Eugene Peterson is either greedy or a coward. LifeWay uses capitalism as tyranny for leverage. When I was a minister and a Christian, I used to love “The Message”. It’s a version of the Bible written by Eugene Peterson. He’s a minister, theologian, etc. He recently came out saying he would marry same sex couples. In response, Southern Baptist Convention run LifeWay Christian book chain said they would stop selling his Bibles and books if he meant it. They gave him an out and used the tyranny of capitalism as leverage. It took less than 24 hours for his cowardice and/or avarice to shine though as he retracted the sentiment of support.
In the end of my time in ministry I was a Progressive Christian. I was the Midwest director of the Progressive Christian Alliance and had participated in writing their by laws. So when I speak about them, it comes from a place of knowing what I am talking about.
Many of them have this warped idea about inclusivity. They want the oppressor and the oppressed to sit together and often put the responsibility to build that bridge on the oppressed. Some of them felt it was wrong for my then 13 year old child to not go to a communion table served by a bishop who just spent an entire homily talking about how people like my son were a threat to the fabric of the American family.
Then they cheer on the oppressors for saying nice things once in awhile. The Pope will say something nice about LGBTQIA people while changing absolutely nothing about the church’s policies and they do joyous little backflips. They celebrated when Jim Wallice, the founder of the Sojourners Christian justice group, chose the safest possible moment fiscally to come out as an ally
Now we have Eugene Peterson. If you do not follow Progressive Christianity, you missed the celebration. The celebration was huge and full of shared blogs and posts and likes. Peterson became a hero of the people. But the reality is, there was not the strength of conviction to make a stand when pressed.
I am going to break this down for those not in the know of Christianity and why this matters to me.
A man who wrote one of the most popular interpretations of the Bible said my son and his peers are equal. So equal that he would perform wedding ceremonies for them. A bookstore chain run by a Christian denomination says it will cost him money. When he realizes it will cost him money, my son’s life does not matter.Equality does not matter to him. Civil rights does not matter. Bullycide does not matter. Suicidal ideations, increased violence and sexual assault to LGBTQIA youth does not matter. What matters is the bottom line of the bank account.
Now, let’s take a look at who runs this bookstore chain? The SBC was founded in the 1840’s to protect their precious Bible from the threat of abolitionists. That’s right, to them slavery was biblical. More recently the SBC made the news because they had controversy over an issue. That issue? Should they condemn the actions and philosophies of the alt right.
The SBC is the nation’s largest protestant denomination. Historically founded to fight for slavery as a biblical principle. This same group had to discuss the merits of condemning white supremacists. They are also anti LGBTQIA. And they own a chain of bookstores.
This is who Eugene Peterson relies on to sell his Bibles. He needs their money more than he needs the strength of conviction to say my son is equal.
History is marching on. One day the discussion of denying equality from LGTBTQIA people will be as asinine as slavery. In that day, Eugene Peterson will be forever known as the man who changed his mind for money.
Love costs. Standing for and with my son cost me a 4 bedroom house on a corner lot and a great income. I now live in a condo in a neighborhood that can’t get pizza delivery after dark.
For everything I lost, I gained so much more. I have character, I can sleep at night, and I am on the right side of wrong.
In the content of this blog I have suggested fear of loss of revenue and sales from SBC’s precious book chain could be a factor in his decision. I stand behind that as a possibility in this op/ed. However, I made some claims as to his level of net worth in the comments. That data’s source is suspect as is the data being released publicly of his lack of wealth. The Christian Industrial Complex and shuffling of funds are a very messy affair and I will leave that alone.