The Swedish government has told the Church of Sweden that ministers cannot refuse to marry same-sex couples.
The Christian Institute reports that Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that ministers of the Church of Sweden should be required to marry same-sex couples, regardless of their opinions on homosexuality and gay marriage.
“[N]o priest in the Swedish Church can refuse to marry same-sex couples,” stated Löfven. “If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else. It is the same for priests who do not want to perform same-sex marriages,” he added.
Currently, ministers in the Swedish state church are allowed to opt out of performing weddings, baptisms, and funerals for any reason, so this would be a major change in policy.
Although requiring ministers to marry same-sex couples is not yet mandatory, Sweden’s national broadcaster SVT reported that the prime minister is in support of making it so.
Sweden legalized gay marriage in 2009, but the church has been much more cautious of fully embracing it.
Acceptance of gay marriage in churches around Europe is growing. At the end of May, as ChristianHeadlines.com previously reported, the Church of Scotland voted to ordain ministers who were in same-sex marriages. The Scottish Church does, however, allow individual congregations to opt out of this revised stance on marriage if they choose.