Court Orders Same-Sex Marriage In Church


On Friday morning of 08 March 2019, the Gauteng
High Court in Pretoria, overturned the decision of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa,
not to recognise same-sex marriages within the church. The practical effect of the court judgement,
is that the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, will be able to conduct same-sex marriages,
once they have obtained licences from the Department of Home Affairs in this regard. The judgment also enables gay or lesbian members,
who are in a same-sex relationship, to become ministers of the church. This turn of event has been described by some
commentators, as a victory for people in same-sex relationships, and are also members of the
Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. A full bench, led by Judge Joseph Raulinga,
overturned the decision, on same-sex relationships adopted during the extraordinary meeting of
the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in November 2016. The church decided to go back on its earlier
stance of allowing same-sex marriages within the church in 2015. The church made headlines when, in 2015, it
announced that its various congregations could decide for themselves if they wanted to give
their blessing to same-sex marriages. A year later, following a lot of pressure
from some of its members, the church announced that a gay or lesbian person can only be a
minister if he or she is celibate. Ministers were also no longer able to solemnise
same-sex civil unions. Laurie Gaum, with the blessing of his father,
Dr Frits Gaum, a well-known figure in the church, launched the court application. He challenged the church’s decision to go
back on its word regarding same-sex unions. Advocate Schalk Burger SC, for the church,
earlier argued that this decision was not taken lightly. He said that since 2004, its General Synod
confirmed its stance against gay unions in the church. It changed its stance in 2015, but due to
a lot of opposition from its members, it decided to revert back to its previous or original
stance. Gaum stance is that, through this “flawed”
decision-making process, and its outcome, the church, and the synod have infringed the
right to religion itself, and they have imposed their religious beliefs on others. The result, Gaum said, is severe emotional
and spiritual harm, culminating in deep human suffering. He said the effect of the 2016 decision, was
to preclude members of the gay and lesbian community, from concluding civil partnerships,
which the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, has provided by law for all South
Africans, in their own church. The court handed down a 56-page judgment,
which Judge Joseph Raulinga, jokingly remarked when handed down, that it “makes good reading.” So in a nutshell, Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
judges, that the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, will be able to conduct same-sex
marriages, once they have obtained licences from the Department of Home Affairs, in this
regard. The judgment also enables gay or lesbian members,
who are in a same-sex relationship, to become ministers of the church. Please check in the description box below,
for the links to the sources of this report. Thanks for watching. Please comment, like, share and subscribe.

Michael Martin

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