Home Christian News Eugene Peterson Authorized Biography Backs Up His ‘Yes’ on LGBTQ Inclusion

Eugene Peterson Authorized Biography Backs Up His ‘Yes’ on LGBTQ Inclusion

Eugene Peterson

(RNS) — The late Eugene Peterson, the pastor and theologian best known for his popular paraphrase of the Bible called “ The Message,” steered clear of controversy most of his career. But in July 2017, I published an interview with Peterson in which he told me homosexuality is “not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned.” When asked if he would perform a same-sex wedding ceremony if he were still ministering, Peterson responded flatly, “Yes.”

Conservative Christian leaders who once adored Peterson publicly denounced him. The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site, mocked him. Lifeway Christian Stores, America’s largest religious retailer at the time, threatened to pull Peterson’s books unless he recanted.

One day after the uproar, a statement, released on Peterson’s behalf, said the author reaffirmed a belief marriage should be “one man to one woman” and claimed he felt “put on the spot” by my questions. Regarding his assertion he would perform a gay wedding, it stated, “I hope I never am asked,” and, “on further reflection and prayer, I would like to retract that.”

Peterson died the next year, leaving his fans and followers wondering what this paragon of Bible wisdom actually thought about LGBTQ inclusion.

This murky water may clear later this month, when a long-awaited authorized biography of Peterson is released. Drawing on never-before-published letters, journals and exclusive interviews, Winn Collier’s “ A Burning in My Bones ” reveals while Peterson long wrestled with the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality, he at last embraced LGBTQ inclusion on the grounds of Christian love.

Collier expends many words demonstrating Peterson’s desire to steer clear of “combustible issues.“ While Peterson questioned the existence of a literal hell and leaned toward universalism, the notion that all will ultimately be saved and enjoy relationship with God, “he’d not arrived at any definitive position” on many of these issues, Collier writes. Peterson was “far more comfortable with ambiguity” than many culture-warring theologians and pastors today.

According to Collier, “Eugene thought that the hardened, absolutized positions of opposing theological poles typically framed conversations in ways that lacked wisdom, humility, and a Spirit-inspired way forward.”

But above all other divisive issues, “the controversy that vexed Eugene the most, the one he struggled the most to understand, centered on the question of same-sex marriage.” For most of his life and career, Peterson “understood marriage in historic terms.”