Ireland Presbyterian Church Says Same-Sex Couples Can't Be Members, Children Won't Be Baptized

(Photo: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)People react as Ireland voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum, in Dublin, May 23, 2015. Ireland became the first country in the world to adopt same-sex marriage by popular vote as 62 percent of the electorate backed a referendum, official results showed on Saturday.

The New Testament "unambiguously" regards homosexuality as contrary to nature, says the Presbyterian Church in Ireland as its General Assembly decides not to allow same-sex couples to be full members or their children to be baptized.

"In the light of our understanding of scripture and the church's understanding of a credible profession of faith it is clear that same-sex couples are not eligible for communicant membership nor are they qualified to receive Baptism for their children," the church's doctrine committee announced Friday.

"We believe that their outward conduct and lifestyle is at variance with a life of obedience to Christ," it said, The Irish Times reported.

The church "has a clear position on marriage and human relationships based on the teaching of the Bible," it added. "What was before the General Assembly was the acceptance of a paper that posed a theological question of what represents a 'credible profession of faith' in our Church and the outworking of that in a person's life—something that applies to all who want to be a member of our Church, regardless of background, orientation or anything else."

It continued that "homosexual activity is not consistent with Christian discipleship since it does not accord with the will of God expressed in his moral law," and that the New Testament "unambiguously regards homosexual activity as contrary to nature, understood as God's created order, and that it sets forth a permanent principle of creation, not a culturally limited perception."

Mark Smith, a representative of the church, clarified that the church is "not denying anyone communion, or attending worship or access to pastoral care, but rather defining what it means to be of a credible profession of faith," according to Independent.ie.

Earlier during the week, the church also decided to loosen ties with the Church of Scotland, which in 2016 decided to allow its ministers to be in same-sex marriages by making a provision for individual congregations to "opt out" of the Church's traditional view of marriage as between a man and woman.

Last month, the people of Ireland voted in favor of repealing the constitution's ban on abortion.

The pro-life campaign Save the 8th called the vote a tragedy. The constitution "did not create a right to life for the unborn child — it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed, and will always exist," the campaign said in a statement. "What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions. However, a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it."

In March, Rodney Stout, the pastor of Ballynahinch Baptist Church in County Down in Northern Ireland, said his church was facing a threat of "extreme violence" after it screened a film, "Voices of the Silenced: Experts, Evidences and Ideologies," which features people who are turning away from the homosexual lifestyle.

Last year, the Scottish Episcopal Church overturned the Anglican canon law that states marriage is between a man and a woman. It hosted a same-sex church wedding last September, the first ever by a mainstream denomination in the U.K., leading to the Anglican Communion saying it would take action.