The Church of Norway on Tuesday rejected a proposal for religious same-sex marriage, even though it had the support of most bishops. Norway was among the first countries in Europe to grant homosexuals full rights, including marriage and adoption in 2009.
In October eight of Norway’s 12 bishops said they favored allowing religious weddings for same-sex couples. But the proposal needed the approval of the synod, the highest decision-making body in the church, which professes the Lutheran Christian faith.
During a national synod, 64 participants voted against and 51 in favor. The delegates will now examine other alternatives such as whether to add a religious blessing to civil ceremonies.
Benestad, a Norwegian priest who has been one of the leading voices against gay marriage, stated emphatically that marriage only describes a relationship between a man and one woman.
“I will be happy if we end up with marriage preserved as a relationship between man and woman,” Benestad said. “There is only one answer, both in the bible and in the history of the church, to the question of what a marriage is.”
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on January 1, 2009 when a gender neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian legislature in June 2008. Norway became the first Scandinavian country and the sixth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. However, there is no regulation about churches’ obligations in marriages.
In neighboring Sweden, the Lutheran church approved same-sex marriages in 2009. Denmark in 2012 made it mandatory for all churches to offer full religious weddings for same-sex couples, although priests opposed on principle can ask a colleague to take the service their place.
Source: Voice of Russia