North Park University, a well-known Christian institution in Chicago, Illinois, has suspended a female pastor after she officiated a same-sex marriage back in 2017.
Pastor Judy Peterson was placed on a paid sabbatical, according to Inside Higher Ed. It was reported that the university, which has an LGBT student group on campus, did not actually want to suspend her. However, since her ordination credentials were revoked by the university's denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, the university had no choice but to remove her.
The university said in a statement that it "sincerely regrets and is sorry for the hurt and confusion" caused by the suspension, which, "the school places squarely on the ECC."
It was in fall 2016 when a North Park alumnus asked Peterson to officiate his gay wedding. Knowing fully that the ECC does not support same-sex marriage, Peterson sought the help of a high-ranking official who was in charge of disciplining Covenant pastors. The executive minister warned Peterson that her credentials might be put at risk if she went forward with officiating the same-sex marriage ceremony. However, she went ahead with it despite the warning, and conducted the ceremony in April 2017.
"This was not a flippant decision done with disregard for religious rules, but rather a discerned decision to stand with my brothers in the same way Jesus has stood with me; in everything and at all times, no matter what," Peterson wrote then.
Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham wrote on his blog that the Christian institution was right to suspend Peterson because she ignored the clear teaching of God's Word. What Peterson did "adhered to the values and thinking of moral relativism," said Ham.
"She isn't just disregarding 'religious rules' - she's disregarding the very Word of God, the one who created the institution of marriage!" said Ham. "The Bible is clear on this issue - marriage is for one man and one woman (Genesis 1:27, 2:24) and homosexual behavior is sinful (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)."
Peterson has argued that she made a "discerned decision" to stand with her Christian LGBT brothers and sisters, but Ham does not agree. "She's made a foolish choice to ignore God's Word and encourage others in a life of sin and rebellion against God's infallible Word," he said.