The Bishop’s Conference of the Norwegian national Evangelical Lutheran Church has backed efforts to allow same-sex couples to have religious weddings but will not force clergy who disagree with them to perform them.
The Bishop’s Conference of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church approved a doctrinal clarification recognizing same-sex marriage this week, with its central board voting unanimously in favor of the proposal.
The bishops hope the church’s next Synod in April will approve a new marriage liturgy that is inclusive of same-sex couples which they say is the only barrier to priests performing same-sex weddings as Norwegian law already allows ministers of religion to marry couples regardless of gender.
‘The Bishops' Conference believes that disagreement in views on gay relationships and religious marriage will not split the church and that it will be possible to live with two views on the issue,’ the Bishops’ Conference said in a statement – noting that the church had long accommodated different views on the ordination of women.
‘If we live with two views on this issue so must the church also give priests who want to marry same-sex couples the opportunity to do so. The church must begin work on a marriage liturgy that includes marriage for same-sex couples.’
The bishops noted that Norway’s marriage act already protected clergy who opposed same-sex marriage from having to marry same-sex couples so the challenge for the church was to find a mechanism for those who wished to do so to do so.
Neighboring Sweden’s national Church of Sweden has allowed same-sex couples religious marriages since 2009 but allows dissenting pastors to opt out.
Same-sex couples in Norway have been able to marry and adopt in Norway since 2009 and the Church of Norway allows the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.