Should the Finnish Church marry gay couples?
From this Wednesday on, same-sex couples can get married in Finland. The new law, which was approved by the Finnish parliament two years ago, has sparked a debate in the Church. Its highest decision-making body, the General Synod, has ruled that despite the new law its clergy can only perform marriages between a man and a woman. The Church is behind the times, the Finnish press concludes.
Church can't oppose gay marriage forever
The Church won't be able to oppose gay marriages in the long term, Karjalainen suspects:
“The main goal of the law on same-sex marriage, namely giving gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, has now been achieved. … The debate about the law giving gay couples equal rights will, however, continue. It has already moved on from parliament to another institution, the Church. The reform of the Marriage Act doesn't give the clergy of the Evangelic-Lutheran Church the right to marry homosexual couples. … But the pressure to change the rules on church weddings will grow. The Church makes its own decisions, but on matters of marriage it can't afford to defy the will of secular society in the long term.”
A new Reformation is possible
Hämeen Sanomat shows understanding for the dilemma the Church faces:
“The lawgivers have spoken. People have the right to equal treatment. For the Church, however, the issue is more complex. It must move with the times, but it must also respect the Bible and those who take a traditional view of Christian marriage. The Church doesn't seem ready for modern times and equal rights. That's regrettable, above all for the Church itself. But the task should be manageable. ... This year will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The quicker the Church reforms itself, the more emphatically it will understand that its task is to unite the people, and not to divide them. Can the Church afford to turn people down?”