By backing gay marriage, Church of Scotland has given approval to sin

The twenty-fifth of May 2017, to quote President Franklin Roosevelt, is “A date which will live in infamy”, when the Church of Scotland decided to go down the road of approving same-sex marriage.

The spokesperson of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has quite rightly responded to the decision of the Church of Scotland by stating:

“At the same time many people in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will be deeply saddened at today’s developments in Scotland, which we believe is at variance with the traditional biblical understanding of marriage between one man and one woman.”

It is sad to think that this, the Church of John Knox, who gave so much not only to Scotland but to the world, has become ‘Ichabod’, the glory has surely departed. (1 Samuel 4:21)

The statement which saddens those who are not ‘traditionalist’ but biblical is the statement by Professor Iain Torrence that, “he and his colleagues could see ‘no sufficient theological reason for the Church not to authorise specific ministers to officiate at same-sex weddings.’”

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland stands by the clear teaching of scripture, (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 etc).  All these scriptures underscore the fact that homosexual activity is a sin. What the Church of Scotland has done is to give their approval to sin. This, including our continuing relationship with the Church of Scotland, will be discussed at next week’s General Assembly.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland also stated that it :

“affirms that clear position, which is based on the teaching of Scripture, and as a result, our ministers are not permitted to conduct, or to assist in leading, services of marriage for same-sex couples.”

The Bible, however, does not describe homosexual activity as a ‘greater’ sin than any other. All sin is offensive to God. Homosexual activity is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians that will keep people from the Kingdom of God. According to the same Bible God’s forgiveness is just as available to those engaged in homosexual activity as an adulterer or a murderer.

It is often said that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is a democratic church – and that it is. It is democratic in relation to its government and the individual is free to speak and to dissent from any decision of a church court, but “shall not thereby free himself from obligation loyally to implement the decision so long as it stands unaltered.” [Code Par.104 (3)]

The Presbyterian Church however is also a theocratic church. That is it is under the authority of God, not the whims and fancies of the modern populous. At Ordinations and Installations the Presbyterian Church in Ireland states:

“It is the privilege, right and duty of everyone to examine the Scriptures personally, and each individual is bound to submit to their authority.

The teaching of the church does not come from the General Assembly but from God, who has revealed Himself in scripture. As the Code states [Par.10] “The Word of God as set forth in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and the supreme standard of the Church.”

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is a Confessional Church. Our understanding of Scripture is expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Every Minister and Elder is required to affirm that they accept Westminster Confession ‘as a confession of my faith’. That Confession states: “Marriage is between one man and one woman”.

The General Assembly of 2014 emphases this in a resolution which stated that marriage is “exclusively between one man and one woman”. No one dissented from that resolution.

The same Westminster Confession of Faith, which the Church of Scotland appears to be departing from, also speaks of the Church and states:

“The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error, and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.”

By departing from the clear teaching of scripture the Church of Scotland is in danger of becoming such a ‘synagogue of Satan’.

Brian  Kennaway

Presbyterian Minister (Retired)

This Comment article appeared in the Belfast News Letter on Friday 2nd June 2017