Why is sexuality such a big deal for the church?

If the widely esteemed Eugene Peterson were still pastoring today and a gay couple in his church who were “Christians of good faith” asked him to preside at their wedding, would he do it?

He answered that question this summer in a word: Yes.

Passionate responses followed after that simple answer to RNS columnist Jonathan Merritt’s query was published: disappointment from some prominent conservative Christians, joy from LGBT Christians and their allies and a statement by LifeWay Christian Stores threatening to remove the Presbyterian pastor-poet’s books from its shelves.

Then Peterson retracted his answer.

Many outside, and some within, Christianity now are asking questions broader than whether Peterson should have answered one way or another: Why does sexuality seem to be the question for Christians? Why do these conflicts — over same-sex marriage, transgender people and the ordination of openly gay people — keep popping up?

The controversies have determined whether books will be banned from stores and donations withheld from charities. They have split families and brought denominations to the brink of schism.

Sexuality has been intensely debated within Christianity since its earliest days — at least since the time of church father Augustine, according to William B. Lawrence, a professor of American church history at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Read more via Religion News Dispatch