LGBTQ+ people don’t need ‘allies’ like Eugene Peterson

Author and Presbyterian minister, Eugene Peterson caused a stir when he told Religion News Service that he’d happily perform weddings for a same – sex couple.

While he was praised by LGBTQ+ Christians, he received backlash.

When the news broke of his retraction, progressive Christians accused Peterson of retracting his statement to the RNS for financial gain.

Screen shot of Facebook - reaction of Eugene Peterson's retraction on gay marriage on Facebook
Eugene Peterson upsets progressive Christians retracting his earlier statements on same – sex marriage.

While progressive Christians accuse Peterson of retracting his statement for financial gain, I wonder whether it’s the other way around — whether he said he’d perform a same – sex wedding because he thought it’d actually increase his popularity and the popularity of The Message if he said he’d perform a same – sex wedding.

IBook copy of Eugene Peterson's The Message Bible
The Message Bible – a controversial paraphrase of the Bible

I just wish Peterson was honest from the start. Does he support same – sex marriage? Apparently not. Therefore, I don’t think he should have said that he’d be happy to perform a same – sex wedding.

Allies of convenience

In the heat of the same – sex marriage and the broader question of LGBTQ+ rights both here in Australia and the U.S, the Eugene Peterson and Christopher Pyne controversy over his comments on same – sex marriage have left me really annoyed, frankly. Neither of them should have said what they did. Why? Because they didn’t mean it… at least not strongly. I don’t think we need that, especially over something that is often quite sensitive to LGBTQ+ people.

Most LGBTQ+ are well aware of the conflict that many Christians have when it comes to LGBTQ+ issue and — from what I’ve read — don’t expect churches or religious ministers to perform same – sex weddings against their conscience. It’s (understandably), when the issue of secular businesses, services and celebrants becoming exempt from anti – discrimination laws that there’s a problem. I’m becoming increasingly sympathetic on LGBTQ+ people and advocates over that one, especially after laws have been introduced to make mental health professionals exempt from treating LGBTQ+ people except for emergencies. One thing that made me respect the medical and mental health industries was their stances on anti – discrimination. But… not sure what to think about this.

That aside, I think it’s fair to say that most LGBTQ+ or allies don’t expect Christian or any other religious leaders to go against their own will. This is what makes Peterson’s retraction so pathetic, frankly.

I truly believe that LGBTQ+ don’t need that. I believe that we need allies that are going to stick by us, even when a backlash is imminent. Of course, no one should put their lives in danger, but being an ally does carry a certain risk. There are people who have taken that risk, got backlash and stood their ground. To be fair on Peterson, he may have (or have had) genuine questions and may have had debates in his own head. Coming out, so to speak, and say what he did to Religion News Service probably wasn’t easy. But, to be honest, the fact that he backtracked so quickly gives me the impression that his heart wasn’t fully into supporting same – sex marriage to begin with.

What are your thoughts on people who retract support from things like same – sex marriage? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 


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