Scottish Episcopal Church to debate gay marriage today

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will vote this weekend on proposals to reform its marriage canons to allow same-sex weddings.

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will vote this weekend on proposals to reform its marriage canons to allow same-sex weddings.


Meeting 11-13 June 2015 at St. Paul’s and St. George’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, the synod will address a number of fiscal and administrative issues. However the Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane stated: “What is likely to attract most attention at this year’s General Synod is the beginning of a process through which the Church shall consider whether it wishes to consider change to its Canons on Marriage.”


Over the last two years the church’s doctrine commission has “committed itself to the Cascade Process of conversation across difference in the area of same sex relationships,” Bishop Chillingworth said. “ In Province, Dioceses and congregations, people have been courageous and open in expressing and listening to the diversity of views which are held within the Scottish Episcopal Church. We have sat together as one Church and shared thoughtfully and prayerfully.”


“We now move to consider whether or not we should undertake a process of canonical change regarding Marriage,” he said.


Bishop Chillingworth said the synod would first take up a “comprehensive paper on the Doctrine of Marriage from our Doctrine Committee,” and then “consider whether or not we wish to consider future change and look at a range of possible ways forward.”


In its report, the doctrine committee stated they were not of one mind on the Scriptural definition of marriage, with the members divided as to whether there existed a theological rationale to bless same-sex marriages, which were created in Scotland on 31 Dec 2014.


The aims of marriage as ordered in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer are procreation, remedy for sin, and mutual care. In the Episcopal Church successive prayer books have reordered and changed them to mutual joy, mutual care and the procreation of children, while the 2007 Scottish Marriage Liturgy states: “Marriage is given, that husband and wife may comfort and help each other, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and in joy.  It is given, that with delight and tenderness they may know each other in love, and, through the joy of their bodily union, may strengthen the union of their hearts and lives.”


In its report the doctrine committee noted that those seeking a revision of the marriage liturgy to allow same-sex weddings believed the chief aim of marriage was “mutual comfort and support” and they believed that “complementarity speaks not of essential male or female characteristics but of a dynamic within couples that exists regardless of sexual identity”.

Bishop Chillingworth said it was his hope “we shall think and act as one Church. That doesn’t mean that we must, or that we shall, all agree. We are considering an issue which in our times is profoundly challenging for all churches. Our ability to do that depends on our commitment to sustaining our visible unity in Christ.”

SEC Doctrine Commission Paper on Marriage

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