A 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.]