Eugene Peterson, best known as the translator of The Message Bible, has changed his mind about his view about homosexuality. Now, the 84-year-old Presbyterian minister thinks homosexuality is okay.
In an interview with Jonathan Merritt, Peterson reveals "I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do."
Merritt asked if Peterson's view on same-sex marriage has changed. He responds: "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. 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."
Peterson himself would have no problem hiring a church staff if he or she were gay. "In my own congregation - when I left, we had about 500 people - I don't think we ever really made a big deal out of it. When I left, the minister of music left. She'd been there ever since I had been there. There we were, looking for a new minister of music. One of the young people that had grown up under my pastorship, he was a high school teacher and a musician. When he found out about the opening, he showed up in church one day and stood up and said, "I'd like to apply for the job of music director here, and I'm gay." We didn't have any gay people in the whole congregation. Well, some of them weren't openly gay. But I was so pleased with the congregation. Nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician."
Moreover, Peterson has no problem marrying a gay couple. When asked: "A follow-up: If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?" And he gets a response from Peterson: "Yes."
Peterson is probably best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Although The Message has received criticism from some bible scholars, many people read Peterson's paraphrased Bible because they find it accessible. The stated goal of The Message was to make the original meaning more understandable and accessible to the modern reader. Peterson explains: "When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly, When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can't imagine that people went to the library to figure it out. That was the basic premise under which I worked. I began with the New Testament in the Greek --- a rough and jagged language, not so grammatically clean. I just typed out a page the way I thought it would have sounded to the Galatians."