The Sojourner's New and Otherworldly Lifestyle

In the April 2015 edition of Tabletalk, Rosaria Butterfield was interviewed about her dramatic conversion to Christ in 1999. She calls it her "trainwreck conversion" and she wrote about it in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Rosaria was a tenured professor of English at Syracuse University and a lesbian activist whose worldview was shaped by Freud, Hegel, Marx and Darwin. Here is a portion of that Tabletalk interview:

Could you explain some of your "secret thoughts," and why you were an "unlikely convert"?

Rosaria Butterfield: I considered myself an atheist, having rejected my Catholic childhood and what I perceived to be the superstitions and illogic of the historic Christian faith. I found Christians to be difficult, sour, fearful, and intellectually unengaged people. In addition, since the age of twenty-eight, I had lived in monogamous lesbian relationships and politically supported LGBT causes. I coauthored Syracuse University's first successful domestic partnership policy while working there as a professor of English and women's studies. I was terrified to relate on any level with a worldview that called me, my life, my community, my scholarly interest, and my relationship sin. Add to this that I was working on a book "exposing" the religious right from a lesbian feminist point of view. I approached the Bible with an agenda to tear it down because I firmly believed that it was threatening, dangerous, and irrational.

But when I came to Christ, I experienced what nineteenth-century Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers called "the expulsive power of a new affection." At the time of my conversion, my lesbian identity and feelings did not vanish. As my union with Christ grew, the sanctification that it birthed put a wedge between my old self and my new one. In time, this contradiction exploded, and I was able to claim identity in Christ alone.

TT: How has your conversion to Christianity been received by your former colleagues?

RB: At the time of my conversion, my colleagues and students treated me with suspicion and confusion. Understandably, many friends felt betrayed, exposed, and criticized by my conversion and the changes in heart, life, and writing that this produced. When a person comes to Christ and repents of sin, this turning around makes enemies out of former allies. And while this aftershock eventually led to Bible studies and many opportunities to share the gospel, it also destroyed friendships and allegiances. The exclusivity of Christ has rugged consequences.

Have you found that coming to Christ has had rugged consequences in your world of relationships? Our text today addresses that very issue. Read I Peter 4:1-6, and use the following questions to help you meditate on what the Lord says to us here.

1. What were some of the social consequences of your conversion to Jesus Christ?

2. In verse 1 Peter calls us to follow the example of Jesus. In what way are we supposed to follow Him?

  • Is our ceasing from sin perfect? If not, what does Peter mean?

3. Two contrary lifestyles are brought up in verse 2. How are they different?

  • What does Peter imply about what happens to us when we come to faith in Jesus?

4. In verse 3 Peter describes the character of the Greco-Roman lifestyle of his day. How would you describe the Western-American lifestyle today?

  • How would you describe the lifestyle you lived before coming to faith in Jesus?

5. How is ours supposed to be different? Can you think of any texts that describe how we are to life as followers of Jesus? What has Peter said so far about this subject?

6. What is the point of verse 5? What is Peter telling his readers?

  • What is the practical application of this principle for you?

7. Verse 6 is a bit tricky. What do you think Peter means here? What is he getting at?

8. What is the lesson the Lord wants you to take away from this text?    

God be with you,

Dan