It is not for me in this Charge to argue the issues – that is for our debate this afternoon. Rather it is for me to call our church to unity as we come once again to attempt to resolve this issue in our own life. For the Gospel reminds us that God privileges agreement – if two or three agree in earth about anything in my name, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven, and if we read the same words backwards, an inability to agree closes off blessing. The challenge for us is whether or not our Koinonia, our oneness in Christ, can sustain our unity as we resolve and move forward as we will, still with a diversity of view.
These issues are familiar. Sometimes it helps to hear that familiar in slightly different words – the words of my friend Professor Iain Torrance speaking at this year’s Church of Scotland General Assembly. Two things which he said particularly struck me. He described the moment when “suddenly the pieces of a long argument come together in a different way. Where both sides can flourish, both may be protected and both may be celebrated.” And he talked about the need to “enable and celebrate structures of faithfulness.”