I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.
In recent generations, some in the Christian community have seen homosexuality as a bigger sin than every other and homosexuals themselves as virtually beyond redemption.
It seems to me that we too often use the sword of the Spirit to attack other human beings rather than reach out to them.
There is no sin we can name that is bigger than one drop of Christ’s blood. Salvation in Christ is available to everyone.
Look no further for an inspiring example of that than Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.
Raised as a Catholic, she was taught by nuns to diagram sentences, which became the first step in a journey that led her into academia and an earned Ph.D. in English literature.
It was in college that she first noticed her interest in women, and at the age of 28, she came out as a lesbian. Like many – perhaps most – who identify as homosexual, her pronouncement didn’t come with an agenda. In her mind, she was simply defining life as she saw it.
But that certainly changed.
She described herself as an “historical materialist” and rejected entirely the idea of supernatural authority. Having removed God – and, with it, His moral law – from her worldview, she built her life on the tenets of feminism. In fact, as a tenured professor at Syracuse University, she would tell her students that feminism was the lens through which they would be expected to engage ideas and interpret the world. If they disagreed, she invited them to attend class elsewhere.
One year Promise Keepers came to town, and she wrote a scathing article exposing – from her vantage point – the nefarious agenda of that organization to oppress women. Similar charges were leveled against another group she considered an undergirding supporter of Promise Keepers: Focus on the Family.
In 1999, she took leave from her professorship to do research for a book she intended to write as a rebuke of religion from a lesbian feminist point of view. In her estimation, Christians viewed themselves as morally and intellectually superior to the people they hoped to reach. Most she met in the Christian community, for example, used the Bible to win arguments against her rather than to deepen their conversations with her.
But one couple was willing to talk with her instead of at her. Ken and Floy Smith, a local pastor and his wife, offered to help Rosaria with her book research and to help her understand Christianity. Rosaria agreed, primarily because she believed the couple could handle her scholarly inquiries and engage her ideas with thoughtful conversation.
What she didn’t expect was the unconditional love and respect she received from Ken and Floy. They treated Rosaria not as a project but as their friend.
They met with her. They invested in her. They “neighbored” with her and brought the means of grace to her by demonstrating that they valued her as a person not simply as a potential convert to the Christian faith out of lesbianism.
Many Christians share the love of Christ well, but many resist making deep connections with those with whom they disagree. They’d rather lob Scripture at people from a convenient distance.
But if you want to play a part in putting the hand of the suffering into the hand of the Savior, you have to get close enough to risk getting hurt.
If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering, “Can God really reach certain people?” I hope you’ll join us for our broadcast today and tomorrow. Rosaria will be with us in our studio to share her journey. I believe you’ll be inspired and reminded that God hopes to reach everyone.
Not only is Rosaria articulate, but you’ll hear in every word she speaks that her heart has been touched and transformed by the Savior.