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Saturday, 20 June 2015

A voice from the Kirk.

I have already made some comments about the direction in which, after the last General Assembly, the Church of Scotland has gone.  However, one minister has analysed the situation much better than I could ever have done.  I reproduce the first part of his message here, and provide a link for those who wish to read all of it.  Doing so is heartily recommended!

My Statement to the Church of Scotland

by jeromeobrien

What would you say of a Parliament that passed legislation directing that ALL traffic was to drive on the left side of the road, but added, that it was also permissible for road users to drive on the right hand side if they wanted to and no penalty would be incurred? What would you say about parents who said to their children that the rules of the house were XYZ, but the children were welcome to do the exact opposite, that was fine, no problem, the parents would allow that? What do you say of a church that agrees truth, and then allows its members, no, its pastors, shepherds and leaders to ignore that truth?

To that Parliament, I would say that they are inviting traffic chaos and harm, and I would probably not drive on their roads, nor would I encourage others to do so. In all likelihood, I would encourage them not to.

To those parents, I would say that they are failing in their moral responsibility, and that they were inviting their children into a world of shifting and irrelevant parameters.

To that church, I would say, “You are broken”.

At the General Assembly, on Saturday 16th May, was the culmination of a long internal conversation that the Church of Scotland has been engaged in. To its credit, it has not rushed into this conversation and it has taken its time over it (even though it was forced into it by the actions of a few). But this past week, it crossed a line that it has been skirting along for some time.

In summary: last year, 2014, the General Assembly provisionally agreed a law and there were two essential parts to it as follows:
  1. The historic and current doctrine and practice of the Church in relation to human sexuality and their application to the ministers and deacons of the Church are hereby affirmed (for the avoidance of doubt, the Kirk understands this to mean that human sexuality is to be expressed in the relationship of one man and one woman in a committed union called marriage and its ministers, etc. are bound to follow that);
  2. In recognition of the diversity of views within the Church about the historic and current doctrine and practice of the Church in relation to human sexuality and their application to the ministers and deacons of the Church and in the interests of the peace and unity of the Church, departure from the practice of the Church shall be permitted to Kirk Sessions and they shall be entitled to call ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships (in other words, Kirk Sessions need not abide by the now accepted understanding or practice of human sexuality).
I say that this was provisionally agreed. The General Assembly sent this proposed law down to all the Presbyteries of the Church to consider and to reply whether they were in agreement with it or not. 31 approved the law, 14 did not. Though that is a 2 to 1 difference, the actual numbers of those voting were much closer i.e. 1,380 for and 1,160 against.

So this law came back to the General Assembly, and on the 16th May, by a vote of 309 for and 189 against, the law was passed.

To that church, I say “You are broken”.

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