Early this morning, Religion News posted an interview with Eugene Peterson, discussing the publication of his last book. While that may be what it started out as, everyone is talking about what Peterson said in response to this question.

You are Presbyterian, and your denomination has really been grappling with some of the hot-button issues. I think particularly of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Has your view on that changed over the years?

I haven’t had a lot of experience with it. But I have been in churches when I was an associate pastor where there were several women who were lesbians. They didn’t make a big deal about it. I’d go and visit them and it never came up for them. They just assumed that they were as Christian as everybody else in the church.

In my own congregation — when I left, we had about 500 people — I don’t think we ever really made a big deal out of it. When I left, the minister of music left. She’d been there ever since I had been there. There we were, looking for a new minister of music. One of the young people that had grown up under my pastorship, he was a high school teacher and a musician. When he found out about the opening, he showed up in church one day and stood up and said, “I’d like to apply for the job of music director here, and I’m gay.” We didn’t have any gay people in the whole congregation. Well, some of them weren’t openly gay. But I was so pleased with the congregation. Nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician.

I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago, 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 does go on to talk about other things, but this is what has people riled up, and these are the 4 thoughts I had after I read the whole interview.

1. Everyone Has The Right To Change Their Mind

Don’t think that just because Peterson is now 84 years old that he has finally lost his marbles or succumb to some mind altering or mind debilitating illness. That isn’t what is happening here.

Peterson says in the interview that 20 years ago he won’t have said what he is saying now, implying that he has thought through his change in opinion, what it means, and what it says about Christianity.

He has every right to change his mind. We all do. No one is forcing this on Peterson, nor is he demanding that every Christian jump on his bandwagon and see things his way. He is simply stating that he has changed, his point of view has changed.

2. We Can Disagree With Peterson

I don’t agree with Peterson. And that’s okay.

The world doesn’t fall apart. Christianity as a religion doesn’t crumble because we don’t hold every single, tiny belief in common.

Catholics and Protestants disagree about what happens with the Eucharist, or Communion, when it is taken. Does the bread and wine actually turn into the blood and flesh of Jesus? The discussion will go on and on, maybe never reaching a point of agreement. But that is okay. Disagreeing on the small stuff is fine.

If Peterson started to make claims that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, or that Jesus wasn’t crucified or raised from the dead, then we would have some problems.

But to hold a different point of view on gay marriage is not the end of the world.

3. This Doesn’t Discredit Any Of Peterson’s Work

Should we throw out our “The Message” bibles if we disagree with Peterson on this issue? Are we required to burn any of the dozens of other works that he has created, that the Church at large has loved since the 80’s?

No. Why would we?

Like I said earlier, we can disagree, and that’s okay. Not everything that a Christian author writes down is good. Not everything that they say is worthwhile. You need to sift through it.

Take for example some of these quotations from important, but clearly mistaken, church fathers on the issue of women.

“For as the sun is more glorious than the moon, though the moon is a most glorious body, so woman, though she was a most beautiful work of God, yet she did not equal the glory of the male creature.” – Martin Luther, in his Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 2, Part V, 27b.

“. . . the woman together with her own husband is the image of God, so that that whole substance may be one image; but when she is referred separately to her quality of help-meet, which regards the woman herself alone, then she is not the image of God; but as regards the man alone, he is the image of God as fully and completely as when the woman too is joined with him in one.” – St. Augustine, On the Trinity, Book 12 7.10

Both Martin Luther and Augustine are respected men that did tremendous work for the Kingdom of God, but are totally wrong in this particular instant. That doesn’t mean that everything else that they contributed was garbage, or needing to be thrown out.
Their work, just like Peterson’s needs to be sifted through, finding the worthwhile wheat, and leaving the useless chaff.

4. Peterson’s Opinion Isn’t Gospel

He may have written his own unique translation of Scripture, but not everything that Eugene Peterson says is the gospel truth. I’m sure he has a favourite sports team that thousand of Christians would disagree with him on. Peterson can have his opinion, just as the rest of us can. But we are not the authority. Neither is Peterson.

We need to find our answers, our opinions, not in what a teacher may say, but in Scripture.

I do realize that Christians don’t even agree on what the Bible says about homosexuality and gay marriage, but we keep going back to it because we all believe that the Bible has the authority and power to shape and transform our lives. Because that is the case, we need to find our own opinions, our own thoughts from a basis of Scripture, not the latest thought from Eugene Peterson.

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2 thoughts on “4 Thoughts On Eugene Peterson’s Change Of Opinion On Gay Marriage

  1. Firstly, You describe debates and disagreements on the issue of homosexuality as “small stuff” and “not the end of the world.” I find your minimizing and careless attitude towards the catastrophic conflicts caused by homosexuality and the radicalized homosexual political movement to be as disturbing as the warped ideology of Peterson. It is your uninvolved, “not that important to me” cavalier perspective that personifies why a small group of radicalized, anti-christian homosexual activists have been able to repeatedly and successfully torpedo their dark and sinister agenda straight through the 400 Million self-declared Christians in North and Central America who claim they believe the Bible and that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

    I am the most significant expert on the effects of homosexuality on Christianity in the world today. There is no one who can equal my personal experiences, knowledge and expertise on homosexuality, and no one possesses anything remotely comparable to my documented archives on the devastation that homosexuality brings upon an individual, a family, on society and on Christianity.

    I was involved in the sin of homosexuality for thirty years until I repented and successfully left homosexuality twenty years ago. I have never had even a remote desire to return to that evil sin and that way of life. For the past twenty years I have personally battled the most scientifically documented case of AIDS in the history of the epidemic after I was unknowingly infected with the deadly disease while I was an uninfected research subject in a major biotech research laboratory in San Diego, California. I am the only person in history who scientists were studying my blood before and during the exact moment the virus entered my bloodstream. I did not find out that they had infected me with AIDS until after I got deathly ill and a research scientist was sent to my home where I laid in bed unable to get out of bed to even go to the bathroom. Emaciated, feverish, laying in my own urine covered bed sheets, the scientist and her nurse arrived at my apartment and demanded that I allow them to draw blood from my arm before they would call an ambulance to rush me to the emergency room. My blood samples reveal me as the earliest point of detected AIDS virus in the blood stream after being acutely infected in the 38 year history of the plague. For twenty years scientists have had a window into every aspect of my medical life from the very moment I was infected and every other aspect of my life. For the past twenty years, I have continued to live as a well known, born again Christian, former homosexual inside of the homosexual community where I was once a sinful participant in homosexuality.

    As a very vocal and public born again Christian and ex-homosexual, I have endured some of the worst persecution and hatred imaginable while living inside of the fourth largest homosexual community in the United States. I have been the target of many death threats by gay activists, particularly atheist gay activists, as well as shockingly horrific betrayals by megachurch pastors in my city who, like YOU, minimize the seriousness of the homosexual debate and what it is doing to churches where pastors are more interested in money than they are morality. I have endured five near-death experiences due to AIDS, one in which my gall bladder ruptured and I spent a total of 14 days in the hospital due to an open abdomen surgery and then, six months after that it was discovered that the surgeon left at least three enlarging gallstones in my abdomen that migrated to, and blocked, my bile duct. I have had to fight Cancer for 13 years, the result of AIDS weakening my immune system. I have fought Hepatitis A, B and C. I have had 12 invasive surgeries to remove skin cancers that have left deep, carved scars on my scalp, forehead, neck and shoulders. I have had 13 major reconstructive surgeries, including on my left foot and ankle, my right knee where my ACL was ruptured and reconstructed twice and recently the earlier surgical ACL graft from 1999 ruptured again and I am waiting to see if I am going to get surgery to repair it again. I have had reconstructive surgery on both of my hands, the result of degenerative disease in both of my thumbs. I suffer chronic, unyielding pain in my urological system and bladder. I am battling degenerative diseases in my cervical spine and three bulging discs in my lumbar spinal region and torturing pain in my sciatica and periformis muscle in my lower back and upper left leg.

    Despite all of the overwhelming adversities that have been forced upon me by those who infected me with AIDS, I have not waivered one bit, nor have I relinquished a single inch of spiritual or theological territory to the compromised Christian groupies and their rock star megachurch pastors who preach homosexuality is a sin from the pulpit, but behind closed doors in their darkly lit, air conditioned back room executive offices, they conspire with wealthy church members and their homosexual activist business partners on how they can censor me and stomp my spirit into submissive surrender. I have no intention of hoisting a duplicit white flag of surrender along side their rainbow flag embossed with a gold colored cross of prosperity.

    Despite my only having a high school education and being institutionalized for nineteen years after my parents abused me for the first fourteen years of my life, and despite the fact that I had never used a computer or sent out an email prior to 2003, I taught myself to use a computer and how to write and send emails after teaching myself how to write creatively and intelligently and to use a camera. I have documented every single day of my life since the day I was infected with AIDS in 1997. I have now written over 200,000 pages in my digital and personal journals, blogs and emails. I have taken over 65,000 photographs and over 400 videos documenting every detail of my struggle with AIDS, my near death experiences, my drastic weight loss due to HIV wasting which has caused me to go from 160 pounds to my present weight of 135 pounds, and other medical diseases, as well as the panorama of my life as an ex-homosexual living inside of the homosexual community. In the past fifteen years, I taught myself what the legal codes and restrictions are for adult entertainment businesses, and I have now shut down 50 homosexual pornographic businesses, sex clubs and strip clubs in my city, a crusade that first began with the code enforcement office in my city laughing at me in 2003 when I brought a handwritten list of 13 illegal porn businesses in the homosexual community that I wanted shut down. Every single one of those dirty porn peddlers is now shut down including the largest retail chain of porn stores in my community and three gay bathhouses responsible for thousands and thousands of new HIV cases and deaths and billions of tax dollars in medical expenses in the prior decades when they were open and city codes were not enforced on them. I have also run several half-marathons while waging a life and death battle with AIDS. I have now run the fastest half marathon in history for an AIDS patient in my age division.

    Several years ago, my story was featured on the 700 Club. I also led a successful campaign to stop atheists from removing the Mt. Soledad Cross at a veterans war memorial in La Jolla, California. Additionally, I uncovered a major pedophile scandal that was operating inside of the San Diego Gay Pride organization. As well, I uncovered and created the campaign that successfully stopped the World Gay Pride organization from having their perverted pornographic celebration two years in a row in Jerusalem. That was ten years ago.

    Because all of the media constantly followed my every move and constantly wanted to interview me, the megachurch pastors in San Diego were in love with me and loved having me at their churches where those same pastors could feed off of my “fame”, fame I never sought when I became a Christian. I simply wanted to obey God and serve Him and that is why I repented and turned away from all of my past involvement in the catastrophic homosexual lifestyle, a lifestyle that would have exterminated me and sent me to hell had God not intervened and saved me. Having said all that, after I started getting really sick and didn’t want to do any more TV interviews, the pastors and their church groupies abandoned me. When I laid in bed, sick and dying, not one of the pastors ever came to help me. They were too busy booking group tourism tours to Israel in exchange for kickbacks from the Israeli tourism department. They were too busy doing photo-ops with GOP candidates who were also trying to get the church vote while secretly promoting GOP homosexual candidates. At the end of the day, as I lay in my own Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood and tears, what is one suffering Leper to these 30 pieces of silver-seeking pastors and wishy washy – homosexuality is not on their list of priorities to deal with – churchgoers who wish the homosexual issue would just go away in the same manner they wish I would just pass away.

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  2. Thanks James for the response.
    Let me try to clarify some of the things I said and reply to your concerns.

    I do describe the issue of homosexuality as “small stuff” and “not the end of the world” because, in my own experience, I have seen too many Christians treat this as the ONLY issue, the ONLY matter that needs to be discussed and that salvation itself rests on what you believe about homosexuality. If you don’t agree with this pastor or this idea, then you are damned or excommunicated. I’m sure that I am not alone in seeing this happen in the church.

    Yes, homosexuality is an important issue, and we need to be thourough in our research and loving in our response. We cannot ignore it or sweep it under the carpet. We must have an answer. On that, I’m sure we agree.

    I also called homosexuality “small stuff” because I have heard more about homosexuality, for and against, from Christian bloggers and preachers than I have about things like the divinity of Christ, the inheritance we have in Jesus, living a Spirit-led life, and things that focused and centered around the person of Jesus.

    People may disagree about homosexuality and still be Christians, but when we start deviating from the centrality of Christ, and truths such as Jesus being the Son of God, then we have big problems.

    Hopefully that clarifies where I am coming form. Homosexuality is not a small deal. Obviously in your own life, it is a huge deal. But our stance on homosexuality is not a salvation issue.

    Thank you for sharing your story. To say that you have had quite an eventful one is to sell yourself short. I pray and hope that you will be able to continue to share your story of God’s redemption and salvation, regardless of the obstacles that come your way.

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