LifeWay Christian Stores, the country's largest Christian retail chain, may stop selling Eugene Peterson's books after he voiced his support for same-sex marriage and said he would officiate a gay wedding if asked, claims a new report.
As earlier reported, Peterson, the author of popular book The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, was recently asked by Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service about his revisited views on same-sex marriage.
In response, Peterson said the "debate about lesbians and gays might be over" and answered "yes" when asked if he would perform a same-sex wedding ceremony if he were pastoring today.
"I wouldn't have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do," he said. "I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over. People who disapprove of it, they'll probably just go to another church. So we're in a transition and I think it's a transition for the best, for the good. I don't think it's something that you can parade, but it's not a right or wrong thing as far as I'm concerned."
In a statement to Christianity Today, LifeWay, which draws in 2.7 million customers a year, stated that if the 84-year-old retired Presbyterian pastor truly supports same-sex marriage, its stores can no longer sell his books.
"LifeWay only carries resources in our stores by authors who hold to the biblical view of marriage," a spokesperson for LifeWay, a Southern Baptist affiliate, said.
"We are attempting to confirm with Eugene Peterson or his representatives that his recent interview on same-sex marriage accurately reflects his views. If he confirms he does not hold to a biblical view of marriage, LifeWay will no longer sell any resources by him, including The Message."
CT notes that currently, the LifeWay website lists 135 titles by Peterson, including dozens of versions of his Message Bible, his memoir The Pastor, and his popular book on discipleship and the Psalms, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.
This is not the first time LifeWay has cut ties with a prominent Christian author after they voiced support for same-sex marriage.
Last year, the chain discontinued resources featuring bestselling Bible study author Jen Hatmaker just days after she voiced approval of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle. At the time, a spokesperson for LifeWay said Hatmaker's stance contradicted its "doctrinal guidelines."
Hatmaker later said the fallout from her comments made her "painfully aware of the Christian machine" and said the isolation she felt allowed her to empathize with Jesus, who was rejected by His people and crucified.
"My mind knows the difference between the Christian Machine and Jesus, but this year it feels hard to separate," she said. "The whole system seems poisoned, and I struggle to drink any of it."
CT notes that LifeWay has also chosen not to stock certain books from Mark Driscoll, Joel Osteen, William P. Young, and Joyce Meyer, due to doctrinal standards.