In an 11-page proclamation issued Wednesday afternoon, the church said that the parties to a church wedding should be a man and a woman. This means that the church has decided not to grant same-sex couples the right to have priests officiate at their wedding ceremonies, although gender-neutral marriage laws will come into effect in Finland from March 1, 2017.
Judging by statements made by two Lutheran pastors, however, the decree may meet some resistance. Pastor Toni Fagerholm, a gay rights advocate, says he will marry his first gay couple the very moment it is possible in Finland.
"I've already made plans to not only marry a certain couple but to also film the ceremony and upload it to YouTube," Fagerholm says. "Then there'll be no quarrels over whether a marriage blessing took place or not. I will also be marrying other couples, and doing it openly."
Fagerholm has gone against church dogma in the past as well; in 2014 he blessed a gay female couple during Helsinki Pride. The bishops' decision to disallow gay church weddings came to Fagerholm as a "complete disappointment".
"I thought they would say that an internal dialogue is ongoing within the church on this issue, and that both sides should be respected, but no," he says.
"The church is late to the game"
For her part, pastor Liinamaria Roos says she is more understanding of the bishops' call.
"I don't actually care about what the bishops said exactly. I know well that they can't say anything that isn't in line with the current guidelines of the synod. But it's too late now to think about what the church should or shouldn't do, because the secular world continues to change. Its effects can be seen in the church already," Roos says.
Roos, too, says she will marry gay couples starting in March.
"My public servant's rights grant me the possibility of marrying same-sex couples, so I will," she says. "I would do it right away if it were possible. Personally I won't be broadcasting the information, as family celebrations are intimate affairs."
"I have a calling to serve people and nothing will change the way I do things. I know in heart what is vocational and what is love," Roos adds.
She says that the time is ripe for internal talks in the church, before the next synod in Turku in November.
"Someone needs to overturn the tables"
Fagerholm says that sexual minorities have found the terminological stunts of the church especially offensive.
"This is officialese at its worst. Take praying with a same-sex couple. I tried to organize a prayer moment, and while one colleague spoke of a prayer moment, another said it should just be called a prayer."
A survey by the news agency Lännen Media two years ago showed that 40 percent of Finnish pastors would be prepared to marry gay couples. In Helsinki the proportion was some 60 percent. However, it is not known how many clerics are now prepared to defy the official church stance.
"Someone has to be the first to lose their temper and overturn the tables in the temple," Roos says, referencing scripture. "Human rights issues will never progress unless people within the system stand up and say they've had enough."
Both Fagerholm and Roos say they are not worried about any potential disciplinary repercussions arising from their defiance of the synod.
"To me it is the coolest thing in the whole world when two people want to commit to one another under the eyes of God. I don't consider any personal backlash a form of sanction. They're part of the package," Roos says.
Fagerholm agrees that any consequences will be part of the conversation.
"It is a dialogue that we simply must have. We will discuss all of this in our cathedral chapter."