"I Left My Lesbian Lover for Jesus" with Rosaria Butterfield

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This is a podcast episode titled, "I Left My Lesbian Lover for Jesus" with Rosaria Butterfield. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week's guest on&nbsp;<em>Truth Over Tribe&nbsp;</em>is Rosaria Butterfield, a former English Professor at Syracuse University who was once in a long-term lesbian relationship. Rosaria is now a follower of Jesus and her passion for radical hospitality makes that evident. Today, she joins <a href="https://twitter.com/KeithSimon_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Keith</a> to discuss how she began following Jesus and how hospitable relationships played a vital role in her conversion to Christianity. She challenges Keith by sharing why she believes that homosexual desires should always be getting smaller in the life of a believer. Tune in now!</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! πŸ™</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/truthovertribe_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ChooseTruthOverTribe" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/truthovertribe_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href="https://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/subscribe?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href="https://choosetruthovertribe.com/?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079YB3GF8/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/blog_subscription" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe To Our Blog</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/how-tribal-are-you" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?</a></p>
How Rosaria came to follow Jesus
02:05 MIN
How Rosaria's community responded to her becoming a Christian
01:54 MIN
How can Christian's better disarm interactions with the LGBTQ community
01:52 MIN
Putting the hand of Jesus into the hand of the suffering
02:41 MIN
We all want freedom and liberty of consciousness
04:16 MIN
Central to Christian faith: Repentance and transformation go together
07:25 MIN
Prayer
02:44 MIN

Rosaria Champagne: I'm Rosaria Butterfield, and I choose truth over tribe.

Keith Simon: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 3: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic.

Speaker 4: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Speaker 6: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Speaker 7: You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 8: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 9: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote Democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon, and we choose truth over tribe.

Patrick Miller: Do you?

Keith Simon: Okay, I love this conversation that I had with Rosaria Butterfield, it's spicy and wide ranging. But we start with the story of how Rosaria began to follow Jesus as an English professor at Syracuse University and involved in a long- term lesbian relationship. Then we moved to discussing her newest book, The gospel Comes With a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our post- Christian World. Now, I'm not sure the word ordinary should be in that title because Rosaria has crazy stories of how she and her husband Kent have built relationships within their neighborhood. Then we get back into some of Rosaria's concerns with how Christians talk about same sex issues. Now, fair warning, Rosaria doesn't hold back. She's smart, she knows her Bible, she loves Jesus. She's lived in both the gay and Christian world, so she's earned the right to speak on these issues. Rosaria Butterfield, welcome to Truth Over Tribe.

Rosaria Champagne: Thank you. Thanks so much for having this conversation with me.

Keith Simon: Well, I've just met you, but it feels like I know you from your books. And I've enjoyed all of them, at least all the ones I know about, the three that I hope that we get a chance to visit a little bit about today. And the first time I met you was in your first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. And the subtitle tells a lot in that. The subtitle is An English Professor's Journey Into the Christian Faith. And ever since I read that story, that I thought was a really powerful story about how God worked in your life, I've never forgotten. It's been years ago, but I've never forgotten it. And I'm wondering if you just tell us about how you came to follow Jesus

Rosaria Champagne: Long ago and far, far away when the dinosaurs walked the earth, I kid around, but it was years ago. And I praise God for that because it was rough, it was hard. In the 1990s, I was an English professor, an English and women's studies professor at Syracuse University. And after my tenure book was written, and so I was done, secure, had job security, I wanted to start a book on something that was really deep in my heart. And the question really was why did people like you hate people like me? It was just an honest question.

Keith Simon: And by people like me, you mean Christians?

Rosaria Champagne: Why did Christians, why do conservative Bible believing Christians hate people like me? And at that time, I was an out lesbian feminist activist. And it was just an honest question. I'm not a very sentimental person, I just wanted to know what were the big things that in our differences since we're both human that created this divide. I had a colleague who was in anthropology and he could do things like go to Promise Keepers rallies and interview people. But I'm an English professor, so I'm stuck actually sitting down reading books and making sense of things. And I started to read the Bible because I figured that's the book that got y'all in trouble, so I should sit down and read it. And in the process, I met a pastor who was a neighbor, and he came into my life in an interesting way. I had written an article that was given back- page billing in a major newspaper. And the title they gave it was Promise Keeper's message is a danger to democracy. And it was an article that generated a lot of hate mail and fan mail. And then I got this letter from Ken Smith, and it was neither hate mail nor fan mail, and it was so engaging. And I thought, well, you know what, this is somebody who completely disagrees with me and might be able to answer my question why do people like you hate people like me? And so he had had his phone number on the bottom, said, " Call me if you want to talk." I did, so I called him. And that began a long, vital, important friendship that is still going on to this day.

Keith Simon: Now, if I remember the story right, you were going through stacks of letters that you received in response to this article you'd written and you were putting them in categories of these people hate me and disagree with me or these people love what I said in the article. But his letter, you didn't know what to do with, it didn't seem fit either category. It engaged you at a deeper level saying, I don't agree with you, but it was kind and gracious. So that's led to you pursuing a relationship with him, is that right or getting to know him?

Rosaria Champagne: Yeah. And I should say also just to put all the cards on the table, I thought this is a really smart guy. He's got the right pedigree, he could be my unpaid research assistant. I know what I know and I know what I don't know. But if what I really want to understand is how the Bible gets people like you in all this trouble that you're going to end up hating people like me, I want to get behind your eyes, I wanted to get in Ken's head. And he seemed just rational enough and willing to talk with me. And so that was that. So I did, I called him back and he invited me to his home for dinner. And then he was quick to say, " Oh, maybe that's uncomfortable for you, maybe we should meet someplace else." And I explained that as a gay rights activist, I was a gay rights activist in New York in the 90s during the heyday of AIDS. Where do you think we did all of our organizing? At dining room tables. I was used to having a community of people gathering at tables talking about the hard things of our day. So I was very comfortable with table fellowship because that was my world as well. I probably had 500 meals at Ken& Floy Smith's house.

Keith Simon: So that's interesting.

Rosaria Champagne: Don't think for a minute I went to their house and they shared the Gospel and I said, oh, I should have had a V8. I was zapped and everything was different, not even close.

Keith Simon: What is it you found so attractive about Ken and his wife Floy that kept you coming back, because like you said, you thought maybe you could use him as an unpaid research assistant, you could learn some things for your research? But you didn't enter into that relationship open to changing anything, you were using it as a chance to learn. So there's something that kept you coming back past the idea that I can learn something about these crazy people. What was it that you found attractive?

Rosaria Champagne: And I would say that, just to push back a little bit, I always had a little Stickum on my desk. And it said I would rather be wrong on an important point than write on a trivial one. So I've always lived my life willing to change if somebody gave me a better response. So I wasn't going in like, oh, I will never change about anything. I just had never heard anybody give me a legit story on this one. What was so disarming about Ken and Floyd, there are a lot of things. Well, Ken is still alive, Floy is now with the Lord. Ken is fearless in his love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore his evangelism. He was willing to perceive me not as some kind of a blank slate. He didn't seem to think I was going to pervert him or I had some kind of contagion. ANd very quickly early on, he made this distinction between acceptance and approval, which I loved. And I will tell you that probably post 2015, post Obergefell, I'm not quite sure that this particular paradigm is as effective as it was 20 some years ago. But I was a beloved decorated professor, I had hoards of people who approved of me, I didn't need this man's approval. But in order to really hear what he's saying, people have to accept each other. We have to accept each other where we are and not be afraid to do that. So anyway, the fact that he was so willing to do that, the fact that he was willing to meet my friends, the fact that he was direct with me about what he thought I was misunderstanding, I loved all of that. There wasn't a platitude in the mix. It was honest, gritty, hard talk. And I loved it, and I still love it.

Keith Simon: So this guy Ken and his wife Floy, they reach out to you, they take the initiative to send that letter. They have some kind of combination of truth and love, willing to engage you as a real person, treat you with respect, listen to you and enter into your life and your friends and all of that but without compromising where they're coming from or what they believe. And somehow this relationship blossoms and over time, and people can go read the book, I'd encourage them to, it's a fabulous book, but you come to faith in Jesus. And that causes you to leave your community or at least have some hard conversations with your community. How did your community respond to you becoming a Christian of all things?

Rosaria Champagne: Oh, it was tragic. I mean, I wasn't just the nice lesbian next door who sells insurance and lived a nice closeted life and kept a nice garden and walked her dogs. I mean, I was a gay rights activist, I organized, I led, I directed dissertations in queer theory. I championed undergraduate student activism groups, I was that person. And in some ways, probably the most effective thing the Lord could have done was to just shut me up. I mean, just silencing me was a momentous thing. But also, and I think this is important to realize, my community felt betrayed by me because they were. I left my lover for Jesus, I stopped directing dissertations in queer theory. Can you imagine what it would've been like to travel internationally so that I could direct your dissertation in queer theory, and I'm not doing that anymore. And this was back in the 90s when you didn't have 15 other English professors doing that. It was a profound betrayal. And not only did they have to live with that, but in some ways I did too. I couldn't pretend that I wasn't the one hurting them. I was the one who had Jesus. And so while it was very hard to lose everything... I tell everybody I lost everything but the dog. And he was a nice dog, so it's all good. I didn't actually lose my job because I had tenure at the time, but that's a story unto itself. It was a terrible thing to realize, yes, I had hurt the very people I loved. And a very good question that a lot of people had was this are my secrets still safe with you? And so that's actually something that has carried through my life, can I be genuinely friends with people who do not think the same way that I do? And are their secrets safe with me or am I just a partisan?

Keith Simon: Well, I will come back to that in a second because that is a big thing we talk about here, truth over tribe. But before we do that, you've mentioned a couple times about what led you to build this relationship with Ken. What led you to write that initial article in the newspaper was that you were trying to figure out why Christians didn't like people like you. And I take it as well that your community didn't necessarily like Christians either, that there was this hostility there. What can we as Christians learn about how to treat people who are, just to use your language, open lesbian gay rights activists, organizers, what is it that we need to learn about how to interact with people like that so that they see from us love and not hatred?

Rosaria Champagne: This might surprise you as an answer, but one of the things that Ken very quickly did was got me reading the Bible on my own and saying, " You know what Rosaria, I can't answer your questions for why Christians don't like you, I just can't. That's actually not the legit question, the legit is what does Jesus think of you?" And I really can't answer that. I love reading assignments, and I read through the Bible seven times before I came to Christ. And I knew that that seventh time something was different because I got Psalm 98 and even said to Ken, " Something's crazy, I got Psalm 98." That line about he will judge the world with equity, he is coming back. That's the first time that I actually thought it would be a good thing for the Lord Jesus to do those things. So in some ways, Ken was really wise just in the same way that I could only understand this as a partisan because I didn't understand that Jesus was the king of the universe. I thought Jesus was a little puppet that Christians put on their shoulder, how am I doing today? I really did. I thought of the Christian faith as a particular cosmological approach at self- help that was very day dangerous because it had God on its side. But I didn't know it was real. And so by Ken also refusing to be partisan. One of the things Ken Smith wouldn't do is what I'm seeing evangelicals doing today. Ken Smith would never have written something in The Atlantic or USA Today throwing other evangelicals under the bus. Ken Smith was really quick and said, "You know, Rosaria, you think you're having a problem with me, but you're really having a problem with Jesus. Now, you read this book and you and I are going to talk about it. And I think all of your questions are going to be answered."

Keith Simon: So it sounds like one of the things he did to disarm you a little bit or that you found disarming was to take it out of you versus Christians, group versus group and make it about you and Jesus instead of these identity groups out there?

Rosaria Champagne: That's right.

Keith Simon: And that's part of what you found attract. It made you wrestle with truth instead of lobbing grenades back and forth between groups.

Rosaria Champagne: Exactly. And it was disarming because I was completely embedded in Freudian categories of identity. So it was completely disarming. I was way off my game when instead of being Rosaria the lesbian activist, I now needed to think of myself as Rosaria the image bear of a holy God. That was crazy making. And the other thing that Ken did though, he didn't just hand this Bible to me and say, " Well, go read it seven times, come back when you have an idea," he said, " why don't we just meet weekly and talk about this?"

Keith Simon: Yeah, that's huge. Just enter into a process and a relationship.

Rosaria Champagne: Yeah, it was, it was huge. And he's like, " Well, I'm a Christian neighbor, that's what neighbors do. Why don't you come on? What night works for you?" Okay, great. And then they started assigning me tasks like, " Okay, great, and why don't you bring the salad, and why don't you bring the fresh bread?" It was like I belonged to them.

Keith Simon: They were treating you as a friend, right? I mean, they were treating you as more than a guest.

Rosaria Champagne: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They were treating me as somebody who belonged to them and somebody that they weren't going to throw away. And that has never left me and is something that I firmly believe, Christians don't throw people away.

Keith Simon: It's a great segue into your most recent book on hospitality because you've already referenced the community, how you organized in New York City as a gay rights activist in people's homes around dinner tables, had hard conversations. Then you end up coming to faith through this friendship and belonging to Ken and Floy Smith open up their home, and not just for you, but for others as well. And now in this book you've written, you're encouraging all of us as Christians to think about hospitality. But the truth is that when you use that word hospitality I just think you mean something different than most people who use it. My wife and I might think we're being hospitable if we have some friends from church over for dinner, or maybe people in our small group at church over for dinner. Probably for me I'm using hospitality and entertaining as synonyms. But when you use the word hospitality, you mean something different. Can you help us understand what you mean by it and how it might be different than entertaining people?

Rosaria Champagne: I do, I do, I do. And if I can just back up to segue a bit, my faith journey was really hard. I mean, it was really rigorous and hard. And while my initial introduction to the Lord Jesus Christ was through these wonderful Christians, when the Lord justified me and adopted me and put me on the path of sanctification, repentance to somebody who is a lifelong sexual sinner, it's not for the weak of heart. And so it was hard, and these people became not just my church but they became my family. And I don't want to make it sound like Ken and Floy are stalkers or anything like that, but they really filled a void and helped me understand that when you live your life as a whore, that's a serious thing. And when you come to Christ, you need to learn how to hate your sin without hating yourself. And as you do that, you will grow in Christ. And one of the things that I had to learn in this process is that homosexuality was very much part of my biography. Look it up, look it up on Wikipedia, it's part of my biography. But it's not part of my nature because I have a new nature in Jesus. And it's with that understanding that God's people are everywhere in the most unlikely packages, I. e., people like the person I am. That my husband whose name is Kent with a T, Kent Butterfield.

Keith Simon: It's a little confusing Ken and Kent.

Rosaria Champagne: It was Becket Cook, he said, " You got to make this distinction a little better." But it's with that in mind that hospitality became very central to Kent's ministry early on as a church planter. And then as the pastor of a small church and now as the pastor of a small church during pandemic times when we're still practicing hospitality, And we never really stopped. It is a practice, but it's a practice that is undergirded with a theology that says God's people are everywhere. And there are a lot of barriers to connecting with people. And the two biggest ones at least in our neighborhood are addiction and abuse. And so it might sound really nice to say, well, let's invite people over three Saturdays from this Saturday because I know I'll have the house clean, I know I'll have the kids in order, I know I'll go to the grocery store. But if your neighbors are afflicted with addiction or abuse, quite frankly, they don't know if they're going to be sober or safe three Saturdays from today, they just don't. And so it was in that spirit that we started realizing that a very loving way to practice hospitality for strangers. Philoxenia is this love of the stranger. And there's nothing wrong with loving your church family. We want to love our church family, and we do. But if you're really seeking people whose lives are, you might not even know what kind of things are going on. You need to have an open regular time. And so that's when we started just having a day of the week that was almost like a Christian open house. And it was easy because we live in North Carolina, and the weather's wonderful. You can do a lot of things outside, which is much less of a barrier for people. And so people really warmed to that. We had prayer walks, we would sing Psalms together, have barbecues. We'd do it once a week, people knew exactly. And then all of a sudden the neighbor across the street was arrested for running a meth lab in his home.

Keith Simon: That's a big deal.

Rosaria Champagne: That's a big deal. And that ratcheted everything up in some pretty amazing ways in terms of our hospitality. But we've always been really grateful that we've always had a kind of spirit of Christian open house with our neighbors. Because over all these years, they've been able to throw some pretty hard ball questions our way knowing that we're probably going to say, great question, long question, can you come over for dinner tonight? Let's talk about it. We talk about it, then at a certain point in the dinner, the kids send the dishes up to the kitchen and send the Bibles in the psalters down the long row of seats. And our neighbors look at Kent and they say, " What are we doing? And Kent saying, " Well, I'm a Christian, this is a Christian home, we've just talked about really hard things. We're now going to read a passage of scripture and we're going to pray together, and we're going to bring it to the throne of grace. And then if we're not satisfied, we can come back tomorrow and have the same conversation."

Keith Simon: So let me make sure that everybody's tracking with us here because I know your story pretty well, as well as you can from the books. And I don't want people to get lost with us. You become a believer in New York through Ken and Floy, this pastor of a small church in Syracuse. And then years go by, of course, and life happens and you end up marrying a man. Which that's a big thing because you were a lesbian in a relationship.

Rosaria Champagne: I was, yes, that's right.

Keith Simon: And you end up marrying this man named Kent Butterfield, and he was a church planning pastor. And now you're still together now as a family living in North Carolina and pastoring this church. And the subtitle of your book is Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in a Post- Christian World. But there's nothing ordinary about your life. I mean, you've said that you live in a neighborhood with addiction and abuse, your next door neighbor across the street was running a meth lab. You open your home inside and outside once a week. But reading your book, it didn't stay once a week, it overflowed into other days of the week. It sounds like you have this approach to life that works for your family. By the way, you're fostering children, adopting children all throughout this process. And you have an open house policy, you put food on at the beginning of the day not knowing who's going to show up that night. So there's nothing ordinary about it. Just help us understand the small things that you do, we'll probably seem like small things to you to live a life that has an open house approach not just to your friends but to anybody who really needs to come in.

Rosaria Champagne: Right, right, right, right. That's a good question, and there's a lot to unpack there. First of all, I would say this transition from understanding myself as a lesbian to being a very happily married woman with children and really loving my life as a homemaker, I did go from being an important person in the world to really pretty much being somebody who's got an apron most of the time and really loving that, really seeing God's power and glory and grace in that was that it was really ironic because I was a professor of women's studies, but I really didn't know what it meant to be a woman. I mean, I just didn't under understand the whole creation ordinance. I just didn't understand what it meant to be not only born a woman but designed a woman for a purpose. And so that's its own story, and we might not get into it. But I just want to put it out there that it wasn't, again, it wasn't like I was lobotomized or something. There is a theological journey that someone would take if you are struggling with same sex attraction and you don't want to have that struggle anymore. Now, I would say the struggle with same sex attraction is an indwelling sin. And you know what, indwelling sin is hard business. I'm a homeschool mom, I will pick up the phone various times throughout the week and talk to moms who are struggling with anger and they've been doing it for 10 years now. Indwelling sin doesn't always go away. But if you're growing in Christ, it's always getting smaller. So that's important. It's not this idea that somehow if you're a lesbian that is a category of personhood. That doesn't change, that never changes. That's just not true, the gospel is all about change. Anyway, that's its own. But I want to put that out there because I wasn't just zapped. But one of the things it did leave me with is a desire to make sure that my home was a place where people could meet Jesus. And of course, if your husband's a pastor, then everybody's on that page. And we did, it was a big crisis. It's a big crisis to have a meth lab across the street, it's a big crisis to be the only neighbors who were friends with the man running the meth lab. In fact, it's a big crisis because all your neighbors now think you are part of the problem, you know what I mean,

Keith Simon: Killed by association a little bit. And nobody's excited to hear there's a meth lab that the police showed up.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, not the police, the SWAT team. And you've got crime scene tape and you can't even get to your house because of the SWAT team. It was a disaster, and it was a godly disaster.

Keith Simon: You tell that story in the book, and I think it's really good. This guy's name's Hank. And I think it was you bonded originally because he was withdrawn over dogs if I remember right. It all comes back to the dog of course. But I hope to get to some of this same sex attracted stuff here toward the end in a second. I just want to understand a little bit more sure about the hospitality thing. And it feels like it cost your family something. In other words, you've had to say no to some things in order to have an open house, " Come in, be a part of our lives, we're here for you. You can be really different than us, that's okay." In other words, you're trying to do for us what Ken and Floy Smith did for you. You're trying to be that. You're a little different, your own style and all. Butt tell us some of the things that you've had to say no to in order to say yes to this life.

Rosaria Champagne: Oh yeah. Well, I do write books, and I don't write them nearly as quickly as my editors think I ought to because life happens. Because my heart for hospitality is especially all those kids out there and their families, and their families. But yeah, I am way behind in turning books In on time. I homeschool my kids, I homeschool a bunch of other people's kid, I make dinner. One of the prayers that I have in the morning is, Lord, may I be useful as a Christian woman to the people around me. And I will tell you that that is a prayer that the Lord answers all the time, especially during this whole strange COVID time where really hospitality became even more important as people's loneliness and suicidal ideations and other things happened. But one of the things that our neighbors had to deal with and that we had to deal with with Hank across the street incarcerated, the reality of this meth lab, one of the things we had to realize is that he needs the Gospel, we all need the Gospel. It's so easy to just turn somebody into like the Boo Radley of, you what I'm saying like, well, he's the problem. And I would say probably the biggest thing that happened throughout the two years after the meth lab was watching our neighbors repent of their own sin, watching our neighbors come to Christ, watching our neighbors see the humanity and the agony of addiction. And that might seem like a very small story, but it's those details that create a Christian life that is either a Christian life that is vibrant with compassion and care for others or that is just atrophying under the weight of self- importance and bitterness and fear. And I don't want to be that Christian, the Lord didn't take me this far to be that Christian. Now, you probably know me from some other interviews or some other books and things. I have some pretty strong opinions on matters of especially sexual sin. And I say that because it's a good thing to no longer have a noose around your neck. It's a good thing to see the Lord's hand a victory in your life, we want that for people. But we really want to make sure that our neighbors, especially our unsafe neighbors know that they can ask their hard questions here. We want to be able to put the hand of Jesus into the hand of the suffering.

Keith Simon: One of the things you mentioned in the book is that you have, and you even kind of referenced it here a few moments ago is that you walked away from a career that gave you income. You're living on less money than you could, that's something that's cost you, You left a professional life in which you've been really successful. And it's not as if you're not using any of those skills, but you're not getting the same credit from society, the same rush that comes from having your own office and people calling you professor and all that kind of stuff, doctor and all that. When I was reading the book and hearing about all the people in and out of your house, I think what struck me, and maybe this is just my own thing, but there's a big sense that you let go of control. Like even when you said a second ago, you prayed, God use me however you see fit today as a Christian woman, and that God answers that prayer. I like to go into my day feeling like I have control over it, I know the plan, I know how it's all going to unfold. And maybe you're like that, maybe you're not, we're all wired a little bit differently. You relinquished that, you said, " I don't have to be in control, I don't have to know who's coming for dinner. I don't have to know this kind of stuff." So has that been hard? What's been the hardest part for you personally.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, see, that's one of the things. And this is why I sometimes get in trouble on podcasts. I do get in trouble on podcasts a lot, I should warn you.

Keith Simon: Let's get some trouble here, let's make some trouble.

Rosaria Champagne: I learned a lot in my lesbian community about dealing with, especially when the AIDS crisis hit New York. Now, I'm not talking about going to a gay bar and learning your theology, no, don't do that, that would be stupid. I'm talking about people who want to live who are trying to figure out how to do that in the name of a pandemic that is mysterious. Does it sound a bit familiar? And I learned at that point how to cook, it's just a simple thing, I learned how to cook for an unknown number of people, but that usually had more than two digits in it. It was just a skill, and I just learned it there. It's called common grace, I want to give credit where credit is due. That was very helpful. But I think it's important to also know that Kent and I have adopted older children with hard stories, and we've adopted other children without hard stories. But we've adopted older children with hard stories, including children who came out of a gang, children who came out of a juvenile detention center for good reason. And I know I've heard people say, well, I hear poor children, you have all these wacky people coming in. It's like, oh no, no, no, no, the real issue is who's in our house. One of the concerns is what kind of language you might be teaching your neighbors. That's not the case right now, but I feel like I need people to understand we are not some kind of cleaned up perfect happy little nuclear family, we are hanging on by the blood of Christ. And obviously at different seasons in life, those doors are closed. So if we have a child that we've adopted who's in crisis, we're not having open dinner parties. But it did work out just providentially that when Hank blew up the house across the streets almost, oh, I forgot to mention that we did acquire the hundred pound pit bull that went with the, of course.

Keith Simon: You acquired Hank's dog?

Rosaria Champagne: Yes, of course.

Keith Simon: Why not? So do you believe in boundaries? BEcause I think people are listening to you and just think, wow, is there a good book on boundaries I could recommend? How do you think about that?

Rosaria Champagne: Well, yes, yes, I do believe in boundaries. And we don't do this every day, we don't do this every day now. There was a season in our life when we had this crisis in our neighborhood and by meeting almost nightly with people, we were able to share the Gospel with momentum. And if anyone ever experienced what that is like, you will make any sacrifice on the planet. And not only would we be able to do this, but our children were able to do this. I mean, our two youngest children are now 16 and 19, the two youngest who live at home. And they are strong Christians who evangelize their friends, have seen the fruit of Jesus in their friends' life who were raised falling asleep under the dining room table, I hate to say this, listening to their parents beg their friends to put their faith in Christ. It's all happened in real time, it's all happened in real time for all of us. And that's a good thing. But yes, right now is a different season of life, and we haven't stopped practicing hospitality, but it's not on that level right now.

Keith Simon: I think that's encouraging because whether we should be or not, we're probably all not going to have that exact same life that you had during that season. But it sounds like there are some principles that we can take out and apply to our life, whatever stage we're in, single, married, young kids, older kids, divorced widow, whatever, that there are some things that we can take out of that. And one of them is that we want to invite people into our life and into our home as they are to come in, to enter into a real relationship with them and to speak the truth in love, to take the initiative to talk about Jesus. But not in a way that puts them under the gun or under pressure, but to help them engage with Jesus just like Ken and Floy did you and you're doing with others now.

Rosaria Champagne: And I would say there is a little pressure. I wouldn't say it's without pressure because I think what happens is we have a nice dinner and people talk and then the Bibles come down and people immediately... You put a Bible in front of an unbeliever, there's some pressure there, it is not a small thing. What I would say is hospitality is a mission of the church. It is not a mission of the Butterfields or the Smiths or the Joneses, it's a mission of the church. And so for that reason, not everybody in the church is going to be doing the same kind of evangelism. The nursing mother who's nursing her baby at midnight is not on a street corner in Raleigh evangelizing the drunks because she's not supposed to be. But she will get the blessing from the members of the church who are doing that. One of the things that is helpful and that we've always done especially if we know we're going to have a tough crowd, Kent's really good at this. We're going to have a tough crowd, he wants to make sure it's not just our family here, we have other Christians from the church too so that we can have a lot of sidebar conversations going on.

Keith Simon: Well, I like that vision of the church as being a body, that we all don't have to be an arm or an eye or whatever, that we can play different roles inside of the church depending on who God's made us and what our experience are and what our knowledge level is and stage in life and all that kind of stuff. You've mentioned COVID here, and I'm not so much wanting to talk about the way it made us social distance and that kind of stuff. What I'm curious about is the fracturing that's happened around it. And of course, not just COVID, there was the politic and President Trump's election. And now politics seems to be fracturing our country. And so when you reach out to people and you're bringing people into your home for hospitality and conversations, how do you handle these hot button issues, masks, vaccines, Biden, Trump, all this stuff? Do you ignore it? Do you switch the subject? Do you engage on it? How do you do it? Because the subtitle of your book remember ends with a post- Christian world. So how do you handle this fracturing of society in your home?

Rosaria Champagne: Well, first of all, we were a little bit like the Hebrew midwives, we sort of just went about our business. We kept the church open, we kept doing hospitality. We just kind of went about our business. There were a lot of kids who needed a place to plug in their computers now that they were doing work at home. So we just kind of chugged along. But perhaps a good way of answering your question is by example, let me give you an anecdote. A few weeks ago, I was walking the dogs, of course, that's the other thing I always do. And it was the Lord's day morning, so I was a bit rushed. And two of my neighbors who are two gay men who are about my age, I'm almost 60, we come from that generation. They were waiting for me and they said, " Rosaria, we're waiting for you, we wanted to ask you a question." I said, " Okay guys, what's up?" He said, " What is wrong with you Christians? Why are Christians such anti- vaxxers? I mean, come on, the CDC says this and we know the vaccine is safe, and you guys just look like a bunch of idiots. I'm not talking about you personally, tell me why your tribe thinks this way." And so I said, " Well guys, didn't we all come from the same New York gay community, I kind of remember that." And that's when one of them dropped his cigarette because I think he just kind of forgot this is Rosaria the pastor's wife not... " Well, let me tell you what guys, I remember 25 years ago the best going advice anybody had was that gay men needed to start wearing condoms. And I remember that your tribe didn't like that. Do you remember that? In fact, as I remember it, Larry Kramer was the only one from your tribe. So here guys, let me tell you what I think." And at this point, they're just like, oh, I cannot believe we got into this conversation. " I think that every human being on the planet likes freedom and Liberty of conscience. And the difference is that Christians find their freedom and their liberty of conscience in the pages of the revealed will of God in the Bible. And back when we were on the gay community in New York 25 years ago, we found our liberty and freedom based on our personal feelings and our identity as gay and lesbian people. Guys, I think I answered your question."

Keith Simon: And did they feel like they had gotten an answer? First of all, I just love the spiciness. I love that you are real and raw with them. You don't mind challenging them, obviously they know you and you know them, and it's in the context of a relationship. But did they get your point?

Rosaria Champagne: Yes, yes, they did. And they said, " You're right, we all want freedom and liberty of consciousness." And I said, " And I know that does and answer the question perfectly, but do you remember the anger that people felt against the gay community because gay men wouldn't make that one simple change. Do you remember that?" And they remembered it very, very well.

Keith Simon: It was very personal to them.

Rosaria Champagne: It was very personal to them. So yes. And I share that as an example because we are neighbors, we are friends, we have dug up irises from our backyard and shared it with each other. We have walked each other's dogs when we've had the flu, blah, blah, blah. But at the very, what it means is that it gives me the license to make sure that my words are as strong as my friendship. Now, there's not a Bible verse about that. I mean, I've known people for whom street preaching has been extremely effective in their life. And I do not want to despise that or I don't want to disrespect that at all. We all are going to work from our own style. I'm a mom, I'm relational. And I have pretty strong spicy words. And I want to make sure that my friendships are as strong as the spicy words that are going to come out of my mouth because they're going to come out of my mouth, I know it.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I like that as a principle at least. And maybe it doesn't apply in every situation, to every person, but that you can challenge somebody to the extent that you have that relationship with them. And the deeper the relationship, the more the challenge can be.

Rosaria Champagne: Absolutely, and so that's all. So those are the kinds of conversations that I get to have with my neighbors all the time. And I would say that probably the category would be systematic theology applied to the boots on the ground here and now.

Keith Simon: One of the things that I think we're all getting as we listen to you tell these stories is that you spend a lot of time in your community. You spend a lot of time outside building these friendships, you spend a lot of time checking in on people. You spend a lot of time listening and talking. So it's not as if you're just going around and having one conversation after the next about Jesus, you're having conversation about their life. You know their story, you know their history, you know what they care about. You know when they're sick, you know what their hobbies are. If we're talking earlier about some things you've had to say no to in order to say yes to this, you've probably said no to plenty of opportunities outside of your community. Other things that you could have done but you've invested in there, and God's used it. If you're like me and you leave each episode with a lot to think about and wishing you could go just a little bit deeper, you should subscribe to the Truth Over Tribe newsletter. Not only do we explore the topic further, but we also interact with people who disagree with us and tell you about upcoming episodes. Just go to choosetruthovertribe. com and sign up for the newsletter there. Now, I want to switch to something that you keep bringing up, and I want to take a few minutes to go for it a little bit. And that is this question that people inside the Christian community have been wrestling with about identity and whether it's appropriate to call yourself a gay Christian or you're same sex attracted, all this kind of stuff. And we're not going to get into all of it now partly because I'm not prepared for it, and I have a lot to learn. People can read your book Openness Unhindered, I went back and reread it recently. Because I read this other book that I want to ask you about by Greg Johnson, it's called Still Time to Care. Have you read that book?

Rosaria Champagne: I have.

Keith Simon: So again, you and he have some I think at least from my perspective, a lot of things you agree on and some things you decidedly don't agree on. And I would encourage people to read the books yours and his and others' as well to try to get to truth. But let me ask you this, he says in his book, he tells the story of Exodus International and the ex- gay movement and that it kind of largely ended in failure, at least that's the story he tells. And it kind of goes with my memory, I'm not that much younger than you. Now, maybe you're going to disagree, that's fine. But just let me set you up and then I'll let you say whatever you want. His argument is that at some point, Christians, not all Christians, but this particular movement of the ex- gay movement of Exodus International that they made it a mission to make homosexual people heterosexual. They defined success as heterosexuality, and they put pressure on people, gay people who became Christians to become heterosexual, to get married or to say that they were now attracted to the opposite sex. And he shows some stories that didn't work. I mean, the reality is that a lot of these people went back to a lifestyle they had professed to have left. When you think back, it doesn't seem like you ever got caught up in that Exodus International ex- gay movement necessarily, but I know you're very familiar with it. So what's your understanding of that movement and whether its appropriate or not? Because what he's encouraging Christians to do is not so much try to cure homosexuality as much as care for people as they walk toward Jesus. That Jesus is the goal, not becoming a heterosexual.

Rosaria Champagne: Yeah, yeah. Well, it's a very troubling book. Greg's book is troubling on a million points. But what I would say is that Exodus International blew itself up. I mean, it did, it imploded. And an organization that then picked up the pieces that were worth picking up and helping people is called Restored Hope Network, and they're doing just fine. And I think what is really troubling about Greg's book is that the Gospel isn't a self- help program, the Gospel isn't about Rosaria or Greg's or Keith's self- esteem. When Jesus said things like you brood of vipers or get behind me Satan, your self- esteem might be a little shaky at that moment. No, The gospel is God's salvation program for his Lordship over your life and this world. And all of that is hinging on the creation ordinance, on what it means to have been born male and female in the image of God, with the knowledge, righteousness, and holiness of a potentially redeemed life. Now, I did live as a lesbian, being a lesbian is part of my biography. But I am very grateful to be able to tell you that I am not same sex attracted, that I love my husband, my husband loves me. In fact, it would be unthinkable to me if after 20 years plus of marriage, how could I still be same sex attracted? I don't even understand that. If you're one flesh, you love each other, you understand each other. And the reason I'm saying that is homosexuality is a sin, it's an intruder. It's not part of your personality, it's not part of your personhood. Now, I understand that it's an indwelling sin and it can really take hold. Indwelling sin is the sin that's, you've got the sin that's out there and then you've got the sin that's in the house. Locking the doors doesn't help because the burglar's in the closet. So you want to be really careful about that. But there no Christian life without repentance of sin. When we talk about giving more grace, grace is the blood of Christ. If you want to give me more grace, you're going to give me more opportunities to repent. The great Thomas Watson in his doctrine of repentance said Christ is not loved until sin be loathed. I think it's really serious to understand that homosexuality comes as a sin. It comes from many, many, many different vestiges just like any sin but more so than any sin. This particular sin might be the only sin with a civil rights group that backs it. So there's a real danger in using a Freudian theory, a kind of Freudian category to deal rightly with your sin. And the reason I'm so passionate about this is when you think of someone like the Apostle Paul, you see, if you can't really feel forgiven for your sin, if you can't really embrace what it means to be a new creature in Christ, you're not understanding a very, very central part of the Christian faith. And that is that repentance and transformation go together. That's really, really powerful. I don't know, but it seems to me that the Christian community when Paul was walking on earth was a very small community, small enough that I'm sure Paul was at a dinner party at some point looking across the table at someone and thinking, " I recognize your eyes. Oh yeah, I murdered your mother." See, I'm serious, right?

Keith Simon: Because Paul killed Christians before he became a follower of Jesus.

Rosaria Champagne: Right. And so the only way that he could have an effective Christian life, a vibrant Christian life is if he fully repented and knew that was so fully not him, that that was not him. It was part of his biography, it was not part of his nature. That's such an important part. So will everybody's indwelling sin go away in this lifetime? No.

Keith Simon: Okay. So let's talk about that because I thought earlier in what you were just saying a couple minutes ago, it started to sound as if you were saying a person who genuinely repents and puts their faith in Jesus and earnestly follows Jesus will like you, no longer have same sexual attractions or they will be so minimized they'll become so small eventually, that they won't feel like it did in the past. And you'll be able to operate heterosexual in this world, that you might get married like you. And I've read enough of you, I don't think that's what you mean, but that's what it comes across as, if you just repent and believe in Jesus, these feelings will go away. But I don't think that's what you mean, is it?

Rosaria Champagne: Well, let me push back a little bit. I'm not saying just repent. I mean, what is repentance? Repentance is full on. Now, what I am not suggesting is that you should aspire to be'heterosexual' in a Freudian Darwinian sense. And that's where you're just sexually attracted to anything of the opposite sex. If you're a man, you want to get as much sperm out there as possible, get those little survival of the fittest genes going. And if you're a woman, you better match up with as many really powerful men as you can. That's heterosexuality in a Darwinian sense. I don't think we want that at all, put that out the window. And in fact, when Michael Hannon wrote a very provocative article in 2014 called against heterosexuality, very provocative title, he said, if homosexuality binds us to sin, heterosexuality blinds us to sin. But he's using both homosexual and heterosexual very strategically in a Freudian way. He is not speaking against or pushing against the male female binary that you find in the creation ordinance. The reality is God made male and female, men and women designed perfectly for a purpose. Now, in a fallen world, we are not all going to arrive at that purpose. I have never been pregnant in my life, all of my children come to me from adoption and foster care. I am not able to pass on whatever dreams God decided I had. And certainly not everybody will get married. We know everybody won't get married, we know that singleness is a gift and a calling for many, many people. And praise be to God for that. But no, if you are growing in Christ, I'm going to tell you what you're not going to have happen, you are not going to be constantly sidelined and disabled. And that is what homosexuality is. You see, we are tutored under this idea that it's a category of personhood, that it's benign, that it's morally neutral unless it's acted upon, but that's not how the Bible records it. So no, I am not suggesting that people who have lived their lives as lesbians will now all of a sudden become heterosexual in a Darwinian sense, nor did I say that about myself. I am perfectly happily attracted to my husband, that makes for a very good marriage. But if you are constantly having to come out of the closet, we have a problem, we have two problem actually. One is who in the world thinks that it's safe for everybody in God's green earth to know what your indwelling sin pattern is? Here, let me suggest, bad idea, bad idea. We live in a world that has very happily swapped modesty for exhibitionism.

Keith Simon: I've heard you say in other places that you will recommend for most people who have same sex attraction to do the traditional come out in a big public way.

Rosaria Champagne: Never, never.

Keith Simon: That they might share those feelings with some trusted people, a pastor, a mentor, a small group leader, something like that.

Rosaria Champagne: Like you would any indwelling sin pattern. If you are a liar, a cheater, a stealer, if you know that you are prone to pornography, no, you don't come out as though this is who you are. Homosexuality may very very well be how you feel. But if you are actually repenting and actually cutting off at the knees all of those avenues, you will not be ball and chaining these desires.

Keith Simon: Okay, I've got to jump in and ask this question though. So it sounds like this is what you're saying, and maybe you are, maybe you're not, I just want to clarify. It sounds like you're saying that a person, we'll just say it's a man who has a gay background who comes to faith in Christ. Let's say this gay man comes to faith in Christ and continues to have these same sex desires. And they want to follow Jesus, and they do. They worship in a church, they're part of a community. They spend time with God, they are growing in the fruit of the spirit and seeing the other marks that come with maturing in their faith. The reality is though they still have these same sex attractions. They don't act on them at least by God's grace as much as they can. They aren't acting on them, they're not entertaining lust. Or if they do, they are repentant over their sin just like any other sin. But it sounds like you don't have room for that person, that you're saying that person either isn't a genuine Christian or if they were a genuine Christian, that person would start seeing that same sex attraction minimized. I just am not sure that's true, I don't know.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, first of all, we're talking about sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which you grow to be more and more like Christ and less and less like the you that you are, the ground zero of you.

Keith Simon: Natural, the natural person, natural man.

Rosaria Champagne: Keith, are you a married man?

Keith Simon: I am.

Rosaria Champagne: Okay. If you are attracted, if you have a desire for a woman who's not your wife, what do you call that?

Keith Simon: Lust, evil, sin.

Rosaria Champagne: Sin.

Keith Simon: Sure.

Rosaria Champagne: Sin, okay. Do you deal with that, do you put that noose right around your neck and give a nice quick tug or do you minimize it? Here, let me put it another way. Do you look at sin through the cross hairs of an instrument of execution or do you look at it through a selfie at a Christian conference that exonerates it?

Keith Simon: So I like the way you put that.

Rosaria Champagne: You pick. No, no, I'm not going to let you squirm on this, I'm going to finish this.

Keith Simon: I'm not going to try to squirm, I'll answer any question you want.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, no, you don't have to answer my question, I'm just here to tell you that Christians need to use God's dictionary and God's vocabulary. If you use the world's dictionary and vocabulary, you will be told that homosexuality is a perfectly legitimate category of personhood. And the Gospel is going to just dance on the top of that surface a little bit like a water skimmer. But if you use God's dictionary, that is not the case. If you are growing in sanctification, you will experience greater and greater victory. Now, that victory, it's not always perfect. You're going to have struggles. But this is why it's extremely important that your sanctification is rooted in your justification not just in a cultural sense that God loves you, you're a Christian. How do you know you're a Christian, how do you know? What are those other marks? So no, I believe it, I believe it really firmly. You can kick me off the show now or do whatever you want, but no, I believe very firmly that if you are a Christian, laying hold of the perfect fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ, cutting off sin, not seeing your sin in a selfie at the revoice conference, not putting yourself constantly in this world where you're minimizing how important it is to hate your sin without hating yourself. Yes, you will grow in victory. Will you get married someday? Who knows? I don't know. Not everybody is going to get married, God needs some people to be single because there's a lot of work that singles do in the church that God loves and values.

Keith Simon: So let's go back to you and me, and you asked me the question, am I married and do I ever have desires for other women?

Rosaria Champagne: No, no. I didn't ask you if you ever did, I said if you did.

Keith Simon: It was kind of intimated. And by the way, I love the spicy conversation. We're not going to kick you off, I live for this, I'm learning here. Just to be clear, your specialty or emphasis, I'm not exactly sure how to say it is in the 19th century. And so Freud and Foucault, that whole thread is something you've emphasized, critical theory. So you know of what you speak. I mean, you're not just making this up as you go, you didn't read a Wikipedia article before you started talking about it. I mean, you know this far better than me, so fair. So with that in the background, let's go back to me or any heterosexual man or whatever, that's where we are. So you asked, does that person continue to have lustful thoughts for a woman not his wife? This hypothetical man that might be me but probably not. That person probably does. Now, they fight against it, they should fight against it. We should heed Jesus' words in the sermon of the Mount and wage war against the sin. 1st Peter, the sin wages war against our soul, and we need to fight against it, wonder. But I don't know a heterosexual man that will be honest with you that sin is no longer there or is now like, oh, it's no big deal. You have to fight it every day, those temptations come back every day. They're real every day, they're present every day. And maybe they decrease in their intensity, maybe not. Maybe in my age is because I got older, and so maybe that's why they decreased. I don't know. But they're present, they drive me to Jesus and my need for grace. And they remind me that I cannot depend on myself. But I don't know that the Bible gives us a confidence to say that that struggle with our sin nature is going to go away.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, I think it does.

Keith Simon: It does.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, first of all, here's why because it will when you're glorified.

Keith Simon: Well, okay in this world.

Rosaria Champagne: We know it's going to go away.

Keith Simon: Yeah, fair, but you're cheating.

Rosaria Champagne: But what I mean by that is we know that's the direction we're going in. What I wouldn't say is that you would never be told, you would never suggest that your sons, your teenage sons, for example, since this is just how they're hardwired be casual about pornography.

Keith Simon: No. And never tell them to be casual, never.

Rosaria Champagne: You never do it.

Keith Simon: But I don't think Greg Johnson's saying to be casual about sexual sin.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, I think he is because, here let me read to you, you shouldn't identify with your sin, your identity is in Christ. You may start out there, but God won't leave you there. You're minimizing the power of the Gospel to change you. You can't be gay and Christian, this is Greg Johnson's book. We hear these statements constantly from our spiritual siblings who are oblivious to the emotional wounds they inflict. Here, let's translate. Get back into the closet. Well, here's what I'm suggesting, the closet as in being private and guarded and not letting Satan know every bit of your indwelling sin pattern is actually a very good place to deal rightly with desiring that which God hates. If you are constantly struggling with desiring that which God hates, that is an emergency. And I think you would consider, Keith, in your life, an emergency. If you had a week where you were constantly desiring that which God hates and your pastor came to you and said, " Bro, let's pull away from the podcast for a while, let's not be a public Christian for a while. Let's really deal with this." As a Christian man, I'll bet you'd be like, " Okay, I needs some help, I don't know what's going on." So I think we need to figure out what homosexuality means biblically. If it means desiring that which God hates, then you've got to deal with it privately. So maybe there's a whole matrix of problems with the revoice movements. It's certainly not one person, one problem, I'm not suggesting that at all. But it borrows from the very same gay rights movement that I helped create.

Keith Simon: And maybe that's why it's so personal to you and you are passionate about it is you know it well and you feel maybe somewhat responsible for it.

Rosaria Champagne: In Openness Unhindered, there's a chapter written by a dear friend of mine who at one point was standing where Greg Johnson is, and she's no longer standing there.

Keith Simon: Is this Rebecca?

Rosaria Champagne: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Keith Simon: So Rebecca. And I've read the book a couple times, but you have the relationship with her. So correct me if I got this wrong, but I think I just took it out of your book. You have a friend Rebecca who you have a really close and sincere friendship with. And you would pray together in the book. Now, I'm not talking about now because it sounds like maybe there's some updates since the book was written. But in the book you talk about her faith in a really genuine way. She is a genuine Jesus loving, best you could tell, Jesus loving, you didn't doubt that at all. And you had some disagreements with her, and some of those disagreements came down to the issues we've been talking about the last few minutes, what she thought was right to refer to herself and others as a gay Christian. And I don't know how explicit we've been, but you have some significant problems with that. And what I appreciated about your book was that there was a sense in which you saw her as a genuine believer who was trying to figure things out, you were in dialogue with her.

Rosaria Champagne: Still am.

Keith Simon: There was this kind of a broadness of that you knew people were at different places and you respected where they were. I guess what I'm hearing now is maybe less of that. And part of it is I heard you on the Becket Cook show recently, and he blabbed, he blabbed, Greg Johnson's book. And yet he seemed confused to me because it seemed like he was trying to figure out where he is on it. And you seem a little harsher now than you did in Openness Unhindered towards someone like Rebecca.

Rosaria Champagne: Well, that's because all of these people are no longer walking with the Lord. That is because I have seen an entire coterie of friends, people I love not walking with the Lord. That is because I am still in dialogue with these people. And we can sit across a table, Keith, and say to each other, one of us is going to hell. Now, do you want to have that conversation with people you love? I don't think so. Side B Christianity is a gateway, and it's a waiting room. And the vortex that it's taking people in is dangerous and appalling. And as Christians who love these friends, we would do well to warn them. A vortex is really hard to resist, it's really hard. Now, if it seems like I'm being harsh, I don't mean to be harsh, but I have a bit of a mama bear here. There's a mama bear instinct, I love you, don't do this.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I hear it.

Rosaria Champagne: I love you, don't go there.

Keith Simon: So would you not write that chapter that you did in Openness Unhindered the way you back then? Knowing what you know now, would you change that chapter?

Rosaria Champagne: You see, but that's the whole thing, I've been writing on homosexuality for 10 years. Boots on the ground, the battlefield has changed three different times. I'm glad I have those books out there. Would I say it differently now? Sure, but I'm still glad that that bookmark is there because I don't ever want to forget my love for my friends. But I now see what I suspected then. Have you ever had that experience where you just suspect something but you don't have enough information to actually open your mouth on it? But then you see what's going on and you're like, " Wow, this is tragic."

Keith Simon: I hear you.

Rosaria Champagne: Here's the thing, I'm sure people listen to this and disagree, but I personally don't think that your theology can save you, I just don't. If it could, then you know what, we'd have this figured out. I don't think your theology can save you, but your theology can condemn you. And that's why we need to be careful and not give credibility to a theology that is encouraging personal sin and corporate sin.

Keith Simon: You're so passionate about this because you think that what you referred to earlier and as kind of common parlance out there is side B Christianity, identifying yourself as a gay Christian who's celibate, that's how they would refer to themselves. So not practicing homosexuality. You're afraid that it is a waiting room, you called it, that people fall away from Jesus and they end up as you say in hell. And you feel-

Rosaria Champagne: Well, wait, wait, wait. Yes, I suppose if you fall away from Jesus forever. Nobody ends up in hell as they're walking this earth because there's always a chance to repent.

Keith Simon: But you're afraid that's where side B Christianity leads?

Rosaria Champagne: Can I loop this back to Gospel Comes With a House Key because here's the deal, what would happen if we in the church instead of allowing people to suffer in loneliness, what if we actually lived as a body of Christ? What if we looked around our church and looked at every single person not just the single people who may or may not be struggling with same sex attraction. The reality of singleness is it's hard to know who you're going to go on vacation with, who you're going to have dinner with. What if we just had a more communal relationship with each other such that there wasn't any question? They'd be like, " No, I always go on vacation with the Butterfields, I always go on vacation with Keith's family. I belong here." What if we had more of an actual organic practice of belonging. Would there be maybe no need for these subcultures within the parachurch of the Gospel world? I think it's true. And I would love that.

Keith Simon: I'll say this about you is that people might disagree with you but they can't argue with the fact that you live out your convictions. You have these kind of relationships, you've opened your home. You've lived the life, you've done the studying, the reading in people's lives, the day- to- day. And I don't know where I am on all of this to be honest, and you can probably tell, I'm trying to figure it out and you're being helpful. But you've lived it. And I love the idea of opening up our life to people

Rosaria Champagne: As a church,

Keith Simon: As a church. Openness Hindered, you deal with this in Openness, Unhindered. And I encourage people to read it, you go into detail about it and lay out your argument in a fuller way like a book can. Is there one other book that we've talked about in the last few minutes that you would say, here's another book besides openness unhindered you might want to pursue? I'm asking for myself.

Rosaria Champagne: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I really love Christopher Yuan's book Holy Sexuality. I think that's a really, really helpful book. I do have a new book coming out where I talk a little more fully about sexual orientation as a category of personhood and the problem with it.

Keith Simon: When will we get that?

Rosaria Champagne: That'll come out in September or October of 2022 crossway. The big thing that we need to realize as Christians who don't want to be tribalists, let me get back to your point, and I agree with you. We need to know when the battlefield changes and our boots are on the ground. We need to be willing and able to see it as it is. People who struggle with same sex attraction, they are struggling with an indwelling sin. That is a sin, it is not morally neutral whether you act on it or not. And you know because you know, if you desire something God doesn't want you to desire, that's a sin. But people who are experiencing that are literally feeling torn apart by wild horses. You have a culture that says just you be you, and then you have a church that can't figure out whether you should be gay, you should not be gay. We're so fractured. And yet the Gospel isn't confused. The Gospel says that in repentance there is life, you repent onto holiness, you repent onto new life, you're a new creature in Christ. Yes, it's part of your biography, whatever sin you did before you were a Christian, it's part of your biography. And some of us have a really long biography, but it's not part of your nature. And to suggest that it is going to open you up to a particular way that Satan is prowling because of the way the battlefield has changed since 2015, since the Obergefell decision. So Christians need to turn over the pages of the Bible as you're turning over the pages of your heart, and as you're turning over the pages of the newspaper. You need to realize the world that you're speaking into. And so that's why it's especially dangerous today because boots on the ground, the battlefield changed

Keith Simon: Rosaria, would you pray for us as we finish, would you pray? We've talked about so many things, I don't even know what to ask you to pray for.

Rosaria Champagne: I would love to pray, I would love to pray. Our gracious God and our heavenly father, how thankful we are that in Christ that we have all of the promises and all of the yeses and all of the amens. How thankful we are Lord that you are a hospitable God and that a broken and contrite heart you do not despise. How thankful we are Lord that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. That for those whom you have justified and sanctified that you will never be separate from how thankful we are that there is no tribulation, there is no distress, there is no persecution. There is no famine, there is no nakedness, there is no danger, there is no sword that will separate us from Christ. And how thankful we are Lord that as we are growing in Christ, as we are loving one another as you love us, and you love us with a holy love, and we thank you for that Lord, but as we are doing that, how thankful we are Lord that we are helping to build your kingdom. Lord, it is a paradox the way that we live as Christians, it is confusing to our neighbors. But I pray God that you would bless our hospitality ministries, that you would bless us to be useful in a Gospel way to our unsaved neighbors. That we would see them come to you Lord and forsake their sin and walk in the righteousness of Christ. Lord, we thank you that you know perfectly what role you will have us play in the lives of the people around us. We thank you Lord for Hebrews 11 for that great hall of faith. We thank you Lord for the reminder that even when Christians lose the Gospel wins. We thank you Lord that in the overall, overarching purpose of the Gospel, it's the same thing to be saved from the lions den or to be sawn into. So Lord, I pray that you would increase our faith, help us to be more like you, help us to love one another well. God, I pray that you would build up the church so that the parachurch doesn't feel like it has to compensate for loneliness and isolation and misunderstanding, and hurt. And I pray God that you would be glorified in all of this. Lord, we thank you. We do pray, come Lord Jesus, come. And it is in your matchless name that we pray, amen.

Keith Simon: Amen. Thanks for being with us Rosaria. Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review.

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars

Keith Simon: Stop. No, just be honest, reviews help other people find us.

Patrick Miller: Okay, okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome, tell us why you disagree on Twitter @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.

DESCRIPTION

This week's guest onΒ Truth Over TribeΒ is Rosaria Butterfield, a former English Professor at Syracuse University who was once in a long-term lesbian relationship. Rosaria is now a follower of Jesus and her passion for radical hospitality makes that evident. Today, she joins Keith to discuss how she began following Jesus and how hospitable relationships played a vital role in her conversion to Christianity. She challenges Keith by sharing why she believes that homosexual desires should always be getting smaller in the life of a believer. Tune in now!


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