Previous news stories

Church of Scotland re-iterates views on same sex marriage

12 December, 2012

In response to the publication by the Scottish Government of the consultation on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, the Church of Scotland has re-iterated its views on same sex marriage.

Rev Alan Hamilton, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Legal Questions Committee said: “The Church of Scotland has already voiced opposition to same-sex marriage. Unless our General Assembly decides otherwise, we cannot support the Government’s proposals on celebrating civil partnerships or same sex marriage.”

“We have also expressed concerns about the speed with which the Government is proceeding with this and what we fear will be inadequate safeguards for religious bodies and ministers and people of faith who view this as being contrary to their beliefs. We shall be examining the Government’s proposals and responding to them in due course.”

“We are acutely aware that opinions differ among our own members and that many people are anxious and hurt in the current situation. We re-iterate that we believe homophobia to be sinful and we reaffirm our strong pastoral commitment to all people in Scotland, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs.”

Church re-iterates position on same sex marriage

25 July, 2012

Church of Scotland re-iterates opposition to same sex marriage and questions effectiveness of safeguards for religious bodies.

In response to the Scottish Government’s statement, the Church of Scotland has re-iterated its opposition to same-sex marriage. It also expresses concerns about the speed with which this is proceeding and what it sees as inadequate safeguards for religious bodies who see this as being contrary to their beliefs. The Rev Alan Hamilton, Convener of the Church of Scotland Legal Questions Committee, explains the Church’s position:

“The Church of Scotland’s position has not changed since we responded to the Scottish Government’s Consultation last December. Unless our General Assembly decides otherwise, we cannot support the Government’s proposals on celebrating civil partnerships or same sex marriage. We are acutely aware that opinions differ among our own members and that many people are anxious and hurt in the current situation. We believe homophobia to be sinful and we reaffirm our strong pastoral commitment to all people in Scotland, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs.

“The Church is taking time to carefully consider the important issues of same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage. Our Theological Commission will report in May 2013. However, we are concerned that the Scottish Government is rushing ahead on something that affects all the people of Scotland without adequate debate and reflection.

“We will be scrutinising the proposed legislation very carefully. In particular we are concerned that the Government will legislate without being able to effectively protect religious bodies or their ministers whose beliefs prevent them from celebrating civil-partnerships or same-sex marriages. The Church’s Legal Questions Committee has re-iterated these concerns to the First Minister. As yet, no satisfactory assurances have been received.”

The Convener of the Legal Questions Committee on the response to the Same Sex Marriage Consultation

1 December, 2011

"The Church of Scotland, it seems, has sprung a surprise. We’ve now answered the Scottish Government’s questions about same-sex marriage and civil partnerships. The surprise, apparently, was that the Church knows where it is and has the courage to say so.

"So where is the Church? Our Response did nothing more or less than explain where we are at the moment. We restated our abhorrence of homophobia. We recognised the passion and pain innate to these issues. And we explained that there has never been a time when we understood marriage to include same-sex couples. We have, to date, always believed that God’s will is that marriage is properly a union between one man and one woman. Only our General Assembly can change this. It has not done so and it has not yet been asked to do so. Therefore, we told the Government that we couldn’t support its proposal to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

"We also told the Government that we have set up a Theological Commission to consider the issues around same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage. This will report in May 2013. Debate will undoubtedly follow. Therefore, no-one in the Church should feel either triumph or despair at this time. We hope that our Response will help to preserve the space that we need to make our decisions according to our Presbyterian policy and the will of God.

"We are a national church. We care what our country thinks and we neither can nor want to impose our beliefs on others. We welcome public debate and more of it. Our answers will be unpopular with some people. Others will welcome them. Yet, our position cannot be based on opinion polls. Public opinion sent Jesus to the cross so we, who try to follow Him, will not be silenced by any survey. Instead we will continue to seek God’s will for the Church and the nation.

"Nothing in the Church’s Response diminishes our sacred commitment to care for all the people of Scotland, regardless of sexual orientation or practice or beliefs. We will not stop asking God to show us the right ways to do so."

Rev Alan Hamilton
Convener
Legal Questions Committee