Analysis: 'A peculiar decision which is unlikely to satisfy anyone'
The result is actually rather bizarre. This seems to suggest that an individual church can call a gay/lesbian minister as long as the person has been ordained for two years and is "openly" gay.
What about those who are closeted? If they are elected and subsequently come out would their post be in question? What about someone ordained a day after the 2009 deadline?
It is also not clear to me what would happen to a minister already in a post who now comes out. It seems that the Kirk has, explicitly but with "restrictions", accepted that a gay/lesbian person can indeed have a vocation and serve a congregation in the Kirk.
That being the case, why the restrictions? What message does it send to someone who is currently training for the ministry who may actually be openly gay/lesbian? They seem to fall foul of a rather peculiar "grandfather clause". Alternatively, what about a person training for the ministry who is gay/lesbian but not out?
The message seems clear that that person's only way to get a church is to remain in the closet (post-2009) and not to "declare" his/her sexuality (which, by default, means allowing people to assume he or she is straight - an untruth).
This is unlikely to please anyone. Traditionalists will be appalled since it will actually encourage ordained clergy who are gay to come out. Those advocating a more open attitude on sexuality will be troubled by the grandfather-clause element and the message it sends to those training for the ministry or ordained post-2009. Having said that, what is certainly the case, is that the Kirk has approved the appointment to churches of openly gay/lesbian clergy. It would seem though that it has suggested that those who, training for ministry, are openly gay/lesbian - even if they can be ordained - are effectively wasting their time as they cannot be appointed to a church.
It is a peculiar decision which is unlikely to satisfy anyone and which will certainly cause considerable discomfort for gay men and lesbians with a vocation to ministry who are currently closeted and either ordained since 2009 or approaching ordination.
However, the key point is, regardless of the peculiar restrictions, the General Assembly has accepted a principle which one would expect will be wholly rejected by traditionalists: gay men and lesbians whether celibate or in committed relationships can have real vocations to the Christian ministry and can, in fulfilling that divine call, openly serve congregations in the Kirk as gay or lesbian ministers.
• Bill Naphy, an expert in both the history of sexuality and Calvinism at Aberdeen University.
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