Eugene H. Peterson withdrew his support after fierce backlash from Christian supporters and his book distributor.
Michaela Morgan

18 Jul 2017 - 11:09 AM  UPDATED 18 Jul 2017 - 11:09 AM

Christian author Eugene H Peterson has retracted comments he made about same-sex marriage after facing backlash on social media from his conservative fans.

In the original interview with Religion News, Peterson spoke about lesbian and gay members of his congregation fondly, saying that he had changed his mind about welcoming the LGBT+ community into the church.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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The interviewer then asked if he was still “pastoring today”, would he perform a same-sex wedding ceremony to which Peterson replied: “Yes”.

The author and theologian—known for his translation of the Bible ‘The Message’—then received a torrent of online criticism from conservative Christians.

One person wrote:“#EugenePeterson sabotaged his authority as a preacher & teacher today. Very sad.”

Another said: “I am extremely sorry for all the times I have used #eugenepeterson translations in worship/sermons etc and called him a great theologian.’

Peterson’s largest book distributor Lifeway also threatened to pull his books from stores over the comments.

Just a day later, Peterson completely backtracked, saying he does not believe in same-sex marriage.

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“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.

“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.”

While he seems to have appeased his conservative fans, a number of LGBT+ Christians are disappointed by the backflip.

One Twitter user said: “#EugenePeterson has inspired me for years. It's so sad that he feels obliged to withdraw his wonderful statement about #LGBTQ equality.”