As a Christian Conservative, I feel I need to debunk the negative connotation that surrounds my title. I have to defend who I am because of past out-spoken individuals who have held the same title but lacked the appropriate Christian/biblical response and pushed more of the political. So I am always on the look-out for stories that truly get to the heart of what it means to be a Christian who holds biblically-based conservative views or represents the Religious Right. Wheaton College recently exemplified this biblical response on the emotionally charged topic of homosexuality and they did it by sharing the story of a former lesbian feminist professor named Dr. Rosaria Butterfield.
Wheaton is a private Christian college that professes a biblical view of human sexuality. Under their Community Covenant, they condemn sexual immorality including “pornography, pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman.” They invited Dr. Rosaria Butterfield to speak on campus and to share her conversion story. She was a former atheist and lesbian who found God by actually trying to disprove the Bible on homosexuality. She writes in the Gospel Coalition, “When I started to read the Bible it was to critique it, embarking on a research project on the Religious Right and their hatred against queers, or, at the time, people like me.” She further testifies, “I’d believed gender and sexuality were socially constructed and that I was the mistress of my own destiny and desire…But the Bible was getting under my skin. Hours I poured over the text, arguing at first, then contemplating, and eventually surrendering.”
Butterfield’s invitation to Wheaton sparked a demonstration of about 100 student protestors outside the steps of the chapel where she gave her testimony. Some students claimed that her testimony was “dangerous” and held signs that read, “We’re all loved by God,” “Rosaria’s story is valid, mine is too,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God. This is my story.”
However, the story at Wheaton wasn’t that these protestors were a representation of youth which are the new Christian counter-culture revolution. No. In fact, Dr. Butterfield received a standing ovation from 2000 students who embraced her message on traditional views on marriage and sexuality. The story was how the college and Dr. Rosaria Butterfield reacted to these protestors. Both the college and the professor engaged students in the debate and extended an invitation to talk to the demonstrators. Dr. Rosaria later commented on the experience, “I sat down with these beloved students, to listen, to learn, and to grieve. Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia; the snarled composition of our own sin and the sin of others weighs heavily on us all.”
Dr. Rosaria and Wheaton College did something which should always define what the Religious Right should do on matters of representing the biblical world-view. They engaged opposing opinions in a gracious manner while remaining steadfast in upholding biblical values and the message of Christ. There was no self-righteous indignation but a loving response of moving to an intellectual discussion on defending the biblical definition of sexuality. This is how the Christian world-view should be represented on matters of human sexuality and it is how we should teach our youth to defend religious freedom in the public square.
We are living in a time where traditional marriage and homosexuality is the crux of religious freedom in America. As Christians we must engage and articulate our biblical values and be able to defend our position and teach our children how to stand on what they believe. There are too many churches who are silent and it’s unfortunate that Wheaton College is a rarity among Christian communities educating the next generation to defend religious freedom.
Being a Christian Conservative and even being a part of the Religious Right is about knowing and defending the fact that God is the author of my beliefs but it is also about sharing my heart above and beyond my political affiliations. I cannot back down from the Truth because it is hard but I also cannot engage without loving my neighbor. Thank you Dr. Rosaria Butterfield and thank you Wheaton College for reminding us all that grace and law go hand-in-hand in representing the biblical world-view and the message of Christ.
To learn more about Dr. Rosaria Butterfield’s testimony go to http://rosariabutterfield.com/#.