Galsgow: The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church. The vote to amend canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman, was carried by the Synod in Edinburgh. It makes it the first major Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.
It means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Episcopal Church. Clergy who wish to officiate at gay marriages will have to “opt-in”. The church said this meant that those who disagreed with gay marriage would be protected and not have to act against their conscience.
The Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Edinburgh, The Right Reverend Dr John Armes, said: “…obviously any change like this creates pain and hurt in some as well, so as a bishop of the church I feel for them.”
The vote to allow same-sex marriage – which required the backing of at least two thirds of each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity – has left the church at odds with most of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
A senior figure in the group, Archbishop Foley Beach, said: “Today’s decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalised by their leaders.
This vote to change canon law, opening marriage to same sex couples, isn’t just the latest skirmish in the religious war between traditionalist Christians and those of a more liberal leaning.
It will have profound consequences, because the issue of gay relationships has become a touchstone for those who believe that the Anglican Church has lost its way, and needs to be renewed.
Many Christians who live in the global south, where the 80-plus million Anglican Communion is at its strongest, look with horror at what they see as moves to legitimize gay relationships and lifestyles.
They not only disapprove of those lifestyles, but they see moves such as the ordination of gay clergy as evidence that the church is ignoring the will of God.
Same sex marriage became legal in Scotland at the end of 2014 but the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the move.