Saturday, 29 September 2012

Same-sex marriage bill - note to Scottish Government

The Religion and Morals Committee has prepared an extensive note for Scottish Government Ministers which the Convener intends to set before Mr Alex Neil MSP in a meeting to take place later this year DV. Mr Neil is the Minister now reposnsible for the proposed bill on Same-sex marriage intended for the Scottish Parliament.

Note to Scottish Government Ministers on proposals for legislation in favour of homosexual ‘marriage’ unions


The Synod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland passed a motion in May 2012 which authorised the Religion and Morals Committee to make representations to the Scottish Government minister in the event of any proposed future Bill which would legislate in favour of marriage between homosexuals. As Convener of the Committee I am grateful to my MSP Dr Alasdair Allan for arranging this meeting with the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP who announced the proposal of a Bill on this issue.

This brief note sets out the scriptural reasons which oppose in principle any Bill which would have the effect of legalising homosexual marriage. While the terms of a Bill have not yet been proposed and while the consultation on such a Bill might have the effect of further changing the terms of any enactment, this note sets out the principled opposition of the Church to the theory of homosexual marriage from an exclusively Biblical perspective.


The unique position of the Church

The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland does not consider itself, nor does it at any time wish the Scottish Government to consider it to be a mere lobby group or voluntary body with a distinct set of opinions. We assert our claim to represent the Reformation Church of Scotland which has always bound itself to the teaching of Scripture on social, moral and political issues affecting the community or the Church within it.

Lord MacKay of Clashfern addressing a Synod of Bishops of the Church of England in words equally if not more applicable to the Free Presbyterian Church in the Scottish context, made the following important statement with which we entirely agree:

            “When the Church speaks on a social issue its responsibility is to apply that wisdom          (of the oracles of God), after a careful consideration of the relevant teaching of the   Bible, to the issues involved. I regard this as very different from a pressure group          seeking to have its own opinion accepted. The Church, in these circumstances, like     its Divine Master, teaches with authority. The fact that it may not be accepted by many people is nothing new.”

An issue of public morality

It is our firm conviction that homosexual marriage legislation would materially affect public morals in this country. This is a very significant moral issue with repercussions for the present and future generations. That it is considered by the Scottish Government as an issue of morals is suggested in the terms used when the planned bill was announced. The Scottish Government has decided that to implement legislation is “right” and that not to do so would perpetuate unfairness and inequality. This claim explicitly asserts that a moral standard of right and wrong is being applied. We must earnestly press on our rulers that the one and only absolute standard of morals is the law of God and that homosexual marriage is at variance with it in a fundamental way.


That the issue of homosexual marriage is viewed as a moral one is also suggested by the fact that MSPs including Government Ministers, are to be given a “free vote” on this legislation. Such an approach is usually reserved for clear matters of conscience, such as abortion or euthanasia. We firmly contend that being a matter of conscience homosexual marriage is an issue of morality. This being so, the question immediately arises as to what the moral standard for decision-making in this issue ought to be. Here the Scottish Government displays its complete lack of moral direction in that every MSP is called on to do what is right in his or her own eyes. Such moral relativism is to reject morality altogether and makes the question one to be decided by numbers rather than principles. A moral issue decided by force of numbers in a Parliament or indeed in an electorate renders the decision process an amoral one.

Scripture reasons opposing homosexual unions

There is but one ordinance of marriage known to man and recognised in civil societies and the distinction between civil and religious marriage is neither accurate nor legally legitimate. Marriage according to the Bible was instituted by God and does not belong to any State, democratic opinion or representative government in any nation. The nature and regulation of marriage is given in the Bible with sufficient clarity that every nation may recognise it and order its affairs to preserve it, as has been done in all civilised communities from the beginning of time. The present proposed changes are neither civilised, natural or legally legitimate and, it is our firm contention, they are utterly unbiblical.

1. The scriptural model and standard for marriage is the marriage of the first man and the first woman by God in the Garden of Eden when it was inculcated for mankind to the end of time “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) In this we are clearly taught that:

            a) a man should only be married to a woman – his wife.

            b) when a man and a woman are joined together in marriage they become one flesh         before God

            c) every member of the human race has a father and mother who ought to be one            flesh in marriage

d) there is no other relationship recognised as equivalent to marriage by scripture - only the union of a man and a woman as one flesh

e) the union of a man with another man or a woman with another woman is not a union whereby they are one flesh and therefore is not marriage

2. Although unions other than the only legitimate marriage union were known to be practiced and are referred to in the Bible, the scriptural definition of these other unions is that they are, in varying degrees sinful. The homosexual union is especially described and depicted as sinful being an abomination to God.

a) the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of forming and practicing the union of men with men and are described for this as sinners before the Lord exceedingly and for their sin they and their cities were destroyed with fire as an example to all following generations. (Genesis 13:13, 18:20, 19:1-29 and 2 Peter 2:6)

            b) the practice of homosexual relations is described as “uncleanness,” as the         “dishonouring of the body,” as “vile affections,” as “against nature,” as “unseemly,” as    being given over to a “reprobate mind” and as “not convenient (or unfitting)” and they          that do such things are declared by God to be “worthy of death” (Romans 1:24-32)

            c) those who were once guilty of the sin of homosexual uncleanness and who were          converted to the Christian faith are described in the Bible as having been “washed”   and “sanctified” and their former sin is depicted as including them being “effeminate”             and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Corinthians 6:9)

3. While many sins are described in the Bible as especially hateful to God and while the Bible clearly teaches that those living in homosexual relations may find repentance, forgiveness and reformation, yet it identifies such solemn judgements against this sin and describes it in such dreadful terms that all should fear it and flee from it as especially provoking to God.

It follows that any Government legislation designed to create a marriage relation between homosexuals is contrary to the teaching of scripture and is against the moral law of God. It is for this reason that the Church must and will stand firmly against any such legislation and must continue to declare the mind of God in relation to this particular sin.

Other scripture reasons against the proposal

There are further scriptural reasons for our decided protest against any proposed legislation:

1. The process of consultation on what is a moral issue was itself immoral and deeply flawed in principle as well as being flawed in the actual implementation. It is our belief that the Scottish Government is increasingly working within a moral vacuum in matters of social policy. What is perceived to be the voice of the people obtains and directs in the making of laws. We reject this standard of morality utterly and warn that to make laws on this basis will be most dangerous for our nation. We therefore do not and cannot join with those who have called for a referendum on this important moral issue. No democratic voice, however strong, can ever justify an immoral law.

2. The proposals are destructive of the scriptural relations between Church and State which are enshrined in our constitution. We recommend to the Scottish Government the relation between Church and State which was established at the Reformation, confirmed at the Glorious Revolution and embodied for all time coming in the Act of Security contained in the Treaty of Union. If adopted in the 21st century, the Establishment Principle would protect the Church of Christ, ensuring that it was assisted and promoted by the Government. The Reformed Church would in turn provide moral direction in matters affecting the nation. This is the only safe relationship with the Church which the present Scottish Government should contemplate. The equivocation and plainly unscriptural decisions on moral issues emanating from the present National Church, make it all the more necessary for the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland to prayerfully place before our rulers and lawmakers the teaching of the Word of God on this and similar important moral issues.

3. The proposal will undermine the ability of the Church to solemnise marriages which use a schedule that recognises homosexual marriage. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland presently has a place on a list of Churches whose office-bearers are entitled by law to solemnise marriages and to sign the marriage schedule in its present form. Any alteration to this arrangement or to the schedule so contrary to the biblical principles of those immediately involved and which is likely to fatally compromise their ability to continue in this function with good conscience may render necessary a separate ecclesiastical registration of marriages. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland considers the proposals for change to be so extreme that legal action and judicial review will of necessity be an option open to them as interested parties in this issue.


We therefore most solemnly urge the Scottish Government to abandon its proposals for these scriptural reasons and to legislate for the promotion and preservation of marriage as God’s ordinance, defined, protected and honoured by Him in the Bible. We vehemently protest against any forthcoming legislation destructive of biblical marriage and refuse to recognise its legitimacy at any level.


On behalf of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland

David Campbell                      September 2012

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

BBC coverage of Synod Resolution

The Synod Resolution on Scottish Independence has been discussed on Gaelic and English radio. Rev Allan Maccoll spoke to the subject. The following links give access for limited time to the interviews


The BBC website also has some coverage of the resolution

The Committee welcomes wide discussion of the subject and is happy to address itself to questions arising from the resolution. Please email the Convener at

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Synod Resolution on Scottish Independence

Resolution on Scottish Independence

The Synod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, met at Glasgow, on the 23rd day of May, 2012, desires to place on record its deep concern at the proposed intention of the present Scottish Government to abrogate the Treaty of Union of 1707.

The Synod is of the view that the Treaty of Union is inviolable and cannot be lawfully overturned in all time coming and is a fundamental guarantee of the civil and religious liberties of the people of Scotland which cannot be tampered with except at great peril to our spiritual and temporal welfare.

·         The Treaty of Union expressly provides for the security of the Protestant religion and Presbyterian Church government;

·         The current proposed constitutional arrangements envisaged by the Scottish Government would lead to a secularisation of the nation’s constitution by neglecting to give the Christian Church its rightful place as the established and only religion of the realm;

·         The desire to change from a Protestant constitution to a secular one represents a great provocation of the God of glory, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the king of nations;

·         The influence of the Roman Catholic Church in particular and false religion in general is likely to be excessive in an independent Scotland where Protestantism is marginalised;

·         The breach of the Union would be a national manifestation of the sin of unthankfulness for the multitudes of blessings the people of the United Kingdom have known from the hand of the Lord in both spiritual and temporal matters since 1707;

·         The breaking of the Union would represent the sin of covenant-breaking before the Lord, in violation of the moral and spiritual obligations of the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, in which the mutual welfare of all the parts of these islands became a sacred bond of trust between the three kingdoms down to the end of time,

The Synod warns the people of the Church, the Scottish Government, the British Government and the people of the United Kingdom, of the great dangers threatened in abrogating the Treaty of Union and solemnly remind them that the Lord will deal with the sins of unthankfulness, covenant-breaking and weakening the cause of Christ in the nation in His own time and way, ‘Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set’ (Proverbs 22:28).  

Monday, 27 February 2012

R & M Report 2012 - Divorce

In the aftermath of the consultation process regarding same-sex marriage the impression may be left that the Churches in Scotland are united in their approach to marriage as a divine ordinance and in their determination to defend it as it is regulated by the Word of God. Sadly this is not the case and the attitudes to divorce and re-marriage evidence a very serious departure from Scripture even in Churches claiming to stand on the scriptural ground of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Church of Scotland has long ago shifted its position from the restrictions defined in the Confession. The Committee gave consideration to a document produced by the Free Church of Scotland which significantly changes the stance of this Church on the subject of divorce. A panel was set up by the General Assembly to prepare a study paper “in light of recent Biblical research,” and its report has been circulated to Presbyteries of the Free Church seeking their responses to a proposed new position on divorce. The Study Panel will submit its final report to the 2012 General Assembly.

The new position is that the true scriptural position allows for divorce, not only on the grounds of desertion and adultery, but also on the grounds of emotional and physical neglect and abuse. It is argued that such behaviour in a marriage is “an abandonment of the promises involved in a marriage, a rejection of the other.” This, it is argued, is “in essence desertion.” Conveniently “this could fit within the terms of the Confession.” This position may appear plausible and it is offered on the basis of arguments purporting to have scripture foundations. It is true that desertion needs to be defined, but the proposed definition is excessively wide. A whole range of things could come under the category of “neglect” and of “abandonment of promises involved in a marriage.” The arguments in favour of the new position are spurious and depend on extra-biblical propositions relating to Jewish customs.

However inadvertently, the whole endeavour looks remarkably similar to the very thing our Westminster divines warned against – “Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments, unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage.” The new definition seems to better fit the civil grounds of “irretrievable breakdown” which was demonstrated by a multitude of faults other than adultery or desertion. This position, which was the basis of legislation, (first introduced in 1937 and added to in 1967) has been largely discredited. The reason for this is due to the increased acrimony in divorce cases and the implications for courts that resulted from it. Present legislation favours the equally unscriptural no-fault divorce. We must maintain the Reformed position on this subject.

R & M Report 2012 - The Middle East

In the report to the Synod of 2011, reference was made to the proud boast of Muammar Gaddafi, the then leader of Libya who predicted that “the 50 plus million Muslims (in Europe) will turn it into the Muslim Continent within a few decades.” The unrest in Libya and Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries resulted in the removal of Gaddafi and others from power and the Libyan leader met his end in a most brutal manner. The unrest seems to be spreading now to other countries and it is shocking indeed to see the brutality of the ruling power in Syria towards its own people, suppressing what began as a relatively peaceful protest. The scourge of civil war seems to loom over these nations and the danger of a wider conflict in the region is real. Several factors in the events of 2011 in the Middle East suggest that the eventual outcome might not be as favourable to the Church of Christ or to Western peace as may have been at first envisaged. Firstly, the hand of those extreme elements of Islamic militancy seems to get stronger when civil unrest emerges in Middle Eastern countries. The internal divisions within Islam between Sunnis and Shiites is largely responsible for this, but it is clear that the more fanatical elements have a very aggressive policy towards Christianity and if they were to gain political power the consequences for small Christian groups and Churches in the Middle East would be catastrophic. Professing Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Libya are all experiencing a rise in persecution as a result of the upheavals which their countries have gone through in recent times. We should be stirred up to fervent prayer for the Lord’s cause and people in these lands.

A further concern is the position of Israel in the whole region. The declared policy of Iran, for example is to destroy Israel altogether and to eradicate the Jews as a race. While this can never happen because “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” and they are “beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28,29) we cannot tell what sufferings God’s ancient people may yet have to endure from their enemies. We can only look on with prayerful longing for their redemption and deliverance which will be “life from the dead” to the Church of God among the Gentiles. That this blessed eventuality is inseparable from their repentance the Bible makes very plain and while they presently posses part of the land of Canaan, we cannot assume that they have a divine right to it while they remain impenitent.
The people of God love the Jewish people and wherever true religion is the fervent desire for their salvation and grafting back into their own olive tree will be included in the prayers of the Church of Christ. The real path to peace in Israel and the Middle East is the proclamation of the gospel to these peoples and their subjection to Christ. Thus the middle wall of partition will be broken down and the literal walls that presently carve up the land of Palestine and over which so much blood has been spilt, will be no longer needed, for “they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (Isaiah 52:8).

R & M Report 2012 - Romanism

The Reformation in the 16th century delivered Scotland from the yoke of Romanism and the established religion of our nation is Reformed and Confessional Presbyterianism. There can be no doubt that this fact is a source of great annoyance to the Romish hierarchy in this country and at the centre of that anti-christian system. A disturbing aspect in the increasingly successful efforts of Roman Catholicism to break down the work of Reformation is the place and status given to it by politicians, churchmen and by media outlets. It has become common for our Scottish leadership to consult with Romish bishops and cardinals when considering policies and laws and it is now accepted that the voice of Rome on issues of morals gets more publicity than that of any other religious body. The moral and spiritual vacuum left in our national life and public media by an apostate Church of Scotland has been all but filled by Romanist teaching. It is a sad declension indeed when its many errors are advanced and promoted without a contrary voice against it. The shame of this must be laid firmly at the door of the professing Christian Church and of so-called Protestant Churches in particular. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland must be unashamedly Protestant in its adherence to the gospel and to the work of Reformation from which Scotland has so grievously departed.

In spite of the glorious work of Reformation brought to this nation, it is now a sad reality that in both England and Scotland historic Protestantism is viewed with disapproval and Churches recoil from being identified by that name. The success of Romanism has extended also to Northern Ireland where, doubtless in the interests of the peace process, the Protestant First Minister has defended his attendance at a requiem mass. Such betrayal and departure distresses the people of God who feel increasingly that the Church of Christ is carried captive and is in a “strange land” where they can no longer sing “the Lord’s song.” We reject entirely the necessity for any politician or other public figure to give attendance at a requiem mass in order to show respect to the dead or sympathy to the living. The political reasons for Peter Robinson’s attendance at a mass may prevail with some to bring them to endorse or defend his action. The word of God requires of Christians that they “flee from idolatry.” The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has always contended that public figures are bound by the law of God in their offices and positions and that attending a Roman Catholic Mass as a public office-holder is a sin with several aggravations and therefore more rather than less heinous than attending in a private capacity.

R & M Report 2012 - The Free Church and Romanism

Spurious arguments defending declension prevail in many circles today. The FreePresbyterian Magazine has drawn attention to declension from historic Protestantism within the Free Church of Scotland in recent times. This was in evidence in 2011 when the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland joined with a Roman Catholic priest and a Church of Scotland minister at two separate ecumenical services in Lewis which were broadcast in the media. Rev James MacIver defended his actions and denied that the services were ecumenical, but for every ordinary observer they could be considered as nothing less than this. Whatever attempt is made to justify such diluting of principle, whether for evangelistic ends, to court popularity or to prevent unfounded impressions of sectarian division in communities, the action was a departure from Reformation standards. This action of the Moderator of the Free Church follows closely on the public welcome offered to the Pope by Rev David Robertson of Dundee Free Church which the Committee referred to in its report last year. Other indications of departure from protestant principles, such as joint funeral worship and memorial services with Romanist priests, display the decline in the Free Church. Prof Donald MacLeod has publically defended these joint services and scorns the opposition voiced against them.

The Westminster Confession closely follows scripture language in its definition of the papacy as “that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition” and Romanism as the spiritual Babylon and so a “synagogue of Satan.” It also exposes the very many heresies of Rome which fundamentally vitiate its profession of Christianity. That one of the services mentioned above marked the celebration of the Romanist festival of Christmas is enough to expose its unscriptural basis, but that a priest of Rome was joined in his devotions highlights the spiritual darkness prevailing at the event. A Roman Catholic priest, according to scripture, promotes the “working of Satan” and however unaware individual priests may be of it, they all suffer from “strong delusion” (2 Thess. 2:9-11). It may well be asked “what communion hath light with darkness?” It should be no surprise that the people of God are left questioning the direction of ministers when such communion is defended or treated as a matter indifferent. We therefore utterly condemn this practice and resolve to expose such departures in future as dangerous to Protestants and to the interests of the Church of Christ in our land.

While concessions to Romanism of this kind have been gathering pace on the Scottish mainland for some time, the practice is new in the professedly more conservative Free Church Presbytery of Lewis. It is clear that in this further concession to Rome the Free Church has lost credibility and authority however ardently she desires to take the place nationally of the fallen Church of Scotland. At such a time as this it may well be asked what useful purpose the Free Church of Scotland serves in the promotion of the Protestant Reformation. It is becoming an increasingly schismatic ecclesiastical asylum for those fleeing discipline in other Churches or unwilling to tolerate the now century old decline of the national Church. To all appearances the Free Church is on the same slide towards liberalism and declension and we can expect further revisions of its adherence to Protestantism and the Confession in the near future.