From Radical Lesbian to Redeemed Christian: An Autobiographical Interview with Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Authors on the Line

In 1999, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, a skeptic of all things Christianity, and in a committed lesbian relationship. Her academic specialty was Queer Theory, a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies.

Today Butterfield is a mother of four, a homemaker, and wife of a Presbyterian pastor named Kent. They live in Durham, North Carolina.

She is an unlikely convert. And in this episode of the Authors on the Line podcast, Butterfield shares the story of her conversion from a radical lesbian to a redeemed Christian. It's a story involving a pastor, and a pretty ordinary local church, and a Bible.

“I tried to toss the Bible and all of its teachings in the trash — I really tried,” she says. “But I kept reading it, reading it not just for pleasure, but reading it because I was engaged in a research program trying to refute the religious right from a lesbian feminist perspective. . . . After my second or third, maybe fourth, pass through the entire Bible something started to happen. The Bible got to be bigger inside me than I. And it absolutely overflowed into my world. I really fought against it. And then one Sunday morning, no different from any other Sunday morning, I rose from the bed of my lesbian lover, and an hour later I sat in a pew at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. I went there very conspicuous of the fact that I didn’t fit in. But I really had to confront this God.”

And she did.

In embracing the biblical Jesus, she found herself “a single ex-lesbian with a now defunct PhD,” the words she uses in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith (26).

Her conversion landed her into “a complicated and comprehensive chaos” (27). “This was my conversion in a nutshell: I lost everything but the dog” (63).

But in return she found life in Christ.

In this 23-minute podcast, Butterfield shares more details about her unlikely conversion, and the personal challenges she faced in walking into a church building. She speaks to how relevant the Bible is to the needs, questions, and challenges that face a person in the gay and lesbian community.