On Friday this week, Parliament will vote on its Legal Affairs Committee's rejection of a bill on gender neutral marriage.
In a Facebook posting on Tuesday, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen noted that in some of the public debate on the issue, same-sex marriage has been portrayed as posing some sort of threat, a claim he dismissed.
"If the initiative is passed, no one's marriage will lose any of its value, nor will the position of a single child be endangered. If the initiative is not passed, the recognition of and improvements in the status of sexual minorities will not stop here. Changes in attitudes have taken place and continue to take place. I pray for wisdom for the members of parliament, and for serenity for those who hope and fear," wrote Archbishop Mäkinen.
He also stressed his view that that the defense of sexual minorities must continue no matter what Parliament decides regarding new marriage legislation.
"Regardless of what decision Parliament makes and what path the church follows, it is important to defend rainbow couples and rainbow families. For me, it is not a matter of opinion. It is a question of human dignity arising from the basis of the Christian faith," Mäkinen stated.
Three alternatives for the Lutheran church
According to Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, if a gender neutral marriage bill is passed, it will have an effect on the Lutheran church, although it will not have an immediate, direct impact on church weddings.
Archbishop Mäkinen sees three alternative paths for the church in the marriage issue, if a legal change is forthcoming.
The first alternative would be to maintain the status quo, sanctioning marriage in the church for heterosexual couples, but not for same-sex couples. This would put the concept and practice of marriage at odds with its social and legal definition.
The second would be for the church to relinquish its right to perform marriages and to only bless civil marriages. This would require a decision on if both different sex and same sex couples could be given blessings. The third alternative would be for the church to retain its right to perform marriages and to expand the concept of marriage to include relationships between people of the same sex.