I’ve spent a part of today skimming through the report of the Church of Scotland’s Theological Commission on Same-Sex Relationships. It’s an interesting read, and I’m sure my brothers and sisters in the Church of Scotland will spend a lot of hours reflecting on what’s being said there.
Within the Church of Scotland, many of Christ’s people will be struggling with these issues. Many will be in turmoil. So, I’m wondering about what might be good priorities to pray for in the Church of Scotland over the next few weeks?
The temptation is think that we need to pray for the right decision to be reached on this issue. But, speaking as an outsider, I find it really hard to see what the right decision is.
The Report (on page 6) seems to only present two options. The first option presented is quite wide ranging. It accepts that people in Civil Partnerships can become ministers and office bearers of the Church of Scotland. But it also proposes an adoption of a religious ceremony to recognise a civil partnership in the context of Christian Worship. The issue here is not just acceptance of ministers in same-sex partnerships, but the wholesale acceptance by the Church of Scotland of LGBT lifestyles as being compatible with Christian faith. That is, obviously, problematic, and not something we want to see come to pass.
But the second option isn’t without problems either. It appears to suggest that the trajectory settled upon in 2011 be reversed, but that doesn’t deal with the problems. There is still at least one minister who is in a same-sex partnership already ordained in the Church of Scotland. The second option recommends the question of what to do with that situation be passed to the denomination’s Legal Questions Committee – who will have to report to a future General Assembly. That suggests the best case scenario doesn’t close this issue at this assembly, as the Legal Questions Committee could feasibly come back in 2014 and report that someone already ordained cannot be deposed on these grounds, without leaving the denomination open to litigation. So the question reopens.
Should we really want to see the Church of Scotland battle on with this issue for a few years longer? I don’t think so! I don’t want to pray for an outcome that simply kicks the issue into the long grass. The marginally better of two pretty guff options is still pretty guff.
So what to pray for? Serious question – what should we pray for?
(Bare in mind, James 4:3 – we so often lack in the Church because we ask for the wrong things.)