The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will be voting on the continued ministry of Rev. Scott Rennie tomorrow, May 23rd. Debate is being scheduled, but it sounds like the vote will definitely come before the sun sets.
In preparation for the vote and in support of Rev. Rennie, a group of evangelicals has submitted the following letter to The Herald (Glasgow). (Kirk=Church)
Faithful same-sex relationships do not preclude a relationship with God
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is faced with a difficult subject: homosexuality in the church. We want to assure the Kirk of our prayers. We are evangelicals who believe that Scripture does not condemn homosexual relationships. We are made up of heterosexual and homosexual Christians.
These are, of course, deeply personal questions. As a result of the traditional view on homosexuality, it has been our experience that many gay and lesbian Christians have been forced down a path of self-hatred, which all too often leads to loss of faith, breakdown or even suicide.
After much wrestling, prayer and heartache, we have come to understand that God affirms loving, faithful same-sex relationships.
As evangelicals, we believe in the authority and supremacy of Scripture, and wholeheartedly affirm “the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience” (Westminster Larger Catechism 3) without question. We understand the various positions within the church and believe it is a difference of interpretation, not biblical authority, that characterises our debate.
We stand with the historic orthodox Christian teaching of “justification through faith alone” – that a person is made right with God because of the work of Jesus Christ and it is faith in Him that brings us into relationship with God.
This is the heart of the good news that Scotland and the rest of the world, whether gay or straight, needs to hear from the church.
No-one is excluded from a relationship with God (or service for Him) because they are in a relationship with someone of the same gender.
We affirm the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul that all the law is summed up in love for God and love for our neighbour (Mark 12; Romans 13). We can see nothing in Scripture or our calling as God’s people – both gay and straight – where a loving, monogamous same-sex relationship is inconsistent with this summary of the requirements to live a holy life. We pray that the General Assembly will follow the example of Jesus, who reached out to the marginalised, the suffering, the oppressed and those on the fringes, and who continues to do so today.
We are not just “out there”. There are thousands of faithful people sitting in pews, standing in pulpits, working in Kirk Sessions who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered.
We urge the assembly to embrace the message of transformational grace and inclusion, to stand for justice and mercy and signal the openness of God’s compassionate love to his children, straight and gay. A vast and growing number of evangelicals and others across the world do not exclude homosexuals but understand that the church has erred in its rejection of them. Will the assembly send a clear message of God’s love and welcome, or one of rejection and fear?
Dr Ralph Blair, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Martin Stears-Handscomb and Sarah Hill, Rev Colin Coward, Rev Benny Hazlehurst, Cindy McCarron, Jeremy Marks and Rev Ruairidh MacRae, 37 Annette Street, Glasgow.
(Representing 10 evangelical organisations.)
Whatever comes of this, here’s the part the Church most needs to hear: “There are thousands of faithful people sitting in pews, standing in pulpits, working in Kirk Sessions who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered.”
This isn’t a matter of keeping a certain kind of person out of the Church; we’re already there and we aren’t going away. This is a matter of allowing us to live open, honest lives as part of the Body of Christ.