Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 19:09 UK

Kirk magazine backs gay couples

By John McManus
BBC News

A Scottish church
The Church of Scotland does not endorse gay lifestyles

The in-house magazine of the Church of Scotland has risked controversy by calling on believers to come to terms with gay relationships.

The magazine says the Church can show leadership on the issue and dismisses as "selective" the idea that parts of the Bible condemn gay behaviour.

The article in Life and Work comes ahead of a ruling about an openly-gay Kirk minister.

The Church is considering the appointment in Aberdeen.

The article is featured in this month's edition of Life and Work and was written by the magazine's editor Muriel Armstrong.

In it, Ms Armstrong argues that religious traditionalists are wrong to oppose gay relationships based on the selective use of Biblical quotes, especially as none of these verses are contained within the Gospels.

She also says that not everything in the Bible is Christ-like.

Ms Armstrong says: "Those who swear by the anti-homosexual laws in the Book of Leviticus wouldn't publicly advocate slavery or stoning women taken in adultery.

"They presumably no longer accept Biblical teaching on sexual matters such as polygamy and sex with slaves.

"And yet there are many who continue to be bound by a few Biblical verses — none of them in the Gospels — about homosexuality, nowadays understood as a matter of genetics rather than lifestyle."

Celebrating diversity

The Church says the magazine is editorially independent, and its views are not necessarily those of the Kirk.

The piece comes a month before the Church of Scotland meets to hear a case concerning the Reverend Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister who has been appointed to Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen.

A group of ministers and elders have objected to the appointment, and the Church's Assembly will rule on the case in May.

The Church of Scotland considered the viability of gay relationships two years ago, and decided on a period of reflection.

At the moment we're not in a position where we're able to endorse an active homosexual lifestyle
Reverend Peter Donald

Reverend Peter Donald is the convenor of the Church's working group on human sexuality.

He says that the arguments for and against gay relationships are complex, and not everybody in the Church is convinced that, for example, loving, faithful gay relationships are sinful.

But the Church's current teaching is unambiguous.

"At the moment we're not in a position where we're able to endorse an active homosexual lifestyle."

Ms Armstrong, meanwhile, makes it clear in her article where she would like the Church to go next on the issue.

She writes: "The dissenters, who have taken ordination vows to preserve the unity and peace of the Church, perhaps ought to 'agree to differ' on this and allow the Church of Scotland to remain a broad and inclusive church that can celebrate its diversity while remaining true to the Gospel."

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