Kyrklig samling

Statement following the Proposed Gender-Neutral Legislation about Marriage in Sweden

The Act of Blessing is Buried

It was not hard to envisage that decision taken by the Church of Sweden General Synod two years ago about a Service of Blessing for those who had entered into a Registered Partnership would soon be a thing of the past. It was entirely a hasty production, compiled to satisfy a loud and noisy lobby.

Now the playing field has changed. The proposal published today is the report commissioned by the Swedish Government. It represents and attempt to weigh up all the various interests of different groups in society and the proposal is that Swedish legislation on marriage should from 1st January 2008 be gender-neutral. The implication is that from that date, there will not be any partnerships to bless, and the Church of Sweden has not taken any decision to marry same-sex couples.

When the majority of the Church of Sweden General Synod two years ago decided to introduce the Act of Blessing of a Registered Partnership, very insufficient work had been spent on the theological questions and the issues relating to canon law. No analysis of the consequences had been made and a considerable minority within the church as well as ecumenical partners were overrun. Today reality has caught up. There are now strong reasons to assume that, had the Church of Sweden General Synod understood clearly that within two years, the Act of Blessing would be replaced by a marriage, the proposal would never have been passed.

The government’s proposal is coherent on the basis of its own preconditions. From the state’s point of view, the issue was settled in principle when the legislation governing registered partnership came into force. But it is worth noting the respect that this report shows the churches and denominations on the grounds of religious liberty and the sensitivity that is expressed towards the large majority among the general public who want to have the opportunity to marry in accordance with tradition in the parish church. No church and no individual should be forced to officiate at a marriage ceremony according to this proposed legislation.

The leadership of the Church of Sweden has locked itself in a corner, which will have major consequences for the credibility of the church. The church leaders seek to ride two horses at the same time by seeking to save the concept of marriage and at the same time to welcome this proposal. There is no evidence to suggest that they will succeed.

In this confused situation which has now arisen, it is obvious that the Church of Sweden General Synod chose a dangerous path when it invented an Order for Act of Blessing which turned out to be no more than a political interlude. It was a "decision contrary to that order of cohabitation and marriage which God, through his Word, has revealed to us, and which is defined as a relationship between a man and a woman." (From the Priests’ Declaration, 2005)

Hyssna, 21st March 2007

Yngve Kalin
Chairman
Church Coalition for Bible and Confession

2007 © Yngve Kalin

 

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2007-03-21