Eugene Peterson, LifeWay—and the Big, Green God of American Christianity

A lot can change in a day…

Last week, influential Christian pastor Eugene Peterson came out in support of LGBTQ inclusion and gay marriage. It was a massive tremor in the Christian community and a potential topping point for many in the battle for full LGBTQ rights in the Church.

The next day, renowned Christian bully book chain LifeWay, typically and immediately threatened a ban of all Peterson’s writings, including his hugely successful and popular paraphrase of the Bible called The Message. This has become their go-to response to divergent views.

The same day, Peterson retracted his comments, LifeWay forgave him, and just like that, all was well in the land of Jesus-based capitalism and institutional bigotry that unfortunately much of American Christianity has become.

This was a multi-faceted dagger:

It was a sickening deja vu for the already battered LGBTQ community, who watched another high-profile supporter badgered into silence or reversal by the Christian subculture powers-that-be. 

It was a sad repetition for allies in the Church, who once again witnessed a Christian leader’s LGBTQ support wilt under the pressure of financial or professional damage.

It was same old, same old for the watching world outside organized Christianity, who’ve now come to expect it to always do the wrong thing when it comes to the rights of marginalized communities.

It was yet another reminder to us all, that courage is costly and that many people, even really good people aren’t willing to pay.

We shouldn’t be surprised at LifeWay’s bullying or Peterson’s back-peddling or the LGBTQ-hating Christians’ shouts of “Hallelujah” right now. Jesus told us this would happen. 

The Bible calls it Mammon—the distorted worship of wealth and position that turns religion toxic. Jesus says with complete clarity that one cannot worship this and God simultaneously. He warns that the love of money will pervert the spiritual pursuits of good people, and sadly these days there’s still good money to be made on the backs of the LGBTQ community. Hatred is still big business, especially in the Bible Belt Baptist stronghold of America’s South—where if people can’t get you to align with their theology, they’ll cut you of at the kneecaps by threatening your livelihood. Peterson may not be primarily motivated by this greed and gain—but those who are have surely caused his tragic public change of heart. His reversal speaks more to the motives of those who pressured him into it, than the man himself. There’s something insidious about churches and organizations who turn the screws to voices of dissent or difference and threaten their livelihoods and legacies.

What’s unfolded since his initial support is the worst kind of religious dog-and-pony show. No one actually believes that after decades in the public eye, his recent support of the LGBTQ community was actually merely a two-day glitch, a momentary error in judgment, or a simple misquoting. (Peterson has been rumored to have made similar LGBTQ-affirming statements off the record at seminars and retreats for years.) I don’t even think the people at LifeWay believe that either, but there’s gold to be mined here—and so authenticity and truth are of little concern to them or to their Christian brethren.

Neither apparently, is the irreparable damage that’s been done to the LGBTQ community this week; those who serve faithfully in churches throughout this country, those who regularly fill the pews of congregations, the teens whose suicide rates are exponentially higher than their cis-heterosexual counterparts, those seeking God and being once again told that they are less-than loved, less than worthy of the good things of this life. Every bit of suffering such events manufacture for so many families, doesn’t seem to matter to these Mammon-lovers—the violence it consents to, the enmity it brings to faith communities, the message it sends to already hurting and vulnerable communities.

At the end of the day, Eugene Peterson’s reversal has reminded us that far too many American Christians ultimately serve a big green God—and that this seductive paper idol often drives churches and organizations to crush dissenting voices; it turns good, brave men’s feet to clay; it causes Christians to treat people made in the image of God like they’re garbage; it makes already hurting people again feel their inherent worth is up for debate.

I don’t know Eugene Peterson personally, and his writings have been transformational for me. He’s put the Scriptures in a voice that people can easily approach and understand, and by all accounts he seems like a really decent human being whose faith matters greatly to him. Having said that, I’m disgusted by the cowardice of his speedy retreat and the sucker punch to the gut it has been to my LGBTQ friends, who once again are used like piñata by the Christian Right; something to be beaten up for entertainment. He’s going to have to live with whatever the truth is about his personal convictions, and he’s going to have to also carry the weight of his acquiescing—on the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people whose enemies are now rushing to use him as further justification to be terrible in Jesus’ name.

LifeWay isn’t a person, so it doesn’t have a soul—which is fortunate, because if it did have a soul, I’d tell it to be very worried about it. In the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t once condemn a person for their gender identity or sexuality, but he says a great deal about religious people who sell their souls in order to gain wealth and about those who make life hell for the least of these. He’s not at all okay with them.

In the wake of this disheartening turn of events, I can only reiterate my support for the LGBTQ community; for their full inclusion in the Church, for their right to marry and serve in ministry and to adopt children. I can only keep working to make American Christianity a place of love for everyone.

Meanwhile I’ll lament Eugene Peterson’s public change of heart because of what it says, perhaps not as much about him, as about my faith tradition’s sickness, about the way it has lost the plot, about the pain it causes.

Most of all I’ll grieve the damage still being done to beautiful people, simply trying to walk this planet without having to fear religious people.

To Hell with the big green God. 

 

206 thoughts on “Eugene Peterson, LifeWay—and the Big, Green God of American Christianity

  1. So very, very true John. How I love this post. The truth now hurts, but eventually (with people like you), the truth will set everyone free. Keep on keeping on John P.

  2. Hard to not lose all respect for this Peterson personality. Although not much of a spine seems to be there in this personality. It confirms my decision was right to abandon any church or sect, to not waste any energy trying to reform institutions or sects or hope for change and enlightenment within church institutions. It is all futile. These are powerful money-based bastions . You could get lucky, and find some accepting community somewhere but why is that so important? The free thinking individual will find like minded free spirits and inspiration through a common spirit , that is what keeps me going. The Spirit is certainly everywhere so yes it is possible to find inspiration, even in a church, of course through the people there, but to put hopes on official church opinions … Why do you care that a church institution accepts you? Why make yourself dependent on such a tenuous and futile thing? This Peterson example shows how completely non value added churches are.

  3. Well, that is just beyond sad. They both did damage to their reputations and Christianity. Woe is me. The church just keeps getting further and further away because the compromise involves my soul and they don’t seem to care. May God have mercy.

  4. I’m a world-class internationally recognized artist. Not a less-than human being that can be reduced to a single facet of my existence. I’m a caring compassionate person- not an abomination. Your “bible” has been used to vilify me for millennia- making me the scapegoat- the evil bad guy. Your “bible” is still continuously used to DEMONIZE ME. It’s why I have absolutely no tolerance for any of your biblical horseshit and why I’ll hand back to you- exactly what you are putting out. You’re all welcome to believe in the teachings of your jesus- all you want. You’re NOT WELCOME to cherry-pick your “bible” and bash me with the parts you think apply. I BASH BACK. I’ll walk my sacred creative path WITHOUT your heinous religious brainwashing. In the end- I’ll be the better person. And you can kiss my you-know-what.

    Thank you- John Pavlovitz.

    • May I say that there are those of us who do believe in Jesus’s teachings who agree with you, are walking with you, who don’t cherry pick, who are straight etc. Just wanted you to know that. Also want you to know I understand, I had a world class architect cousin who thought the same way and boy did I dearly love him. So just wanted to say Peace and Love,

  5. What they did to Patterson is like economic sanctions. I heard a good phrase to describe some of what is going on in the USA and the church today – “Cold Civil War” ….. these sanctions are just another symptom or evidence of such a civil war.

  6. had a flash: if Jesus had taken the offer of the world being given to him, if he would bow down & worship Satan, I think, he, Jesus, would be as sycophantic as rev peterson turned out to be. SAD! Wow! This is just what one faces as a challenge be in constant contact with one’s higher power in order to fend off alcohol & alcoholic behavior, in my humble opinion! Who’s running ya? Alcohol is a kind of anti-Christ in that it demands loyalties beyond human capacity to resist once you cross a line of addiction. Power acts the same way. Poor EP! Poor guy. His evangelical buddies turned on him and bit him! the vipers! Do you think he was living in a safe bubble till that moment he divulged the generosity of character like Christ’s?

    • The entire Evangelical Church is living in Sin by their own definitions by attaching the name of Jesus to Trump. I mean if that is not obvious you should just forget it. The church likes to take on a gay person, but I NEVER see them take on Wall Street, an institution soaked in greed and sin. The church loves to thunder about splinters in the eyes of others, but never their own sins. The sin of our time is clearly overconsumption and the greed, pride and dishonesty needed to perpetuate it. The Evangelical church has NO testimony in our world save a hateful one. You are hateful to John here. Im willing to bet you have a log in your eye and cannot see it, oh sinless one full of prayer and happy to endorse an obviously hollow business compromise in the name of keeping God in the hating business..

  7. Sorry John, the vast majority of Christians DO NOT hate the LGBTQ community – we just won’t allow you to identify yourself by your sin and will continue to remind you that you are living intentionally in sin, which is pretty dangerous. LifeWay did what they should have – they came out against sin and would not allow someone to make money from their organization that promotes sin. That was a good thing. LifeWay does have a soul, as a collective entity. And it’s not their soul you should worry about – it’s yours. Your life is rife with deception and you are mis-leading many folks with corrupt biblical views. I’m not surprised though – you are after all one of the new brood of vipers that Jesus and John the Baptist warned us about. i will continue to pray for you – for enlightenment and for peace and for redemption from your sinful lifestyle.

      • We know things have gone array since the fall, but what was God’s intend at the beginning of creation when He created man & women in His image?

        • Rosa. The word is “awry.” The answer to your question is: “We do not know.” We do know that the Genesis account of creation is neither science nor actual history. The two Genesis accounts of creation are parables—made up stories used to get across spiritual points. The fossil and genetic evidence clearly indicate that God created human beings over millions of years through a complicated evolutionary process—and that pathway included many dead end hominid species that became extinct—including the western European neanderthals who were human in the modern sense but had genetics that were different from those of modern humans.

          • I understand that Neanderthals did not go extinct in the sense of they failed and died out. Our genetic record shows that most people who live north of the Sahara have Neanderthal in their DNA. Those living in Africa, south of the Sahara, do not usually have Neanderthal in their DNA, making them the purest form of human. Which is pretty rich considering how superior whites treat them as sub human. All this to say that Neanderthals were very successful in breeding with the other humans and their genetic heritage carries on.

        • You can say that God’s intent was to create two distinct sexes who would marry each other—-but because of the fall human beings perverted God’s original intent and became LGBTQ—be it willfully or chosen for them. So, if LGBTQ people are violating God’s original intent, then they are sinners that must be shunned, abused, and killed.. But then you have to deal with other questions. Was it God’s original intent that all babies be born normal, but the fall caused some to be Downs Syndrome kids. Therefore, we should abuse, persecute, and kill Down’s Syndrome kids because they exist outside of God’s original intent and will. Hitler and Himmler thought doing that was a good idea.

        • “Array” means “an impressive display”. I suspect you mean “awry” which means “away from the planned, expected, or appropriate course”. So I will respond to your comment from my guess as to what you meant. Please excuse me if I have misread you.

          Genesis 1:27 reads “So God created humankind in God’s image, in God’s image God created them; male and female God created them.”

          My first understanding from that is that if women are in God’s image, God must have feminine qualities along with masculine qualities. And that is born out in other passages when God is described to be mothering.

          My second understanding is that “male and female God created them” tells us that each human, like God, has feminine and masculine qualities. If the statement is that men and women are entirely distinct with men having only masculine qualities and women having only feminine qualities then the word “or” would have been used, as in “male or female God created them”. We all know from living in our own skins and from our observations of others that, regardless of the statements made at our births as to our sex, some days we feel a little bit more or less masculine or more or less feminine. By our very design, each of us is holding these qualities and balancing what is needed in each moment. Of course, the whole apple cart gets upset when society dictates that men can only be his way and women can only be this lesser way.

          I believe that the LGBTQ2 rights movements, along with feminism, have been encouraging each person to discover who they really are apart from the societal demands made on their identities. And if we come to know the people we really are and celebrate that creation, we honour God’s wisdom in creating us.

          As for what God intended in creating humans, in neither Creation story is the intent given for the creation of Adam, but in the second creation story, Genesis 2:18 reads, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” God realises that he made a mistake and that solitude is not good for Adam. So God makes all kinds of creatures but finds that that isn’t quite right, so God creates another human. The intent is that we should live in companionship, support, mutual respect, and love. When I hear Christians telling folks who are LGBTQ2 that they must remain celibate and never have relationships, I think they must have forgotten God’s care that we need to live in relationship.

        • Creating people male and female in the image and likeness of God has nothing at all to do with sexual preference. It only tells us that all of humanity shares in the Imagio Dei.

          Unless you are implying that God is a sexual being?

        • As the documents to which you refer, Rosa, were written during the Babylonian Captivity, they are hardly eyewitness accounts of Creation.

          Furthermore, they are part of the Wisdom Literature and, thus, never to be read literally.

    • Mark, Whenever I am confronted with homophobia, I wonder which of the following applies:

      1) Is the homophobic man afraid of being raped by a gay man even though there is no evidence that gay men go around raping straight men.

      If this is the case, it is difficult for me to garner any sympathy as we women are afraid of being raped since we are about twelve and in all of the millennia of human existence, heterosexual men have yet to cease to rape women.

      2) How deep in the closet is the homophobe? How terrified is he to admit he is gay?

      Let the light of God’s truth about you pierce the darkness that binds you and allow it to set you free.

      If we believe God doesn’t make mistakes and that God it is love and that God made humanity in God’s image, then it stands to reason that if God created someone to be homosexual, then it must have been because it delighted God to do so.

      God is love and God wants us to love our neighbors for the person it delighted God to create. We are to love all as ourselves exactly as God first loved us. When Jesus commands us to love this way, He does not have a list of exceptions, footnotes, or a list of appendices to justify denying love to someone. He commands us to love all.

      Peer-Reviewed Studies on the Origin of Sexual Orientation Since 1990
      http://borngay.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000006

    • It is an interesting way that “Christians DO NOT hate the LGBTQ community”. They wrote laws, and are continuing to write laws, to strip the LGBTQ community of their basic human rights. They stand in the pulpit and encourage their followers to commit spiritual violence, and often physical violence, on anyone they identify as LGBTQ. They encourage parents to throw their LGBTQ children out into the streets. If this is what “NOT hate” looks like, I sure as heck don’t want to see “hate”.

    • And we will continue to pray for you, and for those who believe as you do, Mark. You will pray for John? How about you pray for yourself, because you are the sinner. You think that anyone who does not conform to your idea of religion is an intentional sinner. I think that you should cast the scales from your eyes and see how you have erred in your beliefs. Actually, I found your comment offensive and rude, and completely anti-Christian, as well.

    • Mark, you need to show me where in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) where Jesus says anything about human sexuality or gender identity. He is silent on the issues. He is not silent on ministering to the needs of those on the margins….those with whom he spent almost all of His ministry. How much of the Bible have you actually read and kept in context? That makes a difference.

    • Mark, please ignore the stupid accusation by some that says that if you disagree with homosexuality, then it is because and only because you are hiding your own homosexuality. Can you imagine grown adults making such fallacious comments? That is one of the oldest strategies in the book, to silence your critic by accusing them of who you really are.

      • Out of curiosity, who is accusing Mark of anything? I scrolled back through the comments and no one says Mark is hiding anything.

        I see people providing information and asking questions.

        However, I will point out that there are at least nineteen peer-reviewed studies that indicate a correlation between homophobia and closeted homosexuality.

        That is not accusing anyone of anything, that is merely sharing the findings of modern science.

        However, should the shoe fit, then I can only encourage that person to step out of the dark and into the light that pierces the darkness to allow us to face the truth that sets us free. If God created someone as a homosexual, and since we now know that sexual preference is formed during foetal development, then it is because it delights God to create some as homosexual.

    • Mark. I am not an LGBTQ person, but I am a Christian and a member of the United Methodist Church. However, I have some things to say to you, which in my honest personal opinion are true in my own mind. As long as the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical community in the United States continues its public and private war of discrimination and persecution against LGBTQ Americans, HATRED is the only proper and correct English word to describe what people like you are doing with regard to LGBTQ people. All people like you are doing is pushing LGBTQ people farther, and farther, and farther away from Jesus Christ— because no person responds positively to words and acts of hatred wielded against them.

      Because of your HATRED, I would like to use other words to describe you and people like you—words that are more central to the TRUTH about you, people like you, and the poison that lives in your souls. However, John Pavlovitz will not allow me to use those words here. I will simply say this though. Jesus Christ and his love, as set forth in the New Testament, are 180 degrees from where you stand and find yourself spiritually centered—and the vile, Satan-drenched, self-important, bully ego that so obviously lies within you—an ego that Satan loves and cheers on every day. You are nothing like Jesus of Nazareth and no one sane sees any of Jesus in you. Jesus Christ is too large to see—but not too large to love. I love Jesus. I would bet my last nickel that deep inside yourself, in that little room you never visit, you are scared to death of Jesus—too scared to love him. Yes, Jesus is too large to see. Sitting beside Jesus—please be assured that in the eyes of your other fellow humans, you look just like the Satan-drenched little insect that you are.

      I am sure real Christians will be praying for you—Christians who do not use “I Will Pray for You” as a four-letter word beginning with “F” like you do.

      • Charles, may I say that I think you make a much stronger case when you do not allow your righteous anger to sway you into using the words that John P will not allow you yo use.

        I want to very much support your assertion that people who write in the terms Mrk has chosen are indeed responsible for driving people away from the church. And not only LGBTQ but also straight people who are disgusted with the hypocritical unloving behavior they witness.

        If people can write so hatefully about LGBTQ, in what are ways are they hateful to people who they think are too different to belong?

        I mention this because I have worshiped in churches that had an implied dress code and if one didn’t conform, if one chose a more artistic form of dress or if all one owned was jeans, one wasn’t welcome.

        Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves and informs us that every human being on the planet is our neighbor. We are to love them as God first loved us.

        I wonder sometimes if Christians treat others as they do because of a very deep fear that one has been found unlovable by God when that is impossible and never the case. No matter who one is, God loves that person.

    • “we just won’t allow you to identify yourself by your sin and will continue to remind you that you are living intentionally in sin, which is pretty dangerous”.

      And you’re not?

      I assume you (we) identify as a Christian(s). If y’all are perfected then how can you be pointing fingers and writing on this blog? Shouldn’t you be dead on earth and in heaven right now?

      I understand to live in Hope; to one day rid ourselves of this earthly flesh with its sin and conflict. With the best part of us living as kingdom people in the present. I don’t think the best part, living kingdom-like, includes pointing, bashing, debasing, shaming, condemning, demonizing, excluding, or judging. Just sayin’.

      If you’re dead right now and in heaven then please let me know how you’re writing on this blog. And if you could, please show my mom and dad so they can write me a letter. And shouldn’t you be telling us how beyond wonderful it is? Why waste your time, oh that’s right-you have eternity, on writing judgments against people. I’d think His glory would be far more worthy of writing about.

      SMH. All you self-righteous folks forget you’re living in the flesh too. Get some courage and authenticity and transparency and admit and talk about your own sin. Please.

      • Susan wrote ““we just won’t allow you to identify yourself by your sin and will continue to remind you that you are living intentionally in sin, which is pretty dangerous”.

        “And you’re not?

        “I assume you (we) identify as a Christian(s). If y’all are perfected then how can you be pointing fingers and writing on this blog? Shouldn’t you be dead on earth and in heaven right now?”

        As I read what you wrote, Susan, I am reminded of two things Jesus says. “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone” and ” Don’t worry about the splinter in the eye of someone else. Worry about the two by four in your own.”

        Evidently these various people seem to think that there is no worse sin than sexual sin (which begs the question how could they possibly have voted for Trump and the various GOP)n and homosexual sin the very pinnacle of all the sins as if there is a hierarchy of sin.

        Despite the fact that “the Bible clearly says” all sin is equal in the eyes of God. So a little white lie is just as heinous to God as murder.

    • Who are you to decide what is dangerous for another human being?

      How would you know what the vast majority of Christians think one way or the other. Heck there are Christians that believe god speaks directly to them, want to tell me how many actually believe that? There are Christians whom today won’t admit they support gays because they fear people like you will turn your self righteous wrath on them. The lack of courage in the christian community is still rather wide spread.

      Gays do not identify themselves by their sexuality, it’s people like yourself and the church that identify them by their sexuality which seem to give you the right to demand what you would not demand of one of your own.

      No one needs to be reminded that they are intentionally living in sin because there is not one person on the planet that is not living in sin. And in fact most Christians grew up to believe they were sinners since birth, hard to get away from something you were branded with at birth.

      That includes you. Educate yourself on what the bible considers sin, then let me have a good laugh when you come back and tell me you haven’t committed a number of them and still commit quite a few today and always will, yet no one is asking you to identify yourself by those sins.

      Your arrogance would be funny if it where not so ignorant. Unfortunately John is in a losing fight with people like you, who have swallowed your faith whole and use it as a battering ram and rather selectively I might add.

      Lifeway is a man made organization built by insufferable control addicts and it’s no surprise that they have so much power over others. Fear is a powerful tool of the church and always has been.

      You should talk about a life rife with deception considering the religion you follow. Corrupt biblical views? Now that’s rich considering the bible itself was corrupted repeatedly through out history by those with a vested interest in Power and influence over other human beings.

      If John is a viper, he shows compassion and depth I rarely see in modern Christians.

      Pray for your own salvation from the sins you commit, and spare the rest of us your superiority and arrogance.

    • I truly believe we get away from what our Lord Jesus wants us to do with our life. I believe he wants us to Love our Father in Heaven Love in him the son and Love the Holy spirit as well as love one another. I think i will leave the judging and condeming to the only one that has that authority. Jesus the Christ. Amen

  8. I live in a Southern state. I was present yesterday when my Spirit-filled pastor spoke something that needed to be said. And he does so, frequently. This didn’t have anything to do with LGBT issues but regarding weaponizing with scripture. And he affirms scripture.

    He made these comments knowing full-well the risk of offending and losing members. He went so far as to invite any person who had an issue with his comments to meet privately, at any hour to dicuss this. He was sincere and made clear his comments were unretractable.

    I appreciated his honesty and courage. I appreciated his admonition. I appreciated his desire to reach the despairing and disconnected and begin the healing. I appreciated his mind wasn’t focused on the collection plate.

    And I hope any “Nones” AND misguided self-righteous, present or online watching and listening, feel closer to God as a result.

    Way to go pastor.

    • Just what did your pastor say about weaponizing scripture? Can you elaborate? You know, scriptures are referenced as to be like a sword; Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17.

      • Edward, you’re funny. Bibles and scripture really do make poor bricks to hurl at others. Especially cynical “nones” who have seen all too often hypocrisy.

        Christianity preceded the Bible. Christianity grew exponentially because of eyewitness accounts of Christ’s resurrection and subsequent sightings.

        This personal eyewitness testimony was so compelling and life-changing to hearers that they began to speak and so on.

        His point was, if you think you’re going to knock people into salvation with that big KJV Schuyler of yours, think again. Your spoken testimony, your Christ sighting, changes lives. Don’t take the easy road by thumping and bopping.

        • Susan, thanks for that answer. I will agree that it is the goodness of God that ultimately leads people unto Salvation. But you must also remember that because there is such a thing as salvation, we must also remember or be taught that there is something to be saved from. If people refuse to judge themselves honestly as God will do someday, they will never seek the grace of salvation while it is available to them, which leaves them at odds with God’s justice and wrath. And yes, those that have accepted the gift of salvation should be living life very differently than the rest of the world for a good testament as unto the grace of God.

          • I’m tired from the heat today, Edward.

            I left my judgment at home and did something useful, something bright, in His name and to His glory. And I walked away oh so grateful.

            Try shouting from some rooftops about His unwaivering love and presence, won’t you? It does hearts good.

  9. Here I had put my career in a little jeopardy by coming out and to see this “same old, same old, dog and pony show” is beyond disappointing. What good is a religion without sacrifice? I have made sacrifices from day one of my career. There were government jobs that paid well that I refused to apply for because they violated my conscience. I changed majors in school because of my faith.

    To see someone else refusing to do what I did is disappointing and frustrating, but I understand that courage is not everyone’s strong suit. I just wish it was a strong suit in more people.

    • As a professional anthropologist, I can say that you are correct. However, I will further say that many of the traditions and customs of human culture exist only as a long-ago historical adaptations to human or environmental challenges that no longer exist—and they persists only as mindless traditions and customs for tradition’s and custom’s sake alone—and when a new adaptive need presents itself, these traditions and customs can prevent taking new adaptive actions that are necessary to deal with a new challenge to which the culture must adapt. I am a firm believer in identifying and casting off elements of human culture that exist for no loving, good, sensible, or truly adaptive reason.

      • Agreed, Charles. I sometimes think we are entrenched in a tribal mentality. If someone is different from a group, then that person is to be feared as a danger.

        Seems to me if we can bring ourselves to recognize that at the heart of our differences is the fear of the stranger, then we could get along with ” casting off elements of human culture that exist for no loving, good, sensible, or truly adaptive reason.”

        After all, Jesus tells us no one is a stranger any longer. All are our neighbors.

  10. I think you are an eloquent and effective writer and I have shared many of your articles with students in theology classes. I admire your authenticity and applaud that you are not afraid to offend in order to make valid arguments about the hypocrisy in the “church” today. I have, however, one point of contention: a believer does not (and I would argue should not) have to give up “Church” in order to find an open-minded, intellectual, reasonable approach to scripture. A believer does not have to leave church in order to a less judgmental, loving Christian community. There are several mainline denominations who welcome full-inclusion of the LGBTQ community (UCC, Episcopal, ELCA Lutheran). There are denominations who have spoken out against the outrageous policies of the current political administration. There are churches who ordain women. While all human-designed organizations are flawed, there are still communities of faith in which all are welcome, and in the end, love wins.

  11. I had the wonderful joy of meeting and hearing John Pavlovitz this weekend and he further confirmed his place as one of my hero’s! This post shows his continued support for full inclusion of ALL God’s children in the church and secular life. He calls out the hypocrisy that too often replaces the Gospel with the quest for money. Life Way Books is, as he notes, just another bully. It’s time we started holding bullies accountable….even if they bully in what they think is the name of God. Few I know ever set foot in Life Way Bookstores. I hope this will deter others. Respect for the dignity of human beings, human lives, is far more important than corporate greed at the expense of others. And for a pastor to bow to that greed at the expense of the worth and value of human lives is unconscionable. God weeps over our injustice and inhumanity to each other. Do we ever shed a tear over those who suffer just for being the people God created them to be? Do we?

    • I was born in Nashville and grew up in that area, the home office of the Southern Baptist Convention. Life Way Books is not some huge, all-powerful monolith. Basically, it is the old Southern Baptist Convention publishing house and what folks in Nashville used to call the “Baptist Bookstore” on Church Street in downtown Nashville. This store was no bigger than a rather small supermarket of the 1960s. Remember those? Randy’s Record Shop in nearby Gallatin, Tennessee, billed itself on AM radio as “The World’s Largest Mail Order Record Store.” In fact, Randy’s Record Shop was a small business in a small, old building down by the creek. The Internet is magical just like radio was for Randy’s Record Shop. It can make things that are really not all that whopping look as if they are HUGE AND MONOLITHIC AND ALL-POWERFUL. It’s just the local Nashville Baptist Bookstore for crying out loud. I have no idea what Eugene Peterson’s personal finances are, but if it had been me, I would have told them to go…well…you know.

    • I have never gone to a Life Way Bookstore and now I would never darken their doors. It may not matter to them but I won’t spend my money anywhere that show discrimination of anyone. Small thing but it matters to me. Peace,

  12. Dont Be decieved
    Dont Follow any man , or his visions, ways of thinking or false views of God
    Do the research , YOU cannot afford to go down with the passion, lust, mankind ship of Distruction.
    God will Judge any one who ever YOU are for False Religeon , False Worship, False Church .
    God is Not dead, lost, decieved or any other mankind view.
    He God is JUST and Do No be led away by false teachers who will lead you to death and distruction.
    Matt: 24 is clear
    Romans 1,2,3 Are clear
    If God Did Not spare His people Isreal in the past .
    Do you Really think YOUR special and will get away with anything.
    NO WAY
    God will Punish Rebellion and those who follow the rebellion against God, Holiness, Justice, Purity
    Do NOT BE DECIEVED by Religeon, Religeons, Religeousity
    God will Pass Judgement.
    REPENT , Cry out to God , ask for forgiveness, cast down false religeon, false deception , and mans ways to get followers .
    God is Jealous and will not tolerate False Worship, or Passions of Lust.
    Holiness, Purity, Heart felt Change to Run away from sin and all who would lead you falsely.
    NOTHING is worth your eternity

    • There is nothing about sexuality that is clear in the Bible. That’s just the truth. Your ALL CAPS replies and text drops won’t make it so. The sooner you admit it, the sooner you will be able to the engage in thoughtful, difficult, respectful dialogue about complex issues.

      • If there is nothing clear about sexuality in the Bible, and since you don’t accept that there is an authoritative interpreter of the Bible and a moral guide (i.e. the Catholic Church), then it seems to me that the logical conclusion eventually will be that the the Bible “isn’t clear” about fornication, swapping partners, incest, marriage while having a lover on the side, or any other sexual sin. Do you believe there is such a thing as sexual sin which should be avoided, and if so, to what or whom do you appeal as an authority?

        • The OT is filled with bigamy and polygamy among the Patriarchs of the faith, and much of the time it is not criticized or condemned. Abram has sex with a woman other than his wife because she’s infertile.

          So “Biblical authority” isn’t really uniform on marriage is it? You’re just chooses the segments that align with your sensibilities. I get it.

          • John, and where did God approve or advocated for having multiple partners ? God was and is clear about His holy standards for human sexuality.

            When Moses was given the Ten Commandments by God, God made His will for marriage very clear: “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”.

            Marriage is and always have been a union between one Man and one Woman according to what God Himself instituted.

            While cultures in different places and eras have practiced other types of unions, that has never been what God and His Son Jesus ever advocated!

            So when you assert that the Bible isn’t clear about sexual boundaries, you’re profoundly wrong. And I will ask you a personal question. If your wife yielded to the temptation of being with other men, will that be okay since you say there’s no boundaries?

            • Hmmm….Chris, I gather you haven’t spent much time reading the stories of the patriarchs in the Hebrew Scriptures. One man and one woman was not the norm. The norm was one man and as many wives and concubines as he could support. If that isn’t multiple sex partners I don’t know what is. Even in the early Christian church polygamy was prohibited only for deacons and bishops (See Acts). So your analysis falls flat. I am not advocating for polygamy, just for honest conversation with no game playing. I can always tell who has not really read the Bible because of the phrase: “what the Bible says.” You speak of the 10 commandments. Look more closely, none are about sexuality. Five deal with our relationship to God and five with our relationship to each other. All concern respecting the dignity of every human being. (Adultery wasn’t about sex, it was about a contract violation. Women were the property of men and there was a marriage contract….often ignored by men but expected to be followed by women.) Know that which you quote!

              • Bruce, in reading your response above, your lack of understanding and comprehension is scary. God’s definition of what a marriage is, is very plain in both the OT and the NT.

                • Well, Jamey, I’m sorry to disagree with you but the four year course in the Bible and an ancient Hebrew scholar would disagree with you. It appears you haven’t read the Bible very carefully.

                • Really? “God’s definition of what a marriage is, is very plain in both the OT and the NT.”

                  Where does God say “I define marriage as…?”

                  Then what about all these types of marriage mentioned in the Bible?

                  We have found eight types of marriages mentioned in the Bible:

                  The standard nuclear family: Genesis 2:24 describes how a man leaves his family of origin, joins with a woman, consummates the marriage and lives as a couple. There were quite a few differences between the customs and laws of contemporary North Americans and of ancient Israelites. In ancient Israel:
                  Inter-faith marriages were theoretically forbidden. However, they were sometimes formed.
                  Children of inter-faith marriages were considered illegitimate.
                  Marriages were generally arranged by family or friends; they did not result from a gradually evolving, loving relationship that developed during a period of courtship.
                  A bride who had been presented as a virgin and who could not be proven to be one was stoned to death by the men of her village. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) There appears to have been no similar penalty for men who engaged in consensual pre-marital sexual activity.
                  Polygamous marriage: A man would leave his family of origin and join with his first wife. Then, as finances allowed, he would marry as many additional women as he desired. The new wives would join the man and his other wives in an already established household. Polygamy was practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, until the practice was suspended, a least temporarily, in the late nineteenth century. It is still practiced by separated fundamentalist Mormon groups which have left and been excommunicated from the main church.

                  There are many references to polygamous marriages in the Bible:
                  Lamech, in Genesis 4:19, became the first known polygynist. He had two wives.
                  Subsequent men in polygamous relationships included:
                  Esau with 3 wives;
                  Jacob: 2;
                  Ashur: 2;
                  Gideon: many;
                  Elkanah: 2;
                  David: many;
                  Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth;
                  Rehaboam: 3;
                  Abijah: 14.
                  Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives.
                  From the historical record, it is known that Herod the Great had nine wives.
                  We have been unable to find references to polyandrous marriages in the Bible — unions involving one woman and more than one man. It is unlikely that many existed because of the distinctly inferior status given to women; they were often treated as property in the Hebrew Scriptures.

                  Levirate Marriage: The name of this type of marriage is derived from the Latin word “levir,” which means “brother-in-law.” This involved a woman who was widowed without having borne a son. She would be required to leave her home, marry her brother-in-law, live with him, and engage in sexual relations. If there were feelings of attraction and love between the woman and her new husband, this arrangement could be quite agreeable to both. Otherwise, the woman would have to endure what was essentially serial rapes with her former brother-in-law as perpetrator. Their first-born son was considered to be sired by the deceased husband. In Genesis 38:6-10, Tamar’s husband Er was killed by God for unspecified sinful behavior. Er’s brother, Onan, was then required by custom to marry Tamar. Not wanting to have a child who would not be considered his, he engaged in an elementary (and quite unreliable) method of birth control: coitus interruptus. God appears to have given a very high priority to the levirate marriage obligation. Being very displeased with Onan’s behavior, God killed him as well. Ruth 4 reveals that a man would be required to enter into a levirate marriage not only with his late brother’s widow, but with a widow to whom he was the closest living relative.
                  A man, a woman and her property — a female slave: As described in Genesis 16, Sarah and Abram were infertile. Sarah owned Hagar, a female slave who apparently had been purchased earlier in Egypt. Because Hagar was Sarah’s property, she could dispose of her as she wished. Sarah gave Hagar to Abram as a type of wife, so that Abram would have an heir. Presumably, the arrangement to marry and engage in sexual activity was done without the consent of Hagar, who had such a low status in the society of the day that she was required to submit to what she probably felt were serial rapes by Abram. Hagar conceived and bore a son, Ishmael. This type of marriage had some points of similarity to polygamous marriage, as described above. However, Hagar’s status as a human slave in a plural marriage with two free individuals makes it sufficiently different to warrant separate treatment here.
                  A man, one or more wives, and some concubines: A man could keep numerous concubines, in addition to one or more wives. These women held an even lower status than a wife. As implied in Genesis 21:10, a concubine could be dismissed when no longer wanted. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “A concubine would generally be either (1) a Hebrew girl bought…[from] her father; (2) a Gentile captive taken in war; (3) a foreign slave bought; or (4) a Canaanitish woman, bond or free.” They would probably be brought into an already-established household. Abraham had two concubines; Gideon: at least 1; Nahor: 1; Jacob: 1; Eliphaz: 1; Gideon: 1; Caleb: 2; Manassah: 1; Saul: 1; David: at least 10; Rehoboam: 60; Solomon: 300!; an unidentified Levite: 1; Belshazzar: more than 1.
                  A male soldier and a female prisoner of war: Numbers 31:1-18 describes how the army of the ancient Israelites killed every adult Midianite male in battle. Moses then ordered the slaughter in cold blood of most of the captives, including all of the male children who numbered about 32,000. Only the lives of 32,000 women – all virgins — were spared. Some of the latter were given to the priests as slaves. Most were taken by the Israeli soldiers as captives of war. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 describes how each captive woman would shave her head, pare her nails, be left alone to mourn the loss of her families, friends, and freedom. After a full month had passed, they would be required to submit to their owners sexually, as a wife. It is conceivable that in a few cases, a love bond might have formed between the soldier and his captive(s). However, in most cases we can assume that the woman had to submit sexually against her will; that is, she was raped.
                  A male rapist and his victim: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 requires that a female virgin who is not engaged to be married and who has been raped must marry her attacker, no matter what her feelings were towards the rapist. A man could become married by simply sexually attacking a woman that appealed to him, and paying his father-in-law 50 shekels of silver. There is one disadvantage of this approach: he was not allowed to subsequently divorce her.
                  A male and female slave: Exodus 21:4 indicates that a slave owner could assign one of his female slaves to one of his male slaves as a wife. There is no indication that women were consulted during this type of transaction. The arrangement would probably involve rape in most cases. In the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, Israelite women who were sold into slavery by their fathers were slaves forever. Men, and women who became slaves by another route, were limited to serving as slaves for seven years. When a male slave left his owner, the marriage would normally be terminated; his wife would stay behind, with any children that she had. He could elect to stay a slave if he wished.

                • Go talk to King David, a man after God’s own heart, who had a whole harem of concubines he was not married to but used for “F” pleasure. You are the one who does not know your Bible. I am not saying that is the right thing to do. I would not do it. But John P. is right. If you look at the Bible as a whole, there are all sorts of internal contradictions about sex and other things—like this problem with King David. Once again, read your Bible rather than thump it.

                  • Charles, something that has me puzzled is where do some people get the idea that marriage in the Bible is some other purpose than the control of property, including women, and for male progeny to inherit the property?

                    The Hebrew Scriptures offer eight types of marriage and all of them involve property and progeny.

                    In the Christian Scriptures polygamy is allowed unless one is a bishop. Christians in some countries today practice polygamy.

                    Marriage based on love formed before marriage is a relatively modern, albeit not universal, concept.

                    Sure we have the Song of Solomon, but to which one of his many wives and concubines was that addressed? Maybe it’s about the Queen of Sheba.

          • John, maybe I am misunderstanding your words. Are you actually putting the onus of whatever hideous things done by some fallen men on the honest believers of a church? Any church or just the Catholic Church?

            Are you responsible for whatever sins others who share your beliefs commit?

            Maybe I am being overprotective of my family’s Catholic beliefs who are still faithful to the God and his Commandments they learned about in their church. If so the misunderstanding is mine.

            • Joe tends to idolize the Church more than the God of the Church. The system is something he continually uses to justify what he believes and how he responds to people. Having grown up Catholic, I understand not only the beauty of the faith, but also the terrible flaws. I’m reminding Joe that using a human system as a “moral guide” or making it synonymous with God is a very slippery slope.

              • John, I wonder if the person who applauded you with “BLAMMO” missed your nuance of only trying to shame 1 particular Catholic not all Catholics like I did.

                I also grew up as a Catholic and stayed with the Church until I was 35. I understand and miss the beauty of the faith.

                I also understand the flaws except I can see flaws in almost everything. For every good thing there is someone or something out there that can make it a bad thing.

                Many times people have tried to shame Catholics by bringing up the scandal. It reminds me of how every time someone speaks of Trump’s sexism someone else invariably brings of Bill Clinton.

                I usually agree with you much more than I disagree. Not crazy about this particular post which matters to no one but myself.

                Peace Mr. Pavlovitz

              • The “God of the Church” made the Church. Yes I use the Church to justify what I believe. That is the point. What do you use? If you don’t have any foundation, then anything goes.

                Yes I know there were bad priests and some bishops who made some grave errors in dealing with them. They hurt people, including the average person in the pew and the average priest who is making a huge sacrifice to help others.

                But that is not the result of Doctrine, but of sin. That doesn’t cancel out the good that the Church has done and continues to do and it shouldn’t reflect on the thousands of good priests who made a sacrifice to serve God and man.

                There are flaws in the people in the Church but there are no flaws in the Church itself because it is not “human system.”

                I defer to the core of Catholicism. The priest elevates the bread and says “This is my body…” and it becomes the Body of Christ. I believe this by faith and because of experience. If the Church is right about this, then everything else falls into place.

                Just curious–why do you see the scriptures as any kind of authority anyway? They are also the result of a “human system.”

            • I think John’s original comments were very clear that he was naming a system, I would say in this case a hierarchy, that allowed child abuse to happen and then went to great lengths to cover it up, as has been proven in court. It has been quite clear from the response of the honest believers that this was done without their knowledge or approval, and in fact, many if not most were disgusted and outraged.

              There are many things to be admired and appreciated about the Roman Catholic Church, but this has been a very large and very public failing.

              • Patricia Brush – I have always seen you as a woman of peace. As a non-practicing Catholic who lived through the whole “scandal” what is the point of bringing it up here? Yes it was a big fail – the bigger the church, the bigger the fail.

                Is the purpose here to shame all those who do not believe the “right” way? Is there any part of society that has not been tainted by some sort of scandal? Wherever there is good there is someone out there working to make it bad. Are we all responsible for the sins of others and meant to be reminded of it for decades? Is the penance for the Catholic scandal to be that Catholics are never allowed to call out what we think is a sin or speak up after being slapped?

                I love and respect my Catholic family. It is a way of life in my family. They would never hurt a soul. They embrace everyone just as they were taught. Many are Democrats. The Church does not require allegiance to a political party. I have differences with some of the dogma of the church, but I still do love, honor and miss the church.

                None of us know who is right and who is wrong in all this. That is why it is called faith. I will fight for each person to be allowed to follow their own path as long as they do no harm to others.

                Peace Ms. Brush

                • If you read back, you will find that I did not raise this issue. I made an observation of what I believed to have been said, that John was speaking about the system, not the people in the pews. He was also very clear in his second comment of why he felt that was necessary. My words supported the “honest believers” and offered no shame to them. I am unclear as to why you would now think that I am not peaceful.

                  • Patricia Brush – I am always amazed that sometimes no matter how clear my thoughts seem to be in my head, once I push that Post Comment button those same words can be so easily misinterpreted. The onus is on me.

                    When responding to anyone on these pages I usually post what I admire about that person. I find everyone here fascinating in their uniqueness.

                    My question to you was if you thought it was correct to use an old scandal of a church to shame a parishioner of that church.

                    In Joe Catholic’s old posts he spoke of his conversion to Catholicism later in is life – in his late thirties – I think. So he probably became a Catholic during the Church’s “mea culpa” time – not born into it like I was.

                    Do you feel that we are here to shame people for sins they themselves did not commit? I thought that is one of the things we are protesting against.

                    I can assure you that no Catholic has ever forgotten that the abuse happened – even non-practicing ones.

                    Peace Ms. Brush

                    • It always comes down to language, how we use it and how we interpret it. And that is influenced in part by life experiences and regional differences in defining words. That’s why I so often ask for a rewording or some other form of clarity. Now I understand your first message.

                      I agree that we should not shame people for sins that they did not commit, but I did not see that happening here. I thought John’s response to you giving his motivation for what he said and what he hoped the outcome might be to be very clear in stating that shaming was not what he was doing.

                      I think though that when we have experienced a trauma, as the members of the Roman Catholic Church have surely endured as the result of the actions of a few, that we become very tender to any mention, no matter the intent of the communication. We also read into things meanings that were never intended. I do not believe in shaming and John has said that was not his intent. If you believe us to be truthful, then consider the previous comments with that understanding in mind.

                      I am grateful to you for pursuing this because it demonstrates how words used with specific intent can still be hurtful in other ways. I have learned from this and will take even greater care with my language.

                • Joanne, I think you are assuming that when anyone mentions the Catholic Church they are speaking about the people of the Church and I do not think that is what any of us mean to say. The Catholic Church has such a rigid hierarchy, controlling so much, that most people are speaking of that particular ruling body, not the people who comprise the congregations.

                  No congregation gets to decide if they hide a priest’s abuse do they? Nor do they decide what church doctrine will be as I understand it. Even the nuns who cruelly ran the orphanages had to answer to them. So please do not take the very true comments about the Catholic Church rulers as a slam against practicing Catholics, who as we all know, can be very good Christians and very much carry the love of God to the world. And yes, many are even Democrats!

                  • Thanks Sandi, that is exactly how I feel. As a survivor of child abuse it is my job to call it out wherever I see it and by trying to push it under the rug, by saying, well the people didn’t do it, yeah we know that the powers that be did it, but if it can happen once it can happen again and by reminding perhaps we stop it. If one child is saved that’s enough to make a lot of people uncomfortable. So I think they should get over it. Peace and Love,

                  • We have simply got to stop referring to the Roman Catholic Church as the Catholic Church because to do that is to accept the assertion of the RCC that they are the only Catholics and that is simply untrue.

                    There are many other Catholic Churches, such as the Old Catholics, Reformed Catholics, Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopian, East Syrian (Chaldean), West Syrian, and Maronite, Anglican.

                    And probably more.

                    My point is that it does a disservice to all of these other Catholic Churches to allow the RCC to usurp the term “Catholic Church” for themselves

                    • Absolutely. As an Anglican, I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. The meaning of “catholic” is “including a wide variety of things; all-embracing”. So to have it usurped by one denomination just seems wrong.

                  • Exactly Sandi. The idea that what happens in the Roman Catholic Church is by the lay people is mostly wrong. In fact, the bureaucracy of the Vatican has all but squashed the reforms that more liberal Catholics have been calling on and has dug in its heel, relying on tradition, to the point that not even Pope Francis can easily change that.

              • This is not the only large and public failing of the Roman Catholic Church, which I grew up in and stayed in until I was 40. The conservatives hierarchy have caused this church to stagnate and nearly defeated the spirit of Vatican II, except for the trappings. I was educated as a youth in the RCC after the old certainties were gone and the new certainties were not yet solidified, leaving only the Gospel for the base of my catechism.

    • The same old tired never ending fear tactics.
      Nothing is worth worshiping a god that needs to make threats in order to get attention of the very creation he created flawed to begin with..

      You don’t create flawed human beings then punish them for the flaws that were built in. Unless you are sadistic.

  13. This is akin to book-burning, isn’t it? And what I find incredible is that the Bible – the book they would call the Word of God – is also included in their hit-list of ‘banned’ books, and all because of the translator.

    Funny, they were fine with it this time last week.

    My own knee-jerk reaction is that these people should be lined up and skittled with a big wrecking ball.

    A more proper response would be for all affirming Christians to boycott that book chain for their hypocrisy. The Message was fine, then all of a sudden it wasn’t, now it is again. This is utterly, utterly pathetic behaviour.

    • It is akin to book burning. It is also blackmail for religious purposes. There is no law or regulation that says Christians have to buy from Life Way. Just write them a brief letter, tell them you do not like how Eugene Peterson was treated, and tell them you are not going to buy any of their “stuff” in the future. You do not owe them anything at all—including the time of day.

    • Tony. when Eugene Peterson back-tracked on his statements / beliefs re Gay Marriage in the Church, it was not because of fear of losing $$money. He may have been wrestling with his conscience (he’s allowed) and maybe he is challenged with something age-related (also allowed).

      Peterson could easily! find another publisher to print his best-selling books. HarperOne, KnoxPress, Simon & Schuster, would beat a path to his door.

      The quick-firing viciousness & smear attack directed at Peterson (a man who has brought much to Christians) is wrong.

        • Pastor John,

          –the patience & grace that was extended to you when you were against LGBT in the Church (for many years), could also be extended to Eugene Peterson.

          [fanning flames against our elder Christian brother is wrong. ]

          • He get gets Grace. He also gets to own his public vacillation over the course of a day, on a topic that affect millions of lies. He’s privately support the LGBTQ community for years, and he came out in support publicly this week. He was pressured into retraction. It’s that simple. Save the “fanning the flames” nonsense. Lifeway is a for=profit company pressuring people’s livelihoods if they don’t conform. They’re the issue here.

      • Leslie, thank you for your comment, which has highlighted my poor phraseology!

        Please allow me to clarify. None of my comment was directed at Petersen; it was directed *entirely* at LifeWay. Maybe if you read my comment again in that light, my original intent might become apparent.

        I apologise for offending you – and anyone else – with my comment. That was certainly not my intent.

  14. A Google search tells me that there have been numerous boycotts called of LifeWay, but clearly, that hasn’t done any good. Maybe it is time to boycott publishers and manufacturers who allow their products to be sold by Lifeway?

    I feel for Mr Peterson. We know of the monetary threat, but there may have been other pressures. When our Bishop was in the process of appointing an LGBTQ2 priest to a church, certain factions caught wind of it and wrote the most disgusting letter to the press, outing the priest to the world. Almost immediately, our Bishop was receiving death threats and the appointment was not made, causing irreparable financial damage to the priest. Several years later, he told us how ashamed he was at his lack of moral fibre. Was Mr Peterson similarly threatened?

    • We’ll probably never know, Patricia. While I personally want to lambaste the man for not having the courage of his convictions, I also remind myself that he is 84 years old, he has in effect announced his retirement and for all I know he is in frail health and couldn’t tolerate the stress.

      Of course, that may be nothing in compared to the stress that LGBTQ have to put up with from the homophobes who are homophobic because they are probably deep in the closet.

      I daresay that would be true of the owners of LifeWay.

  15. So disgusted with the so called Christian community who seem to only be concerned with themselves or pushing their ideas on the rest of us.
    I’ve tried religion and it didn’t fit…..at all. I see the Church as total hypocrisy in almost all areas. I abhor the humungous mega churches that are being built, the message these same churches convey and the amount of money, not only to build, but to maintain these monstrosities. Money that could be put to good use helping those who need help. Now these same folks are directly affecting, in a very negative manner, our country. Church and State should absolutely be separate.

  16. The big green God “Mammon” wins out again., John you have beautifully characterized the whole issue on the religious attacks on LGBTQIS peoples’ it really is about money. Tony Campolo stayed silent for years because he was so afraid of the number of speaking engagements that he would lose, the amount of money he would not be putting in his coffers. I understand fully, and forgive them., but I do not forget and I too see the cowardice in these decisions, backpeddling. A persons livelihood being taken away because of a real compassion for people and their lives is the ultimate, especially when they have a family involved whom they must provide for. But, when they already have hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions and still want more and then back peddle or stay silent, then I have a problem with that. Thank you John for your courage, your commitment and your love.

    • That is very odd that the elderly would be so easily manipulated and bullied. My Grandparents were not like that. My Dad was not like that and my Mom, at 75, will not put up with any of it. These are the people that have little to lose in being contrary, little to lose in speaking their minds, little to lose in fighting against manipulation, for they should know that they will not be here for much longer.

      • I agree, I don’t understand how old people let themselves be manipulated either. And I am the same age as your mother and no one is pushing me around, not even in a chair. Peace and Love,

  17. This is all so very sad. It shows how tentative a position any preacher is in these days, but also how fragile the foundations of our activism so often are. Lifeway to be sure is accountable here, but so is the good Pastor Peterson. It surprises me that he did not expect retribution from the machinery of the Christian Cultural Right. There is a country to save, and power to gain, you know.

    I am reminded of the example of Gene Robinson, former bishop of the Episcopalian church, who ministered as an openly gay man, not infrequently having to wear bulletproof vests on his way to church events.

    Pastor Peterson learned the limits of his fame. Even though I am surprised that he did not expect this, we have all been in the same position, and I hope that he can find the strength to truly speak truth to power, because we need such voices so badly.

  18. Before you quickly jump from from “his writings have been transformational for me. He’s put the Scriptures in a voice that people can easily approach and understand, and by all accounts he seems like a really decent human being whose faith matters greatly to him” to “disgusted by the cowardice of his speedy retreat” please consider the possibility that the man you praise may not be responsible for what has become seen as retraction. There may be more to the story than we know. Please be patient, Eugene by all accounts is not greedy, and has lived out his over 50 years of pastoral ministry to provide encouragement to others. I believe that the first statement was his true answer.

  19. John, thank you for your ability to articulate what a decision like Peterson’s means beyond the superficiality of the “green god” reasoning. I was upset when I read about his retraction, but mostly because of my condemning the monetary justification behind his decision. You have helped me realize the much broader and insidious results that his decision means for those affected, particularly because he is such an influential person in the “Christian” culture.

    • I agree Kathleen. The one part about this whole thing is probably that has not occurred to him but it has to some of us. He can easily fabricate a “no” for the Lifeway bullies. He will be fine and OK because he is not the true target of the bullies, he was just in the way. Maybe he thinks of this fight as an issue. It is real easy to forget that this “issue” is about people being hurt by a church for no good reason. Maybe he needs to talk to a LGBTQ Christians to find out what kind of pain this inflicted on them, not what he imagines that he has done, but what he has really done. Maybe he knows not what he really did.

      • The situation reminds me of Hobby Lobby trying to tell its female employees what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Big giant seems to think they have the right to tell people what they can and cannot read.

        I am sick of the whole thing. What is it with people who insist that the “Bible clearly says” this or that who then fail to see that the “Bible clearly says” is bounden duty of all who share the name of Christ to live as He did. It is the bounden duty of all who bear the name of Christ to love as He does.

        God loves everyone. From the most innocent to the most heinous criminals, God loves us all.

        We are to love our neighbors as ourselves as God first loved us. The “Bible clearly says so.”

        • Gloriamarie,

          If god loves us all he has an odd way of showing it, considering how the world has always worked. If I had been lucky enough to have had children I sure as heck would not have been found to be much of a parent if I had pulled the things he’s pulled on his own creation.

          I am beginning to think I read and entirely different bible. The god of the bible clearly did not love us all. After all he killed man women and children in a flood.

          He ordered the death of others at the hands of his followers. So how is it that you can say that god loves us all?

          God sacrificed his own son for the sake of our sins, ones we still commit to this day? Ones he himself has committed..
          Apparently he didn’t think it out well, or the story is complete nonsense.

          What father would sacrifice is son for the sins of humanity, knowing full well that it would not change anything? And what god who is all powerful needs to resort to such a simple minded solution.

          Are you going to tell me that an entity that can create an entire universe couldn’t come up with a better solution.

          • jaime, maybe G-d is a slob just like us. Maybe this is all a Matrix-like simulation and G-d is the master programmer who puts too much faith in his coding abilities. Why else would he fill the universe to the brim with stupidity first and hydrogen second?

          • jaime, may I suggest that you may be reacting to how the Bible has been interpreted, not what it actually says? And please bear in mind every act of translation is itself an interpretation.

            You cite Noah’s Flood as God’s action to destroy all of humanity. Well, for one thing, the Flood never happened. One way we know that is that it is in the part of the Genesis that is included in the Wisdom Literature which makes it mythos. Not “myth” in the sense of fake news, but “myth” in the sense that it conveys a truth in a story which is not to be taken literally but allegorically.

            Another thing to remember is that the Bible was written by human beings. So when it is written in Joshua that God tells them to kill every man, woman, child, oxen, goat, whatever, that is not to be understood literalistically. Not even the Jewish commentaries indicate that.

            It has to be read within the concept of the Hebrews, a chosen and holy people, crossing into their promised land where they will worship the One God so the destruction of every man, woman, child, oxen, goat, whatever, is symbolic language to make the land pure.

            It is also obvious that the Hebrews did not do this because when we read further in the Hebrew Scriptures we see the clash of cultures between the Hebrews and the indigenous people of the area.

            As for the Father’s sacrifice of His Son, I personally reject that interpretaion for the simple reason that it is less than five hundred years old, thought up by John Calcins, although hints of it are found in Anselm of Canterbury.

            Substitutionary Atonement is not what the church taught for the first fifteen hundred years and is not what is taught in Orthodox of Roman Catholic Churches. many in the Anglican Communion also reject it.

            “Are you going to tell me that an entity that can create an entire universe couldn’t come up with a better solution.”

            Actually, God did. An alternative to the bloodthirsty narrative is “The Heresy of Penal Substitution Making God bound by necessity” which may be read at https://www.facebook.com/Abbot-Tryphon-1395030584153681/?fref=nf

  20. The name of the god in Evangelical Christianity is Greed and his followers walk the path he sets for them to their eternal perdition. Small-minded people with a complete inability to understand something that is beyond words, who use religion as an excuse to do whatever they want because “they are saved” and so won’t suffer the consequences.
    There’s going to be a lot of very surprised folks on Judgment Day as mentioned in their own book: they think they are sheep, but according to the Judge, they are not and off to hell they go.
    I have said it before: there is a chasm so wide between “religious” and “spiritual” as to make the terms mutually incompatible. Religion is a man-made construct used to control the ignorant or deluded. Spiritual is a Natural response to the Sacredness of every living being, from single celled organism through humans and the beyond, out into the Universe; it’s a way of life that does not require the trappings of “religion”.
    I am NOT a religious person. I am, however, a deeply spiritual being. I do the right thing not because I fear eternal damnation, but because it is the logical and loving way to do things. I’m not perfect, not even by a long shot. I am human–no wait, “I am not a human being having a spiritual experience–I am a spiritual being having a human experience.” One of my favorite quotes.
    Greed and worshiping Greed is the fast lane to Hell, no matter how many times you go to that special building or wear those special clothes or how many souls you’ve “saved”. As John mentioned, Jesus had some harsh and very pointed words for those who thought their wealth (or their religious practices) were a “get out of Hell free” card.
    Eugene Peterson has the right to change his mind–but every decision, every single choice, carries a consequence of some sort. He may find that the price for his recant is more than his soul can pay.

  21. Dear John Pavlovitz:

    The tiny, electronic impressions my cursor creates on my magic, pixel screen are weightless. But if these words DID weigh a pound a piece, this phrase would be worth its weight in gold.

    Jesus-based capitalism

    Thank you for this!

    Blessings!

    PS: Eventually, people will stop listening to the dictates of both capitalism and LifeWay in order to get on with life.

  22. Once again, John tells it as it is. I don’t know why Peterson retracted his statement overnight, I don’t know what pressures were brought to bear, I don’t know anything except that one day he spoke Godly words and the next day retracted them.

    I can only imagine how betrayed LGBTQ must feel. I personally will continue the fight for civil liberties and social justice for ALL of God’s creation.

    I do this on FB at Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff and all who wish to fight for civil liberties and social justice for ALL of God’s creation are welcome to join. Please sure to answer the screening question.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

  23. Read this article before I read John’s piece and I thought how much this also needs to be said.

    “Christianity Doesn’t Need a Champion. We’ve Already Got One.
    By Ryan Galloway 7-14-2017”

    “In trying to court believers, President Trump is hitting on fears and worries held by many evangelical Americans. But in truth he appears to be a greater threat to the faith than he is a benefit.

    “Recently, the president’s rhetoric around Christian belief is that it is something to defend. Trump promises that under his presidency, the Christian faith will be bolstered through his political support. Set aside the conversation on how this measures with the separation of church and state for a moment — Trump speaks of a war, against culture, mainstream media, and liberals, and he has proposed himself as the champion of the Christian right. And this week’s prayer meeting between the president and evangelical supporters shows some prominent Christian leaders have accepted Trump into this position.”

    More may be read and if one does, one learns who the champion is that we already have, at
    https://sojo.net/articles/christianity-doesn-t-need-champion-we-ve-already-got-one

  24. Stumbled across this article and I found it quite an interesting read, raising some great questions. John may or may not choose to post it, but I thought John might be interest to read it.

    “The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson — You Might Be Next

    “Those who have fled for security to the house of evasion must know that the structure has crumbled. It always does.”
    by Albred Mohler

    “Consider these lessons from Eugene Peterson’s ordeal.

    “First, there is nowhere to hide. Every pastor, every Christian leader, every author — even every believer — will have to answer the question. The question cannot simply be about same-sex marriage. The question is about whether or not the believer is willing to declare and defend God’s revealed plan for human sexuality and gender as clearly revealed in the Bible.

    “Second, you had better have your answer ready. Evasive, wandering, and inconclusive answers will be seen for what they are. Those who have fled for security to the house of evasion must know that the structure has crumbled. It always does.

    “Third, if you will stand for the Bible’s clear teachings on sexuality and gender, you had better be ready to answer the same way over and over and over again. The question will come back again and again, in hopes that you have finally decided to “get on the right side of history.” Faithfulness requires consistency — that “long obedience in the same direction.”

    “That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ, as Eugene Peterson has now taught us. In more ways than one.”

    The entire essay may be read at: http://www.albertmohler.com/2017/07/17/eugene-peterson/

    • Evasion is perfectly ok. Although I wear my affirming badge with Pride (pun intended, sorry!), I still reserve the right to decline to answer polarising questions if I see fit. People can think what they like; I don’t give a stuff.

      The phrase ‘No comment’ was made for questions like that. The other apt answer is ‘Mind your own business!’ or ruder variants of that 😀

    • Al Mohler was a liberal Baptist, who in his seminary days, “caved in” to pressure from the Pressler-Patterson crowd to “turn fundie” in exchange for promises to not excommunicate him and promises to give him future high executive positions in the Southern Baptist Convention. That is what Baptist pastors who know the inside situation have told me. Personally, I view Mohler as a sell-out religious “Quisling” with no backbone to stand up for what he really believes. All these quotes do is tell me about the wimp that he really is. I have zero respect for the man and take nothing he has to say seriously. Just sayin’.

      • Thank you, Charles, for the back ground in Mohler. I have no idea who he is.

        But there was one point he made which you might not have seen if you chose not to read the article which I did find most interesting. And that is the stuff I quoted.

        I took it to mean that people who have never expressed their opinion about the subject, will now be facing that question. Yes, he may be warning fellow conservatives, but doesn’t the warning also apply to those who have never given it a thought?

  25. Thanks for this piece John. I agree with most of it. However, I don’t believe that we can say for certain that Eugene was motivated by the ‘green god’. My inclination on this is that he (gentle soul that he appears to be) simply could not stand the heat at a stage of life when he just wants to slip quietly into the background to read and write. It appears to me that he spoke truth from his heart when he did the original interview, but couldn’t handle the blow-back. If I’m correct, he shows a lack of courage, but not a love of money.

    • He may not have been motivated purely by that, but he gave in to the pressures of those who are. I think he allowed himself to be coerced into a reversal, whether for career self-preservation or another reason.

  26. Aren’t the people who have rounders of books in grocery stores? I never understood why that was a thing… there are no Muslim or Jewish or even progressive Christian books for sale at Stop & Shop or CVS, why do we need this narrow (multiple definitions) interpretation of Christianity to be represented.

    As we say in NJ, “Time for some PR problems in Providence”

  27. “I don’t know Eugene Peterson personally, but his writings have been transformational for me. He’s put the Scriptures in a voice that people can easily approach and understand, and by all accounts he seems like a really decent human being whose faith matters greatly to him. Having said that, I’m disgusted by the cowardice of his speedy retreat and the sucker punch to the gut it has been to my LGBTQ friends, who once again are used like piñata by the Christian Right; something to be beaten up for entertainment. He’s going to have to live with whatever the truth is about his personal convictions, and he’s going to have to also carry the weight of his acquiescing—on the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people whose enemies are now rushing to use him as further justification to be terrible in Jesus’ name.”

    Beautifully stated…thank you

  28. Dear John,

    I read your words with lots of interest, actually three times, and only then I decided to respond. So here is a revelation that you don’t know about. Mr. Eugene Peterson has been a close family friend for well over 35 years!

    My Dad and Mr. Peterson were missionaries together many years ago, and they traveled many places around the world for several years. Mr. Peterson has been to my folks home on many, many occasions, and we have shared their home as well for dinner and other activities.

    He loves the Lord, the Church, and People from all backgrounds, with no respecter of persons. I must tell you the entire truth about the last week. First, Eugene Peterson has never believed in same sex marriage. Not ever! He has always believed in treating members in the LGBT community with a great deal of dignity and respect. He has been kind, considerate, and gentle towards persons that identify with the LGBT community.

    But it is important that I reiterate that Mr. Peterson has never believed in same sex marriage. That discussion has come on many occasions when I’ve been in his presence, and while he has always spoken with lots of compassion and grace, he has never affirmed same sex marriage as this op-ed has alleged. While I was not present during the interview, I can tell you that Eugene Peterson was not clear about the questions, how they were asked, etc.

    But since that interview, he has not only given a retraction, but he has stated very clearly his position of that specific subject, that he does not believe in same sex marriage, and that he would never participate in conducting any kind of ceremony giving his approval to such unions. I will also tell your members to keep their eyes open and their ears alert, as Eugene Peterson will be giving a major interview on Focus on the Family in the very near future. He wants to clear the air, and as for money, let me tell you from first hand knowledge. Mr. Peterson has been very wealthy for many years, and his paraphrase of the Bible, known as “The Message”, has sold literally millions upon millions of copy, so the claim that he is worried about money is nowhere near being true. He has more money than he will ever need!

    My request to all of you is to not make statements that are simply not true. I am aware that this is one of the hot button issues in our country, but it is important that we get it right. Lifeway Stores and its administration are upstanding people with integrity, and Mr. Peterson will definitely set the record straight concerning the claim that Lifeway pressured him to change his tune concerning his views on same sex marriage.

    Respectfully Yours,

    Toni Dennis

    • I wonder if Peterson changes his position according to whichever group he happens to be speaking in front of. Focus on the Family, an organization for whom I have almost zero respect, will expect the message he is apparently going to bring them. I wonder if he would deliver the same message to a United Church of Christ audience or an Episcopalian audience? It sounds to me as if Peterson does not have a position on LGBTQ issues or has not fully formulated one for himself that he is willing to defend. I can understand that because I do not have a fully formulated personal position either—-except that I know it is wrong to preach hatred against LGBTQ people, discriminate against LGBTQ people, and persecute LGBTQ people, especially in the name of Jesus. Focus on the Family, best I can tell, believes in doing all those things. How about you Toni? Do you believe that LGBTQ people should be treated this way—and if not—why do you have your hand over your mouth—unable to speak out against your fellow Christians who do?

      If you are really a friend of Eugene Peterson, call him up and ask him to come to this blog to discuss his position with us. John will moderate us, and we will be nice and respectful to him because I think most people here do honor his commitment to Jesus. Maybe it could be a mutual learning experience?

      • Charles, it kinda reminds me of the way various groups claim that C. S. Lewis wrote exclusively for their audience.

        I’ve heard people assert that Lewis was an evangelical. I’ve heard people assert that he was Anglo-Catholic. They could read into his work what they wanted to find.

        When in reality, he was a middle of the road member of the CofE, moderate in his theology.

      • Charles, Eugene Peterson doesn’t owe anybody us an explanation of his views on homosexuality and same sex marriage. And Focus on the Family is a reputable Christian organization, and no one is going to change their understanding of marriage or human sexuality.

        Toni

        • Reputable? Christian? Focus on the Family is known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric and positions, as well as for pushing anti-LGBT pseudoscience and misrepresenting legitimate research. In other words, they lie. They continue to push ex-gay therapy which is illegal in many jurisdictions because it is a form of torture that often leads its victims into serious mental issues, often ending in suicide.

          I grant your point that no one is going to change their understanding. When someone is making so much money from promoting hatred, what would be the incentive to change?

          • Patricia, yes, Focus on the Family is Christian and Reputable. Dr. Jane’s Dobson is the most respected Christian family therapist in America! They’re standing on solid Biblical grounds when it comes to the family and marriage.

          • I guess it depends on what is considered “respectable”. For some an organisation raking in almost $100 million a year is “respectable”. Obviously Toni thinks a dominionist organisation that ruthlessly tries to deny the rights of LGBTQ, promotes hatred of LGBTQ people, and abuse LGBTQ youths to the point of depression and suicide is “respectable” because they conform to his theology.

          • Focus on the Family is a buncha people that think it is ok to abuse other people.

            If Toni Dennis thinks Focus on the Family is reputable, then Toni Dennis believes in abusing people.

            This makes it even more unlikely to me that she ever knew Eugene Peterson because it is clear from his writings he would never condone abuse.

        • Well, that is just fine Toni. We shall see if they are still around when the Christian Cretaceous Period ends. In the meantime, they are villains in my book—and so is Dobson—but he will be croaking soon—and like all cult figures—I am betting that his organization will die off with him—maybe not right away—but soon enough. Please see the following hope that is not in Jesus that many of us have—along with HIS hope:

          https://faith17983.wordpress.com/2017/03/04/hope-for-america/

          Please feel free to visit my blog any time Toni.

    • Toni, did Eugene Peterson ask you to speak for him? Is there some way you can prove your assertions? Have you some citations you can offer instead of personal anecdotes?

      I do not mean this as an insult, but anyone can claim they have known someone for a long time and claim to know them well.

      So some objective proof, rather than personal experience, would be welcome.

    • Toni Dennis. thank you for your interesting 2cents. somehow, i think your rendition has the ring of truth. I always give people the benefit of the doubt, especially a well-loved Octogenarian, like Eugene Peterson. I believe you when you say, that Peterson disapproves of gay marriage. I believe you when you say he treats LGBT & everyone with dignity & love. I enjoyed hearing the personal side of this matter. I’ve used The Message off & on for 20 years, but know nothing about the author/translator Peterson.

      This ‘news’ story about Peterson fit neatly into the anti-Conservative Christian narrative, but alas…. only superficially. It also caused needless harm.

    • Focus on the Family? Why not just spit in the faces of his gay followers? You have to be kidding, FOTF can’t tell the truth to save their lives. The truth would never suite their agenda.

      I don’t know this Peterson but I can tell you that even the most devout Christians aren’t beyond lying to save themselves from the wrath of other self righteous Christians.

      Focus on the family should focus on their own families and stop torturing the entire world with their obsession with sex and homosexuality. But again that’s their agenda.

      The christian right has done more to turn people away from the church than any other organization.

      • jaime wrote, “The christian right has done more to turn people away from the church than any other organization.”

        I would go further and say they have done more to cause people to reject Jesus, not merely the church.

  29. Generally, I acquire my reading through discussions with well educated clergy, seminary book stores, and reviews posted in periodicals/magazines. Your post was the first time I’ve heard of the ‘LifeWay’ bookstore chain. So I’ve no axe to grind in this regard. Hopefully, my remarks will reflect this.

    But first, may I say that Peterson shouldn’t be condemned quickly by those who haven’t faced such predicaments. To claim that ‘I would be faithful where others have fallen’ is cheap glory. I believe that an objective examination of the record would show that we fall for ‘cheap glory’ more often than we suppose.

    Further, whatever one believes about GLBTQ etc., it is disappointing when the absence of all strength of convictions is so quickly revealed. And surely, Dr. Peterson anticipated some such reaction. But then, he is advanced in years. This simply isn’t his time to engage in major contention. Youth and hotheads will discount that, but wisdom speaks more softly.

    To the point – I found LifeWay’s approach to this matter was unhelpful and of questionable propriety. What LifeWay markets is LifeWay’s decision. It’s their business. But the question I would as is, ‘what is LifeWay’s business.’

    LifeWay might have laid out a range of options. One would be a private communication with Dr. Peterson informing him that it is discontinuing the sale of his works. An announcement to that effect could be made and the matter left there. Again, LifeWay could sell Dr. Peterson’s many works which don’t relate to GLBTQ issues. Or LifeWay might disclaim Dr. Peterson’s GLBTQ conclusions while selling his works on the strength of their general merit. Other options exist.

    Instead, LifeWay utilized a tactic well-known to fallen earthly principalities and powers. These tactics are used because often, they effectively secure surrender to whatever power/ standard demands compliance. Trade bans are imposed on strategic items or specific nations for this reason. Pressure groups boycott businesses. In the ‘1930s, Germans refused to do business with Jewish shopkeepers. I expect some will demand that ‘Christians’ do no business with US Muslims.

    In such instances and behind these oft-utilized tactics is the ‘charagma.’ It was understood that Caesar supported the economic life in his cities across the empire. In corollary, ability to benefit from that economy presumed your support of Caesar. If you didn’t evidence the stamp/impression/mark [charagma] of Caesar’s beastly name/authority/cause, then you could not buy or sell [Re 13:17]. This brings us back to LifeWay’s Peterson strategy.

    Whereas in Revelation the ‘charagma of the beast’ [Re 14:9] and the ‘sphragizo [seal] of the Spirit’ [Re 7:3] in parody, it is evidently the theological strategy of St. John the theologian to tell us that one can be aligned with the powers and principalities of this age [by any Name, in whatever system it manifests itself in any time or place] OR – one can align with the kingdom of God in Christ.

    In other words – it is the coercive/manipulative/punishment anti-theology of the charagma/beast, OR it is the gracious/liberating/blessing of the sphragizo/Spirit of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

    Which is the theology of Saint John the theologian?
    Which ‘theology’ did LifeWay utilize re: E. Peterson?

    I read many books. But I won’t be buying from LifeWay. I never have. Until today, I didn’t know LifeWay existed. But if I was a regular patron, I would be sorely tempted desist using LifeWay.

    As I said, we fall for ‘cheap glory’ more often than we suppose…

    Blessings!

    • Dear Craig Bartlett:

      Remember where Eugene Peterson is in life. After a long and very distinguished career, he is in his mid 80s. Disappointed as you are, I truly believe a gracious church would speak with some kindness to a man God has used to guide and bless the church in his generation.

      I prefer to remember Dr. Peterson thus, not as one who faltered late in life. As one closer to Dr. Peterson’s age than yours, I understand that there comes a time for others to fill the church leadership void.

      In addition to points I presented [ http://tinyurl.com/y9xyghxk ] earlier today, there is this: God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has set it free from the doctrines and commandments of men. So to obey those doctrines and commandments for conscience’ sake is to betray that true liberty which God has won for us in Christ. [What I remember from the WCF Chapter XX on Christian Liberty].

      This raises questions as to how the Christian community should respond to the ‘LifeWay’ attempts to manipulate conscience by using thoroughgoing earth-bound dynamics. Especially if we’re seeing a serial offender, it seems fair to ask ‘LifeWay,’ ‘if you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of this world, why do you practice them as if you were still living in the world!’ And other theological issues can be raised concerning ‘LifeWay’ behavior also.

      Perhaps Mr. Pavlovitz’ title line — ‘Big Green God’ and ‘LifeWay’ as the epitome of how ‘American Christianity’ [far more ‘American’ than Christian] ‘works. — might make a better focus than chiding Dr. Peterson at a time when he does not need to lead another battle.

      Blessings!

    • Craig Bartlett, please do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

      While the reaction you express was also my first reaction, I remember what many people of that age that I have known have been like.

      We don’t know what happened. We don’t have enough information. While I feel it as a blow against the LGBTQ community, I also know how easily pressure is brought to bear upon our elderly because I see it every single day.

      While it may not be true for every person in their 80s, many are in frail health and dependent on others.

      I was crushingly disappointed when Gene Robinson stepped down from being Bishop of New Hampshire, but the cost for him was too high. Constant death threats are stressful and I believe they cost him his husband, although I could be remembering events incorrectly.

      We don’t know what was said to Mr. Peterson that caused him to retract his words. We only have one side of the story.

  30. Totally agree with John. There is no such thing as heterosexual lifestyle. Me and my partner are both Bi and exercise our freedom. Love is too good, and too rewarding to be confined to any one person or style. Now, don’t get me wrong, we are much in love. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy special times with friends or at clubs. You should love everyone and not be so possessive about style or partners! Thank you John for your boldness I love my LGBT friends and Bi works for me and my partner – open partners!

    • Uh…Jill. I have to wonder if you are LGBTQ at all. Rarely, almost never actually, have I ever heard a serious LGBTQ person, especially a Christian LGBTQ person, voice a position that says the Earth has 7 billion people—let’s all mound together like ferrets and “F” each other right now. That sounds like what you are saying. Please tell me that this is not what you are saying or that you are at some party and just drunk out of your mind over your smart phone.

      • Once one accepts that there is no certainty regarding sexuality and sexual behavior from the church or the bible, then what Jill says and does is a perfectly logical extension of that thinking.

      • Uh Charles, when I read your response I first laughed then felt like crying. My partner and I have preferences and standards. We do not share randomly. We are loving people who feel we are due respect. Have you never heard of open relationships? (with boundaries of course!) If you are into monogamy I would never criticize you for that. We do describe ourselves as Christian as well as Hindu and all forms of enlightenment. When will we ever stop judging!! Am I wrong in the way I feel? With all respect, Jill

  31. Thank you for this. It is a sad state of affairs that money is so much more important than integrity. I will never understand the hatred that some have for the LGBTQ community. I wish that they would just live by the phrase I will do me and you can do you. Thank you also for the moderation. It is noticed and appreciated. Peace and Love,

    • Do you believe a mother should be able to marry her own son? Or that a father should be able to marry his own daughter?

      If you don’t, does that mean that you have “hatred” for those people who want to do that?

      Or if the above were legal (and maybe it is somewhere, I don’t know), but did not believe that could be a true Christian marriage, would it be hateful to believe that way?

      • Stop. Don’t be that guy. Two adults who love one another and are committed to a monogamous, loving, respectful, mutually beneficially relationship isn’t akin to a person marrying their parent. That’s the problem. Your religion has made you unable to see LGBTQ as adults and their expressions of love as valid as your own. Once you can do that, your religion will change.

        • Oh, yes, he is. Especially since he ignores that in the Hebrew Scriptures Abraham was married to his sister.

  32. Pastor, I totally agree with you 100% here. 100%. Very disappointing. Painfully disappointing. But with a community of people taught that Bible in its totality is the eternal and infallible word of God, how do you NOT expect pushback against the LGBTQ community? For example- as a pastor, you’re undoubtedly very familiar and, as a decent human who happens to be a follower of an abrahamic religion, you’ve assuredly had to reconcile your (correct) worldview with Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:9–10. How is a biblical literalist supposed to deal with those passages? Tell someone who is less of an expert of the Bible (me).

    Is it because they’re epistles written after the death of the Christ and not directly from His ministry? Were those passages written to address specific problems occurring within the churches of Rome, Corinth and Ephesus at the time? Then what is the relevance do they have in the West to a Christian in 2017? Should they be ignored? How would you reach out to another human who is a follower of your Christ who legitimately believes these passages to be the word of God? How do you reach out to people who think LifeWay’s pressure on Eugene Peterson and Mr Peterson’s (unfortunate) reversal on the LGBTQ issue was a good thing because it supports what is directly said in the Bible (those passages) instead of what was NOT said in it (an explicit condemnation of homosexuality by The Christ)?

    I get it, you disagree with LifeWay’s and Mr Peterson’s current stance on homosexuality, as do I. It’s ignorant. It’s calloused. It’s profit driven. It sucks. But how do you get around it in terms of scripture? Is homosexuality a sin in your mind? Not the people…the orientation?…the sexual act? Do you plainly ignore what the Bible says in those passages? Or is it some mistranslation of the Greek (the epistles were written in Greek) into Latin into English? Or Do you render those passages irrelevant based on the fact they’re “just” epistles and/or their cultural context and/or that age’s lack of scientific understanding and ultimately thus ignore them? Or Do you say “it’s not my job to judge the actions of others and/or we’re all sinners so I’m no better than anyone else and/or love the person/hate the sin” and then just ignore those passages?

    How do YOU ignore them? How do YOU tell someone to ignore them? Was there a personal revelation you received based on your personal relationship with the Christ that renders those passages irrelevant? If someone received personal revelation from the Christ that they are relevant, how are they wrong? IOW, Is there a morality that transcends what is explicitly written in the Bible in those passages? Does that make the Bible wrong (in those places)? If it’s wrong there, where else is it wrong? Or if it’s not wrong but irrelevant there, where else is it irrelevant? Was 1 Timothy not written by Paul? Were passages added in by transcribers of the original biblical text in I Corinthians (and Romans)? What else is not authentic in the Bible then? And how would you begin to convince others (eg LifeWay supporters) of this? I want to know, I’m not trying to be snarky here. I legitimately respect you support your views (mostly), and want to understand the machinations of your mind because ultimately i want to stand in love and harmony with all of my fellow human beings….which I think is your vision…so how do YOU get around WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS in those epistles? Maybe that can help people come to be more loving to one another…

    • Man. That’s a lot. I could address some of it, but I was up all night and am way too tired—-or tarred—as they say in this neck of the woods. Anyone want to handle this?

      I guess that I would start in two places:

      (1) The written law of the Old Testament kills, and like Paul said in Galatians, has passed away for Christians. He never says the Old Testament law has passed away except for the moral law. That is a modern fundie twist. He is clearly indicating that the whole law, including the 10 commandments, has passed away. Also, this law never applied to gentiles like you and me because it was part of an exclusive covenant between God and the children of Israel alone.

      (2) As for the New Testament passages, we all need to remember that first century Christians were still struggling to formulate a meaningful explanation of what the Jesus ministry actual meant. In particular, and you see this in the words of the New Testament writers, they were struggling with the question of whether their new Jesus beliefs made them a sect of Judaism (meaning they were all still fully Jewish and responsible to Torah) or whether it was a new and different religion that made them something different from Jewish. As I read through the New Testament, I see a lot of tension and confusion between the Old Testament law and this new religion called Christianity. For example, Paul can say in several places that the Old Testament law has passed away and then several paragraphs later he is suddenly listing a litany of sins from the Old Testament law as if it has not passed a way. You just want to say: “Well, which is it Paul? You are clearly confused and struggling with this am I Jewish or am I something else problem—and how does the Old Testament law fit in—or does it fit in at all?” It is too bad that they did not explicitly work all of this out in no uncertain terms because the Bible books all end without us knowing their final decision on this—or whether they did not resolve it and were just willing to tolerate the ambiguity of it all.

      Personally, I take Paul at his word when he says that the whole Old Testament law has passed away for Christians. Furthermore, I still think the Old Testament law never applied to gentiles like you and me because we were never part of the Old Testament covenant. I do think the New Testament writers who were raised Jewish from birth never really resolved the “Am I a Jew or am I something else” issue—and lived in a lot of doubt and tension about that issue—never really fully resolving it in their noggins.

      That being the case, how then do we deal with LGBTQ people today. I think all we can do is look to the words and deeds of Jesus himself in the New Testament. He never personally addressed the subject of LGBTQ people. He never gave us any laws. However, he gave us several commands and a lot of general principles to live our lives by—and none of those commands and principles are the least bit compatible with hating LGBTQ people, harassing them to death, making their lives miserable, discriminating against them, and persecuting them—which is what Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do today.

    • Matt D wrote ” How is a biblical literalist supposed to deal with those passages?”

      The first step would be to repent of Biblical literalism which is an act of violence committed against the Bible. The Bible cannot be read literalistically because it was never meant to be read that way.

      For one thing, unless one reads the Bible in the original languages, one is reading an interpretation. I say that because all translations have to be interpretations because it is impossible to exactly translate one language into another.

      Hebrew words, for instance, have more than one meaning. The Spirit might brood, hover, or dance over the face of the deep, depending upon the translator’s preference. A certain commandment has been variously translated as “do not kill” or “do not murder” when the fact is that the Hebrew word means both. But people who want to justify war, for example, will go with “do not murder” because it is less inclusive than “do not kill”.

      For centuries, a certain apostle among apostles was greeted in Romans as Junius because translators assumed that Paul could not possibly have meant Junia, despite what it says in the Greek, because women couldn’t, according to the translators, have authority over men.

      Which leads to a whole other concatenation when it comes to interpreting the Bible literalistically… the inherent contradictions one forces upon the Pauline corpus in order to prove the point Paul never ever makes that women can’t have authority over men when in fact he says men and women are co-equal in every single way.

      Recommend you read these fascinating books which go into far more detail than I about why we just can’t interpret the Bible literalistically.

      • Oops! Forgot the list of books. Silly me. LOL

        You don’t Understand the Bible because you are Christian by Richard Gist

        The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns

        What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell

        • Thank you, Gloriamarie, appreciate you and the reading list. Combat the idea that the Bible is literal. That’s what I thought.

          • Another reason we can’t read the Bible literally is because there are so many different kinds of literature among the various texts.

            Off the top of my head, there is the Wisdom literature, history, the law, poetry, prophecy, apocalyptic, Gospel (a brand new form of literature at the time they were written) and letters.

            While sometimes there are clearcut distinctions between the books and their form of literature, some of the books of the Hebrew Scripture contain more than one form of literature. For example, several of the first chapters in Genesis are Wisdom Literature. Some of the Psalms are both Wisdom and poetry.

            And, as some of the books I recommended will point out, we lose a lot in the translation. Take the story of Ruth and Boaz in the Book of Ruth. Naomi tells Ruth to uncover Boaz’ feet which is supposed to let B know R wishes to marry him.

            Why his feet? So he can walk all over her? No, no, the word “feet” is a coy translation of something any reader of Hebrew would know. N tells R to uncover that part of Boaz’ body which women lack.

            Isn’t that a more clear invitation to marriage than uncovering feet?

    • Hello Matt D, and thanks for your sincere inquiry as to why Christians takes the Bible seriously and literally. First, I am going to try as hard as I can to not make this too long. Second, my name is Laralynn, and while I rarely come on this weblog, I have commented here and there in the past.

      Third, I think you should know that I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Manchester, in Manchester, England. In fact, I leave next week for my Summer requirement and will be there until the end of August or perhaps the first few days in September, then it’s back to preparing for my Dissertation.

      You asked about interpreting the Bible literally and whether we should interpret the Scriptures that speaks to the subject of homosexuality, and the answers to your questions are yes!

      Now, before I unpack what I want to say, it is important that you and others on this blog understand the proper meaning of being a literalist. Biblical literalism is the method of interpreting Scripture that holds that, except in places where the text is obviously allegorical, poetic, or figurative, it should be taken literally. Biblical literalism is the position of most evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists.

      Biblical literalism goes hand-in-hand with regarding the Word of God as inerrant and inspired. If we believe in the doctrine of biblical inspiration, that the books of the Bible were written by men under the influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:20:21) to the extent that everything they wrote was exactly what God wanted to say, then a belief in biblical literalism is simply an acknowledgement that God wants to communicate to us via human language.

      The rules of human language then become the rules of interpreting Scripture. Words have objective meaning, and God has spoken through words. Not only can we take the Bible literally, but we must take the Bible literally. This is the only way to determine what God really is trying to communicate to us. When we read any piece of literature, but especially the Bible, we must determine what the author intended to communicate.

      One reason we should take the Bible literally is because the Lord Jesus Christ took it literally. Whenever the Lord Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, it was always clear that He believed in its literal interpretation. As an example, when Jesus was tempted by Satan in Luke 4, He answered by quoting the Old Testament. If God’s commands in Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, and 6:16 were not literal, Jesus would not have used them and they would have been powerless to stop Satan’s mouth, which they certainly did.

      Although we take the Bible literally, there are still figures of speech within its pages. An example of a figure of speech would be that if someone said “it is raining cats and dogs outside,” you would know that they did not really mean that cats and dogs were falling from the sky. They would mean it is raining really hard. There are figures of speech in the Bible which are not to be taken literally, but those are obvious. (See Psalm 17:8 for example.)

      Finally, when we make ourselves the final arbiters of which parts of the Bible are to be interpreted literally, we elevate ourselves above God. Who is to say, then, that one person’s interpretation of a biblical event or truth is any more or less valid than another’s? The confusion and distortions that would inevitably result from such a system would essentially render the Scriptures null and void. The Bible is God’s Word to us and He meant it to be believed, literally and completely.

      My Master of Theology degree is from the prestigious Dallas Seminary. The program is a four years program unlike the typical M.DIV in most Seminaries, and we were required to study Greek and Hebrew all four years! So, I have a good grasp of understanding of the Scriptures in their original language and context.

      As it relates to Homosexuality, there is no doubt that the Bible speaks the heart and mind of God on the subject, and it is not good. Therefore, I turn now to argue that homosexual behavior is immoral.  The reason it is immoral is that it is clearly unnatural.  Here I am using the terms “natural” and “unnatural” in a specific way.  By saying that homosexuality is unnatural, I mean that it is contrary to the purpose and design of God, our creator.  And I mean to argue that we can know this even apart from what the Bible says about it. My argument can be stated as follows:
      Whatever behavior is contrary to God’s created design for human beings is morally wrong. Homosexuality is contrary to God’s created design for human beings.Therefore, homosexuality is wrong.
      Now what can be said in defense of the premises of this argument?  Let’s take a look at premise (1) first.  This premise, of course, assumes that God exists.  Some people on the pro-homosexual side of this debate will cry, “Foul! You can’t bring religion in this debate!  You can’t bring your Bible verses into the public arena to decide this issue!”  First of all, take careful note that my argument does not quote any Bible verses, nor will I do so in defense of premise (1).

      And it is not my intent to bring religion per se into the debate at this point.  I am merely appealing to the fact that most people in our society believe, or at least say they believe, in the existence of God.  To be sure, there are those who claim that they do not believe in God.  I think they are profoundly mistaken.

       I think the evidence for God’s existence is overwhelming and that those who attempt to dismiss his existence are “without excuse” as Romans 1:20 states.  But we can save that debate for another time.

       Most of us, even those who are not Christian,even those who do not believe in the divine authority of the Bible, nevertheless belivethat the universe was created by a personal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and supremely good God.  More specifically, we believe that we were created by God.  And we believe that God gave us all of our faculties and abilities, physical and mental, for a benevolent purpose.

      It follows from this that if I use the abilities and faculties that God gave me in a way that is contrary to his good intentions, then I have done something wrong.  For example, if I use the hands that God gave me for serving him and other people to strangle and kill my brother instead, then I have done wrong.  So premise (1) of my argument is true:  any behavior that is contrary to God’s created design for human beings is morally unacceptable.

      Now we come to the crucial question.  Is homosexual behavior consistent with God’s created design for human beings?  Or does it run contrary to his design?  In premise (2) I have stated what I take to be the right answer to this question.  Homosexual behavior is clearly contrary to God’s design.

      We believe that God created us male and female.  We believe, that is, that hetero-sexuality is God’s intent.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t have created two sexes!  And let us simply examine the biology of it all.  Who can reasonably deny that penises are designed to fit into vaginas?  And who can deny that vaginas are meant to receive penises?  And I am not using these biological statements to refer to reproduction.  Homosexuality advocates often remind us that sexual activity is not only meant for the purpose of reproduction.  It is also intended for pleasure and for emotional bonding.  I agree whole-heartedly!  But this does not justify homosexuality.

      If you grant that there is a natural “fit” between penises and vaginas that is created by God (and this cannot be denied), then it is easy to see that God intends for sexual activity to bring men and women together, for the purpose of reproduction to be sure, but also for the purpose of creating a special union through the pleasure and emotional bonding that takes place in sexual intercourse.

      Imagine, for the sake of argument that all human beings opted for homosexuality.  If homosexual behavior is morally permissible, then it would be morally permissible for everyone to be homosexual.  But, then, God’s clear intent for men and women to enter into intimate unions through sexual intercourse would be thwarted.  God’s intent that men and women cleave together in mutually dependent relationships would be thwarted as well.  And, by the way, so would God’s intent that humans reproduce.

       And, by the way, so would God’s intent that humans reproduce.
      So, I conclude that homosexual behavior is clearly inconsistent with God’s created purpose for human beings.  Therefore, it follows that homosexual behavior is wrong.

      I pray that God will give you understanding of what I’ve attempted to communicate. And I am sorry that it is longer than what I intended, but it is important that I express myself in a clear way. I wish you well going forward, and I trust that God will speak to you!

      Thanks Again,

      Laralynn

      • The Dallas Theological Seminary is highly respected within the unique BS bounds of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. Outside of it—not so much. If I had been on the faculty at the University of Manchester, I would have voted against accepting you into graduate school and demanded that my colleagues do the same. I see no point in educating a person who has spent their entire life imbibing on man-made lies and fantasies about the Christian faith—lies and fantasies that are recent in time and stamped Made in America—and then sending that person with graduate degrees out into the world to further mangle and soot the faith in creative ways. I hope you do realize that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are entering their death throes—and you are going to die spiritually with it. Have a nice day.

        • Charles, Dallas Seminary is easily considered one of the best Seminaries in the world, and that includes schools that are considered “conservative” and “liberal”. There is no school anywhere that teaches the science of Biblical Exegesis and Exposition and the Biblical languages on the level of Dallas Seminary. Biblical Christianity will always be around because our Lord said it would, as HE is the Founder and Chief Cornerstone of the Church!

      • ”except in places where the text is obviously allegorical, poetic, or figurative, it should be taken literally. Biblical literalism is the position of most evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists.”

        I see, so special Christians decide what is literal and what is allegorical and what is figurative or poetic, how convenient.

        ”I think the evidence for God’s existence is overwhelming and that those who attempt to dismiss his existence are “without excuse” as Romans 1:20 states. ”

        And you make the judgment that we are profoundly mistaken because you believe the bible is literal and that it is the word of god… if the bible is literal it’s far worse than I thought after reading it myself.

        How does one debate with a bible literalist? You can’t argue with someone who is convinced.

        ”Most of us, even those who are not Christian, even those who do not believe in the divine authority of the Bible, nevertheless belive that the universe was created by a personal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and supremely good God. ”

        Most of us, who?

        ”And we believe that God gave us all of our faculties and abilities, physical and mental, for a benevolent purpose.”

        Odd, since god himself was not so benevolent. Unless you dismiss the dark side of his character.

        ”Homosexual behavior is clearly contrary to God’s design.”

        So you ignore the homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom as well? Or does your god deny he created that as well? Why would there be any such temptation if god didn’t want or knowingly allow for such differences. Why would he burden a small amount of his creation and yet his heterosexual creation has no such burden. Makes no sense at all. Why would he enshrine the condemnation of a small group of people for all time, unless he was sadistic and enjoyed watching his followers use gays as a political foot ball, or a way to measure their obedience to god by choosing not to be gay. Because of course being gay is a choice right? So being straight must also be a choice? UGH

        It’s pretty damn easy to be for the bible when you are not singled out for special treatment, isn’t it?

        So you were educated on the bible, which frankly doesn’t prove anything in the bible is anything more than hearsay and ancient manipulation of an uneducated and gullible population prone to superstition and fears.

        Creating male and female doesn’t answer the question, it just shows that he created a way procreate. I’m pretty sure the people in the ancient times didn’t foresee artificial insemination either.

        Please give me a break with the emotional bonding that takes place with sexual intercourse. Maybe for you, but not for millions of others, hell not even for many heterosexuals.

        I’m a lesbian, I sure as heck would have noticed if any bonding was happening when I was trying to be straight to please my fundamentalist parents. If that was bonding, you can have it.

        ”God’s intent that men and women cleave together in mutually dependent relationships would be thwarted as well. And, by the way, so would God’s intent that humans reproduce.”

        This is what took you four years? seriously? Where did you miss the obvious here? You have to be attracted to the same sex in order to be gay. You think that if homosexuality is permissible that heterosexuals will voluntarily give up being straight to be gay?

        Maybe you should have spent more time among average people where you could be more aware of true reality.

        It would be morally wrong for me to be straight and make some man miserable so that you can cling to your theory that frankly makes very little sense.

        If there is a god there isn’t one person on this planet that knows what his purpose is, and he apparently has no interest in showing up to clear it up.

        He’s either not all that powerful, or he’s just not as interested in our sex lives as some Christians would have you believe with a straight face.

        An ancient contradictory book is of little value knowing just how manipulative man is and has always been, and it appears god is as well. Considering how differently Christians view their god, it’s a wonder we haven’t completely lost out minds by now.

        If homosexuality was not meant to exist, and an all powerful god demanded it not exist, it would not exist. And it is evident, people haven’t all decided their preference has changed due to the advances in the gay community.

        Please Get real.

        You trust that god will speak to us? Clearly he only speaks to people who take the bible literally because I sure haven’t heard from him even as a young person who sorely needed confirmation he existed, so that I could find out why my fundamentalist parents where so dysfunctional and mean spirited.

        His followers weren’t any help at all because they are often as contradictory as the god they worship.

        Must be nice to be so sure of other peoples lives..

        • jaimie wrote “I see, so special Christians decide what is literal and what is allegorical and what is figurative or poetic, how convenient.”

          If you consider Biblical scholars as “special Christians,” then, yes, because they have been specially trained.

          When it comes to the Hebrew Scriptures, it’s been the Jewish scholars who have so identified their own texts.

          As for the rest of what you say, jaime, I agree with you. Laralynn claims a certain level of education but does not demonstrate it. You quite correctly fault her for her failure to offer supporting evidence for many of the things she claims. Anyone who is actually trained in academic research would automatically offer references to support claims.

        • Jaime, your frustration and argument is with the Creator, not me. And as human beings created in the likeness and image of our Creator, we don’t take our sexuality behavior from the animal kingdom. Animals also kill and eat their own. Should we follow suit? Animals are not homosexuals, they are governed purely by their wild instincts, and because of the Fall of Man, the whole Creation has been impacted by Sin. I am glad that human beings are held to a higher standard than the wild life as it relates to our sexual conduct.

      • I have to say Laralynn that that was beautifully and elegantly written. Which is disturbing because that would convince a lot of people that you have the right of it.

        I thought this sentence was interesting: “Whatever behaviour is contrary to God’s created design for human beings is morally wrong.” God’s created design is that we should be living naked in a garden without children. But even if we don’t want to take the creation story in Genesis literally, certainly the way that we live in bad stewardship, polluting the air, the earth, and the water of God’s beautiful creation, is of far greater concern than who people form life relationships with.

        You follow that with: “Homosexuality is contrary to God’s created design for human beings. Therefore, homosexuality is wrong.” Science has shown over and over again that there is great variety in created design, and that homosexuality is one variation that occurs with regularity throughout created life. It saddens me that you equate a state of being with being wrong. You condemn homosexuals for the sin of being born.

        A few paragraphs down, you come completely off the rails when you compare homosexuality to murdering your brother.

        But what made me laugh is this: “any behaviour that is contrary to God’s created design for human beings is morally unacceptable.” Since God’s created design is naked in a garden without children, all those baby-making heterosexuals are clearly in the wrong.

        Then you make the argument that pleasure and emotional bonding do not justify homosexuality. That’s fine since homosexuality does not need to be justified. Science has proven that homosexuality is a regular and expected variation of creation. If God didn’t want people and creatures to be born this way, God wouldn’t have created this variation.

        My favourite for absurdity is: “Imagine, for the sake of argument that all human beings opted for homosexuality.” We have seen this old saw hundreds of times before and it is no closer to being possible than the first time it was propounded. As has already been clearly stated by others, homosexuality is an inborn state of being that cannot be chosen or opted into. It would be better to rid yourself of this ridiculous idea of choice than to continue to expose your ignorance of this topic.

        What really puts the icing on the cake is your assertion by implication that God is speaking to you but not to people who disagree with your stance. If you truly want to enter into respectful dialogue, you would be wise not to close with a sweetly-worded insult.

        • For somebody who’s busy running a universe of hundreds of billions of galaxies filled with hundreds of billions of suns each with their own solar systems full of multiple planets, God sure places a lot of stock on what a bunch of bipedal relatively hairless primates on a small rock orbiting around an average sized star do with their holes.

        • Patricia, I realize that you haven’t had the academic exposure in Theology that I have, but I do appreciate you trying to make your points. I also recognize that to speak of homosexuality in a way that brings conviction to the heart, is also a hard pill to swallow for some.

          Thanks Again,

          Laralyn

          • Laralynn, I can tell by your style of speech that you are steeped in a theology that pretends to give you the right to direct other people’s lives and theologies while ignoring other people’s lives and theologies as unworthy. You have also been educated to disrespect people who have had a different kind of education. You sound young so you may not as yet realise the harm that you are doing to God’s children who were educated differently or who understand a different theology. Although from the deliberate sweetly-worded insult flung in your first sentence, I suspect that you may revel in hurting other people.

            • Patricia, I find Laralyn disingenuous, passive-aggressive and quick to make assumptions which she words as insults.

              Her writing style is very similar to another person’s, who is a frequent commenter and I don’t mean He of the Many Aliases.

              I am sorry she also has you in her sights.

          • Laralyn, since you are so proud — and pride is a sin — of your academic exposure to theology, the study of God, I would ask if you have had a like amount of exposure to a personal relationship with God. How much of your theology is based on books of other people’s ideas of God and how much is on your own wrestling with God, as Jacob did, to find out what God desires of you personally, not what others tell you God desires of you.

  33. I am possibly a member of the LGBTQ community. Questioning at this point. Questioning my whole life. I grew up in the Church. And the hatred I see among so-called Christians for me and my friends is appalling. Pavlovitz’s voice is, I’m sure, a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, it is often drowned out by the voices of those who believe hatred is a form of entertainment.

    • Anon, yes, I have often thought they find expressing hate a form of entertainment.

      Please ignore those voices. There are lots of here, gay and straight, who love and follow Jesus. Ignore those so-called Christians here and elsewhere who spew hate.

      While I have not been mistreated by Christians for being gay, I have been mistreated by Christians for other reasons. Fortunately for me, my faith is anchored in Jesus and not in the behavior of others.

    • Tell me, Laralyn does the “prestigious” Dallas Seminary still teach the heresies of dispensationalism and the prosperity gospel?

      Biblical literalism is not anything a “prestigious” seminary would ever teach because it overlooks the fact that it is dependent upon a literal reading of the translation.

      Of course, were more “Christians” Biblical literalists, they would take the words of the Hebrew prophets to heart, as well as the words of Jesus and do something about the poor, the hungry, the naked, the sick, the thirsty, and the needy.

      Then heresies such as dispensationalism and the prosperity gospel would be squashed as the excuses for greed and selfishness that they are.

      • Ms. Amalfitano,

        I was very tempted to engage you until I saw that you accused Dallas Seminary of “Prosperity Gospel”. It was then that I realized that I can’t take you seriously.

        Additionally, I saw that you actually went to Gordon-Conwell Seminary, a school very similar to DTS. What is funny is that that school embraces the “inerrancy and infallibility” of the Scripture, and I know personally that several of their faculty members believe strongly in Dispensationalism, including my very dear friend and former Vice-President, Barry Corey, who is the President of Biola University.

        When you truly learn some things, please feel free to contact me.

        Thanks for Trying,

        Laralynn

        • Well done Laralynn. You have exposed your vileness for all to see. Your vaunted theology and precious education are all for nought if you cannot behave decently.

          • Patricia Brush, just wanted you to know that I am a fan of you and your comments. Rather than say me too for all your comments, poor John has to moderate them, I thought I would just say imagine my me too every time you comment. Thank you so very much, you do so much better than I. Peace and Love,

            • I look forward to reading your comments as well, enjoying your perspective and wisdom. I don’t think it’s a competition, but I appreciate your encouragement.

        • It does not matter, Laralynn, where you went to seminary if you did not learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ….I said Jesus, not Paul, not any of the other writers of the Christian Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures. There is a vast difference in the two. And touting the literalism and inerrancy of scripture is ludicrous, especially in your case. If you truly took it literally, you would not even post on this blog. Paul was pretty clear than the role of women was to sit down and be quiet. I don’t support that but then I don’t take Scripture literally either. Look in a mirror before you castigate others.

        • I see you are stalking me on the Internet. So you looked me up on Facebook. Considering you don’t reciprocate, I will continue to believe you are a graduate of a Bible College because that is the level of reasoning you demonstrate.

          GCTS was nothing like Dallas when I was there as it actually trained us in academic methods, something neither of your alleged institutions taught you.

          Additationly, what GCTS taught about inerrancy and infallibility is NOT what DS teaches.

          Inerrancy applies only to the original autographs. They were without error. We know that the texts we have now are no longer inerrant for the simple reason that they are not identical.

          Infallibility means simply that the Scriptures can be relied upon to allow us to know God, Mother/Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

          Name dropping is never becoming.

  34. So well said as per usual, John. Another reminder of why I’ve always said the reason why IN GOD WE TRUST is on U.S. currency is bc that’s the God America trusts in.

  35. ”In the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t once condemn a person for their gender identity or sexuality, but he says a great deal about religious people who sell their souls in order to gain wealth and about those who make life hell for the least of these. He’s not at all okay with them.”

    As much as I enjoy your articles, John, I can’t help but think you a bit naive.

    A hundred years will pass and there will be more of them than of you, because christian conservative evangelicals are not ever going to stop going after what they believe to be the truth and their truth is not your truth obviously.

    It doesn’t mean you should just give up, but I’m afraid you keep advocating for Jesus when in fact it’s you that has the empathy and the willingness to help this in need of help. Not Jesus or God.. I mean……

    Where is Jesus? Where is God?

    Surely anyone worthy of worship would have shown themselves by now? How long can we make excuses for his absence while more people suffer at the hands of his own followers?

    How many people must suffer unspeakably while Jesus and God seem to care very little. Either that, or in fact they do not exist, and we waste millions of dollars advertising for nothing, and millions of hours praying to thin air, while ignoring the problems we could actually help fix if we weren’t focused on trying to convince the world that a decent loving god actually exists but for some odd reason isn’t interested in saving people from pain and suffering not even those that believe they are god’s favorites.

    • Jaime, once again you are wrong. However, I have a great deal of compassion for you, as you are obviously in a lot of pain. Jesus did indeed address human sexuality and our behavior around it. He spoke very frankly about “sexual sins” and “lust”, and gave stern warnings about us making sure that we not allow these kinds of behavior to define us as we could miss heaven in the process.

      So, for example, He used the term “FORNICATION” when speaking about sexual sins. That word comes from the Greek word, “Porneia”, and it means at its root, “all kinds of illicit sexual behavior”. That word is the word from which we get our word, “PORNOGRAPHY”, and that encompasses all sexual sins outside of heterosexual marriage. Therefore, Jesus refers to pre-marital sex, adultery, bestiality, incest, pedophilia, and homosexuality, to name a few, as sins that must be shunned and repented of. Hope this helps!

      Laralynn

      • You are mixing an assortment of language to prove an invalid point. Jesus talked about lust, not sexuality and if you recall it was in the heart not in the flesh. Lust for humans or objects is an example of coercive, abusive or exploitive relationships that Jesus roundly condemned.

         The Hebrew words used in the first creation story in Genesis do not mean male and female. They mean the equivalent of hunter/gatherer and nurturer. If you look at the dialogue in the creation stories what you see is the first human as needing a companion, hence, none of the animal parade God put before that first human was appropriate. The context of what became Genesis is also important: it was reflective of a world that treated women as property and in which few had any rights whatsoever. In the Hebrew Scriptures only a few women are identified as having any authority…Esther being among them, Ruth another to a lesser extent.
        Remember that what we now call the Bible was the result of a vote at one of the councils at Nicaea just a few centuries into what became the church. Some books made it in the vote, the 66 we call the current canon, and others did not. Some appear as part of the Apocrypha. All were translated from ancient languages that recorded oral narratives. If we are honest, we know that what is shared orally is not always accurate. And if we are knowledgeable, we realize that some words and concepts do not have an English equivalent. Finally, the narratives in Scripture are events and stories described in the terms and language of those who witnessed them. Their language and observations may not always fit with our understandings.
        It all boils down to two things: Rabbi Hillel noted that all the Torah could be summed up in love God and love your neighbor. As he then said: all else is commentary. Jesus, when asked what was the greatest commandment responded with Hear O Israel, the first and great commandment is this: Love the lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. The second is like unto it: Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. It is quite clear that the plain meaning of scripture is summed up here with these commandments and our efforts to qualify any part of them with our issues is out of accord with their intent. By the way, it’s easy to tell if someone really takes Scripture literally: If they are missing an eye, foot, hand, etc. because of sin, they take it literally. Seen many lately? Didn’t think so.

      • Hey Laralynn. We may be related. I have a bunch of Nixon’s in my family line too. Do you have a family genealogy book? My line is James Nixon—who grew up somewhere in the vicinity of Smith County, Tennessee, in the early 1900s. I feel sure that his ancestors came in from elsewhere about 1802. Most of the families who settled in that area of Tennessee in pioneer times emigrated from North Carolina. Are there a lot of Nixon’s who live in the Concord area, or did your family move in from somewhere else?

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