has made its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation document, “The Registration of Civil Partnerships, Same Sex Marriage” through its Legal Questions Committee.

The Church of Scotland believes it has a responsibility to our nation to be part of the debate and to help shape public opinion and Government policy in accordance with what it understands to be the will of God.

The Church of Scotland cannot agree that the law in Scotland should be changed to allow same-sex marriage. The Government’s proposal fundamentally changes marriage as it is understood in our country and our culture - that it is a relationship between one man and one woman. In common with the historic position of the Christian Church, the Church of Scotland has always viewed marriage as being between one man and one woman. Scriptural references to marriage, whether literal or metaphorical, all operate under this understanding. To redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage may have significant and, as yet, inadequately considered repercussions for our country, for the well-being of families, communities and individuals.

The Church of Scotland is concerned about the speed with which the Scottish Government is proceeding on this issue, and believes that the debate has so far been patchy, undeveloped and exclusive of both ordinary people and the religious community. The Government states that the purpose of this proposal to re-define marriage is to accommodate the wishes of some same-sex couples. The Church believes that much more measured consideration is required before the understanding of marriage which is entrenched and valued within the culture of Scotland, both secular and religious, is surrendered to accommodate this wish.

As matters currently stand, the Church of Scotland also cannot agree to the Government’s proposal that legislation should be changed so that civil partnerships may be registered through religious ceremonies or by religious celebrants or on religious premises. However, it acknowledges and respects that other religious groups may wish to express different views. The Church must also reject the proposal at this stage because it has not had an opportunity to consider the terms of any draft legislation and whether this will effectively protect religious bodies who do not wish to register civil partnerships.

This response honours and reflects the declarations made by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 2011. The Church of Scotland believes homophobia to be sinful; and it is the duty of the Church to welcome, reach out to and minister to all, regardless of sexual orientation and practice.

Above all, the Church of Scotland reaffirms it has a strong pastoral commitment to all people in Scotland, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs.

For full statement see: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/8811/0120685_Church_of_Scotland_Response.pdf

Editor 01/12/2011 19:40
Additional notes from the Church in relation to the Press Release -

1. The response of the Church of Scotland is essentially a “freeze-frame” image of where it is at the moment in regards to the real, live issues involved.

Interpretation: The Church could change its mind.

2. The General Assembly has not departed from the traditional Christian position on same-sex relationships although it has signalled it may do so in relation to civil partnerships.

Interpretation: The Church may accept homosexual civil partnerships.

3. People who are homosexual by orientation are not barred by their orientation from membership of the Church or from taking up leadership roles in the Church relationship, including the ministry of Word and Sacrament, the diaconate and eldership.

Interpretation: Orientation with Celibacy is OK (at all levels in the Church).

4. The General Assembly has also commissioned a theological report because it has resolved to consider further the lifting of the Church’s current moratorium on the acceptance for training and ordination of persons in a same-sex relationship.

Interpretation: The Church may lift is ban on accepting practising homosexuals for training and ordination as ministers.

5. The Church will allow the induction into pastoral charges of ministers and deacons ordained before 31 May 2009 who are in a same-sex relationship.

Interpretation: Rev. Scott Rennie and others in his position can continue as clergy while living a homosexual/lesbian lifestyle.
Peter Carr 01/12/2011 21:09
With the RC's and other Christian groups (as well as those of another world religion) having declared their position (particularly at yesterdays demonstration at Hollyrood), the C of S really had no choice but to take this position.

The sad thing being that with all else that is going on in the background for C of S, it really does make for a very confusing situation. But there again, is it any more confusing than the RC's position given the murk sloshing around their recent press coverage in relation to priests being moved, shielded and even protected despite the evil crimes that have been committed.

The whole situation is very unsatisfactory when it comes to the two big institutional churches of the Christian faith. The time is ripe for change as these two mainstays of society crumble before our eyes!!
Rosemary Cameron 02/12/2011 22:01
By taking the position which they now have, that marriage should not be redefined to include same-sex couples, the CofS has effectively ditched the scriptural requirement that sex should be kept for marriage, because they have already had a minister openly living in a sexual relationship with another man in a CofS manse and nothing was done about it. By upholding the scriptural definition of marriage they have therefore hoisted thenselves with their own petard.
(Guest) 03/12/2011 00:55
Rosemary asserts: because they have already had a minister openly living in a sexual relationship

How do you know that their relationship is "sexual". Maybe they just hug and kiss a bit... Got a webcam on their bedroom have you?

Roy Clements anyone??


PS: Just as an added titillation - when I went to type in the "captcha" code, it speled out "B4ARE" Bare???? Ooh, get him . ducky...

Roy (Guest) 03/12/2011 09:03
Guest you asked the question - "Got a webcam on their bedroom have you?"

No,but God doesn't need one. Of course this won't trouble those who dont believe in God. But then those who don't, won't have much interest in asking such a question on a website like this one.
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Christians and Politics > Churches' responses to same-sex consultation