Yesterday the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted 351 to 294 to take a major step towards the acceptance for training, induction and ordination of those in same-sex relationships for the ministry. The Assembly also voted by 393 to 252 to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex relationships and ordained before 2009 to be inducted into pastoral charges.
There is now no going back.
It may be painful but realistically all that remains is for the revisionists to gradually mop up resistance and enforce their victory; and for the orthodox to devise our future outwith the Church of Scotland.
We can see the political adroitness of the revisionists in how this matter is being dealt with. Although, as acknowledged by the Report of the Special Commission, this marks a serious departure from the historic teaching of the Church, it will not go down to Presbyteries under the Barrier Act. (The Barrier Act is a mechanism designed to prevent the GA from introducing major legislation without the approval of the local Church). The argument is that this move does not need scrutiny by Presbyteries as nothing has been formally enacted. The underlying political reason for keeping it from Presbyteries is of course that they might well vote against this fundamental revision of the nature of the Church and its relationship to the Scriptures. Meanwhile the transformation of the Church continues apace.
A theological commission is to be set up to bring recommendations concerning homosexual ordination to the 2013 General Assembly. It will also consider whether ministers should have freedom of conscience to bless civil partnerships and possible liturgy for such occasions. It will be interesting to see who is included in this commission and what proportion of its membership take a clear cut orthodox biblical stance. There will be token representation, but that will be merely to legitimise the decision to fully accept that the CofS thinks homosexual acts are not against the Word of God.
The most we can do is institute delaying tactics to slow down the inevitable. This plays the revisionist game. We will become so tired of it all, the commissions, the discussions, the votes, the “thus far and no further” until the next “thus far and no further,” that we will be worn down and just accept the inevitable by slow painful degree.
The best we can do is grit our teeth, take our stand now, acknowledge that the establishment within the Church are going to have their way no matter what, and begin serious discussions about our future outwith the Church of Scotland.