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What does the Church need to do to approve same-sex marriage?

The Scottish Episcopal Church has been moving in the direction of recognising same-sex marriage as equivalent to traditional marriage from a theological and ethical point of view for some time. At last year’s Synod, it discussed a change to canon law to remove reference to ‘one man and one woman’ in marriage, which it then sent to its seven dioceses and will come back for confirmation this year.

In parallel with this, the Church of Scotland (which is Presbyterian rather than Episcopal) is also considering the issue, and as part of that its Theological Forum has published a report An Approach to the Theology of Same-sex Marriage, and for anyone who has been convinced by the church’s traditional teaching on marriage it makes sober reading.

The first section is on the use of Scripture, and rather than explore the scriptural arguments, it offers some reflections on the ways that the two ‘sides’ in the debate draw on Scripture. It identifies two main aspects of the argument ‘for greater inclusion’:

As committed and faithful partnerships between equal persons of the same sex were largely unknown in the ancient world, neither St Paul nor any other biblical writer could have had such partnerships in mind when they condemned same-sex sexual activity.

Another more inclusive argument in favour of same-sex relationships rests on a distinction between the written text of Scripture and the living Word of God, the latter being associated with Jesus Christ who speaks to us in our hearts and consciences.

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Can feelings lead us to truth?

David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s, wrote a curious piece last week on the power of feelings. The piece begins with a straightforward observation about the power of feelings in the debates about Britain’s role in Europe. The Leave/Remain divide operates at different levels. During the campaign there were many arguments and claims made on both […]

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Sex and morality in Church and society

Following the debate in General Synod on the House of Bishop’s report on the Shared Conversations, various bishops have been making statements to their dioceses outlining their reflections on the debate and where we have got to as a Church. Perhaps the most striking was that made by Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, in […]

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Mourning our Infidelity

Elaine Storkey writes: The passing of the measure to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England was not a victory for liberal revisionists in the church. It was the overwhelming sense amongst evangelicals, Catholics, charismatics and liberals that this was now where God was leading our church. The Women Bishops measure would not […]

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Truth and falsehood in Synod debates

Simon Butler has today made a response to my claim that he ‘lied to Synod’ about me and, though I don’t think that public exchanges of statements are the best way to resolve things, his statement requires that I clarify further than I have already done. (My first explanation and his statement can be found in […]

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On Synod, sexuality, and not ‘Taking note’

Yesterday the General Synod of the Church of England debated the report offered by the House of Bishops outlining where we had got to in the debate about sexuality. The form of the debate was unusual; rather than proposing anything, the motion was simply to ‘Take note’ of the report, which essentially means acknowledging that […]

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Church teaching and LGB mental health

Peter Ould writes: The Oasis report, “In the Name of Love”, has received lots of attention since its release on Friday.  The Oasis paper makes three claims, two of which are relatively uncontroversial. The first is that “LGB people are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems than heterosexuals“. Several papers are cited to support […]

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Were the Shared Conversations just a Con?

Amongst the rush of responses to the report from the House of Bishops last week, one of the more considered came from Miranda Threlfall Holmes (vicar of Belmont and Pittington on the outskirts of Durham, but soon to move to Liverpool Diocese) and it was widely circulated on social media. It offers (along with other comments) […]

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A Tribute to Jill Saward

Elaine Storkey writes: The sad news of Jill Saward’s death has reverberated widely, more than most of us could have anticipated. It was headlined by the BBC, featured in newspapers and spread through the social media. Something of Jill’s story has touched a chord with people across the country, so that even many who were […]

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