Church of Scotland’s General Assembly voted in favor of allowing gay ministers to marry.
The Church of Scotland, also informally known as “The Kirk,” is the national church of Scotland. It’s roots go back to the earliest Christians in Scotland, however, it was shaped by the Reformation of 1560. It has been the view of the church until 2015 that same-sex marriages go against the will of God. When the Scottish government, in 2012, announced that it would make same-sex marriage legal, the major opposition has been from the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland.
During that time, the Church of Scotland issued a statement that said the government's proposal of legalizing same-sex marriages fundamentally changes the meaning of marriage as understood by the nation, a relationship between a man and a woman.
However, it did not take long for the church to change its stance on same-sex marriages and towards the LGBT community. In 2015, the Church of Scotland's General Assembly voted in favor of gay ministers entering into same-sex marriages. Last Saturday, May 21, the church's General Assembly voted in favor for this as well.
Looking into it closely, one would be able to see that it is not a complete acceptance, because the church still holds its view of traditional marriage, a union between a man and a woman, however, it would allow individual congregations to “opt out” if that is their wish, and appoint a deacon/minister who is in a civil partnership or same-sex marriage.
According to BBC, the commissioners in the General Assembly voted 339 to 215 in favor of the move. Quoting the principal clerk to the general assembly, Reverend John Chalmers, their debate made it clear that they were not interfering with the church's theological definition of marriage. Also, they were not getting into a place where deacons/ministers could themselves be conducting same-sex marriages. Their decision just makes it possible for congregations and Kirk sessions to depart from the traditional understanding of marriage in order to potentially call a minister in a civil partnership, as well as one who is in a same-sex marriage.
According to The Guardian, the Theological Forum of the Church would be presenting its report on the theological understanding of same-sex marriage in 2017.
Reverend David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, upon hearing the decision of General Assembly on Saturday, called it a sad day for all the Christian churches in Scotland. He said that the decision would alienate the Church of Scotland from the vast majority of Christian churches all around the world. Robertson added that this decision has also lost the church's claim to be the National Church for Scotland.
— David Crary (@CraryAP) May 21, 2016
Reverend Christina Beardsley, a member of The Sibyls, voiced her opinion that the Church of England should also adopt the same policy. The Sibyls is a Christian spirituality group for transgender people.