Skip to comments.A Wheaton discussion of homosexuality [former lesbian speaks on college campus]
Posted on 03/01/2014 11:28:56 AM PST by SoFloFreeper
Former lesbian Rosaria Butterfield found controversy and opportunity on her recent visit to a Christian college campus
Joni Mitchell sang, Ive looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, its cloud illusions I recall. I really dont know clouds at all. Rosaria Butterfield, a former lesbian and Syracuse University professor, has looked at homosexuality from inside and outside, and has not come away empty-handed. I learned a lot from interviewing her last year, and Wheaton College students learned a lot when she visited their campus in late January.
The visit was not without controversy. Below is a statement from Wheaton President Philip Ryken that reports what happened and explains well the colleges position. Following that are an interview with Butterfield published in Wheatons student newspaper, an excerpt and a link to a recent article by Butterfield posted at The Gospel Coalition website, and a video of my complete interview with Butterfield last year. Marvin Olasky
Over the last few days, Wheaton College has been the subject of significant discussion following coverage of events related to a January 31 chapel talk by Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.
In the chapel talk, which is available here, Dr. Butterfield testifies about her encounter with Jesus Christ and how this transformed her life, including her worldview and her experience of her sexuality. In her talk, as in other venues, Dr. Butterfield described herself as a formerly leftist lesbian professor who had despised Christians. Dr. Butterfields testimony was well-received by the student body, resulting in an extended ovation following her remarks.
In advance of Dr. Butterfields talk, several dozen students held a silent demonstration on the steps of Edman Chapel to express an array of concerns about the possible implications of what they expected to hear in Dr. Butterfields message. As is her practice, Dr. Butterfield met with the demonstrating students later that afternoon. The demonstration and the conversation with Dr. Butterfield that followed have been covered in news outlets including The Wheaton Record, the student newspaper.
A key theme of the discussion around these events concerns the value of personal narrative as a way of pursuing truth and understanding. As a Christian community rooted in the universal and unchanging truth of the gospel story, we believe that all stories, including personal stories, must always be weighed using the balance of Gods Word. Our conversations as an institution are always rooted in biblical truth.
Wheaton Colleges conviction on homosexual practice remains as articulated in our Community Covenant, which is affirmed each year by all students, faculty, and staff:
Chapel guests and programs speak to various topics, including contentious issues of the day, always in alignment with the biblical standards outlined in the Community Covenant.
As our Covenant states, Wheaton College is a community of living, learning, and serving. We are a confessional Christian academic community with a focus on the spiritual and intellectual formation of our students. While we are not insulated from cultural conflicts over ideas, including our own students search to understand how the truth of Scripture shapes each Christians life, our educational model does not require us either to silence critical exploration of complex issues or to accede uncritically to cultural pressures.
Instead, the Christ-followers who lead this Christian liberal arts institution, and who value the minds and hearts of the students entrusted to our care, judiciously employ a variety of responses to student concerns and conduct. These responses may include personal conversation, civil public discussion, godly counsel, admonition, and discipline.
Within Wheatons historic commitment to biblical truth, as well as in our model of liberal arts education, our goal is to grow a community where questions can be raised, disagreements can be expressed, discernment can be modeled, and disciples can be nurtured.
Q&A with Dr. Rosaria Butterfield
By Amanda Morris, News Editor, The Wheaton Record, Feb. 7, 2014
On Friday, Jan. 31, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield came to Wheaton Colleges campus to speak at chapel, addressing the topic The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.
Butterfield, who earned her Ph.D. from Ohio State University in English Literature, served in the English Department and Women Studies Program at Syracuse University from 1992 to 2002. Butterfield published a book, as well as scholarly articles, in feminist theory, queer theory, and 19th century British literature. Butterfield received tenure in 1999, the same year that she converted to Christianity. Butterfield, who now lives in Durham, N.C., with her husband and children, is author of the book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professors Journey into Christian Faith.
Butterfields visit to Wheatons Edman Chapel stirred mixed emotions from the student body, with many emphasizing that her story is one out of many in the realm of dealing with Christianity and personal identity. The Record had the opportunity to talk to Butterfield and get her thoughts on meeting with students and answering questions on identity. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You go to both secular and Christian college campuses to give your speech on conversion. Are you typically met with some kind of opposition, and what is your response? Well, theres nothing typical. Im sometimes met with opposition; sometimes its much more vitriolic than what I met with at Wheaton, which really wasnt a protest; it was a demonstration; and sometimes I am given a standing ovation. Each soul is different, each campus climate is different, and the cultural/biblical knowledge level is different. If I have demonstrators or protesters, I always ask to meet with people, and even if I dont have people demonstrating, after a chapel message or an open lecture, I make sure that students know what coffee shop Ill be at, and for how many hours, and Ive never been alone.
You requested to meet with Wheatons administration and its students. How did that go?I think we met for almost two hours. Sometimes, when I go to college campuses, Im thinking, Lord, why, really, am I here? And when I finally met with the demonstrators, I really believe that that meeting was why I was there, for a couple of reasons. The first is, this is a hard topicits a topic filled with shame and vitriol and fear and a lived experience of pain and violence, so it is not an easy topic. And even among believers, it is very important to take the hand of the suffering and put it in the hands of the Savior. You cannot do that unless you get close to the people that get hurt. So often, we like to turn the gospel into this sneaky little worldview raid, and its not that, it never was that. Part of why I love to meet with people who think differently than I do is because iron sharpens iron. As an intellectual, its delightful to be in the company of people who think differently than I do, but also because, even though, in that room, I think very theologically different than, Id say, probably most of the peopleat least the people speaking there. We all struggle in the same waywere all human. So, it was good to do that. Some of the things we talked about were hard things. I come from an orthodox Christian conservative perspective and I believe in the integrity and the authority of the Bible, and the syllogism that we use to describe what is true determines what is valuable and what is ethical. People who come from a revisionist perspective would say what is valuable and ethical determines what is true.
I shared my beliefs that taking my stance from the inerrancy and the inspiration of the Bible maintains that homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia. The sin of homosexuality is really misunderstood. I shared my beliefs that it simply is part of the general package of original sin, that we are all born that way, nobodys different, and that is a very big cross to bear. In response, students shared with me that they did not feel that way. They believe that passages are mistranslated and misunderstood, and they believed firmly that theres a legitimate Christian position to be held in a gay-affirming way. And so, thats where we left that.
Students also had questions about my positions today about feminism, and so we talked about how I do believe that women should have equal pay for equal work same access to education and the rights and the goods, and then I also believe that feminism was a historical materialist worldview and Christianity a supernatural one, and I do not believe that [male] headship is a post-fall reality; I believe that it was a pre-fall reality and therefore not a sin. Now, is patriarchal abuse a sin? Of course, no question!
They had a number of suggestions for me on how I could, in many ways, improve my presentation. I was very thankful for them. We talked about whether sexual orientation is fixed or fluid and we disagreed on that. It was intense. We also talked about some issues on campus that desperately and immediately need to be rectified, and while I cant go into what those issues were, I really hope that the students felt my advocacy for them. So, we probably covered more in an hour and 45 minutes than I would normally cover in a year.
If I could just tuck in one other thing: This is the world I helped create; I was an activist, I was a professor who authored [Syracuse] universitys policy on domestic partnership, which they still use today. I helped make this world, so I really feel for students. There is nothing about what theyve said; theres nothing about anybodys response to me that was offensive in any way. In my heart, I felt huge solidarity and connection.
What advice would you give to Wheaton students who are struggling with their identity? Im a mom and I believe that when a person comes to me with a specific question, you need to be given a specific answer. Heres what I would do. If I was a professor and you came to me and said, I am really struggling with this issue, and I dont know who to believeis sexuality fixed, is it fluid, is it a sin, is it a graceI dont know what to do, I would take your hand and walk you across the street to College Church and introduce you to Pastor Stephen Lee and I would say, Look. You cannot ask yourself these hard questions in the spotlight. You need to get in the church. That is the safest place. Have the courage to go before the Lord Himself and take the hand of a godly pastor who is not going to hurt you and not going to shame you and is not going to betray you. But these are big questions. You needand you deserve, God wants you to havegood discipling.
As published in the Feb. 7, 2014, issue of The Wheaton Record. Reprinted with permission.
By Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Coalition, Feb. 14, 2014 I just returned from a well-known (and well-heeled) Christian college, where roughly 100 demonstrators gathered on the chapel steps to protest my address on the grounds that my testimony was dangerous. Later that day, I sat down with these beloved students, to listen, to learn, and to grieve. Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia; the snarled composition of our own sin and the sin of others weighs heavily on us all. I came away from that meeting realizingagainhow decisively our reading practices shape our worldview. This may seem a quirky observation, but I know too well the world these students inhabit. I recall its contours and crevices, risks and perils, reading lists and hermeneutical allegiances. You see, Im culpable. The blood is on my hands. The world of LGBTQ activism on college campuses is the world that I helped create. I was unfaltering in fidelity: the umbrella of equality stretching to embrace my lesbian identity, and the world that emerged from it held salvific potential. I bet my life on it, and I lost. Read more.
Rush would call her a feminazi....but the love of Jesus changed her, and now she is trying to show others the light.
Pray for her and pray for our nation.
I will post a link to an interview with her from youtube on another thread.
Interesting perspectives. Candid and analytical. I am sure she will be dismissed out of hand accordingly.
so, now I know of 3 former lesbians in public life.
The wife of NY mayor Bill de Blasio
The actress Anne Heche.
We are told that homosexuality is not a choice, and Lady Gaga sings/lectures us that they are born that way.
The point is, nobody really knows for sure what causes homosexuality. I don’t know if it’s a choice for some people, or what it is. But Lady Gaga doesn’t know any more about this subject than the rest of us. Nor do the liberal militants at Human Rights Campaign or the ACLU.
Yet we’re told that we are supposed to accept that homosexuality is inborn, and it’s unnatural to anticipate anyone’s such orientation to change.
This debate reminds me of global warming, in that, in both cases, we’re supposed to have faith that the liberals are correct in their pronouncements.on subjects about which there are big unknowns.
Liberals say you can’t be a former lesbian or gay, that you’re born that way. But, you can be a transgendered heterosexual,so why can’t you be a transgendered homosexual? Maybe lesbians and gays are really straights trying to break out of their homosexual bodies.
I don’t believe Anne Heche was actually a “lesbian”, I believe she used Ellen Degeneres as a stepping stone on her way up.
There are no “homosexuals” outside of people engaging in homosexual acts. The are no “adulterers” of “fornicators” outside those acts either. We are born into homosexuality, fornication, adultery, gluttony, pride, etc.and it is called original sin. It only defines us when we fail to resist it and repent from it.
Homosexual temptations can resisted and overcome just like any other temptation. Maybe the rest of should just state “we were born that way” ,since it is true, and give up trying to resist these acts? “Hi, I am an adulterer, I cannot help it. I was born that way.”
Sin is natural!
I have read her book, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. It’s real and raw and is transparent of her emotional turmoil as she lets go of one life and embraces the love of Jesus. It is so well written and I highly recommend to anyone interested.
I think not, Rush would call her an ex-feminazi.
Sounds like a “Pauline.”
Well that would be true. That person could not help it at that point, having already stepped into original sin en masse with humanity. God, however, can.
We are not told a whole lot about the circumstances of original sin in scripture. But it was a collective action (”we sinned in Adam”) and it was after our creation (”God created man upright, but man has gone after many schemes.”) If we needed a detailed philosophical analysis before believing it, we would be hopeless.
I was being facetious.
Amoral is probably accurate. If it feels good, do it.
I heard Rush say, several times, that a feminazi is a woman whose main goal is to ensure that as many abortions are performed as possible.
So you think Dr. Butterfield is still pro abortion? I did not see in the article that she believes one way or the other that abortion is to be a valid option. On the contrary, it seems from her change to being an ex-homosexual and becoming a believer in Christ's salvation, she would logically change her position about abortion.
I didn’t say that Butterfield is pro-abortion. My point is that she probably isn’t a feminazi, since I didn’t see anything about her being pro-abortion.
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