Comments: Church of Scotland apologises and moves towards same-sex marriage

Speaking after the debate, Professor Torrance said he felt that the Church as a whole understood that the Theological Forum was trying to move it out of a “culture of mutual denunciation into a non-binary situation”.

“A non-binary situation is the only one in which we can honour each other and enable mutual flourishing,” he added. Quite: so let's hope the C of E's leadership is able to get to the same conclusion.

Posted by Andrew Lightbown at Friday, 26 May 2017 at 8:25pm BST

Is it just my over-sensitivity, or is the use of the word "folks" demeaning and dismissive? "People" is a better word, wouldn't you say?

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 26 May 2017 at 9:36pm BST

I believe something similar has already been operative in URC (Presbyterian) in England. Since January 2017 my local URC has been considering as a congregation whether to celebrate same sex marriages in church. The church is licensed for marriages, but the local church can choose or refuse to offer the SSM option.

They set up a congregational study course with separate clear talks by 2 URC ministers, one pro and one against. Each talk was followed by Q&A and a full transcript of both talks was circulated. After a time of prayer and pondering, a discussion meeting for the church was held; after another couple of weeks a 2 hour meeting of silent prayer for the church was held, prior to the ballot.

This was open to Church members only; postal votes were allowed for and the ballot held after Sunday worship. Over 80% voted and there was a simple majority in favour, but this was short of the 2/3 the Elders had decided would be needed to agree.

The minister has urged the members to reflect on the issues of prejudice, injustice, lack of empathy and understanding that had been identified as present sometimes in the church and in themselves . There will be people who for opposite reasons are disappointed, and there is need to work to maintain the unity of a very remarkable congregation. I am sure church unity was the deciding factor for some voters.

I greatly admire the way these local friends have taken adult responsibility for their own church decision at this time on this conflicted topic. It’s so much easier to have the House of Bishops or the Pope rule decisively and not face up to the question as a fellowship unit.

Meanwhile there is no local church prepared to offer Christian Marriage to those who long for this as same-sex partners.

Posted by Sister Mary at Saturday, 27 May 2017 at 9:02am BST

I agree that "folks" is dismissive, but most folks do not.

Posted by Richard at Saturday, 27 May 2017 at 8:20pm BST

IO: it's not just you. Cringeworthy. However, I can hear my Scottish grandmother using the word in a formal context without intention to demean or belittle. Maybe Scottish idiom is the explanation.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Saturday, 27 May 2017 at 9:10pm BST

Scotland, the Brave! Bravo!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 28 May 2017 at 11:58am BST

Re "folks" I remember thinking exactly that when George Dubya said "We'll get the folks that did this" after 9/11. I wonder if it is national idiom thing.
Finding a good inclusive word can be tricky, people is obvious in many contexts but to my ears sounds odd as in "Hi People!"

Posted by Priscilla White at Sunday, 28 May 2017 at 1:03pm BST

I can confirm that widespread use of "folk" where standard English might use "people" is very common in Scottish English. A remnant of Norse influence, perhaps?

Posted by Jo at Monday, 29 May 2017 at 6:09am BST

Mr Goss said he had “no difficulty apologising” to the gay community. “If I have caused hurt to other folk unintentionally then I am more than happy to do it,” he added.

Nevermind the word "folk"---that's simply NOT an apology. "If"? "unintentionally"? Does Mr Goss not understand what an apology is?

Posted by JCF at Monday, 29 May 2017 at 9:19am BST

JCF:

That is what is known in American politics as a "non-apology apology". In its most egregious form, if can even seem to put the onus on the other party, for being so touchy as to have been offended.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 29 May 2017 at 11:54am BST

Quite, Pat. He says "If I have caused hurt to other folk unintentionally, then I am more than happy to do it". But he didn't cause hurt unintentionally, he - like all homophobes in the church - knew precisely what he was doing and caused hurt deliberately. Modus Ponens is "if P, then Q, P is true, so Q is true". For a consistent set of axioms, "if P, then Q, P is false, so Q is false" also holds (as does modus tolens, "if P, then Q, Q is false, so P is false" - he quite clearly isn't happy to apologise, as it's been dragged from him, so he didn't hurt people unintentionally.

It does strike me that all these Christians who hurt people unintentionally (Justin Welby has been doing a lot of it of late) should be more careful, and perhaps try to regulate their behaviour a bit so they _don't_ hurt people unintentionally. Intentional or unintentional, people still get hurt, and lying (because of course it's intentional) is bad for the conscience as well.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 30 May 2017 at 7:38am BST

There's a song about "sorry" being the hardest word. And it is. It must be perceived as genuine and heartfelt, no matter the words used. If it is not then it's not worth tuppence. When the hurt runs deep, as in homophobia in the church, soul-searching and right words are paramount and they need to come from the leadership as example.

Posted by Pam at Tuesday, 30 May 2017 at 10:39pm BST

"It does strike me that all these Christians who hurt people unintentionally (Justin Welby has been doing a lot of it of late) should be more careful, and perhaps try to regulate their behaviour a bit so they _don't_ hurt people unintentionally. Intentional or unintentional, people still get hurt, and lying (because of course it's intentional) is bad for the conscience as well."

If I step on your foot, in all probability it was unintentional...but still I offer a sincere apology because I was, at the least, a clumsy oaf. If you use your words so clumsily as to cause offense, you should...in the same manner...sincerely apologize for your clumsiness, and not make the excuse that it was unintentional.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 31 May 2017 at 12:44am BST
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