The Reluctant Convert

February 14, 2013
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

I saw a recent biographical article in Christianity Today regarding the conversion of a former left-wing lesbian professor to Christianity. Such a story is rife with implications about many of the issues concerning the gay rights debate today – whether sexuality can change, whether it is hateful or hurtful to question sexual identities, how Christians should view homosexuality and vice versa. But that is not what interested me as much as the fact that the author was a reluctant convert. Such people fascinate me in part because I was such a convert – I was a happy person, intellectually settled and spiritually uninterested – not at all what is now defined as a ‘seeker’. Though I had a passing familiarity with what church entailed I was not at all raised in a Christian home. Yet God gripped my life and I could not shake Him. I never felt like I pursued God so much as I was doggedly pursued. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield explains in a similar fashion how she fought against the power that compelled her:

I started reading the Bible. I read the way a glutton devours. I read it many times that first year in multiple translations. At a dinner gathering my partner and I were hosting, my transgendered friend J cornered me in the kitchen. She put her large hand over mine. “This Bible reading is changing you, Rosaria,” she warned.

With tremors, I whispered, “J, what if it is true? What if Jesus is a real and risen Lord? What if we are all in trouble?”

J exhaled deeply. “Rosaria,” she said, “I was a Presbyterian minister for 15 years. I prayed that God would heal me, but he didn’t. If you want, I will pray for you.”

I continued reading the Bible, all the while fighting the idea that it was inspired. But the Bible got to be bigger inside me than I. It overflowed 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. The image that came in like waves, of me and everyone I loved suffering in hell, vomited into my consciousness and gripped me in its teeth.

I fought with everything I had.

I did not want this.

I did not ask for this.

I counted the costs. And I did not like the math on the other side of the equal sign.

Of course such an incident is not uncommon in Christianity; one of the earliest and most notable converts was the apostle Paul, who as Saul was literally knocked down blind and upbraided by the person of Christ whom he despised up until that point. C.S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton had similar experiences. It seems such folks are amongst the most insistent Christians with regard to the verifiable truth of their faiths – perhaps because they must wrestle with the inevitability of their own experiences.

Either way I think the very fact that such folks exist is contrary to the way believers are often portrayed by skeptics. Rather than hopeless and desperate people clinging to religion as the last chance for happiness, many believers were in fact convinced and content skeptics who were run to ground by a living and insistent God who would not give up on them.


Who is Oppressing Who?

April 29, 2012

News comes this last week of vandalism against a church in Portland by a group identifying itself as “angryqueers@” because of the churches anti-gay stance:

Neighbors who live on Southeast 32nd Avenue and Taylor Street in the Hawthorne neighborhood reported seeing several young adults throwing rocks into the windows of the Mars Hill Church early Tuesday Morning.

When the church grounds keeper arrived, hours later, he discovered nine windows smashed — two of which are historic stained-glass windows. The damage is estimated at several thousand dollars.

It is of course not the only instance of vandalism by such groups. A church sign in Hickory, NC was defaced earlier in the week:

After the vandals were finished with it, the marquee sign in front of Hickory’s Tabernacle Baptist Church read: “Hate Speech Sunday April 22.” The black paint obliterated the sign’s original message: “Marriage Sunday April 22.”

The sign’s other side was scrawled with the message, “Love not Hate.”

The Rev. Scott Hooks said he thinks the vandals were reacting to his church’s stand supporting the proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

These events are not infrequent. I personally know pastors who have received death threats for their stances on various policies advanced by the gay agenda. As blogger Wintery Knight chronicles, such persecution is widespread and goes far beyond mere vandalism. Whether it is a public harangue against Christian students at a journalism conference or students keeping a speaker from talking at a public university, Christians have become a major target of homosexual activists.

All of this flies in the face of the story we are typically given concerning gay rights. The normal narrative one hears when gay rights are discussed in the media or academic discussions is as a group gays are a powerless minority being oppressed by an antagonistic majority. Lately one hears about bullying in schools, but the same narrative pop-ups during gay marriage debates and discussions of adoption.

And historically homosexuals as a group have certainly been subject to discrimination of various sorts in the Christian West. Such intolerance has ranged from legal sanctions against specific sexual acts to an unwillingness to officially acknowledge homosexual relationships to mere personal disdain for homosexuals in social circles. And it is no exaggeration to say that as a group homosexuals have been targeted for their proclivities, whether one consider police raids on bath houses or individuals being attacked for their orientation.

I think most people now agree (including Christians), that whatever their personal views of the gay lifestyle, targeting any group for persecution is wrong. And while most professing Christians such as myself find fault with the sexual choices of gay individuals I would think most generally accept the fact that a certain number of people have same sex attractions and that those people will operate throughout a wide strata of the society. In short, most gay folks have attained a level of acceptance in our society that many minorities in our culture could only dream about.

That being said, the advancement of the gay agenda continues to be predicated on the notion that homosexuals are an oppressed group in our society. This continues despite the fact that as a group they have higher levels of education than their heterosexual counterparts, they generally have higher incomes than heterosexuals and have no restrictions in terms of where they live or what they do for a living. As a group gays have a very sympathetic ear in the media as well as educational and governmental institutions. These are measures of equality, but the current concern isn’t so much about equality and freedom as it is about sanctioning and normalizing homosexual relationships. On this front the gay agenda has met much more resistance and as a result gay rights advocates have lashed out against the group they see as being the primary barrier to full acceptance – believing Christians.

So when it comes to freedoms are being reduced, it isn’t the freedoms of homosexuals that are endangered – as NPR reports, the freedoms being denied are those of Christians to speak, worship, associate and educate and work as they see fit.

Oppression is certainly occurring – but it’s coming from a politically organized and unconstrained gay activists and it’s against Christians.


The Inevitable Moral Decay of the Secular Left

September 6, 2011

In his New York Times piece called The Failure of Liberal Bioethics, exemplary writer Ross Douhat chronicles how liberal bioethicists have failed to maintain a consistent standard for their ‘ethics’, and as a result invariably modified standards in response to the latest trends:

From embryo experimentation to selective reduction to the eugenic uses of abortion, liberals always promise to draw lines and then never actually manage to draw them. Like Dr. Evans, they find reasons to embrace each new technological leap while promising to resist the next one — and then time passes, science marches on, and they find reasons why the next moral compromise, too, must be accepted for the greater good, or at least tolerated in the name of privacy and choice. You can always count on them to worry, often perceptively, about hypothetical evils, potential slips down the bioethical slope. But they’re either ineffectual or accommodating once an evil actually arrives. Tomorrow, they always say — tomorrow, we’ll draw the line. But tomorrow never comes.

The particular practice Douhat is discussing here is that of ‘selective reduction’ – that is the aborting of fetuses when multiple are present in the womb. Because the IVF procedure is becoming an increasingly common, so too are multiple pregnancies which increases the demand for selective abortions. As he notes, where once the liberal bioethicists warned against this procedure, they now endorse it.

A similar creeping ethic is occurring amongst psychiatrists with regard to the official view of pedophilia. At a recent academic symposium, a group of psychiatrists, academics, and mental health workers gathered to discuss the need to remove pedophilia from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which serves as the basis for determining mental disorders. As the Daily Caller reports:

The August 17 Baltimore conference is sponsored by B4U-ACT, a group of pro-pedophile mental health professionals and sympathetic activists. According to the conference brochure, the event will examine “ways in which minor-attracted persons [pedophiles] can be involved in the DSM 5 revision process” and how the popular perceptions of pedophiles can be reframed to encourage tolerance.

This move to make pedophilia normative is of course merely one point on an inevitable trajectory that derives from the expansion of sexual mores which gained momentum with the ‘Free Love’ movement of the ’60s to the weakening of divorce laws, the legalization of abortion, the disconnection of birth from marriage and of course the growing acceptance of homosexuality – which itself began with the removal homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.

Given that there is no objective grounding in the ethics of the secular left, these sorts of changes are certain. The boundaries of what is morally and ethically acceptable are by necessity ever expanding; indeed secular leftists become conservatives exactly at the point they ceased to expand. There is no end game with the secular left, only the destruction of the current moral standards.

For moral conservatives who ground their ethics and morality in certain eternal and external realities of God’s nature, the arbitrary nature of liberal ethics comes as no surprise. Absent belief in a transcendent reality to restrain them, humans are slaves to their desires and their appetites invariably grow.

Of course the hard reality is that while human appetites have no limit, God has designed nature to correct itself – eventually societies that can’t control themselves are self-consuming, or dissipate from lack of order and growth.

Sadly, in the process they take a lot of innocents with them.


Observations

June 29, 2011

I believe my nightmare can be expressed as a sociological principle: People who professionally dislike marriage almost always favor gay marriage. Here is the corollary: Ideas that have long been used to attack marriage are now commonly used to support same-sex marriage.

David Blankenhorn – The Future of Marriage


Mon Dieu! The French do Something Right!

January 29, 2011

 

It is an obvious ruling, but it’s been a awhile since we have seen such good sense from a European court:

France Gay Marriage Ban Is Constitutional, Top Watchdog Rules

…the country whose motto is “Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite” and whose name rhymes with romance hasn’t given the love and commitment of same-sex couples an equal legal standing to that of heterosexuals.

An ongoing debate over the issue is now gathering steam.

A trigger point came on Friday when the Constitutional Court – an esteemed body that counts former Presidents Jacques Chirac and Valery Giscard d’Estaing as members – ruled that laws banning gay marriage don’t violate the constitution. They said any change is for parliament to decide.

  Given the recent penchant of the American courts to emulate European rulings on various issues, this bodes well for the inevitable ruling by the American Supreme Court on the issue.

One only hopes they can show such bon sens.


Homosexuality and Political Gotchas

October 18, 2010

On a recent ‘Meet the Press’ airing, host David Gregory asked Republican candidate for Senator in Colorado Ken Buck if he believed, “that being gay is a choice?” to which Mr. Buck eventually answered that he did, and after some dithering compared it to alcoholism which can have a biological component as well as an element of choice. His opponent Michael Bennet jumped on this and declared Buck was “outside the mainstream of views on this.” What mainstream he was talking about he didn’t say, as he offered no statistics to back up this claim. Based on the reaction afterward, it would seem the only groups bothered by Buck’s response were the mainstream media and the gay lobby.

The question is one of two political ‘gotcha’ questions (the other one being, “Do you believe in evolution?”) meant to portray conservatives as out of touch with science and modernity.

The problem in this case though is that science hasn’t actually made a declaration about the biological basis of homosexuality. There are in fact numerous competing views about the origins of same-sex attraction, ranging from genetic factors to early childhood fixations to various environmental factors. Buck’s view on the matter was as legitimate as many other views – indeed, the only wrong answer would be to be dogmatic about homosexuality being genetically determined.

Of course this doesn’t fit into the Left’s political narrative, and so they proclaim mock outrage in an ongoing attempt to portray the science as settled, when in fact that is far from true. All that is settled in this case is the Left’s view on the matter – and they prove willing more often than not to subject science to political considerations rather than experiment and observation.

It’s important to remember this political season that despite the Left’s propaganda, the real enemies of science aren’t those who question certain scientist’s metaphysical conclusions, but those who would subject scientific findings to a political litmus test meant to advance a radical leftist agenda.


Still Not Asking or Telling

September 21, 2010

Despite their alliance with Lady Gaga (or perhaps because of it) the Democrats have failed to burden a much needed defense bill with an amendment to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. It’s an excellent outcome as it makes sense not to use the military as a laboratory for social experimentation, and retain it as an efficient fighting force.