Courage Scotland Open Letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

To the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

As you meet this week, you are faced with a difficult subject – that of homosexuality in the Church. We want to assure you of our prayers. We are evangelicals who believe that Scripture does not condemn homosexual relationships. We are made up of heterosexual and homosexual Christians. These are of course deeply personal questions. As a result of the traditional view on homosexuality, it has been our experience that many gay and lesbian Christians have been forced down a path of self hatred, which all too often leads to loss of faith, breakdown or even suicide. After much wrestling, prayer and heartache both individually and corporately we have come to understand that God affirms loving faithful same sex relationships.

As evangelicals, we believe in the Authority and Supremacy of Scripture, and wholeheartedly affirm “The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience” (Westminster Larger Catechism 3) without question. We understand the various positions within the Church and believe it is a difference of interpretation not biblical Authority that characterises our debate. We support and affirm our brothers and sisters who have had the same struggle with sexuality as we have and yet who feel called to singleness, as we feel called to affirm relationships.

We stand with the historic orthodox Christian teaching of ‘justification through faith alone’ – that a person is made right with God because of the Work of Jesus Christ and it is faith in Him that brings us into relationship with God – without any additional requirements, no matter who makes them. This is the heart of the Good News that Scotland – and the rest of the world, whether gay or straight – needs to hear from the Church. No one is excluded from relationship with God (or service for him) because they are in relationship with someone of the same gender.

We affirm the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul that all the Law is summed up in love for God and love for our neighbour (Mark 12; Romans 13). We can see nothing in Scripture or our calling as God’s People – both gay and straight – where a loving monogamous same sex relationship is inconsistent with this summary of the requirements to live a holy life. We pray that the General Assembly will follow the example of her Head, King Jesus, who reached out to the marginalised, the suffering, the oppressed and those on the fringes and who continues to do so today.

Finally, we are not just ‘out there’. There are thousands of faithful people sitting in pews, standing in pulpits, working in your Kirk Sessions who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. We urge the Assembly to embrace the message of transformational grace and, inclusion, to stand for justice and mercy and signal the openness of God’s compassionate love to his children – straight and gay. You will be in common with a vast and growing number of evangelicals and others across the world who do not exclude homosexuals but understand that the Church has erred in its rejection of them. The question you are facing is, will you send a clear message of God’s love and welcome, or one of rejection and fear. We urge the General Assembly to take this opportunity to act biblically, in the spirit of the inclusivity, holiness and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be pastorally sensitively to the LGBT community within the Church of Scotland.

CourageSCOTLAND www.couragescotland.org – Rev Ruairidh MacRae

Evangelicals Concerned www.ecinc.org – Dr Ralph Blair

Scottish Region of Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians – www.eflgc.org.uk

Changing Attitude Nigeria www.changingattitude.org.uk – Davis Mac-Iyalla

Baptist Network Affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians www.affirmingbaptists.org.uk – Martin Stears-Handscomb and Sarah Hill

Changing Attitude England www.changingattitude.org.uk Rev Colin Coward

Accepting Evangelicals www.acceptingevangelicals.org – Rev Benny Hazlehurst

Christian Lesbians UK www.chrisitanlesbians.co.uk – Cindy Mccarron

Courage UK – www.courage.org.uk Jeremy Marks

Ekklesia www.ekklesia.co.uk – Simon Barrow.

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