Scottish Episcopal Church votes for same-sex marriage

Last week, the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to change its rules so that they can perform same-sex marriages. David Robertson has written about this on the Affinity website here. Lee Gatiss, a member of the Affinity council, has written about it here.

It was another disappointing move for an historic church denomination. It is sad because it represents the fruit of abandoning a commitment to God’s word as our authority, which is pretty much the same as abandoning God as our authority. In reality, many of the long-established churches have for some time been moving further and further away from being Christian, in the sense of believing what the Bible says about fundamental matters of life, death and salvation. Decisions have been taken emotionally or pragmatically to conform to societal trends, with the aim of making the church more accessible and popular. In the end, it is likely to have the opposite effect: Those churches that have capitulated to the socially liberal agenda are aging and dying rapidly.

It also perplexing that this is the issue against which evangelical Christians are being forced to take a stand at this time. Let’s be honest: this is not an issue we would have chosen to fight about. We would rather go down in history for standing up for justification by faith (although didn’t someone do that already?); or the divinity of Christ and his unique salvation; or the authenticity of the Scriptures. But the church is increasingly being cornered on this issue to discredit the gospel. Our attitude to same-sex marriage has become the sole test of moral rightness.

Every interview I have heard about the possible alliance between the Conservative party and DUP has included a question about their socially conservative values. The clear assumption is that conservative views about sex, abortion and creation are not acceptable in modern Britain. They are considered unscientific, irrational and immoral. As David Robertson says here “…the DUP are opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion. This is enough to put you in the same category as ISIS in some eyes.” The pressure on Christians in public life is intense. There may be notable exceptions but my observation is that “Christian” politicians are now unable or unwilling to express a traditional Christian position on these issues for fear of being hounded out of office.

It is hard to stand against the emotional and personal arguments, but stand we must. Not with cold, clinical doctrine but with a better story – a story of a God who defines liberality and equality as he treats us with undeserving grace and mercy. A story of a God who gives us a new identity in Christ whoever we are and whatever we have done. A God who invites us to the most intimate of relationships with himself. A God who gives the delight of sexual pleasure to be enjoyed as he intended, but who does not elevate sex as a replacement for true happiness in knowing him. And a God who uses Christian marriage as a wonderful picture of Christ and the church. That’s a marriage in which we can all be included.


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