Same-sex marriage. The three-word combination that was once only a dream for the homosexual community is now a legal reality in the United States. But, what is a Bible-believing Christian to think and/or do about all this? Just “love, love, love,” as the Beatles sang?
Yes, love—that’s all we need. It is how God made us. But love, as anyone with experience knows, is much harder to do than to sing about.
A year ago, a dear friend of mine encouraged me to read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. I had never heard of the author, or of her story out of lesbianism, and at the time that my friend had suggested that I read it, I had too many other things on my mind.
On a flight back to the states from London, eight months later, I finally followed up on my friend’s suggestion to read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. I wept as I read. Through the untiring love of unlikely friends, God had loved on this lesbian, and drew her to Himself.
As a university professor who lived a lesbian lifestyle and promoted feminism, Rosaria had much to say about Christianity and much to question about the actions of those considered the “Religious Right.” But as Rosaria got to know the unlikely friends that God sent her way, she began to see that her conflicts were not ultimately with Christians (or pretended ones), but with the God who was wooing her.
I appreciated Rosaria’s questions throughout her memoire. They are questions that all thinking Christians should be able to answer for themselves, especially when ministering to others:
“How do you repent for a sin that doesn’t feel like a sin?”
For Rosaria, lesbianism felt okay. It didn’t feel wrong. It felt like love. For Rosaria to admit that lesbianism was wrong was not a matter of saying, “Yes, the whole Bible is true.” It meant that she had to admit that her whole life, all her friends, the very “thing” that made her feel alive were not good.
Such realizations don’t always come with a will to make the needed change. “Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees,” writes Rosaria.
Rosaria goes on to say that repentance is an intimate affair, and intimacy is often terrifying. Repentance requires us to admit that something fundamentally is wrong with us, that we made mistakes, that we have things in our past that if we don’t regret then we should regret.
No one likes to be wrong, especially if you have had a history of abusive critics in your life. But with Jesus, repentance is a gateway to true peace, and it is, though it might not feel like it at first, the way to true life.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?Matthew 16:24-26
Rosaria is happily married to Kent Butterfield, a pastor. They live in North Carolina with their adopted children. Her story is real. And her course will continue into tomorrow because she was and is loved.
Rosaria’s unlikely Christian friends were there for her. Will you be there, dear Christian, to love that someone into tomorrow?
I prayed that if my life was actually his life, that he would take it back and make it what he wanted it to be. I asked him to take it all: my sexuality, my profession, my community, my tastes, my books, and my tomorrows.Rosaria Champagne Butterfield