The Pastor and the Lesbian

pastor and lesbianA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about an article I had read where the president of Chick-fil-A and ardent Christian, Dan Cathy, reached out to and befriended Shane Windmeyer, a national leader in the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender) movement. This past week there was an article written in “Christianity Today” by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield about her conversion from being a lesbian to becoming a Christ-follower. The title of the article was My Train Wreck Conversion and it is well worth the read. What interested me was the way Christians reached out to her while her train was wrecking.

As a “leftist lesbian [college] professor” she had a visceral reaction to Christians and launched an attack on “the unholy trinity of Jesus, the Republican party, and patriarchy by writing an article in a local newspaper about the Promise Keepers men’s movement. She received a lot of responses and divided them between fan mail and hate mail, but there was one letter that did not fit in either category. It was from a local Reformed Presbyterian minister who wrote a kind and questioning letter basically asking her how she arrived at her conclusions. He did not argue, he just asked about her basic presuppositions; exactly what she would have done. She did not know what to do with it so she threw the letter away.

But not for long— later that evening, she fished it out of the trash and read it over and over trying to think how she should respond. “Ken’s letter punctured the integrity of my research project without him knowing it.” His letter also offered an invitation to have dinner with him and his wife. Not only did he not mock her, but he engaged her. She accepted the invitation believing that this would be good for her research.

“Ken and his wife entered my world. They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversation was polluting them… When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy… I started reading the Bible. I read the way a glutton devours… I continued reading the Bible all the while fighting the idea that it was inspired. But the Bible got to be bigger inside of me than I. It flowed over into my world. I fought against it with all my might. Then, one Sunday morning, I rose from the bed of my lesbian lover, and an hour later sat in a pew at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. Conspicuous with my butch haircut, I reminded myself that I came to meet God, not fit in.” She came to Christ in her brokenness. It wasn’t neat and clean, but she desired God more than her desires.

Once again, I am reminded of the relational love and engagement that God used to bring her to Himself. The same kind showed by Dan Cathy. Are we ready for this? In our post-whatever we call our world today, Christians are demonized by, and in turn demonize, those who need Jesus most. Are we willing to risk loving those who are diametrically opposed to the things we cherish and vice versa? It seems like there exists today a similar cultural divide that existed between Jew and Gentile in the first century. How will we bridge that divide without relationships? Just as the Jewish Peter had to be able to eat and with the Gentile Cornelius before he could share the gospel, so must we.

[Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is the author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Crown and Covenant). She lives with her family in Durham, NC, with her husband who is a pastor.]

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Another great one. Thank you for challenging this self-proclaimed right wing religious nut job.

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  2. Posted by Chris Neilsen on February 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Amen. Just posted her Article last week on my facebook. May the Lord help us to deal quickly with our own sins and make us loving and authentic examples to others of His faithful and gracious love and mercy. Thank you Dave for sharing this. God is at work in Jim and I. Blessings on your day!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jackie C. on February 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    It’s been difficult to know how best to minister to our teenage niece who recently came out. Thank you for the reminder that it’s the love of Jesus and being more intentional in letting her know what that looks and feels like.

    Reply

    • Posted by Lesli Hudson on February 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      I know when I came out, I was desperate to hear that people loved me just as much as before this big revelation. I was not seeking their opinion, I was very clear on where they stood. I simply wanted to know that I wasn’t a freak and that they and God still loved me. I think had that happened, my life would have taken a very different course.

      Reply

  4. “Christians are demonized by, and in turn demonize, those who need Jesus most.” I fear this is a chicken/egg scenario… The LGBT community will say they persecute because they were first persecuted. Repeatedly wounded hearts scar and callous over time, but will soften with the consistent, healing balm of Christ’s love (if/when we are unable to muster our own at the start) applied with care over time. It is consistent with the Word (1 John 4:19) to suggest that love begets love. He first loved us when we were no more or less sinful than those who act on attraction to someone of any gender other than a Biblically sanctioned husband or wife. Would He have us wait?

    Reply

  5. Posted by Linda Powers on February 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Good read.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Sandy on February 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    As we all go down roads of uncertainty in our lives it is reassuring that God does not judge us on what we initially believe but pursues us through others who don’t
    presume to be perfect.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Tim Lorman on February 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Lord break my heart for what breaks yours. That is not for me to look at or judge the world, but to look at me and judge myself.
    Thank You Pastor Dave.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Lesli Hudson on February 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    As the token “lesbian changed her ways” in my church, I am frequently forwarded blogs such as this. I had an experience much like this young lady. I became a Christian at a very early age, and was voted out of a church for being gay. I walked away from the church for 15 years until forced to find a place for my wife’s funeral. A pastor took the time to get to know me, love me, and show me that God loves me as I am. Because of that pastor’s actions I came to understand God’s grace and wanted to change my behavior. Until Christians stop treating the lgbt community as an issue to solve, hearts will not change. One on one relationships that foster love and trust must be built.

    I will say that I am uncomfortable with the phrase conversion from lesbian to Christian. That makes them sound mutually exclusive. My God can save anyone… even those proclaiming to be lesbians still. I trust the Spirit to be working in their hearts while speaking Truth and love.

    This past year I was asked to share my testimony at a conservative seminary in MA. A young man, in seminary, came up to me afterwards and told me that he was gay. I was able to pray with him that he follows God’s heart for his life and assured this young man that I would not presume to know what that plan is. He has since begun meeting with my ministry partner and is seeking God’s face with his sexuality. I do not believe that would have happened if I had crammed my views on sexuality down his throat. We have to get rid of the labels and just start loving PEOPLE!

    Thanks for sharing this article.

    Reply

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