The Church of Scotland has voted to allow ministers and deacons to officiate same-sex weddings.
During the 2022 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 274 commissioners voted in favour and 136 against.
The moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, said the Church of Scotland had had “a lengthy, prayerful and in-depth discussion” on this topic to find a solution that “respects diversity and values the beliefs of all.”
The Solemnisation of Same Sex Marriage Overture will require ministers, deacons and readers apply to become an authorised celebrant of same-sex marriage.
This means that no person would be required to participate or be involved in the arrangements for a same-sex marriage ceremony unless they explicitly wished to do so.
Rev Peter Johnston, minister at Ferryhill Parish Church in Aberdeen, told Premier Christian News the decision has brought him a “sense of relief”.
“We're here in a way that, I know that there are going to be strong emotions on different sides within the Church, but we are here in a way that protects one another and that is important.”
Rev Johnson believes the way the legislation has been crafted allows “broad difference” in the Church of Scotland, including those who believe the decision is going against the scripture.
“I respect those points of view that people have…there have been many reports over the last two decades or so, three decades now, which have explored what the scripture says.
“And we've come to a position where we realise that there are differences of opinion on how we interpret certain passages in the scripture. And it's not one side trying to defeat the other or anything like that. We're just recognizing that there is this difference amongst us and then, how do we live with that difference?
“And so what we've done today is part of that process of living with each other, and indeed, respecting each other's points of view on Scripture.”
But for Rev Phil Gunn, minister of Rosskeen Parish Church in Ross-shire the decision “is not biblical”.
“We are called to love everyone as Christ commanded us, we are to demonstrate God's love to the world so they might recognise something different in us but that does not mean we have to conform to the ways of society or the world," Rev Gunn said during the General Assembly’s debate.
"If we choose to turn our back on scripture how can we stand up and say we are ministers of God's Church if we then change what God says?," he continued.
Last year, the Methodist Church became the largest denomination in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.
LGBT couples can also have their weddings blessed by the Scottish Episcopal Church, the United Reformed Church and the Quakers in Britain.
Concluding the debate, Rev Greenshields said: “All celebrants would be expected to take account of the peace and unity and pastoral needs of the congregation and any parish or other grouping of which it is a part while considering to conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony.”