The Church of Norway voted at its annual conference on Monday to allow gay marriage, with the Christian body joining the French Protestant Church, the U.S. Episcopal and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denominations, among others, in now supporting same-sex unions.
Of the 115 delegates at the Lutheran denomination’s synod, 88 backed embracing gay marriage, while also including a caveat for priests who do not wish to take part in same-sex weddings that allows them to opt out of doing so, Reuters reported.
The denomination itself called the institutional change “a historic decision that marks a shift in the church’s teaching on marriage,” with the vote reportedly receiving a standing ovation from most of the participants in attendance.
The move — which came after the Church of Norway preliminarily voted during its general synod last year to accept gay marriage — left supporters of the Open Public Church — a movement that has pushed for the embrace of same-sex nuptials — overjoyed.
“Finally, we can celebrate love independently of whom one falls in love with,” Gard Sandaker-Nilsen, who leads the effort, told Reuters.
The vote in favor of same-sex unions means that the state church will draft an outline of what marrying same-sex couples entails at its annual meeting next year, adding gay nuptials to the Church of Norway’s official liturgy.
Though the Church of Norway is declining in prevalence, 74 percent of Norwegians are still members.
As TheBlaze has reported, the battle over gay marriage within churches across the world continues to rage. Last June, the Episcopal Church officially joined Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ in becoming the third mainline denomination to embrace gay marriage rites — a move that came just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions.
The theological debate over gay marriage is likely nowhere near over.
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