A view of same-sex marriage, by Rev Canon Ian Ferguson

posted 12 Nov 2015, 10:58 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 12 Nov 2015, 11:03 ]

(From The Tattler, October - November 2015)

My understanding of marriage, informed by Scripture and Tradition is that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The SEC has recently decided to begin the process of changing the definition of marriage. They have decided to change the first clause of Canon 31 which reads: "The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God." This means that the new definition of marriage will not include ‘one man and and one women’ but that marriage will be defined as between ‘two persons’ and so enabling a definition that allows Same Sex Marriage.

I voted against moves to change the definition of marriage because I cannot embrace such change as the will of God or the direction our church should be taking. Much of the debate around this has been informed by the prevailing social climate of our times, the political and legal reality, plus the narrative of those in same sex relationships. However, I have heard little about the biblical reasons for changing the definition of marriage.

I can only skim the surface of why I believe the church is wrong to change the definition of marriage.

What I believe ?

Christian marriages are to reflect God’s image:

I believe marriage is something created and initiated by God. It does not originate from the initiative of man. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.… So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

In Genesis 2 v 18 God says ‘It is not good for man to be alone”

The reason why it was not good for man to be alone is because without Eve, Adam was unable to fulfil his vocation to display the image of God in creation. Without Eve, Adam would not have been able to fulfil the will and purpose of God ‘to be fruitful and increase in number..” So I believe that marriage between one man and one woman is intrinsic to the creation of humanity.

I believe that marriage is created by God where one man and one woman enter into an exclusive relationship for life. Marriage is the only form of partnership approved by God for sexual relations and homoerotic sexual practice is incompatible with His will as revealed in Scripture.

We live in a broken world and we all fall short, not only of God’s standards but our own standards. Jesus acknowledged that in Mark 10 and went on to say in v6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’. For this reason aman will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together let man not separate’

The original canon of my church states marriage is a “mystical union of one man and one woman”. That is to be removed.

However, the New Testament teaches that this bond of love models the relationship between Christ and His Bride. Paul in Ephesians 5:31-32 uses the marriage union to illustrate the covenant relationship between Christ and His bride, the church: "‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ This is a great mystery, and I take it to mean Christ and the church."

I do not believe that the church or the state has the authority to redefine marriage to include two people of the same gender.

The church of Jesus Christ must be a place of love, embracing all, whatever their colour, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I have sought to do that all through my life as a Christian. I deeply regret the way some in the Christian community have responded and treated those they disagree with especially the deep hurts people have experienced through unkind and ungodly re-actions , words and behaviour.

I will continue to love and care for those who come my way whatever their sexual orientation, but I remain committed to an understanding of marriage that is based on the nature of God in creation, the affirming of Jesus on his views on marriage and the teachings of St Paul.

Rev Canon Ian J Ferguson, 14th September 2015