The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson — You Might Be Next

by Albert Mohler

Was he against it, before he was for it? Is he really against it now?

The ordeal experienced last week by popular author Eugene Peterson was agonizing to observe, largely self-inflicted, and virtually inevitable. You should pay close attention to it, for you might very well be next.

The ordeal began with Peterson, one of the most influential authors among evangelical pastors, responding to two straightforward questions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service referenced homosexuality and same-sex marriage and then asked Peterson if his view on the morality of same-sex relationships had changed. Peterson was pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland for 29 years, before retiring in 1991. In his answer, however, Peterson said, “I haven’t had a lot of experience with it.” An earlier congregation where he served as associate pastor, included “several women who were lesbians,” but didn’t “make a big deal about it.” The congregation he served as pastor was much the same: “I don’t think we ever really made a big deal of it.”

They had a gay musician, but, “nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician.” His answer was convoluted, but he concluded, “it’s not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned.”

Peterson was then asked, “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 answered simply, “Yes.”

That “yes” blew up the evangelical world like a signal flare. The RNS headline on the interview stated that Peterson had changed his mind on the question. A significant number of evangelicals responded with immediate shock and disappointment at Peterson’s answer. The largest Christian bookstore chain said that it was considering whether to continue selling Peterson’s many books, including The Message, his best-selling paraphrase of the Bible.

But, almost as quickly as his “yes” appeared, it was retracted…


The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson – You Might Be Next –