This past week, the Protestant world was rocked when “The Message Bible” author, Eugene Peterson, revealed in an interview with Religion News Service, his support for same-sex marriage, and stated that he does not see it as a “good or bad thing.” What ensued naturally were many leaders in the evangelical community point out that Peterson’s views were anti-biblical, and that The Message Bible consistently leaves out or changes words on homosexuality, so as to not directly address the topic the way the original scriptures address the sin of homosexuality.
Then just a day or so later, he recanted everything he said, and stated that he supports only marriage between one man and one woman, and that he would not officiate a same-sex marriage ceremony. Of course, this all took place after LifeWay Christian Stores, made numerous inquiries, most that went unanswered for more than a day according to them, to see if this was indeed his feeling, and if so, they would pull every single thing of his that was for sale out of their stores. As of this article, based on Eugene Peterson’s recanting, they are continuing to stock items of his that he has authored.
Now, before we get too far along, we need to understand that the Religion News Service, is not a conservative Christian news outlet. They have a clear agenda, from everything to helping to squash creationism that the Bible teaches, all the way up to affirming homosexual members in congregations. Having said that, in the wake of the backtracking by Peterson, they do make a good case that Peterson’s view on homosexuals, and it not being a sin, go back several years. They posted video evidence of the fact, of him speaking at a conference, where he expounded on how he counseled people in his own church to accept gay family members, and that it is a good thing.
So what does this all mean? We need to go back to the scriptures to really gain an understanding of what is going on.
Luke 6:45 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
45 The good person produces good things from the store of good in his heart, while the evil person produces evil things from the store of evil in his heart. For his mouth speaks what overflows from his heart.
Peterson claims in his recanting that he was, “put on the spot”, and that is why his answers came out the way they did. I am sorry, but that argument does not hold water, when you look at what he said through scripture as the focal lens of discernment. I am a believer in Yeshua, and I believe everything the Bible says, to include that it repeatedly states that homosexuality is a sin that will, like any other sin, send a person to hell. If someone came up to me suddenly and asked if I thought that homosexuals were going to hell, I would not hesitate to state that yes, according to scripture, which I believe, they will go to hell if they die in their sin.
Peterson was not suddenly approached, nor put on the spot. This was a thirty minute long interview with a religious news outlet. What came out of his mouth is what was in his heart. Now there will be those reading this saying, “What about the Bible saying ‘judge not lest you be judged?'” Simply put, that scripture addresses the practice of judging on what we think is right and wrong, versus using scripture to judge what is right and wrong. Clearly the scriptures state the following:
2 Timothy 3:16 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living;
There are many Christians over the years that have read the Message Bible, because it was billed as being written in contemporary language, that is easier to study. However, this particular version of the Bible has many areas where the so called “easier translation” does in fact, change the entire meaning of the scriptural passages. There are many areas where this occurs, and for sure when the subject of homosexuality comes up in the Bible, words are changed in the Message Bible. When G-d’s own words are changed to the point of taking away the original meaning, that means it is at odds with G-d.
The spirit behind the Message Bible is rebellion. All of this controversy that came up in the wake of this interview, and then the retraction, was to cause strife. That is what the devil does, which is to stir up strife. G-d and Yeshua do not cause strife. It is man that chooses to not follow G-d’s Word, the rebellion, that causes strife, fighting, and what have you. I personally do not for one minute believe that Eugene Peterson’s retraction was sincere, and I base that on the Word of G-d alone, because “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If he truly subscribed to the biblical view on homosexuality and marriage, there is no way that the words of agreement with gay marriage and homosexuality would have ever left his lips.
What we as believers need to be aware of is that, not everything that is branded as “Jesus” or “Christian” is in fact holy and right. Only through exhaustive study of the Word, prayer, and supplication are we able to rightly discern what we hear, read, and hear others say. Simply put, if it does not line up with the Word of G-d, then it is rebellion against G-d. That is a black and white statement to make in a world that loves to promote “gray areas”. However, Yeshua did not compromise when He died for our sins, and thus, we are not to compromise the gospel in any way, shape. or form.