The Church of Scotland (CoS) is set to debate radical new proposals that undermine the Bible’s teaching on marriage.
Later this month, the Kirk’s General Assembly will consider removing references to “husband and wife” from Church law on marriage in order to accommodate same-sex unions.
In 2018, the Church’s annual assembly voted 345-170 in favour of a motion instructing the Kirk’s Legal Questions Committee to prepare legislation for the Church to host same-sex marriages.
Current wording says “the parties covenant together to take each other as husband and wife as long as they both shall live, and the minister declares the parties to be husband and wife”.
Now, however, the committee recommends the CoS dispense with the words “husband and wife”. The proposed new wording says: “the parties covenant together to take each other in marriage as long as they both shall live, and the minister or deacon declares the parties to be married”.
The committee has stated that if its recommendations were adopted, it would enable Ministers and Deacons “who wish to do so to be nominated to solemnise same sex marriage ceremonies”.
Legal action feared
Following the initial decision of the CoS to plan for same-sex unions, church leaders who supported the biblical definition of marriage feared that they – or their congregants – would face legal threats if they refused to participate in such ceremonies.
Presenting the new proposals for consideration, the convener of the committee claimed that “no-one who does not wish to be involved in the celebration of same sex marriage shall be required to do so”.
But in an accompanying legal opinion to the amendments, the Procurator to the General Assembly, Laura Dunlop QC, highlighted the potential conflict “between conscience-based objection and the rights of those who wish to marry”. She said: “At some point, a line is crossed”.