Scottish clergy promise to defy any Church of Scotland ban on them marrying same-sex couples

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Church of Scotland clergy have said that they will join more than 150 Church of England vicars to defy any bans placed on them from holding same-sex marriages.

In England and Wales, the Government has said that it will ban the Church of England from performing same-sex marriages, although all other churches will be free to opt-in to marrying gay couples.

The Scottish Government does not intend to ban any church, even the Church of Scotland. Although the Church has indicated that it will opt-out.

Now liberal voices within the Church of Scotland have said that they will defy the ban.

Rev David MacLachlan, of Langside Parish Church told The Times that the theological arguments against same-sex marriage are “nonsense” adding that gay people have “a more difficult life” because of their sexual orientation.

“Human society has got a rather unfortunate tendency of scapegoating people. There’s always some group that’s going to get it,” he said. “It seems like in our time the group that we are singling out is the gay people.”

The Church of Scotland has established a commission on the issue ahead of a vote on whether to opt-in at the annual General Assembly in May 2013.

Rev MacLachlan said of the vote: “In terms of gay marriage, I would say again it’s close to call, [but] I no longer feel I’m in a minority group in the Church. I feel more and more people are coming on board with this because they feel that this is right and we need to change and the reasons we’ve had in the past for holding our views actually don’t stand up to a whole lot of scrutiny.”

He told the newspaper that the Bible doesn’t actually discuss what we would understand homosexuality to be today.

“The word homosexual is about 200 years old,” he said. “The Bible was written thousands of years ago. It does does talk about same-sex relationships, but we’re talking about things like temple prostitution, we’re talking about gang rape or about humiliation of other people. We’re not talking about two people who are in love wanting to live together and to be in a committed, loving relationship with one another.”

The Rev John Nugent, of St Fergus Church in Wick, Caithness agreed, telling the newspaper: “If you have a group of people who think there is something congenitally wrong with you because of the kind of folks that you love, not only does it make them feel bad, it drives this negativity deep down and eventually, despite the fact that they know that what they’re feeling is completely natural to them, they end up believing it.

“There is a growing body of opinion within the Church of Scotland that is saying ‘no – we can’t just stand by and let this other view become prevalent’.”

He added: “There’s nothing to stop an individual minister from taking part and offering a blessing on a civil partnership; now, where you may find an issue is if you did that within the church building possibly, or if somebody within one of the churches took issue with the minister.”

“I would take advice, but I would seriously consider doing it. I wouldn’t defy the Church, but also I wouldn’t walk from the Church.”

In June, St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow announced that it would split from the Church of Scotland over its decision to appoint openly gay members of the clergy.

Last year, the Kirk’s General Assembly had decided to accept gay clergy if they had declared their sexuality and were ordained before 2009.
Earlier this month, the church held its last service as part of the Church of Scotland, after having announced its decision to separate itself back in June.