Report of the Working Group of the Mission and Discipleship Council to The 2007 General Assembly of The Church of Scotland: A challenge to unity: same-sex relationships as an issue in theology and human sexuality.
A copy of the report can be found on The Church of Scotland website or on that of One Kirk: www.OneKirk.org.uk
In response to the publication of the report this is a Statement by Affirmation Scotland
1. Affirmation Scotland welcomes this report for its honesty and thoughtfulness whereby conflicting views are given respect and held together in tension. We believe that the debate which occurred within the Working Group that produced this report is a model for the rest of the church.
2. AS is thankful for those within the church who support lesbian and gay Christians by prayer, pastoral care and by unconditional acceptance of their lives and relationships.
3. It is a weakness of the report that it does not acknowledge and affirm the service given to the church by lesbian and gay Christians and their faithful witness to the Christian gospel. This is often at considerable cost to the individuals concerned, their partners and families, who frequently hear their lives and loves condemned by ministers.
4. We welcome the statements which oppose discrimination in church and society on the basis of sexual orientation and hope that the church at large will endorse these. The report notes the changes in civil law giving lesbian and gay people protection from discrimination, without making any distinction between orientation and behaviour. We regret that progress toward giving lesbian and gay people equality under the law was not explicitly welcomed in the report.
5. AS notes that the view of marriage as the only context for sexual activity is seen by many to be foundational for their faith. AS would respectfully point out that sexual activity outside marriage also happens within the community of heterosexual Christians yet this is not the subject of debate, reports and repeated censure.
6. AS believes that it is possible to live a Christian life and also be in a same-sex relationship. We believe this because many of our members live this reality and within their loving, committed relationships have discovered more of the truth of God’s love.
7. AS does not believe that sexual activity or views on homosexuality are the only or the most important touchstone of fidelity to the Christian gospel: we believe that justice towards the poor and oppressed, peace-making and stewardship of the earth’s resources have a greater claim to be central to the Christian faith.
8. We welcome the inclusion of the views and experiences of lesbian and gay Christians. AS believes, with the report, that “encounter and exchange is more productive [than] winning or losing a vote.” AS would encourage The Church of Scotland to find ways of listening to the experiences of its lesbian and gay ministers, deacons, elders and members in an atmosphere of equality and respect without fear of censure or reprisal.
9. The report speaks of ‘traditional’ and ‘revisionist’ views of Scripture. We believe these labels are unhelpful. It is not accurate or just to suggest that Scripture is being ‘revised’. Whenever Scripture is read it is interpreted. AS believes that the Reformed theological tradition includes interpretations of Scripture which are supportive of lesbian and gay people and their relationships.
10. Affirmation Scotland is holding a study day on Saturday June 9th which will explore the interpretation of the Scriptural texts on homosexuality.