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Accepting My True Identity in Christ (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2023 5:00 am

Accepting My True Identity in Christ (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 9, 2023 5:00 am

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield shares her dramatic testimony of coming to faith in Jesus Christ after living as a lesbian who was vehemently opposed to Christianity and the Bible. (Part 2 of 2)

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Lauren enjoyed listening to focus on the family programs as a child. Now, as an adult, she wants to help strengthen and support today's families.

I know that I'm able to make a difference in their life due to giving money to such a great organization. One of the things that I did learn is that sexuality in the safe and the God-covered protection of biblical marriage is something I had never experienced before. See, and that's why we need to get away from these terms heterosexual and homosexual, because homosexuality is not a behavior to be modified. It's a sin to be mortified.

And then what happens after that is up to you. Quite a provocative thought from Dr. Rosaria Butterfield. She was our guest last time on Focus on the Family. She's got a remarkable story about how God completely transformed her life, and we're looking forward to hearing more from her today.

Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. Rosaria is truly one of my heroes in the faith because she is a truth seeker. Even when she was far from God and had no interest in Christianity or the Bible, she had a passion for discovering the truth, and it changed her life. As we heard last time, Rosaria was a tenured professor at Syracuse University teaching women's studies and queer theory. At the time, back in the mid to late 1990s, Rosaria was a lesbian and feminist and outspoken critic of religious organizations like Focus on the Family. But then something unexpected happened. A pastor and his wife befriended Rosaria and began teaching her about the Bible, and they modeled their faith in very simple ways.

All of that led to her dramatic conversion, what Rosaria calls a train wreck in her life. And the Lord kept working on her heart, and we'll hear more of her amazing story today. If you missed the program last time, I want to urge you to get the audio download from our website or get our broadcast app so you can listen that way.

This is really good stuff. Indeed it is, and we mentioned last time that Dr. Butterfield has written a book, Capturing Her Walk. It's the secret thoughts of an unlikely convert and English professor's journey into Christian faith. You'll find that book on our website.

The details and links are in the show notes, or call 800 the letter A and the word family. Now here's part two of our conversation with Dr. Rosaria Butterfield on Focus on the Family. So you have a lengthy encounter and discovery spiritually. You have the moment where you realize I need Jesus. You embrace him.

How does your life change then? How do you go back to your lesbian lover and say something's different, something's new? Yeah, that was miserable. And how did you talk to your friend, the transgendered friend who followed you into the kitchen? Yeah, that was miserable.

Although she was my friend until the end, so yes. And talk about that. Post-embracing Christ, you had a lot of stuff to deal with.

Absolutely, absolutely. Well, you know, God does not say that you will inherit the kingdom. That doesn't mean you're not going to be ridiculed in the process. So I very much became the example of what not to be. And so I shared openly with my community what was going on. I immediately removed myself from dissertation committees that I could not in good conscience direct. And let's put yourself in the shoes of that PhD student who came internationally to work with me. And all of a sudden I am saying, I'm sorry, I'm no longer directing dissertations in queer theory.

I'm only directing dissertations in Christian hermeneutics. You would rightly be angry. I think what people don't realize is that when one sinner comes to Christ, it is a train wreck.

And in a train wreck, there's a body count that's bigger than yours. These were hard things. I also, in God's providence, was scheduled to give the incoming address to all graduate students. And at the time that I had agreed to give this incoming address, I was planning on speaking on queer theory. But at the time that at that point that I was writing, I couldn't do that. And so I, in some ways, my coming out letter was to I don't know how many people, hundreds or at least a thousand on that.

In this case, I called it the Solomon problem in academics. And I talked about Christian hermeneutics and why I could no longer work in queer theory. And and that was crushing. It was I was gentle. I was kind.

But you can imagine how you would be hurt. And yet at the same time, and I think this is really key. It was not just me and Jesus. See, this wasn't just Rosaria came to faith. And now in the power of the Holy Spirit, look at her go. I was a mess.

Oh, I can imagine. Ken and Floy Smith took me in as a daughter in the Lord. And I'm still very much their daughter in the Lord. This church took me in when I gave that lecture. I had friends from the church who were there listening and praying for me to the Lord. And when, you know, when I went back to my office and the line was so long of people who were angry at me, it wrapped around the building. I had Christian friends waiting to walk me back to my car for safety.

No, not safety, for emotional support and for dinner and for rhythm of life. It's hard to betray people because you love the Lord Jesus Christ. But that betrayal is for real.

Yeah. And I was going to say, a lot of people lose their way at that moment, you know? Well, and I think that's where Christian community comes in. You know, the Lord brought me to a Christian community that was ready to really not only be in my life, but be in my world. So a month later, when one of my graduate students who was pretty upset with me tried to commit suicide, I was still the person on the list of whom to call from the hospital, from the ICU ward, because I was her advisor. And I realized when I got this phone call, and it was one of those weird 3 a.m. phone calls, and I thought, well, what am I supposed to do? But it became very clear to me that she would need the lesbian community there, and I would need the Christian community there.

And you know what? Everybody showed up at the hospital. And for a season, there we all were together, you know, taking shifts, getting each other coffee.

The Christians were praying openly. My unbelieving friends in the lesbian community were benefiting from that. And when this student had no place to go after she was released from the hospital, I mean, look, we're a great community, but we were all 80-hour-a-week professional women. We weren't exactly a nursing bed. Where did she go?

But Kenan Floy's house. Of course. Of course. And so there was a lot of that. It was hard. It was miserable. I will tell you that I am a weak woman.

I would never want to relive that again. Yeah. But the Lord was so good. He showed up. He showed up.

He showed up through God's people. And you know, if we can't be there for people, when you share the gospel with someone who just deals daily with unwanted homosexual desires, and really is not seeing a kind of heterosexual marriage in their future, you must know that part of your job is to share Mark 10, 28 to 31. The Lord promises there that even though you're going to give up everything, God's people are going to return it to you a hundredfold. And you know what that practically means? That practically means you, Christian, share the gospel with a house key. That practically means you, Christian, share the gospel with an invitation that, hey, you know what? Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, my house.

There's no question about where you're going to spend your birthday. You're my brother. You're part of a family.

And this is the part that Christians need to know when you have lost, quote unquote, a daughter or son to the LGBT community. That's a real community. That's a community that is in each other's lives, not just for or about sex, but for deep friendship and deep family. It functions as a family. The Christian community exists sometimes on what I like to call a starvation diet of community.

Right. Well, let me pull us back for a moment from the theory of what's happening to that practical application, what happened in your own life and what God did for you. Because we're kind of we're moving in and out of that. Here you are now. You've you've come out.

It's interesting that you use that term. You come out as a Christian, come out as a Christian on your campus and all the fallout from that. You get through that. Then you're moving toward, I guess what some would say with no offense intended, a more traditional view of life.

Yeah, absolutely. God bring you a husband. How did you what happened with all that?

He did. That was very powerful. The Lord really did put upon me a desire to be a godly wife. It was just a kind of visceral feeling. And so I was left with this sense of a divided heart. My flesh was saying, but Rosaria, you know, you tried that.

That didn't work. And my soul was saying, God seems to be putting this desire upon me. And so I went to women in my church and I said, there are three women.

I talk about them in the first book, Secret Thoughts. And this is Ken's church. Yeah, this is the reforms Presbyterian Church in Syracuse. And I said, look, I need to talk to you. I am feeling this, but this is my history.

What in the world do I do? Were they able to help? Oh, they were wonderful. You know, nobody pointed me to sin. In fact, each pointed me to Proverbs 31. And each woman said, you know, the Lord is not going to call you to something that he does not equip you to do. And one of the things that I did learn is that sexuality in the safe and the God-covered protection of biblical marriage is something I had never experienced before. See, and that's why we need to get away from these terms, heterosexual and homosexual, because homosexuality is not a behavior to be modified.

It's a sin to be mortified. And then what happens after that is up to you. But, you know, I've had people who have said to me, well, you know, when did the just unnaturalness of homosexual sex just hit you upside the head?

You know, when did you just become disgusted with yourself? And I've had to say, you know, that's not how this played out. My walk with the Lord played out like this. The sinfulness of my sin unfolded in the Bible alone and in my growing union with Christ and in my growing separation from the identity of myself as a lesbian into an identity of myself as a Christian woman saved by grace. And what had happened very early on is I realized, and this was shocking. I had an identity crisis.

I mean, there's nothing short of that. What I realized is that I was standing in a long line of godly women, the Mary Magdalene line, and that that was right where God had me and that my sin was wiped away. And if he brought to me a godly husband, he would make me a loving godly wife. And the Lord did that. Wow. I mean, that is amazing that God, boy, you can trust in him, can't you?

Yes, you can. But, you know, where else? You know, Peter says, Lord, you have the words of grace. Where else can I go? You know, many times we trust the Lord, not because it's our first inclination, because Peter's question is our question.

Where else can we go? But I am concerned with seeing heterosexuality as the solution to homosexuality, because it's God's call on a person's life. Singleness is a holy form of sexuality, and Christians ought not despise it without realizing that you are despising the Lord yourselves. And so God put a call on my heart, and then he put a godly husband in my life that confirmed that call.

But that is not a better or a higher form of Christian living. When you're a Christian and you're reading the way that you love to read, and you're now confessing Christ as your Savior, and you're picking up the broken pieces, and all of this is happening, that yoke you talked about last time, that his yoke is light. Did you feel that when you were still experiencing negative stuff, when this new love relationship broke down? And you thought, okay, Lord, why would you be doing this? Did you have any bitterness? No, I didn't think, oh, Lord, why would you be doing this?

Because I talk about it in Secret Thoughts. The person to whom I was engaged first had also been struggling with a very deep sexual sin. And you know what? It just hadn't broken. And I was a little scared by that. I didn't know why the Lord had given me deliverance and not him, but I knew that I couldn't not keep going forward with the Lord. I had come too far. What the Lord had continued to do was every time I would very weakly, I am a weak and sinful woman, every time the Lord would very weakly allow me to take one step forward in obedience, whatever that bridge I had to walk that was behind me, he would just tear down and I couldn't go back. And so two things made me realize that I had no course for bitterness.

Number one, it was very clear to me in Scripture that whatever cross I was bearing, Jesus was going to carry the heavier part of that cross, but that I was going to carry a cross. You had a responsibility. I had a responsibility.

That was part of the job description. I also realized that I'm a very prideful woman and the Lord was using this to break down my pride and that any time the Lord does that, he does it in love and that what humbles us is not going to hurt us. And then finally, I came to realize that the real sin that was, you know, this was hurtful. It kind of messed up my life, if that makes sense. But I came to realize that the kind of thing that was going to kill me was my own sin, not his.

Wow. How many marriages need to hear that? Oh, let me tell you. It was my own sin, not his. And so I prayed and the Lord moved me on. But you did have the story, the fairy tale. You met Kent.

It's not a fairy tale. Well, you met your man. But I did.

I did. Yeah, absolutely. And so and Kent is a wonderful husband and we are absolutely a good match.

I mean, I think sometimes there are people who looked at us immediately and thought, whoa, not good. Well, you know, because, you know, Kent had kept himself pure. He had never been married. He was a godly man and I was Mary Magdalene. So what do you do with that? You know, one thing you do with that is you see Christ in the church. But the Lord knew I needed Kent, who is a godly leader and a good husband and a loving father and fun and also fearless in the way he shares the gospel, humble, you know, the ministries that we do, we do together, including this. You know, I don't show up here in Colorado without Kent's blessing. Right.

I mean, this isn't I'm not a free agent. There isn't an invitation that comes my way that doesn't have my husband's blessing as the head of our household. I've got to ask you, though, when you look at that, coming from where you came from, that you can understand that relationship, that it's two of you working together.

Because I would think in your former life that would have been appalling to think you would have to ask your future husband for permission to do anything. Absolutely. I mean, that's transformational. But you know what? I totally messed it up.

I mean, let's be very clear. You know, whatever gifts God gave me the first time around, they almost killed me. I was, I thought, in charge of my life and I could not have messed it up more. I mean, oh, yes, I was a tenured professor. No, I was not fired from Syracuse. And you know why I wasn't fired? Because I was tenured. Right. They couldn't touch you. Well, I had to go before a committee and share my testimony and explain myself, which was, I mean, awkward at the highest level, but it was necessary. I came out of that saying, Lord, okay, you're right.

Now what? But it wasn't a blind decision. What I mean by this idea of how husbands and wives in a Christian context work together. That's right. It's not, I can see Kent and the love that you have for him. Right. That it wasn't this kind of a block.

No, no. You understood the biblical definition of how to work well as a couple. Absolutely. And he also understood that his job as my covenant head was, quite frankly, protecting me from the world that would like to exploit my gifts then and now. And one of the first things that happened after we got married, you know, let's face it, I had a pretty good job. I had what you might call the best job in America. And only my husband knew that I was exhausted. And even though it was a great job, what I needed to do was to rest. I needed to not be in the spotlight anymore.

And work 80 hours a week. I needed to be home. I needed to be learning and I needed to experience the loving coverage of a godly man who said, so we'll be poor. That's not a sin. You need to rest. You're a gifted woman. But that doesn't mean that God's calling you to use your gifts. His yoke is light.

His yoke is light. Once again. And I loved those years. It really wasn't until after the publication of Seeker Thoughts that I kind of emerged out of the very loving domestic cocoon that we had. Now I'll tell you, that domestic cocoon was not walled off from the world.

We continued to have a hospitality ministry that was thriving. But I didn't get on planes and I didn't show up in states, you know, like this. Now, you know, now that I've written these books, I do go to audiences and I speak and I go to churches and campuses. I've had more than one occasions where a woman will come up to the microphone during the Q&A and she is just almost in tears. And she says, Rosaria, it's so painful to me that you've become this dupe. You used to be this strong, powerful woman. And now you're just this domestic who cleans toilets and, you know, wipes baby's behinds and, you know, poor you. And I have to sort of scratch my head and say, sister, pull yourself together. Here I am talking to you and a thousand other people. And guess who's homeschooling our kids right now? My godly husband.

It's a partnership. If you were to summarize our discussion and you're speaking to that Christian who has had deep resentment to the gay community. Their heart is hardened. One of the things and one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show at Focus was to hear your transformation, to hear your heart, to hear you go from a hardened protester, a feminist, a lesbian, to someone who embraces Christ. Speak to that person who is leaning into the pharisaical side of religion and following the rules without knowing the heart of God. What Jesus attacked.

Yeah, no, that's true. We can take it. But we need some truth telling. We need to hear where we're going astray and speak to me. I will. I will.

And first of all, I would just say, look, I love your brother. You know, I love you, brother, and what you're struggling with, guess what I'm struggling with, too? That when anger is in my heart, I can't think clearly.

You know, when I'm feeling a kind of root of bitterness springing up against a people or a people group or, you know, a person in my life, I can't think clearly either. And, you know, the airlines have it right. You know, you've got to put on your oxygen mask before you deal with your kids sitting next to you. And the same is true for you, Christian, whom I love. You're my brother.

Deal with your own anger first. And there are a couple of things you might want to do. I mean, I think that we're just we're at such a crucial point right now. We're at a necessary point. We need you.

You're my brother. I need you to get to a posture where you know that Jesus did dine with sinners. He did not sin with sinners, but he dined with sinners. It's OK. You want to get your theology right. You want to talk that particular way among your Christian brothers.

Absolutely. That's not a sin. But if the sword of the Spirit is attacking another human being, instead of really attacking these spiritual forces, you know, you're off track there. There are God's people in the LGBT community with whom you have a divine appointment.

And I might have been one of them. Well, for Ken, the pastor. Yeah. And that whole church. Yeah.

You know what? I'm sure there are a lot of people in that church who are struggling, too. I pushed a lot of buttons. Well, the Lord led us through.

He did. And what a beautiful result. I mean, your testimony speaks to all of us. Rosaria, Champagne Butterfield, your book that we talked about today, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Thank you for being with us. Thank you for following the voice in your heart. The Lord saying, come, come.

He drew you to him. And it's a beautiful story. Amen. We praise God for that. All glory goes to him.

This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And what a remarkable conversation with our guest that we've had these past couple of episodes. Dr. Butterfield has definitely given us a lot to think about in terms of our own Christian witness.

I couldn't agree more. Rosaria's radical transformation is proof that no one is beyond God's love and forgiveness. And we in the Christian community need to be open to what the Lord can do in people's hearts, even those who seem hostile and incapable of accepting the gospel.

We just never know. I hope you were inspired by Rosaria's story and that you'll get a copy of her book so you can pass it on to others. Contact us here at Focus on the Family and ask us about her book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. And when you make a monthly pledge of any amount to Focus, we'll send that to you as our way of saying thank you. Because this month we've been asking our listeners and anyone who has benefited from Focus resources in the past to consider joining our monthly sustainer team to provide ongoing financial support to the ministry. Monthly giving helps provide the resources that families need year round. And it enables our team here at Focus to have programs and services in place for strengthening marriages, equipping parents, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the year. We've been able to offset some of our expenses so that 94% of every dollar you send goes right back into ministry. So your giving is having a tremendous impact. A monthly pledge will be great. Even a one-time gift is deeply appreciated. So we'll say up front, thank you for your generosity. And our phone number to donate and to get Dr. Butterfield's book is 1-800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. We're stopped by the program notes for all the details and links. It might be that this program today has raised some questions for you about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And if that's the case, we have a free booklet.

It's available as a download as well. It's called Coming Home. And it explains why Jesus came to die for our sins and bring forgiveness to us. And then how you can become part of God's family forever. Just ask about coming home when you call us or look for the details in the program notes. Plan to join us tomorrow? We'll have something a little bit lighter.

We'll have comedian Ken Kington, who loves to point out the funny side of life. Can I have a hot dog? She goes, yeah, would you like anything on that? I said, well, what do you got? She goes, well, you can get mustard or nothing or both. Well, give me both. So you pull that one off. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Discover how Brio magazine can capture the heart and faith of your teen girl at Focus on the Family dot com slash Brio radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 06:51:15 / 2023-03-09 07:01:54 / 11

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