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September 8, 2019 Writers and Company Eleanor Wachtel CBC Radio PO Box 500 Station A Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5W-1E6 Greetin...

Monday, September 9, 2019

Critique of Rosario Butterfield's Sermon: Sexuality, Identity, and the Doctrine of Repentance: My Train Wreck Conversion



Rosario Butterfield is a former lesbian professor who converted to the Christian faith (allegedly) and married a pastor. I have watched two of her interviews and one of her sermons, which is the sermon that I am criticizing. All three videos feature her testimony, though in her sermon she teaches and preaches more. That sermon is called: Sexuality, Identity, and the Doctrine of Repentance: My Train Wreck Conversion. To say the least, this is not a mature title for a sermon, or even a decent one.  

I call the ‘train wreck’ that I watched ‘a sermon’ because in this video Butterfield speaks in a church from behind a pulpit, and in it her testimony turns into a sermon. Because a man is not supposed to be taught doctrine by a woman, I did not listen to this woman in order to learn something; I listened to her in order to teach something. I listened in order to warn Christians that this woman is dangerous to be taught by, which is always the case when a woman teaches from an office that God has forbidden her to teach from.  

Because of her intimate knowledge of the LGBT community and lifestyle, many Christians consider her speaking to be so valuable that they do not appreciate her being criticized for teaching from a pulpit. They maintain that she is not overstepping her bounds by doing so and that she is not really teaching from there, just giving her testimony. But it is absurd to deny that the testimony becomes a sermon long before it finishes. It is not a proper sermon, admittedly, because she is not a legitimate official in God’s Church. But it is a sermonizing speech that is made by a woman from a pulpit inside a church, which kind of thing is clearly and strongly forbidden in the New Testament in several places, most notably in the Pastoral Epistles where the qualifications for church leadership are laid out. Her ministry to the LGBT crowd, and to the church crowd desiring to understand the LGBT crowd, purports to be a ministry with a capital M, though some would deny that it does. I think I know what answer her supporters would give to my allegation that she is not keeping to her proper role. They would say that she is under the authority of her pastor/husband and is not in a position of formal authority. That is the usual line. This line of defense is not much of a bulwark against the truth of the matter, which may be gleaned simply by the sight of her in a pulpit and by the nature of what she delivers from there. She is not in her proper role while she occupies a pulpit to teach or to preach. Her pastor/husband, if he were true to his role, would forbid his wife from occupying a pulpit and from teaching men the Bible, period. This woman admits that she was a lesbian butch; it is no surprise that upon her ‘conversion’ she married a submissive man. It is natural that this woman’s temptation, as a new Christian, if she is one, would be to step into a man’s role, for she was both a lesbian butch and a tenured professor before her alleged conversion took place. She dominates one of her interviews so much as to have to remind the host to take back the reins. Her old ways and/or her ‘old man’ decide much of what this woman’s role will be and how it will be executed.

Her principal conversion verse is Psalm 119.56, which is about keeping the precepts of God. How about keeping the precept that says a woman shall not teach a man the Bible? Each jot and tittle of the Bible is her open highway, she says, to a holy God. What about those jots and tittles that forbid women from teaching men the Bible? Are they not open highways to a holy God? We should drink deeply from God’s holy word, she says—his direct word, not the themes that we create. How about drinking deeply from this verse?—: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (I Timothy 2.12.) I know that the feminists have created nuanced themes about what this verse means. But the verse is direct enough to be instantly understood. Mrs. Butterfield is Reformed, apparently. So here are a few words from Calvin on this verse: “Not that he [Paul] takes from them the charge of instructing their family, but only excludes them from the office of teaching, which God has committed to men only.” Is this woman teaching her family, and her family alone, from behind that pulpit in that church? No, obviously she is not. Well, maybe this woman has found that by experience her teaching works very well. What do we say to that? We say the following: In this very sermon she says that we should not use our experience to verify the validity of God’s commands. The Christian faith is not a pragmatist’s paradigm, she says. God will have all of us, not part of us, she continues. Will she let God have that part of her that wants to teach men God’s word? Wouldn’t that be biblically pragmatic? He is the potter, we are the clay, she asserts. Why should she not allow the potter to mold her into a vessel of submission, then? After all, like she says, no one gets to order up a personal program of sanctification. We should flee from sin, she insists, not discuss it nor debate it. Should the subject of women in pulpits be up for discussion and debate? The apostle Paul does not think so. John Calvin does not think so. In order to flee from sin, this woman needs to get out of the pulpit. Women who occupy pulpits end up being reproved by their own words. It happens to them all.  

They also tend to use the same clich├ęd speech, as in the case here with ‘postmodernism’— ‘hermeneutic baggage’—and ‘let me unpack that for you.’ I say this just to point out how predictable and tiresome they are. How tediously academic their language is! 

They also end up peddling errors. This is the most predictable thing of all. In her zeal to have Christians deal with gays respectfully, she reproves Christians for mocking them. Mocking gays is behavior that few Christians engage in, however. Has anyone even seen or heard a Christian do it? I haven’t. Then she asserts that Christians are guilty of homophobia, which she defines as “the unrestrained fear of gay and lesbian people and the wholesale writing off of their souls.” Few Christians write gays off wholesale, though. Few Christians could be classified under her definition of homophobia—probably none. Moreover, homophobia is not a fear; it is an irrational fear. A former tenured professor does not know this? A former tenured professor does not know the definition of a phobia? Since a phobia is by definition an irrational fear, homophobia would be an irrational fear of homosexuals. When Christians fear homosexuals, is it rational or irrational? Was it irrational for the members and guests of Lot’s house to fear when the homosexual deviants came pounding on his door, demanding unnatural intercourse? Was it irrational for the American baker to fear when the gays came to his bakery demanding a cake to be made according to their perverted design? It must not have been irrational at all since the baker was dragged into court for refusing. There was no homophobia in that case, assuredly. There is good reason to fear people who come under the LGBT banner. There is a movement among gays to remove bans on gays giving blood, for example, which inhumane liberty would put lives at risk. Those who have reason to fear for their lives are not irrationally fearful, are they?
  
When Mrs. Butterfield is asked for her position on Sodom and Gomorrah, she is general and vague, which is suspicious for the reason that elsewhere she claims to be better at addressing things specifically, not generally. The man who asked the question wanted her to speak directly to how the Gay Christian Network interprets the incident at Sodom and Gomorrah, which interpretation she gave the impression of being familiar with. She even named the gay man whose channel it is. I went to the Gay Christian Network and had the same gay man affirm that Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for committing violence, not homosexual acts. In truth, they were judged for both, which the text on that makes clear, for the abusers were after the flesh of men. Why does Mrs. Butterfield hide her lamp under a bushel on this topic? Obviously, she does not want to expose how unbiblical her position on it is. Not only does she hide her lamp, she introduces darkness. “We need to be in a posture of being ready to disciple our brothers and sisters in the Gay Christian Network because God’s elect people are everywhere,” she says. Isn’t it revealing, interesting, and concerning that she uses the word ‘disciple’ in this context? Some gays are elect. Does that mean gays need to be discipled instead of converted? Some gays call themselves Christian. Does that make them our brothers and sisters? In her zeal against an oversimplified gospel approach, Mrs. Butterfield claims that believing in Jesus is something that even the demons do. Demons do not believe in Jesus, though. But even if they did, we would not assume that demons are Christians, would we? Why does she present demons as believing in Jesus? I think that she does it because if we can be made to believe that demons, in some sense, believe in Jesus, it will be easy for us to believe that gays, while continuing impenitent, can believe in Jesus also. She wants us to believe that gays are believers in Christ just because they claim to be and just because some of them might be elect. 

She confuses the doctrines of election and conversion, not just in this sermon, but also in one of her interviews. Election and conversion seem to be interchangeable in her mind. This one theological error would get her fired from the chair or pulpit of any faithful seminary or church (not to suggest that she should ever be treated like a doctor or a minister, for she is an impostor.) She emphasizes that some of the elect are among the LGBT folk, which is, of course, probable. But because of this she calls LGBT persons who call themselves Christian: our brothers and sisters. This is to assume that conversions have already happened, when the truth is, these conversions might never occur. During an interview she says that she became a Christian before the foundations of the world were laid, which is to put conversion where election should be. Her fault on the doctrine of election is not a slip, but systemic. I would have liked to see a correction from the host of the interview on that point, for lack of distinction between election and conversion is a dangerous teaching to be exposed to. But this woman sermonizes even during an interview; and she is so talkative and intimidating (butch-like) that the host can’t pluck up the wherewithal to intervene and correct her. Or, it may be that the host does not understand theology any better than she does. 

This woman is pretty shifty on what is sexually acceptable; I think that the root of her false doctrine may be discovered in the reason for her shiftiness. If you ask me, I think that she would be content to have impenitent sinners from gay quarters fully participate in church as though they were Christian, which seems already to be going on regarding the transgender person who sings there with the deep voice that she likes so much. In one of her interviews she says that the sin we drag into church (like the not-yet converted lesbian) is not the sin that we have to worry about. Certain letters of Jesus in Revelation, however, warn that we ought to be concerned about this kind of thing very much. The word ‘Jezebel’ comes to mind.   

Mrs. Butterfield makes much of her experience of conversion being like a train wreck, which sounds quite a bit like C. S. Lewis stating that he was dragged into the kingdom of God kicking and screaming. She may be in the kingdom; I cannot infallibly say that she is not; but her presence in the pulpit seems to argue that she is still kicking and screaming against the Lord from the outside. 

I remember a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones in which he makes the point that wolves in sheep’s clothing are not heretics that we would easily suspect. I easily suspect Butterfield as a heretic; but many do not. ‘Maybe’ this woman is a Christian and ‘maybe’ she is not intentionally a heretic. But she is a heretic; and the fact that she speaks from a pulpit in a church as though she were a preacher or teacher—this makes her dangerous. She, like Eve, has stepped out of her role. The irony is that while usurping the role of man, she lectures about the sins in Genesis 3! A woman is going to preach about Genesis 3 while her preaching is itself the commission of the same sin of rebellion that we find there in the conduct of Eve? Is such a woman to be trusted or even listened to? Her blurring of election and conversion is a heresy. She deserves nothing but censure and shunning. The woman is a Jezebel: a false teacher, which is what the word ‘Jezebel’ means when used in the New Testament. The Old Testament Jezebel is impudent; the New Testament Jezebel is not only impudent, but indecent as well. To permit impenitent gays (by which I mean whatever persons may be signified by the ever-growing perverted LGBTQ alphabet) to attend church as if they have closed with Christ is to introduce fornication into the society of the saved. That may not be Butterfield’s agenda; but she does not hide the fact that she wants impenitent fornicators in the midst of God’s people; the consequence of going along with her on that is to fall in, even if it be accidentally, with the agenda of Jezebel: ‘to seduce my servants to commit fornication’ (Revelation 2.20.)     

The Christian who recommends this woman’s sermons, and even her testimonies and interviews, for that matter, unwittingly lays a snare for the people that he recommends them to. The people that a person tries to help through Butterfield’s agency might assume that it is safe for women to teach men what the word of God means; and then they might soon be drinking the milk of the word with a little poison added to it. They might end up believing things like “discipling [not converting] our brothers and sisters in the Gay Christian Network.” This, in turn, would be harmful to the LGBT community that her ‘ministry’ exists to reach. Attempting to disciple an unconverted sinner will produce a hypocrite. Hypocrites, contrary to popular belief nowadays, do not belong in church. They are persons heading toward hell who think they’ve been saved for heaven.  

Presenting a cookie-cutter sinner’s prayer to a gay person and then coercing him to make a decision after he recites it is to act as foolishly as Billy Graham and his pragmatic assistants have done in their hypocrite-making crusades. To refer to gay persons as brothers and sisters who need to be discipled just because some of them might be elect is another hazard. The mechanical prayer and pretended fellowship have this in common: both tend to produce hypocrites. 

The demons did not believe in Jesus, by the way, like Mrs. Butterfield says. They believed ‘that there is one God’ (James 2.19); and they confessed that Jesus was ‘Christ the Son of God’ (Luke 4.41.) If they had ‘believed in’ Jesus, as the term is used in the New Testament, they had been saved from ruin. In her material, Mrs. Butterfield misinterprets saving faith and she credits saving faith to those who don’t have it. According to her interpretation of John 7.17, understanding comes through obedience. If she were to obey God by refusing to stand in man’s place, maybe God would give her a biblical understanding of the doctrines of election and conversion. Good Bible teachers are rare, perhaps as rare as they ever were; but it is not a biblical solution to turn to a woman in order to learn how to evangelize LGBT sinners. These sinners need sermons from good competent men, not compromising lectures by semi-saved rebellious women. Hand out sermons to them by C. H. Spurgeon or R. M. M’Cheyne. If they balk at that, shake the dust off your feet, and leave them to their sins. Balky sinners are not to be compromised with or pandered to. They cannot be helped by softening the word of God any more than the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah could have been reformed by an Egyptian hieroglyph. Unconverted sinners do not belong in churches unless they are there to be preached to, not taught. And when they are preached to in a church setting, it must be by a man, not Rosario Butterfield, who does not even know what conversion and election are, much less which one of them comes first in order.

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