Judith Campbell: What’s an inappropriate response to homosexuals that Christians often use?
Dr. Rosaria Butterfield: [There] are the three things that you can really do inappropriately as a Christian: Presume that God’s people are not counted among the elect because the sin itself overshadows them … that’s just giving up on people’s souls, and that’s a sin. The other is taking a graceless, legalistic, I would say hateful placard to a gay pride march, not wanting to talk to people, but just wanting to declare that they’re sinning. And the third is completely capitulating that the Bible is inerrant and inspired, leaving the people who are truly struggling with sexual sin no hope at all.
The other thing that the church does that is highly inappropriate is to say that sexual orientation is real. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
JC: Could you explain that?
RB: The Bible gives us one idea about orientation: it’s a soul-orientation. The one way that we are oriented is to have an eternal existence somewhere. Now, the fact that when you’re struggling with this sin, you feel in some way predetermined for it, is true about every sin. It’s simply true about every single sin. There’s no sin that doesn’t have your name on it; that doesn’t call you by name … Sin is not just this bad thing that you shouldn’t do—it’s alive! … We have to be careful when we declare that a sexual identity apart from God’s word is something that needs to be protected.
JC: What can the church do better?
RB: One of the things that I think churches could do is be more intentional … of all institutions, the church should not be so naive about sin as to think that that sin is ‘not gonna be walkin’ through my doors.’ Well the potential for sin, for every single sin, is in every heart—we are all capable of the most heinous of crimes—so I think it would be very helpful for churches to not wait for the explosion to happen, but to be intentional about wanting to know how people really are, and not drop dead once they tell you.
JC: As a university professor, you’re familiar with college culture. What do students need to watch out for in culture?
RB: Not to presume that everybody’s on the same page. Again, I tend to talk to people who are off the grid, but those people are here too [at Geneva]. They look just like you, and they’re trying to put on a stiff upper lip right now, but they’re really struggling with something. We want to be very careful. Whenever we’re in a situation where we feel like it’s ‘just us’ we tend to be careless with our speech. We tend to say things about ‘other people’ that we would never say if they were sitting in our midst.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we have a moral crisis every two minutes or so (on campus).
There’s something for me that’s very deceptive of this time of life; you’re young, you’re beautiful, but nobody knows how deeply your heart is breaking. How powerfully undone you feel by some of the things of your past or your present or your future. It lends towards idolatry of self, neglect of the church, and a certain careless assumption that we all think the same way. And God won’t bless that.