The Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary welcomed Dr. Rosaria Butterfield to the campus on Sept. 6. Butterfield is the author of “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith.” She converted to Christianity in 1999 while she was working at Syracuse University in the English Department and Women Studies Program. Butterfield is a graduate of Ohio State University with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Critical Theory.
Currently, Butterfield lives in Durham, N.C. with her husband, Kent, a local pastor, and they homeschool the two youngest of their four children.
Butterfield lectured on “Sanctified Sexuality” at a Southeastern faculty and Ph.D. student luncheon. She shared that there are over 900 programs, departments and research centers on sexuality in universities and colleges across the world that exist to contest the distinctiveness between male and female genders. It was addressed that Christians have a hard time speaking against opposing views when the church lacks a unified response on key issues.
Butterfield focused on the importance of worldview by looking at secular feminist, Christian works righteousness and covenantal, sanctified sexuality views. “Secular feminism was my secular religion, it was the core of my identity,” said Butterfield. “Worldviews are never singular or stagnant, just as sin is never one dimensional. … We must seek to understand how the sins of our culture … contribute to personal deception.”
Today, Butterfield holds onto the viewpoint of sanctified sexuality. She referenced Romans 1:18-32 that speaks about the ontology of creation and Genesis 2 where she claims that one’s frame comes from one’s form, not one’s function.
“Our sexuality must be taken captive for Christ.” Butterfield challenged the group to examine why Genesis should be taken literally, become worldview savvy, to be available in the church and community and to know doctrine well. “The Christian life is a bloody joy,” said Butterfield.
The audience was urged to engage in a humble and loving dialogue with others. “You cannot give a good answer to a bad question,” said Butterfield.
Butterfield hosted a book signing at Lifeway on Southeastern’s campus after the luncheon.
In the evening, approximately 350 attendees gathered at Wake Forest Baptist Church for Butterfield’s lecture on “Sexuality, Identity, and the Doctrine of Repentance: My Train Wreck Conversation.”
Butterfield reflected on her Catholic faith background and past homosexual relationships, “The name of Jesus would make me recoil in anger.”
After writing a controversial article published in the local newspaper, Butterfield received a letter from pastor, Ken Smith. “Ken’s letter did not mock, it engaged…. My motives at the time were clear; surely this would be good for my research. But something else happened; Ken and his wife, Floy, and I became friends, they entered my world.” said Butterfield.
The first time Butterfield had dinner with Ken and Floy they did not share the Gospel with her and they did not invite her to church. Due to this, their relationship grew into a strong friendship that eventually led to Butterfield’s conversion to Christianity.
“Romans 1:21-27 and Genesis 3 stood out as bookends to my life and were a table of contents at what ails the world,” said Butterfield. “Homosexuality is consequential, not causal. According to the Bible, homosexuality itself was not the root of all sin. Not event the root of my sin. “
“As I read and reread the Bible, I kept catching my wings in its daily embrace. However, Rosaria said, “I did not even believe in truth.”
“On Sunday morning, two years after I first met Ken and Floy, I left the bed I shared with my lesbian partner and an hour later I sat in a pew of Syracuse Reform Presbyterian Church. We simply do know the treacherous journey that other people take to get to church.”
“I counted the costs and I did not like the math. … If the Bible is true I was dead, and if the Bible was false, I am the biggest fool on earth,” said Butterfield. “How does one repent of a sin that doesn’t feel like a sin at all? … I prayed that the Lord would help me to see my life from His point of view.”
Butterfield saw that the Bible had a holy Author. “My hands let go of the wheel of self invention, I came to Jesus alone, open handed and naked. … It was a crushing revelation, it was Jesus I had been persecuting the whole time. … Jesus triumphed and I was a broken mess.
“Of course there is only one thing you can do when you meet the Living God, you must fall on your face and repent of your sins. … It is the posture of the Christian. … All it does is prove the obvious, that God was right all along,” said Butterfield.
“God changed my heart’s desires, but memories, while dulling, have not disappeared. God saved me but He did not lobotomize me.”
Butterfield concluded: “I have not forgotten the blood that Jesus surrendered for this life. … Where today I live in the shelter of a covenant family where one calls me wife and many call me mother, this precious, never imagined jewel of a life.”
To view photos from the event, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.