In retraction, popular author affirms ‘a biblical view of everything’—including marriage.
(By Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today). A day after a Religion News Service interview portrayed retired pastor and author Eugene Peterson as shifting to endorse same-sex marriage, the evangelical leader retracted his comment and upheld the traditional Christian stance instead.
“To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything,” he said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Peterson, best known for creating the paraphrased Bible translation The Message, also regrets the “confusion and bombast” in the fallout of his remarks, which were widely shared and commented on online yesterday.
Recently a reporter asked me whether my personal opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage have changed over the years. I presume I was asked this question because of my former career as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which recently affirmed homosexuality and began allowing its clergy to perform same-sex weddings. Having retired from the pastorate more than 25 years ago, I acknowledged to the reporter that I “haven’t had a lot of experience with it.”
To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.
RNS columnist Jonathan Merritt had asked Peterson, “If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?” Peterson had responded with one word: yes.
The interview was published Wednesday under this headline: Best-selling author Eugene Peterson changes his mind on gay marriage.
In his retraction, the 84-year-old said that in nearly three decades as a pastor and in the years since, “I’ve never performed a same-sex wedding. I’ve never been asked and, frankly, I hope I never am asked.
“This reporter, however, asked a hypothetical question: if I were pastoring today and if a gay couple were Christians of good faith and if they asked me to perform their wedding ceremony—if, if, if. Pastors don’t have the luxury of indulging in hypotheticals,” said Peterson. “And to be honest, no is not a word I typically use.”
Peterson went on to state that because of the biblical view of marriage, he would not marry a same-sex couple:
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.
Related article: Eugene Peterson backtracks on same-sex marriage,
What in the World is Eugene Peterson Thinking on Marriage?, by Jeffrey Walton, Juicy Ecumenism
Statement from Peterson’s publisher: Eugene Peterson Issues Revised Statement Following Religion News Service Interview