Some people may be understandably confused about the Church of England’s position on same-sex partnerships and equal marriage. Official statements, the publicly-voiced views of senior clergy and broader opinions among church members point in different directions. Part of this is to do with realism, but shifts in understanding also play a part.
Ask anyone reporting or commenting on the 2013 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and they will tell you that proceedings this year are being dominated by two 'issues': the reception, or otherwise, of same-sex persons in the life and ministry of the Kirk; and later this week 'The inheritance of Abraham: A report on the promised land' (which has provoked a substantial preemptive assault by the pro-Israeli government lobby, on account of its advocacy of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike).
The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.