Thinking Anglicans

Church of Scotland report on human sexuality

The following press release from the Church of Scotland has been issued today:

The latest report from the Theological Forum on human sexuality to come before the General Assembly has been published.

The comprehensive document will be considered by Commissioners in Edinburgh next month.

The document has found its way into the public domain ahead of schedule, before all the General Assembly reports are published in the Blue Book on Thursday.

In light of the report appearing in the national press, the Principal Clerk has authorised its immediate publication to allow Commissioners, members of the church and members of the public to understand fully the content and context.

The General Assembly is being asked to consider two key issues.

  • Authorise the Legal Questions Committee to undertake a further study on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages and report back to the General Assembly in 2018. *
  • Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.

In releasing the report the Convener of the Theological Forum, the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, said: “The Report addresses what has been a long running argument in all the churches.

“In years past there has been an idea that in time one side in this argument would emerge as the sole victor.

“We don’t think like that now.

“That is why we are arguing for what, last year, the Forum called ‘constrained difference’.

“This is saying that within limits we can make space for more than one approach.

“It is closely similar to what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls ‘mutual flourishing’.

“This is a centrist report, aimed at encouraging mutual flourishing.”

The Principal Clerk, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, said: “It is unfortunate that this report has found its way into the public domain before this year’s volume of Assembly Reports has been published.

“However, it is important that people are now able to access the full report.

“It will now be for the Assembly to decide whether it wants to ask the Legal Questions Committee to pursue further research on the matters which would require to be addressed in any new legislation permitting Ministers and Deacons to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.

“If the General Assembly does move in this direction a further report will be heard in 2018.”

The full text of the report is available here.

The previous report published in 2013 is still available here. As we reported at the time the best analysis of that report was by Law & Religion UK: Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.

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Andrew Lightbown
7 years ago

What a marked contrast between the approach taken by the Church of Scotland (and also the Scottish Episcopal Church) and the Church of England. If a twin track approach can be embedded into the life of the Scottish churches why not in the C of E? I

Flora Alexander
Flora Alexander
7 years ago

I hope the bishops read this, and think about it.

7 years ago

A very grown up response to the topic which highlights further the severe deficiencies in the efforts of the English bishops. I am particularly taken with the references to Song.

I don’t, however, read it as suggesting a twin-track approach as Andrew Lightbown does. I think it is suggesting that the teaching of the church would be to embrace same sex marriage, or rather to suggest that the estate of marriage is agnostic to gender. At the same time, any minister who doesn’t feel able to perform such rites won’t be asked to do so.

I am a fan.

7 years ago

So the document “found its way into the public domain ahead of schedule”? How unfortunate. For all its irritating piety, it is at least reassuring to know that the Church of Scotland is not exempt from the culture of leaks.

turbulent priest
turbulent priest
7 years ago

Not the culture of leaks. The culture of unnecessary secrecy. Once a report is written, what’s the problem about opening it up to public scrutiny?

Kennedy Fraser
Kennedy Fraser
7 years ago

>>So the document “found its way into the public domain ahead of schedule”? How unfortunate. For all its irritating piety, it is at least reassuring to know that the Church of Scotland is not exempt from the culture of leaks.

They have some form in this area, the early release of the Columba declaration (betweeen the CofS and CofE) causing some grief during the festive season to the SEC.

Laurie Roberts
Laurie Roberts
7 years ago

I hope the editors may be able to publish this quite positive news from Australia on marriage equality.

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