Presbyterian view on same-sex marriage
IRISH TIMES: In response to an article by Patsy McGary of 24 September
Sir, – The Rev David Latimer would appear to be confused about the nature of the church of which he is a minister. It is not simply a matter of “seeing things differently”, as he suggests.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is a democratic church 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 of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) .
The Presbyterian Church, however, is also a theocratic church. The doctrine of the church does not come from the General Assembly but from God, who has revealed Himself in scripture. As the Code states, “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, which states: “Marriage is between one man and one woman”.
General Assembly of 2014 emphases this in a resolution which stated that marriage was “exclusively between one man and one woman”. No one dissented from that resolution.
Every minister and elder is required to accept and sign the Westminster Confession of Faith, “as a confession of your faith’’. Both the Rev Bradley and Rev Latimer signed that Confession as a confession of their faith.
I am sure that your readers will conclude that the problem lies not with “seeing things differently”, but with honesty.
Rev BRIAN KENNAWAY, Retired Minister, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Belfast.
This Letter appeared in the Irish Times on 26 September 2015