As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
Only 3 of 100 representatives voted against the decision of the EPUdF Assembly. Evangelicals (CNEF) react: Bible does not endorse same-sex marriage.
The Reformed and Lutheran Protestant Church in France will bless same-sex marriages after 94 out of 100 delegates voted in favour of the decision in the National Assembly of the Union of Protestant Churches in France (in French: EPUdF).
The traditional Protestant Church is the biggest historical Protestant denomination in the country and represents about 340,000 believers, 140,000 of them are active churchgoers.
After the discussions in the four-day-long synode, only three representatives decided to vote “no”, against the majority.
The decision “will not be imposed on any church or pastor”, the EUPdF explained, but in practice the result shows that almost every Reformed and Lutheran church in France will change his policy and start marrying homosexual couples.
DOES IT CLASH WITH BIBLICAL DOCTRINE?
In the opinion of the EUPdF, this decision does not contradict Biblical doctrine, against what most evangelicals argue.
“The source of our joy is found in the ‘yes’ that God puts on us in the first place in Jesus Christ. This is the blessing on which our lives are based on. To bring blessing to the women and men of today is our vocation”, the EUPdF said in a statement.
The EUPdF was formed in 2012, uniting Lutherans and Reformed churches. It is member of the Protestant Federation of France, a federation which includes some Evangelical denominations, although many Evangelical denominations are members of the theologically conservative National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF).
EVANGELICALS: YES TO PASTORAL, NO TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
The CNEF reacted on monday to EUPdF's decision, saying that not all Protestants agree with the decision, especially evangelical Protestants, which represent “more than 70% of the practicing Protestants in France.”
Evangelicals churches “welcome all people, no matter their social, cultural, religious background or their sexual orientation. But welcoming someone does not necessarily mean to endorse their views”.
Evangelicals “do not simply want to follow social tendencies, but to have a free voice, following the example of the first Reformers.”
The CNEF thinks the decision clashes with the "ethics" taught in the Bible, and fears the decision of the Reformed and Lutheran churches will affect "negatively" the relationship with the evangelical churches.
Gay marriage was approved in France in 2013. The decision of the government of François Hollande has led to a social debate in which thousands of Christians (including Catholics, Protestants and evangelicals) have showed on the streets their support of a traditional view of marriage.