How does a secular, Unitarian universalist, feminist, lesbian become a stay-at-home, homeschooling, domesticated, pastor’s wife and mother?
This is the story of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and a relentless God. Her book is entitled The Secret Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert and it is written by hers truly. I just finished reading it and wow…what a story. What a life. And what a God.
To say she is an astute intellectual is an understatement. She is a thinking lady, who has spent her life learning. And as you may assume she would have never thought her life would end up the way it has. Rosaria is a picture of how God is unpredictable.
Here is a brief overview:
We start the book when Rosaria is in her 30’s as a tenured English professor at Syracuse University in a relationship with a live-in girlfriend. As a lesbian she is a popular gay-activist and queer theory scholar. She is an out-spoken pro-choice, post-modern defending, vegetarian who most Christian’s wouldn’t dare engage (to our shame). And if it wasn’t for an article she wrote where she criticized the Promise Keepers, she would have never come in contact with a gracious and hospitable Reformed Presbyterian Pastor. He wrote in a response to her article to simply ask questions about her arguments. Questions that made her think and a tone that she couldn’t ignore. There meetings would result in a friendship where she never felt like his “project”. His example is beyond impressive.
And it is because of this long friendship and there on-going conversation about Christ and the gospel that she was converted to Christianity.
As she says her conversion was a “train wreck” as it undid everything she knew to be right and true. And she speaks on how there was no way she could believe anything other than that God chooses. Her story speaks to the theology of God’s sovereignty in a real way. She knows first hand what it feels like to be blind-sided by the gospel and how she was never the one reaching out for Christ.
Rosaria display’s true faith in how she fights through her sin and she is honest about how her journey was a messy struggle. She never once speaks of the LGTB community in a condescending or mean-spirited way, but only with grace. It was there that she learned hospitality, which is something she continues in her Christians walk with fervor.
I love her heart for foster parenting and adoption and her musings on these subjects blew air on the already fiery coals of my heart. She is the embodiment of super woman, as she supports her husband, mothers her kids and opens her home to just about anybody. She tells a story that made me cheer as I read it.
“One time Kent was filling the pulpit at a small church in a small town. Theses places scare me, and for good reason. Knox was asleep on my shoulder and Mary was asleep in the car seat. A man walked up to me, not knowing that I was the preacher’s wife, and said: “So, is it chic for white women to adopt black kids these days?” I took a deep breath and stood up to meet his gaze. “Are you a Christian?” I asked him. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “Did God save you because it was chic.” We locked eyes until he dropped his head. He stammered something unintelligible and backed away slowly, seeming to understand that even when the bear does not look like the cubs, the trauma of having one’s head ripped off by a protective mama can be bloody business. “
What I love most about this book is how Rosaria is an example of a woman who did not have to retire her brain in order to convert to Christianity. Although I do not agree with all the theology she has acquired through the Reformed Presbyterian denomination, I am so impressed with her ability to remain a woman of knowledge and still understand her scriptural duty to submit to her husband. She keeps learning and yet she can still be a stay-at-home mom and joyfully impart wisdom to her little ones because they are not less-than university students.
It is true that there really is no such thing as an unlikely convert. In fact the next Charles Spurgeon might be pushing a needle up his arm for a buzz at this very moment. Or he could be donning a pink leotard at the front of the gay-pride parade.
But it should be our pleasure to welcome those who we secretly believe are “beyond grace” with hospitality and love. Because it is not us who chooses the saints, it is Christ. And for that we should rejoice.