Eugene Peterson retracts comments that seemed to endorse same-sex marriage

(YouTube/EerdmansPublishing)Eugene Peterson appears in a screen capture of a video from EerdmansPublishing

Eugene Peterson, the author of "The Message Bible," has issued a retraction to his recent comments that appeared to endorse same-sex marriage.

"To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything," the author said in a statement on Thursday.

In an interview published by Religion News Service (RNS) on Wednesday, Peterson said that the Christian church was in "transition" regarding the issue of same-sex marriage and that he knew a lot of gays and lesbians with good spiritual lives.

At one point in the interview, the 84-year-old author was asked whether he would perform a same-sex marriage ceremony for a gay couple.

"If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?" asked RNS columnist Jonathan Merritt.

In his retraction, the author explained that he was put on the spot by the interviewer and he responded with "yes" to the question.

The author said that the question was awkward for him as he does not do a lot of interviews at his age. He explained that in most of his interviews, he usually asks for questions in advance and he responds in writing.

Peterson noted that in nearly three decades as a pastor, he has never performed a same-sex wedding, adding that he was never been asked to do so.

He maintained that he would not marry a same-sex couple because of his biblical view of marriage.

"That's not something I would do out of respect to the congregation, the larger church body, and the historic biblical Christian view and teaching on marriage. That said, I would still love such a couple as their pastor. They'd be welcome at my table, along with everybody else," he said.

Following Peterson's retraction, Merritt explained that he had asked the author about homosexuality after hearing privately that he affirmed same-sex relationships.

The columnist later posted links to Peterson's comments where the author stated that he had changed his mind on the status quo of gays being "really bad." Peterson also reportedly said that he had "helped several families accept their children as gay," finding that "this can be a flourishing thing."

Peterson's interview with Merritt drew numerous comments from both LGBT and evangelical communities, with some evangelicals expressing disappointment.

LifeWay Christian Stores had reportedly considered dropping Peterson's books in light of the author's comments. However, Lifeway spokeswoman Carol Pipes stated that the store will continue selling Peterson's books based on his retraction.

Peterson stated in his retraction that he intends to avoid making public statements and that he will restrict his communication to personal correspondence.

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