With there not having been a split in one or more of the many Presbyterian churches in Scotland for almost ten years, it was looking as if we were long overdue for a major barny. This may just happen after the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted 3:2 to affirm the appointment of the Reverend Scott Rennie to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeenshire. Rennie had been a minister at Brechin Cathedral for ten years and, previously married to a woman with whom he has one child, now openly co-habits with his boyfriend.
None of this had been concealed whilst he was at Brechin Cathedral, and the parishioners at Queen’s Cross were all aware and supportive of him when he was initially offered the ministership. In the BBC soap opera, Eastenders, the heterosexual character of Mark Fowler was dianosed with HIV at a time when it was still thought a disease of homosexual men or drug addicts. He was married briefly to a Scottish character whose father was a minister in the Church of Scotland, and I recall a mini-controversy when the father was shown reacting with disgust to Fowler’s illness. The reason being that the Church of Scotland had, apparently, been one of the first denominations to attempt a formal non-judgemental position on HIV in the mid-1980s, when it was *definitely* still thought of as a disease of homosexual men (although I cannot recall the name of the document).
I am glad to see that the Church of Scotland General Assembly has now endorsed a minister in a stable monogamous relationship, and faced down predictable appeals to Leviticus (but not the bits about what fabric to wear or not to eat certain foods). I do not consider 1 Corinthians 6:9/11 and Romans 1:18 to be a clear reference to consentual homosexual activity within a monogamous relationship, but always note how infrequently they are mentioned: instead, Leviticus is preferred. This always makes me think the speaker is simply projecting their inate feelings towards homosexuality onto what they call the authority of the Bible (just as with the implied acceptance of a divorced heterosexual minister suggests). The Bible may be correct, but the readers are so often wrong.
One point to note, the reference to “effeminate abusers of men” in 1 Corinthians 6:9/11 comes from the original Greek ‘oute pornoi oute malakoi, oute arsenoikoitai’. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of modern Greek cursing will recognize “malakoi”!
I admit that I cannot shake a feeling of the pointlessness of gay marriage, such as when two Anglican clergy played husband and wife at St Bartholomew the Great in London last July (and I recall coming to just such a conclusion with a co-habiting priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church). We live, however, in a society which endorses extra marital heterosexual relationships – and a good thing too – and, regardless of my preference for women, cannot appreciate the objection to Rennie’s appointment. Good luck to him.
Tags: reverend scott rennie