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Rosaria Butterfield pens a poignant reply to popular author Jen Hatmaker:

If this were 1999—the year that I was converted and walked away from the woman and lesbian community I loved—instead of 2016, Jen Hatmaker’s words about the holiness of LGBT relationships would have flooded into my world like a balm of Gilead. How amazing it would have been to have someone as radiant, knowledgeable, humble, kind, and funny as Jen saying out loud what my heart was shouting: Yes, I can have Jesus and my girlfriend. Yes, I can flourish both in my tenured academic discipline (queer theory and English literature and culture) and in my church. My emotional vertigo could find normal once again.

Maybe I wouldn’t need to lose everything to have Jesus. Maybe the gospel wouldn’t ruin me while I waited, waited, waited for the Lord to build me back up after he convicted me of my sin, and I suffered the consequences. Maybe it would go differently for me than it did for Paul, Daniel, David, and Jeremiah. Maybe Jesus could save me without afflicting me. Maybe the Lord would give to me respectable crosses (Matt. 16:24). Manageable thorns (2 Cor. 12:7).

Today, I hear Jen’s words—words meant to encourage, not discourage, to build up, not tear down, to defend the marginalized, not broker unearned power—and a thin trickle of sweat creeps down my back. If I were still in the thick of the battle over the indwelling sin of lesbian desire, Jen’s words would have put a millstone around my neck.

I would encourage you to read the whole thing here.

Rosaria is a woman of whom the world is not worthy. For those unfamiliar with her books, see The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert and Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ.

You can also watch some of her talks below.


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18 thoughts on “Rosaria Butterfield Responds to Jen Hatmaker’s Blessing of LGBT Sexual Relationships as “Holy””

  1. ariel says:

    Thank you Rosaria for writing this. And thank you GC for posting it. As a mom with a daughter who thinks she’s a lesbian, I appreciate, in more way than one can imagine, Rosaria’s fidelity to scripture.

  2. Tania says:

    Fully agree with you on Rosaria being a woman of whom the world is not worthy. So grateful for her foundation and grip on God’s word. She’s shown by her example that to stand on truth has cost much and yet she points others to Christ. So thankful for her encouragement and example of transparency.

  3. Frank Keefe says:

    Listened to this wonderful testimony by Rosaria…she is right sin is sin the only thing i would say is the sin of homosexuality stands out in todays world over all other sins because the world claims it to be natural and not sinful.The drive to make it natural is why its now being pushed to children in schools confusing very young minds.Would we allow the teaching of adultery greed hatred blasphemy etc to be taught to young children i doubt it.Also remember in the garden the lie given to Eve by Satan was eat and live forever and death entered that day the lie today is homosexuality is all about love not sin.Also homosexuality has powerful backers and they attack the Christian faith wherever and whenever they can.

  4. Alane Zlotnicki says:

    As the mother of two liberal minded girls in college, I have struggled with responding to attitudes like Jen’s, and God has shown me that His goal for believers is holiness, not happiness. Cutting off one’s arm to enter heaven lame but holy makes sense, but this is a message the church is afraid to preach, even at the expense of LGBT souls.

    1. Lori says:

      I would be very, very hesitant, as a heterosexual person, to say to a person struggling with homosexual desire that God wants them to be holy, not happy. That could very, very easily sound–and does sound, to many LGBT people–like what I’m really saying is that I want them to be unhappy and I think God probably agrees with me.

      Sure, as we all know, a person can be very happy and enjoy life very much as a non-Christian. You can be very happy and enjoy life while engaging in all kinds of sin. However, I hope we would believe that there is a kind of happiness–a fullness of peace and joy and contentment that goes deeper than whether our current circumstances are pleasing to us or not–that comes from God. And if we pit holiness against happiness, then we can be seem to be asking people to make a choice (between the enjoyment of life and the commands of God) that God certainly doesn’t ask us to make. Yes, we have to give up certain kinds of pleasure in order to obey God, but that isn’t God giving us holiness at the sake of our happiness; it is God directing us towards a greater, deeper joy in him.

      I don’t think we’d frame the choice a straight person who is engaging in sexual immorality has to make as giving up happiness for the sake of holiness, and I think it would rightfully be considered cruel if we did so. We should not ask LGBT people to make that choice, either. As Rosaria has noted many times in her writing and speaking, we need to be the first to reach out to LGBT people to help provide them with some of what they are being asked to give up–community, fellowship, friendship, family–rather than just telling them, “Sure, you will be lonely, miserable, and unhappy, but at least you’ll be holy!” That is exactly the kind of attitude that has hurt so many in the gay community.

      1. Josh says:

        Couldn’t have said it better.

        As somebody with same-sex attraction who has tried ex-gay therapy twice and experienced no change, I am finding myself having to make this choice; holiness or happiness. While in theory, living a holy life doesn’t have to mean a lonely, isolated, agonizing life, in our culture, this is what it means for LGBT Christians who choose to remain celibate. The reason is we are rejected by the secular LGBT community and not fully accepted by the church, so we are stuck between two worlds. We will never get to experience the love and intimacy with another person that heterosexuals take for granted, yet we are outcasts in the church because we don’t conform to the married, 2.5 kids, house in suburbia life that is considered the ideal American Christian life. This is one reason LGBT activists consider ex-gay therapy so dangerous. Being stuck in this limbo many times either drives a person back into an active gay life or to suicide.

        1. Vivian says:

          Josh,

          Just wanted to give you a virtual hug and encouragement for your choice of obedience.

          I don’t have exactly the same struggle you do. I am a Christian woman who is attracted to men. But unfortunately, the feeling doesn’t often seem to be mutual. I’m 38 years old and have never had a serious romantic relationship. That’s just the way it is.

          I totally get what you’re saying about feeling like an outcast for not conforming to the “married, 2.5 kids, house in suburbia life” that seems to make up the center of life in the church. There are a lot of us outside the center… never-married people (with or without kids), divorced people, widowed people, believers married to an unbelieving spouse, even to some extent childless couples. The church needs to do better at caring for all its members, not just the ones who fit into a particular mold.

          Just please know that those who struggle with same-sex attraction are not the only ones who deal with issues of celibacy, loneliness, isolation, and confusion about our place in the work and fellowship of the Kingdom. The good news is that we have a Great High Priest who understands our struggles because He’s been there, too. After all, Jesus lived as an unmarried man in a society where that was nearly unheard-of. I’m sure He had friends and family who did not understand His choice, who pressured him to find a nice wife and settle down to His work as a carpenter.

          Just a few days ago, I was talking to a friend who has a Christian husband (a good provider), several children (good kids), and a nicer home than I could ever afford. I was telling her a little bit about what God’s been doing lately in my life, and she spontaneously commented on how much she envied my freedom. Truly, the grass does tend to look greener on the other side of the fence.

          I’m not in any way downplaying the difficulty of your particular struggle. You have an extra layer of challenge, for sure. Just don’t let Satan lure you with the lie that you’re the only one who knows anything about these kinds of feelings. That’s his favorite trick to pull us away from the only One who really satisfies.

          Blessings.

          1. Jinjoo says:

            Vivian, while you’re response to Josh is respectful, the other circumstances or situations you give as examples in which there is aloneness is not a fair comparison. Those people you previously mentioned can remarry, adopt (if they choose), divorce (since churches seem to turn a blind-eye) and instantly change their “aloneness.”

            As straight people, we will never EVER be temped with the ‘sin’ that a gay person is tempted by and we will never EVER understand the struggles of gay people.

            Celibacy should be a choice and Jesus recognized that most people do not desire to remain single and celibate for a lifetime (Matt 19:9-12).

        2. John McGregor says:

          Josh,

          My heart is heavy for you. I certainly fall into the category that you describe of the straight suburban 2.5 kids, but I have friends who do not and I can see how the American church, in large part, has failed you. I pray that you are able to find a community where you can find some kind of intimate friendship and yet live in holiness as a celibate man. I did belong to a church at one time which faithfully preached the word, and yet is a place where I think you would have been welcomed; I know there are others out there. But that church was in an urban area, and never really grew beyond about 150 people, and now that I live in suburbia I can see that it is very hard to find a place that does not, at least in part, adapt to the cleaned up and success oriented image that is an idol of suburban life. Please know that there are faithful Christians out there that, while we cannot fully identify with your particular struggle, do stand with you and are praying for you (as I am now). I know that I have struggles, particularly with pride, that I am going to make war against until the day I die. While I have seen progress in this area it is a struggle. The difference is of course that pride is very often implicitly encouraged in the church, and explicitly in the world; so in a sense I could “get away with it” and still be considered a leader in the church. I know this is not the case with your struggle so it can be much more difficult, but I just want you to know that you are being prayed for, and please don’t lose hope!

      2. Bryce says:

        I could go out and do some ungodly things (Sleep around for the sake of pleasure, steal for the sake of reward, or do wrong to people for the sake of a good laugh) that are fun that would make me happy but they would make me unholy. Those things would go against God and his word so I don’t. It’s pretty simple concept. Everyone just wants to justify their sin for the sake of their happiness.

      3. Teri says:

        U r my new best friend, wow. I bless u. What words of wisdom, insight and mercy! I am former lgbt from 5-45yrs of age. Redeemed. Only after an overdose, so confused in my sexuality and love for God. The conflict of holiness, versus happiness. I tried to b holy, over and over and over. Some years sucessful. Til i got tired of climbing an uphill mountain, finding no rest, no peace, no answers in my struggles. In my holiest moments, i longed for intimacy of another human. Feeln isolated bc the only attractions i had were for women which was condemned. I couldnt seem to change my responses to attraction. I tried and tried and tried. I finally left the church. No one wanted to help me understand my same sex responses. They just wanted to condem me for having them. I lived as a man hating lesbian from there on out. Strictly no men. Sorry, but i hated them. I was full of bitterness. After three failed same sex marriage attempts i fell n to deep depression. Drugs, alcohol, and a loneliness i cant describe. After that terrible time i began to reach out to God. Or better, listen to Him, gently call me to Himself. I made a bargain with Him, if He would show me the paths of righteousness and the truth about my sexuality, that i would come back home after 18 years. Day by day He led me to the people who were merciful and could help me. They werent the “many” but rather the rare and few as urself! God bless those few! Seven years i studied sexuality n the bible, asking God each step of the way about mine. Askn the experts. The changed. The shepherds and the sheep. Prayn thru each phase That God led me to purity. And freedom. The key it turns out was confronting a lot of the hurts and pains done to me. Neglect. Abuse. A lot of stuff. Had to work thru a lot of emotions for the first time. It was really hard. I cried a lot. Yelled a lot as demons got swept out ftom under the rugs. The faithful christian brothers and sisters got me thru it. Sometimes, n my drunken rage. But God is faithful. Alive. Powerful. And intimate. Turns out i fell in love with Him! Didnt see that one coming lol! But its true. Little by little as i began to front my heartaches, work thru them in the many different ways i began to have huge shifts in my responses to men and women. The more i cleaned my closet out, the more freedom i would taste. Today, every now and again that temptation comes up but now i know what it is and where to go with. I drop to my knees til GOd shows me whats up with that. Lol. Holiness for happiness. Yup not a good choice. How about holiness with happiness, and the healing road paved with the mercy of the saints. We have to help guide our gay friends back to the light. Not ask them to sacrifice religion for intimacy. Who wants to be a eunuch by force? That is a special gift of God. He created us with strong desires to be loved and to love which in a dark world gets very confusing.

    2. J. Clark says:

      Holiness is Happiness. There are no alternatives.

  5. Hugh McCann says:

    “Jesus is my girl-friend” ….sounds like much of today’s “worship” muzak.

    Hear- hear, Rosaria!

    I also recommend Sy Rogers (Anglican, ex-queer) and his talks.

  6. Jim Wright says:

    I also recommend Christopher Yuan on this subject as well (search him on Youtube)

  7. John Freeman says:

    Thank you, Rosaria, for again bringing biblical clarity and compassion to this issue. In an area where our sociology, that is, our friendships and relationships now seem to be the foundational basis for interpreting and defining our theology, you remind us that the cross and union with Christ must be the crux of how we love people well.

  8. Marie says:

    Thank you Rosaria. Your story is beautiful and I appreciate your courage to speak and write from your experience. I’m deeply saddened by Jen Hatmaker’s comments. Saddened because it seems as if some want to make God’s Word say what we want it to say…….saddened because how we feel about something is more important than what God says about it. We need Bible teachers, preachers, speakers and writers that teach the truth from God’s Word. We need teachers that teach us the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. Let me taste and see that the Lord is good. Teach me to take up my cross. Remind me that nothing this world offers comes close to the indescribable joy of knowing Christ now and being with him in the age to come. Call me to the hard work of obedience. Teach me to love and give sacrificially and not to make peace with sin. We need teachers that believe God is good…..that His Word gives life and that the Gospel will do what it’s supposed to do.
    Thank you for the courage to be that kind of teacher, Rosaria.

  9. Beverly says:

    My father left my mother when I was one year old. My mom remarried when I was five and I was reared by her (a godly woman) and my stepfather. My stepfather left my mother after 25 years and treating her badly for several of those years. This may be the reason I found it hard to be totally faithful to my own husband; I was going to “get” him before he did me wrong. After years of flirthing with other men and being way too interested in several of them, I took hold of myself and declared that I was not going to engage in this sexual sin any longer. I went to a fine Christian counsellor and studied Kay Arthur’s book on obedience. About halfway throught the 12-week study I internalized the words from God, spoken through the Apostle Paul, “I have decided to be obedient from the heart”. God honored my commitment and I broke a friendly relationship with a man for whom I cared deeply. It was wrenching and I grieved the loss but God helped me through it and I never again had any interest in any man other than my husband. We had nine more years together before he died of cancer. Two years later I married another man and have been totally faithful to him for 12 years. I regularly thank God for helping me find freedom from my own particular sexual sin. This is why I stand so firmly against the LGBT lies that they cannot change. The truth is, they don’t want to do the hard work of making the change and letting go of long-term relationships that are not aligned with God’s best for them. I weep for our millennials who favor gay “marriage”. They have no idea the damage they are doing to individuals and to our society.

    1. Jinjoo says:

      Beverly, how lacking you are in compassion for these people. And, how judgmental you are for saying they lie. How are you so sure of this? I have met people who have prayed for YEARS, even “reversal” therapy, to no avail. We cannot judge, for not ONE of us is righteous. And, please explain how gay marriage damages individuals and society. I would really like to read your explanation and articulation.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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