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Predictable Backlash to Ex-Lesbian Prof

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert remains one of the best books I’ve read this year. The author, Rosario Butterfield went from being a professor in Syracuse University’s Women’s Studies Department, an English major specializing in Critical Theory, Secret-thoughts-unlikely-convertparticularly Queer Theory, a practicing lesbian, a political activist and outspoken advocate for numerous gay and lesbian causes, and a “tenured radical,” to being a Christian, heterosexual, married, mother of multiple adoptees and foster children, and pastor’s wife. It’s quite an incredible testimony.

One of the things I enjoyed about Butterfield’s testimony was its open-endedness. There was no simple answer as to how she went from one cultural, ideological, spiritual extreme to the other. Furthermore, this isn’t an anti-gay tract. In fact, Butterfield  is clear about the rich relationships she shared inside the gay and lesbian community, and the heartbreak of having to distance herself from them.

Apparently, those on both sides of the aisle have taken some issue with this book. On the one hand are evangelicals who believe Butterfield does not distance herself enough from the LGBT community. On the other sides are those who dispute her conversion as a legitimate “reverse conversion” story.

In his post, Rosario Butterfield is fighting the good fight, Denny Burk noted some of the predictable backlash:

Recently, [Butterfield] spoke on the campus of the University of South Florida, and her reception was less than warm. Before she even spoke, one student editorialized in the campus newspaper what seems to be an all-too-common point of view among the emerging generation:

It is hard to believe that a university with as much diversity as USF would allow such a backward speaker to engage students with a message that could have real harm on students’ well-being… If the university would not allow a racist preacher on stage and say black students are sinful, then it should not allow someone who will preach homosexuality is sinful.

…protesters came to the event and made their presence known. The campus newspaper reports:

As Rosaria Butterfield began her lecture about her journey and “train wreck conversion” from a lesbian professor to a Christian, a pastor’s wife and mother of four, nine students in the front row of the audience stood up silently, took off their jackets, turned their backs to Butterfield and linked arms in front of a packed Oval Theater guarded by two University Police officers and two security officers.

Their white T-shirts revealed hand-written messages:

“Rosario Butterfield does not speak for us.”


“USF is 4 hate speech.”

The nine remained standing silently throughout the two-hour lecture, in which Butterfield shared her story and love for the Bible.

What fascinates me most about this is Butterfield’s insistence that she is not, in her own words, “a poster child for gay conversion.” In her book, she speaks about “sexual sin,” pointing out that her struggle to overcome her was no different from anyone else’s struggle to overcome any sin. Her speaking engagements are anything but anti-gay rants. Nevertheless, she is viewed as a threat.

But why?

If you haven’t read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, I highly recommend the book.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Jessica E. Thomas October 10, 2013, 7:03 AM

    May God bless Ms. Butterfield and her work. I hope she never allows the detractors to discourage her.

  • Timothy Fish October 10, 2013, 11:35 AM

    It is human nature for us to see as a threat those who give evidence that the things we know to be true ain’t so.

  • Teddi Deppner October 10, 2013, 5:36 PM

    I think part of the reason there is such deep feeling on this issue is because sexual identity is so deeply wound up in our mind and emotions as a part of our core self.

    On top of that, our culture idolizes sex. The lives of millions of unborn children are sacrificed at the altar of “consequence-free” sex. Our politics (and therefore our healthcare system) has started treating sex as a “reproductive right”; yet even as they use that label it is usually in the context of blocking reproduction (contraceptives, etc).

    These concepts and feelings about sex spill over into the relationships that are tied up in our sexual activity. So much time and attention is put into “getting the man (or woman) you want”. Physical feelings of attraction and emotional feelings of yearning or hoped-for “love” are treated as if they legitimize any actions taken to fulfill them. “I feel this way, therefore that person and I ought to be together.”

    It doesn’t matter if it’s sex outside of marriage or sex across taboo lines (incest, homosexuality, bestiality, etc) — when you exalt mere feelings into some kind of ultimate law to be obeyed, you end up with confusion and pain. And sometimes disease.

    But nobody who has decided they are a slave to their own libido wants to admit this or face it. To them, denying how they feel has become tantamount to denying who they are. How foolish!

    Just because you feel suicidal doesn’t mean you should kill yourself.

    Just because you are addicted to some substance and it feels good to ingest it doesn’t mean it is good for you.

    We’ve lost the concept that certain things are harmful. And where there is no perception of harm and only perception of “it feels good”, then any suggestion on another’s part that you should stop what you’re doing seems ridiculous. And if they suggest that you are a bad person for doing it, then they seem hateful.

    I know this comment is rambling around, but I think I just put my finger on something important:

    We (the church) have equated “sin” with “you are a bad person”. This is off the mark. This translates emotionally to “you are worthless”, “you aren’t worth saving”, “you have no value”, “you are worthy of punishment”.

    Sin is bad. Because it hurts those whom God loves.

    When we are performing sinful acts, we are harming ourselves and others. Does it make me worthless or of no value to God when I lie, when I steal, when I have sex with the wrong person, when I abort my child, when I act hatefully toward someone else?

    No, it doesn’t change my value. It doesn’t make me a “bad” (unwanted, worthless) person. And because Jesus — God in the flesh — agreed to take ALL the necessary punishment, I am not even “worthy of punishment” as people might have arguably been under the old covenant.

    So if sin doesn’t make me a “bad person”, what does it make me?

    It makes me a person of concern. Someone that needs intervention. Someone in bondage to her fallen nature who needs to be set free. Someone who needs Jesus. Because without supernatural help, our minds are closed to the truth. Only with His help can we come to see and truly believe:

    “You were created by a loving God.”

    “You were designed to operate a certain way; violating His design will hurt you and others.”

    “God loves you personally and wants a relationship with you.”

    “Everything that is broken in you — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually — is made whole in Him and by Him.”

    Unless someone comes to see those basics, then the argument against homosexuality makes no sense and is an insult (or worse) to anyone who feels it is part of who they are.

    • Melissa October 11, 2013, 8:20 AM

      Very well said, Teddi.

    • Robert H. Woodman October 11, 2013, 4:58 PM

      Excellent reply, Teddi.

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