Rosaria Butterfield is not a model for becoming un-gay

This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on June 4, 2024.

Growing up as an independent fundamentalist Baptist, I was taught that loosening any standards meant you were getting on the slippery slope toward becoming gay.

If I grew my hair out over my ears, I might eventually reject God and become gay. If I began listening to Southern Gospel music, I might eventually reject God and become gay. If I watched Mister Rogers wearing sweaters and talking about his feelings, I might eventually reject God and become gay.

When I became a conservative evangelical, we got rid of the rules but kept the fear. If I questioned prohibitions against women in leadership, I would eventually reject God and accept gay people. If I questioned young earth creationism or a global flood, I would eventually reject inerrancy and accept gay people.

Of course, we all differed on what the slippery slope involved. But despite our differences, becoming gay or accepting gay people was seen as the spiritual apocalypse of all sin. So as you can imagine, emotions tend to run high in conservative spaces during Pride Month.

Last year, Kid Rock pointed his middle finger at a camera and blasted away four boxes of Bud Light with his automatic rifle due to Anheuser-Busch’s support of the LGBTQ community. Congresswomen Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green led boycotts of North Face for promoting a “nation of degenerates” and “grooming our children” due to an “Outdoors Together” campaign that encouraged people of various sexual orientations to take hikes together. Target had to remove Pride merchandise after customers were being violent or threatening to their store employees. And Russian NHL players boycotted Pride-themed game nights out of fear of retribution from Vladimir Putin.

One can only imagine what this year has in store for us.

“The divide between conservative evangelicals and progressive Christians on LGBTQ matters seems insurmountable.”

The divide between conservative evangelicals and progressive Christians on LGBTQ matters seems insurmountable. And perhaps it should be, given what both groups believe is at stake.

Conservative evangelical YouTubers Paul and Morgan, who spent 24 hours with a mixed-faith couple, released a new video recently where they spent 24 hours with Tim Whitaker of The New Evangelicals, which is a progressive Christian organization fully affirming of LGBTQ people.

In their time together, they learned to enjoy each other’s company more than they imagined they would at the start. But their differences about the Bible and LGBTQ people ultimately were too much for either to change.

One challenge in this conversation is that it is always evolving. Progressive Christians admit their views have changed over time. But conservative evangelicals assume they’re standing firm on what always has been true. They believe progressive Christians arrive at their affirmation as a result of a slippery slope.

But by assuming they’re standing firm on what always has been true, conservatives lack awareness of their own slippery slope or trajectory over time and promote influencers who champion their cause without realizing how extreme some of these influencers have become.

In a recent episode of the New Evangelicals podcast, Tim Whitaker sat down with Matthew Vines, founder of The Reformation Project and author of God and the Gay Christian. Vines says his focus is to help theologically conservative Christians “be able to continue to affirm and uphold the authority of the Bible … while also making space to affirm committed, monogamous, same-sex relationships.”

In their conversation, Whitaker and Vines discuss how some of the conservative evangelical leaders of the non-affirming position have not been standing firm and unchanged but have changed their views over time and have slid down a slope toward an extremism that ends in violence.

Tim Whitaker and Matthew Vines

Rosaria Butterfield’s concern over shifting views

Perhaps the most influential voice in conservative evangelicalism today for non-affirming theology is Rosaria Butterfield, who claims to have once been a lesbian professor who got saved and stopped being a lesbian.

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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