Rosaria Champagne Butterfield spent more than a decade of her life as a leftist lesbian English professor specializing in queer theory at Syracuse University. She was in a committed homosexual relationship, served as the faculty advisor for a number of gay and lesbian student groups on campus, and co-authored the first successful domestic partnership policy at the university. In 1999, everything changed. Rosaria had what she refers to as a "train-wreck conversion": she came to Christ and committed to pursuing a life of "holy sexuality"—a commitment to either heterosexual marriage or celibacy. She is now married to a Presbyterian pastor in Durham, North Carolina, where she is actively "living out the means of grace," raising four children, and sharing the testimony of God's redeeming love at churches, colleges, and universities around the world in the midst of one of the most controversial topics in church and culture today.
In July 2012, Rosaria published her testimony, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, thinking she'd sell about 20 copies to her local church congregation. Since publication, her story has reached hundreds of thousands of readers across the world. Here's what she had to say about the difference between same-sex attraction and homosexuality, and how we as Christians can best love our (lesbian) neighbors as ourselves.
You lived a lesbian lifestyle for years, and now you're a pastor's wife—How? Why?
I absolutely had what I believed was a heterosexual adolescence. I really liked having boyfriends around because they got me out of the house and I enjoyed the attention, but I realized in my 20s that deep down it was my relationships with women that were really resonating with me. That particular reality grew until I developed what I considered a homo-sociality—a preference for being in the presence of women—that morphed into homosexuality. It wasn't a big event, like here on this date I became a lesbian. It was in some ways a normal extension of the growing feelings I had. I also grew up an unbeliever, so when I came to Christ, everything in my life had to change.
Initially, after my conversion, the thought of being a sexual person at all was terrifying. I had been in a homosexual relationship for years, and I didn't trust myself at all. But after a season of the Lord working on my life, I realized I desired to have a normative, biblical sexuality. But I was a little scared of that too. So things unfolded, and I had a failed engagement before I met my husband, Kent. It was easy to be with Kent because he also is a very strong believer, and when we looked at our potential marriage and the sexuality that would be a part of that, we put it before the Lord, saying we trusted he'd brought us this far, and would complete the journey. We had extensive biblical premarital counseling, and I was committed. I felt it was something I really wanted to do. I was 39 when we got married, and I'm 51 now.