Speaking Truth in Love

Eugene Peterson sparks controversy with same-sex marriage comments

July 19th, 2017 / By: Michael Foust / comments

Eugene Peterson sparks controversy with same-sex marriage comments

Eugene Peterson. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Bestselling Christian author Eugene Peterson, known for “The Message” paraphrase of Scripture, caused a stir within the evangelical community in July by stating he would perform a same-sex wedding. But one day after the interview was posted, he backtracked.

Peterson, 84, is the author of more than 30 books and a former professor at Regent College in Canada.

“I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago,” he told Religion News Service in the initial statement, “but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do. I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over. People who disapprove of it, they’ll probably just go to another church.

“So we’re in a transition and I think it’s a transition for the best, for the good. I don’t think it’s something that you can parade, but it’s not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned,” Peterson said.

In response to a question from RNS, Peterson said he would perform a same-sex wedding if asked to do so.

The day after the story was posted, Peterson released a statement saying: “I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.”

“With most interviews I’ve done,” he said in his follow-up statement, “I generally ask for questions in advance and respond in writing. That’s where I am most comfortable. When put on the spot by this particular interviewer, I said yes in the moment. But on further reflection and prayer, I would like to retract that. That’s not something I would do out of respect to the congregation, the larger church body, and the historic biblical Christian view and teaching on marriage. That said, I would still love such a couple as their pastor. They’d be welcome at my table, along with everybody else.”

Peterson also told RNS of pastoring a congregation that was willing to consider hiring an open homosexual as minister of music.

“We didn’t have any gay people in the whole congregation,” Peterson said. “Well, some of them weren’t openly gay. But I was so pleased with the congregation. Nobody made any question about [the applicant’s sexuality]. And he was a really good musician.”

—compiled from reports from Christianity Today and Baptist Press