Quoting Quiverfull: Just Like That You Changed?

Quoting Quiverfull: Just Like That You Changed? January 19, 2015

Quotingby Rosaria Champagne Butterfield in Today’s Christian Woman- From Lesbian Professor to Pastor’s Wife

Editor’s note: This seems to be a common theme in Evangelical Christianity, this belief that you can just walk away from the type of sexuality you have lived in for years. Seems wrong to say it’s a simple change of thoughts. What do you think dear reader?

Initially, after my conversion, the thought of being a sexual person at all was terrifying. I had been in a homosexual relationship for years, and I didn’t trust myself at all. But after a season of the Lord working on my life, I realized I desired to have a normative, biblical sexuality. But I was a little scared of that too. So things unfolded, and I had a failed engagement before I met my husband, Kent. It was easy to be with Kent because he also is a very strong believer, and when we looked at our potential marriage and the sexuality that would be a part of that, we put it before the Lord, saying we trusted he’d brought us this far, and would complete the journey. We had extensive biblical premarital counseling, and I was committed. I felt it was something I really wanted to do. I was 39 when we got married, and I’m 51 now.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, influential bloggers and cultural enforcers and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

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  • Amarad

    **Edit – Added some corroborating information and links.

    So let’s first ignore how these “conversion stories” always involve erasing that Bi people (hi!) and the rest of the queer spectrum from existence. Not to mention the boogeyman of the mysterious ‘gay lifestyle’ I keep hearing about.

    She says a lot of pretty words over her post, but doesn’t *really* tell us much about her so-called conversion. All we know for sure is that she was raised unbeliever (which is vague and undefined), became a lesbian in roughly her 20’s, converted at age 36. Got married at 39 to a deacon. That’s it.

    That’s weird, because normally when I run into these distasteful lectures, they have a specific method to sell. You have to go to the linked story – “My Train Wreck Conversion” – to get more of her story.

    What follows is a story of how she was living a pretty awesome life. She flat out says that Pat Robertson and the like *are* wrong, and she was a good, happy, contributing member of society in her long years as a lesbian. She was even a Christian in the accepted sense (believing in Jesus) and attending a UU church.

    Though she now states she wasn’t a “true believer” before converting to fundamentalism, the implication being non-fundamentalist Christians aren’t real Christians.

    But then God comes into her life in the form of Ken, a ‘Reformed’ Presbyterian Minister, sends her a letter arguing against her thesis and thumping the bible. It’s not made clear what *exactly* he was arguing against. He gets to know her, invites her to get to know his wife, and pretty soon she’s reading the bible and fearful of hell and damnation.

    The biggest clue that something weird was going on or this story is bupkis shows up here. Her words, not mine:

    >>At a dinner gathering my partner and I were hosting, my transgendered friend J cornered me in the kitchen. She put her large hand over mine. “This Bible reading is changing you, Rosaria,” she warned.

    With tremors, I whispered, “J, what if it is true? What if Jesus is a real and risen Lord? What if we are all in trouble?”

    J exhaled deeply. “Rosaria,” she said, “I was a Presbyterian minister for 15 years. I prayed that God would heal me, but he didn’t. If you want, I will pray for you.”<<

    What was she *saying* at that dinner party that caused her friend to stage an intervention? That abrupt and absolute fear that fundie Christians are right and she's going to hell? There's some key elements missing here.

    Then she's abandoning her partner (who goes from 'committed relationship' to 'lesbian lover' depending on what article you read) and is sitting in a pew in church. With what I can only describe as "having visions" and pleading with God to not send her and everyone she knows to hell. It's *very* abrupt and creepy, and doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    I have to wonder what tragedy or crisis was going on in her life that this ever-so-helpful minister or someone else took advantage of. Because if anything, this entire episode comes across like a cult inducting a new member.

    Assuming this story is true, one possible clue is that she got tenure the year she converted. Tenure and academic workload are incredibly challenging. With the time frames' we're given, it's likely the minister started reaching out to her around the time tenure-track would be at the most demanding. It's possible that combined with the volume of volunteer work she states she was taking on, that she was suffering some very extreme burn-out. AIDS charity in particular is draining if you've got friends in community.

    The other hole in this story being presented is that nothing in her published works actually screams "Radical Leftist" to me. Unless you are a fundamentalist and think two published works about censorship of 19th century female authors as uber-radical.

    This was very hard to backtrack because she basically dropped off the face of the earth for 13 years before her book came out, so any kind of corroboration is like pulling tacks out of the internet.

    One thing I'll point out. Her story maybe getting repeated with taglines such as "From evil radical lesbian intellectual to good christian housewife!". But there is no implication or statement from her at any point that she's *actually* changed her sexual orientation. Only that she's rejecting it after becoming fundie Christian, with the absolute terrified zealotry of a religious convert.



  • And given that the Kinsey Scale IS a Spectrum, she could be heavily in denial about her attractions or she could be somewhere towards the “bi” aspect in the middle, in which case there’s no actual alteration of her sexuality taking place. There’s also no indication of whether or not she actually *enjoys* her sexual life within her marriage. Fundigelicals tend to espouse this idea that women don’t desire sex ANYWAY so she could just be faking it.
    Something doesn’t add up.

  • Astrin Ymris

    According to the Wikipedia article, she DOESN’T call herself an ex-Gay and she doesn’t think anyone should call themselves a “Gay Christian” on the grounds that “Our sexuality exists on a continuum, but our Christianity does not.” From this and from reading the ‘Christianity Today’ article, I don’t think Rosaria Butterfield fits as neatly into the fundgelical paradigm as the people gleefully passing on the gloating taglines think.

    I agree that it seems bizarre that a grown woman who claims a secular upbringing would be so vulnerable to the threat of eternal torture in the afterlife. But then, it was terrorizing to me from age 12-14, and I think it was years before I left the occasional attacks of superstitious terror behind me. It was decades before I said in public that I wasn’t a Christian.

    Bottom line: I guess Hell is a terrorizing concept, no matter how old you are. 🙁

  • Saraquill

    Poor woman. Being in the closet sucks.

  • Amarad

    Yeah. She doesn’t actually call herself ex-gay (only article headlines and fundies trying to tout her do that) which is the *one* thing I will say to her credit.

    But the fact that she doesn’t do anything to get fundies to stop calling her that or actively dispell that conception doesn’t impress me. I’m also sure non-fundies, non-biblical literalists and Gay Christians find her contention that you *cannot* be Christian and gay very objectionable.

    (If you’re not Christian, it goes without saying you’re automatically going to hell in a fundie world view.)

    I honestly think she was at a low point already – either overworked to the point of burn-out or had a “crisis of faith” from loss. It’s easy to work yourself into the ground with charity and non-profit commitments if you aren’t good at setting boundaries and time for yourself. AIDS work in particular can be an emotional hurricane even if you *don’t* personal ties to the community.

  • I was going to say the same thing. I figure she’s bi and not attracted to anyone right now.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I’m not saying she’s admirable; just that the Rightwing Blogosphere is making hay of her defection from evil secular liberal world without bothering to grasp the nuances of belief.

    And to be fair, she’s not saying you can’t be gay and Christian, but that Gay Christians should simply call themselves “Christian” without mentioning the gay part. It’s clearer if you read the ‘Christianity Today’ article– she says being single and celibate is a noble option for homosexuals who don’t feel inclined to heterosexual marriage.

    Not that that’s admirable either– it seems to me like a call for LGBTs to keep their inconvenient sexual orientation on the down low and not commit publicity.

    It should be noted that she seems to be using the word “Christian” as if it were synonymous with being a member of an anti-Gay, pro-life, socially conservative denomination. Liberal Christians apparently don’t count. A lot of fundgelical/Mormon/Conservative Catholics do the same thing.

  • Lisa Cybergirl

    I feel bad for her partner. These stories never really talk about the
    person they were committed to for years, who suddenly out of the blue
    gets dumped for Jesus!

  • Melody

    I believed these kind of stories for so long… and was basicially spoon fed on them… sigh. The so-called change almost never lasts (although she could be bi, of course)

    It makes me sad to think that she accepted herself and then got tricked/pulled into these damaging ideas, the kind that I’m fortunately pulling out of…

    She may get something else out of her conversion. No fear of hell maybe, a different relationship with God, a new community.

  • mayarend

    Considering in fundie world she SHOULDN’T even be enjoying sex, because that’s for people with penises, well, maybe she feels not enjoying it is morein line with her beliefs.

  • SAO

    I’ve always assumed that people who identify as gay include:

    1) people who have an innate, genetic, unchangeable attraction to the same sex. If they are women, they can marry a man and have unfulfilling sex. For a man, getting it up might be a challenge and,

    2) Bisexuals. Since it is easier to be straight, so they might find marriage to the opposite sex a positive change and

    3) People who are innately, genetically straight, who had some experience that profoundly turned them off from the opposite sex (observing domestic violence is one trigger for lesbians) or an experience that turned them on to the same sex, especially before they had any experience with the opposite sex (boys in an all boy school, for example). These people might easily “convert” to heterosexuality.

    Whether one person experiences a successful conversion says nothing about anyone else. After all, the fact that some women divorce their husbands and move in with another woman and are much happier doesn’t mean you or I would be.

  • Nightshade

    Personally I don’t care if a person who identifies him/herself as gay was born that way or not. People like what they like, and how they came to like it makes no real difference unless you’re passing judgment on whether it’s right or wrong.

  • SAO

    I’m not passing judgement, I’m merely saying that people who identify as gay or who have engaged in gay sex/romance can differ significantly and the existence of someone who moved on to become heterosexual says little about the ability or likelihood of other people doing the same.

  • Nightshade

    I didn’t assume you were judging, just mentioning that some people do and that’s when the ‘born that way’ thing becomes relevant. 🙂 I do agree that some people may change their sexual orientation identification (perhaps they are more bi than gay to start with? Dunno, but it’s a thought…). However a person comes to the determination that s//he is gay I wouldn’t call it a choice.