In the article titled “Christianity Doesn’t Endorse Homosexuality, No Matter What Eugene Peterson And Jim Gaffigan Imply” previously shared on this blog, the author Glenn T. Stanton took to task–among others–Eugene Peterson, the one time Presbyterian minister who now is the translator of the very popular bible adaptation The Message and a favorite writer in evangelical circles. Mr. Stanton’s criticism followed the announcement that if he (Peterson) we’re pastoring a church today he would consent to perform a same sex marriage. Coming from the mouth of a well known and respected member of the Evangelical movement, this revelation was near Earth shattering and caused the Internet to erupt in furor. While some progressives praised Peterson for his support of GLBT causes, conservative Christians and like minded organizations were quick to criticize, and rightfully so.
It should be noted that this revelation was revealed in an interview by Jonathan Merrit who is openly Gay and the senior columnist for Religion News Service, see the article in question at the Religion News Service:
Apparently Mr. Peterson either misunderstood the question or due to his age failed to answer in a succinct manner other than just the simple Yes he was quoted as saying. Due to the uproar the agency representing his literary works issued the following statement from Mr. Peterson;
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.
It’s worth noting that in my twenty-nine year career as a pastor, and in the years since then, 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. And to be honest, no is not a word I typically use. It was an awkward question for me because I don’t do many interviews at this stage in my life at 84, and I am no longer able to travel as I once did or accept speaking requests. With most interviews I’ve done, I generally ask for questions in advance and respond in writing. That’s where I am most comfortable. 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.
To read the entire statement and background see Eugene Peterson Issues Revised Statement Following Religion News Service Interview
At this point please allow me to reiterate what Mr. Stanton wrote:
All Humans Are Simultaneously Sinful and Loved
All people, regardless of their story, are deeply and unconditionally loved by God, each created with profound dignity and worth, not one more than another. This is more than mere religious happy talk, it’s the truth, whether one is gay, straight, or otherwise.
But all people are also stricken with a terminal illness: sin. Everyone. No exceptions. And all to the same degree. Our sin demands our repentance and needs forgiveness, and God’s love and grace are where we find both. All of us are dirty and all of us can be made clean. This is basic Christianity and the great equalizer of all people.
In Romans 3:23 Saint Paul wrote
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This statement reinforces the position expressed by Mr. Stanton and is a core tenet of Christianity. We are all sinners. Throughout the bible we receive instruction that we are to love one and another. But we are not instructed to aid and assist others in their sin.
Adultery is a sin, would you as a Christian knowing your brother was cheating on his wife buy him a membership in a cheaters club or web site designed to facilitate cheating on one’s spouse, or would you in your solidarity with your cheating brother join him and cheat on your spouse as well? If you found a friend so inebriated that he or she could not even stand, would you buy them another bottle of liquor? I would like to think that you would not assist another person in an act of sin.
This is all we are saying, we can express brotherly love for anyone who is a sinner, but in the same light we are not to encourage or assist them in their sin.
One passage often referred to as the Great Commission reads as follows;
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)
In my opinion so many people do not understand this particular tenet of Christianity, that of the Great Commission given by Christ to disciple others or convert them to Christianity. If you profess to be Christian and have studied the bible the least little bit, you know this precept, that of evangelization. This is the basis of why we try to teach that sin, including same sex relations, is not acceptable in the eyes of God. Saint Timothy wrote:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
This is say that the word of God, the Bible, is the most excellent choice of a Christian for teaching, reproof and correction. This part about correction means demonstrating to the sinner why he is in spiritual danger, and an established tradition that we as Christians hold as a truth. Therefore writers such as Mr. Stanton simply seek to correct, not condemn those that contradict the teaching of the bible, including the position that same sex relations, marriage and lifestyle is sinful and unacceptable.