Rosaria Butterfield in 2014 wrote an article published at The Gospel Coalition referring to the practice of homosexual “reparative therapy” as a “heresy.” In the article, she wrote:
The reparative therapy heresy. This position contends a primary goal of Christianity is to resolve homosexuality through heterosexuality, thus failing to see that repentance and victory over sin are God’s gifts and failing to remember that sons and daughters of the King can be full members of Christ’s body and still struggle with sexual temptation. This heresy is a modern version of the prosperity gospel. Name it. Claim it. Pray the gay away.
Since 2014, the time of the publishing of this article, reparative therapy has become a hot-button issue leading to some states and even countries around the world to limit or completely outlaw the practice altogether. Reparative therapy, however, is used as an umbrella term that, in most cases, is defined as any practice or therapy that is used for the purpose of changing one’s sexual orientation. This pretty much outlaws prayer and biblical church discipline practices in many countries. We have documented this extensively at The Dissenter.
Butterfield wasn’t the only one, though. Other Southern Baptist leaders, including Al Mohler, JD Greear, and Russell Moore all jumped on the anti-conversion therapy bandwagon. In 2015, Mohler took a similar approach as Butterfield did, denouncing the practice as a whole.
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Now, Rosaria Butterfield has issued an official retraction of her previous position and has embraced what she calls “freedom in health care” while acknowledging that reparative therapy can be useful and was not the monster they made it out to be.
In a PDF file published on her website, she writes:
This ranks among the most misguided words I have written as a Christian.
I falsely believed that Reparative Therapy and Conversion Therapy were the same things and that they harmed people by making undeliverable promises and blaming parents for their children’s problems. I falsely believed that the darkest days of mental health—think “electroshock therapy”—fell under the umbrella term “conversion therapy.”
When I dismissed Reparative Therapy as harmful, I was running roughshod with overgeneralizations and failing to distinguish “hurt” from “harm.”
She then goes on to acknowledge that much of the accusations of “harm” that she and others made against the practice have actually been proven to be untrue and that reparative therapy actually reduces the risk of suicide. She concludes with:
So, what do I believe? I believe homosexuality and transgenderism are sins, which means their root cause is sin. God’s remedy? The atoning blood of Christ is applied to those who repent and believe in Christ alone for our salvation (Mark 1:15). The Gospel compels us to love God (John 14:15) and live in the power of our new nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our new nature in Christ empowers us to die to sin (Romans 6:2) and fight remaining sin (Gal. 5: 16-17). Pastoral teaching is crucial for the Christian, but Christian medical care comes to our aid when our bodies groan with illness and Christian counseling when our minds ail with trauma and abuse. Christians may work together to help a struggler be victorious in Christ over homosexuality and gender dysphoria. God does not leave His people defeated by sin and discouraged by facing trauma and illness alone. Seeking Christian care for mind, body, and soul is a good and godly approach.
What do I support? I support freedom in health care, including biblical counseling (biblicalcounseling.org) and change-allowing therapy for undesired same-sex attraction and gender anxiety. Living in the light of God’s natural order is good and right for believers and unbelievers alike and should not be despised or mistrusted.
While we are glad that Rosaria Butterfield has come to a more rational, biblical, and less emotionally-charged position on this issue, it should go without saying that this is a prime example of why underqualified theologians should not be leading the discussion on major theological issues. While Butterfield is, by no means, outside of the bounds of orthodoxy, her primary qualification for ministry was the fact that she was an ex-lesbian. This is the case with many in the Church leading the discussion on human sexuality today.
It is sad that the Church has taken the pragmatic approach to ministry along with the belief that the only way to reach people is to reach them with people who have the same “lived experiences.” Much of the Evangelical Church believes that homosexuals can only be reached or convinced by people with the same sexual aberrancies, or that Black people can only be reached by other Black people. Or that women need women to preach to them. This leads to such errors and a shortage of qualified leaders when the reality is that all we need are qualified leaders to preach the Word of God and apply it to the lives of people.
Below is the retraction in full.