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Church of Ireland Rejects Same-Sex Proposal, Sparks Ideological 'Civil War'

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“It’s not fair that my deeply held convictions are portrayed as those of a narrow-minded bigot.”
A man waves the rainbow colored flag as he celebrates a landslide victory of a Yes vote after a referendum on same sex marriage was won by popular ballot vote by a margin of around two-to-one at Dublin Castle. Image by: Clodagh Kilcoyne / Getty Images

"Although the Anglican Church of England and Scotland have become more lenient toward gay marriage in their official Church doctrine, the Church of Ireland continues to be more hesitant to change Church teaching on this issue. The Church voted in 2012 to maintain the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."

A week ago, the Church of Ireland found itself again considering the same decision---amid heated debates and disparaging pressure---to accept legislation that would recognize same-sex marriage of members both within and without the church. Accordingly, the proposal sought to acknowledge "...the injury felt by members of the church who enter into loving, committed and legally-recognized, same-sex relationships”

The General Synod meets annually and the proposal, drafted by Leo Kilroy, was met with a ratio of 176 against to 146 in support. Kilroy, disappointed by the outcome, directs to the perspective that "...many lesbian and gay people continue feel gravely hurt by the Church.”

According to Kilroy, the measure was not intended to change the Church's definition of marriage, but to welcome and "celebrate" gays in their different times of lives. "This motion is not asking for marriage in the Church," he adds, referencing the provision of Canon 31, " I understand that many of you hold the Church’s definition of marriage dearly."

The Belfast Pride Festival hosts thousands of LGBT members each year, so it would seem a given fact that the collective decision has left many dissatisfied. In fact, some are even describing it an ideological "civil war" between northern and southern Ireland.

The clergy who voted against the measure, however, apparently feel as strong in their stance as Kilroy. They have openly expressed an unswerving devotion to the institution of biblical marriage and to the people committed to Christian obedience..

Reverend Trevor Johnston of the Connor Diocese, for example, notes the ironic discrimination the piece entailed against those who refused to, for the sake of obedience and truth, act on their homosexual feelings. In his perspective, those Christians who denied their inclinations are being treated unequally:

"...Inbuilt into it [the proposal] is discrimination against those who didn’t act on their same-sex attraction.”

Reverend Alison Calvin echoed Johnston's concern, conveying his own personal suffering in following his conviction:

“It’s not fair that my deeply held convictions are portrayed as those of a narrow-minded bigot.”

Whether or not the Anglican sect represents your denomination matters very little. Indeed, each individual, each church, each denomination is no "island unto itself." What happens in one part of the Body inevitably affects another part---for better or for worse. No doubt due to the uproar of the results of the measure, this matter is far from finished. We must be praying for our Irish brothers and sisters in the faith to continue to prioritize Truth over personal discomfort and to stand firm in reflecting the Spirit of God rather than the spirit of this age because, at the heart of the issue it's not about equality, but about maintaining a God's-eye perspective in all things.

Tags : Church of Ireland, Same-Sex Marriage, LGBT, gay rights, Homosexuality