A Baptist response to The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

The Faith and Society Team has produced some notes which are offered as general guidelines for churches and ministers concerned about the implications of the introduction of same sex marriages in 2014.  They are provided in response to the introduction of this Bill and should not be read as an opinion.  Further detailed guidelines for churches and ministers are being considered

During Assembly 2013 we launched a series of conversations that have since taken place throughout our union, in churches, associations and colleges.  There is a breadth of opinion in our union on these issues, the conversations continue and Baptists are encouraged to use the email address talkingtogether@mail.com to submit reflections and outcomes of their own particular conversations.
The issues have also been considered in Council (November 2013 and March 2014) and at many meetings of Team Leaders and the Baptist Steering Group. 
At Assembly 2014 an update of our process was shared and the following was offered on behalf of the Baptist Steering Group to express where we are up to on the journey.  This will serve as a backdrop to our continuing conversations and the way we will seek to behave - Baptist churches are encouraged to continue to engage with these issues. 
As a union of churches in covenant together we will respect the differences on this issue which both enrich us and potentially could divide as we seek to live in fellowship under the direction of our Declaration of Principle ‘That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His Laws.’
Upholding the liberty of a local church to determine its own mind on this matter, in accordance with our Declaration of Principle, we also recognise the freedom of a minister to respond to the wishes of their church, where their conscience permits, without breach of disciplinary guidelines.
We affirm the traditionally accepted Biblical understanding of Christian marriage, as a union between a man and a woman, as the continuing foundation of belief in our Baptist Churches.
A Baptist minister is required to live and work within the guidelines adopted by the Baptist Union of Great Britain regarding sexuality and the ministry that include ‘a sexual relationship outside of Christian marriage (as defined between a man and a woman) is deemed conduct unbecoming for a minister’.
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