Christian Life 

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

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Peter Carr 16/09/2011 20:45
OK, in the vacuum created by the C of S, where are the other evangelical voices on this highly important issue? Come to think about it, where is the voice of the SCP? I would have thought this would be right up their street!!
Brian Ross 16/09/2011 23:08
Martin, my friend. Long time, no contact!

May I refer you to the closing words of my earlier contribution (with added emphasis in the only way in which I am able to provide it!):

"WE DIFFER ON MANY THINGS, but we can fight together on issues such as "same-gender marriage", abortion, and euthanasia (by whatever name). And who am I to say that, on that great day, Keith O'Brien will not hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant."??!"

Of course there is much that I believe to be wrong, doctrinally and, in some respects, governmentally, with the Church of Rome, and I am nowhere near even considering a move thereto! However, did not Jesus Himself say "... he that is not against us is for us."? (Mk.9:40 - in an interesting context!).

If Keith O'Brien is prepared to speak as clearly as he has done, and continues to do, on these moral and ethical issues (doctrine etc., are a different matter), then I, for one, will welcome his intervention.

On Monday I attended the "Care not Killing" meeting in Edinburgh, at which he was one of the main speakers. I agreed with every word that he spoke! I have just completed my own response to the consultation (how many of the contributors to this forum have also done this???) and have referred to the cardinal's statement, as reported on this site, for a number of the points that I have been able to make.

As has been mentioned, the silence of the other 'mainstream' denominations, the smaller ones, and both the SCP and the CPA, is absolutely deafening. I am grateful for anyone who has a public profile, and who is willing to lift his head above the parapet, and say the things that I want to hear being said! Let us also remember that Brian Soutar's campaign to retain Section 2(a) received more support from even the Muslim community, than it did from some who dare to call themselves by the glorious name of the Saviour. is where those who are willing to spend some time on this matter (it's a lengthy form, and requires the reading of much of the consultation doc) may make their personal response.

I rest my case!
Jenny 17/09/2011 15:59
Thank you for posting that, Brian. I didn't know about it, but I'm glad of the chance to respond.
I wonder if anyone thinks that turgid and inaccessible document is going to facilitate open and wide-ranging consultation??
David (Guest) 18/09/2011 02:40
It is with great sadness I read this article., I am a Gay Christian I know a lot of you will not understand this, but its the way I was born .

How are gays going to come to the Lord if all we get is rejection from the church ??? Think about it

Peter Carr 18/09/2011 07:39
When anyone (irrespective) comes to Jesus in true repentance, seeking and receiving forgiveness, not only do they receive new life, but also a new lifestyle which requires God's power and our obedience working together in harmony!

Acts 2: 38 "“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

That requires thought and action every single day from every single born again Christian!!

Jenny 18/09/2011 07:59
God forbid that any of God's people should reject you, David, since every one of us has been accepted by Him and saved out of worse sin than yours (speaking for myself, I know it) :-)
But we also know and are convinced that God has rejected your lifestyle. It's the world that teaches it is good and acceptable. All we can do is make that known.
Penny Lee 18/09/2011 11:04
The only reason homosexuality is being focussed on is because it is the first sin which the church has decided is acceptable to God. All sin is detestable to God and that includes stealing, lying, pride, selfishness, any form of sexual behaviour outwith marriage between a man and woman, adultery, promiscuity, and on and on....

There is not one single one of us who can say we haven't sinned, or don't continue to sin. However, what would people say if the church decided that, say, incest was an acceptable form of relationship and provided services to mislead people into thinking it is acceptable in God's eyes? Or, that they held classes to show people how to be dishonest in financial matters, claiming that God wanted them to prosper?

It is not homosexuals who are the problem here - it is the church redefining what is sinful in God's eyes and we don't have the authority to do such a thing and will be judged for it. When I tell a lie or say something hurtful to or about someone, as I occasionally do, I know in my heart it is wrong and try not to do it. The problem would be if I was to pretend to myself that God was cool with it and to tell others the same thing. He has made it clear in His word that He isn't cool with sin and I have to accept that and try to live my life in obedience to Him, in as far as I'm able.

Although I don't understand homosexuality, I can accept that others are genuinely attracted to their own gender but I would be deceiving them and myself to pretend that the Bible didn't speak against it. It would also place me in direct opposition to God and that isn't a place where I want to be. I'm there often enough due to my own failings!
David (Guest) 18/09/2011 11:38
I have been told by a Inverness Pastor I am damed and going to hell,

When looking at homosexuality from the bible we need to look at translation KJV King James was very anti Homosexual, I believe it should be translated

to male rape which like all rape is wrong
Jenny 18/09/2011 13:34
You might make a case for that interpretation of some of the OT references. I'm afraid it's too much of a stretch to apply it to Romans ch 1, for eg "even the women did change the natural use into that which is against nature..."
Penny Lee 18/09/2011 16:36
David, the Bible has been translated many times into all sorts of languages and can only be taken from the original Greek and Hebrew. In every case, the translators seemed to understand what was being said, particularly in Romans 1, as referred to above. There just isn't any other way to take it.

It is not anyone's right to tell another person that they are 'damned' but the Bible itself tells us that every single one of us by default is destined for hell unless we accept Christ's offer of salvation. When we accept that gift, we have to do it God's way else we haven't really accepted it. There are other things in the Bible that I struggle with too but if we are to truly believe God is who He says He is, then we must also have confidence in His written word. If we cannot accept even one part of the Bible, then why should we accept any part of it?

Each of us has an area of our own lives which wants to pull us away from God. We may have to struggle with it for the rest of our lives, and it may trip us up many times, but the minute we give up trying to wrestle with it and convince ourselves that God really doesn't mind, we have rejected His authority over our lives and willingly gone our own way.

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15)
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Christians and Politics > Churches' responses to same-sex consultation