THE first openly gay Church of Scotland minister has called for the marriage tradition of the "father giving the bride away" to be abandoned.

Rev Scott Rennie, below, the Aberdeen-based minister whose appointment was followed by years of struggle in the Kirk over the issue of same sex marriage, said the practice is outdated and called for it to be consigned to history.

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Writing in The Herald, he cites the Church's recent Theological Forum's finding that "it is simply not the case that a single account of ‘marriage’ has been unchanged and constant throughout Christian history".

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He said: "Few fathers will any longer walk their daughters down the aisle to ‘give them away’ as if they were merely a piece of property or the occasion were a business transaction as in ancient times.

"They would hope for more for their daughters than that.

"They may place their hand in the hand of another, as a beloved.

"Moreover, these days it may not be Dad, but someone else who has had a formative place in a child’s life who hands them over to the new love of their life."


He added: "Increasingly, in a much less patriarchal world, I encourage couples - who nearly always live together in any case - to walk down the aisle together as they come to make their marriage covenant with each other.

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"The symbolism is important. The couple are coming to marry one another, in the sight of God, and with the congregation bearing witness.

"All our churches are being asked to do is open their eyes of faith, and bear witness to the love that binds people together, whether they happen to be of a different or the same gender."

The wide-ranging Theological Forum report found changing traditions in marriage and said that about 1000AD if marriage vows "occurred at all, they took place prior to the marriage and were between the bridegroom and the bride’s father" and were often sealed with a kiss between the two men.

The report said: "The kiss, if it occurred, was hardly romantic but was the feudal kiss on the mouth between bridegroom and bride’s father.

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"Fathers controlled the giving of a son or daughter into marriage.

"With church reform, slowly marriage by vow emerged and consent alone was considered constitutive of a marriage."

HeraldScotland: Rev Dr George Whyte

Rev Dr George Whyte, above, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “Who she walks down the aisle with at her wedding is the bride’s personal choice.

“Most still choose their Dad if that is possible but brides have walked with their groom, their mother, their bridesmaid and occasionally on their own.

“At no point is the Father asked to hand over the bride and in the service itself, the couple make equal promises to each other as adults.”

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The Church of England says: "Centuries ago daughters were thought of as their father’s property and giving her away at her marriage ceremony was a moment when ownership of her was transferred to the groom.

"Nowadays, it’s simply a wedding tradition and the bride can make decisions about if and how it happens."

Rev Rennie was writing ahead of the Scottish Episcopal Church Synod on Thursday, where church members will vote over a canon law change allowing ministers to conduct accept same sex marriages.

He also said: "I wish my friends well, and hope they will take a step forward in recognising the blessing of marriage in the lives of all couples, including same sex couples, by amending canon law."