“Honest, glorious, wise, and a punch in the gut.”
- Kirk Blankenship
“I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”
- Dr. Carl Trueman, reformation21
“Her book shows the power of love and hospitality to soften hearts”
- Susan Olasky, WORLD
Rosaria is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, she developed a ministry to college students. She has taught and ministered at Geneva College and is a full-time mother and pastor’s wife, part-time author, and occasional speaker.
“Her book shows the power of love and hospitality to soften hearts.”
“I cannot recommend this book highly enough”
“Honest, glorious, wise, and a punch in the gut.”
Published on January 11, 2013 In conjunction with WORLD Magazine (www.worldmag.com), Patrick Henry College (phc.edu) presents its interview with Rosaria Butterfield as a part of the Newsmaker Interview Series with Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief at WORLD and Distinguished Chair of Journalism and Public Policy at PHC.
I wrote the book so I could remember and keep close the details of the inner landscape of my conversion to Christ. I wanted to remember, and pass on to my children, the rugged terrain and sweet joys.
After God saves you, your alarm rings, you swing your feet out of bed, and you face—square on—the details of the sin that led you to the Cross and the redeeming blood of Christ that covers those sins. But, there you stand. You have to do something. The latter chapters of the book tell you what I had to do, what I felt called to do, how God led me in one direction and then another.
The worldview conflict was this: I went from being someone who felt that I was responsible and entitled to interrogate the Bible to someone who believed that the Bible had authority over my life and therefore had the responsibility and entitlement to interrogate me. That truth—that the Bible interrogates me—does not stop with conversion. Therefore, the post-conversion issues raised in Secret Thoughts are in some ways proof of the fruit of Christian living, insofar as they reveal a heart searching to have the Bible interrogate it. Indeed, if Christians do not demonstrate to a watching world our willing submission to the Lord, and our understanding that we do not have it all together, but rather, require daily washing in the word and daily repentance, why should anyone take our testimony seriously?
Homeschooling, and foster- and adoptive-parenting are not Gospel-imperatives. They are for me ways that the Lord has put His fingerprint on me. They have transformed my world, enlarged my heart and prayer life, and put matters of public sin and grace in heart-breaking perspective. Psalm singing is Gospel dynamite and I am glad for the chance to share it with my readers.
The bottom line: I don’t write with an eye to fashion or popularity. I write from the best that my mind and my heart can give. I don’t presume that we will all agree.
Secret Thoughts was written for a Christian audience. I figured that about 20 people in my small, unknown denomination would purchase it, in much the same way that people might buy a church cookbook because they like the minestrone soup recipe that I had in the soup section. When the book started to break out of my tiny, obscure world, my life opened up in ways that I could not have anticipated. One amazing joy has been that many of my friends in the GLBT community—old and new ones—are reading Secret Thoughts and talking with me about God’s call on the lives of His people.
When I started meeting with Ken and Floy Smith and reading the Bible, I had a faithful church praying and waiting for me. I also had faithful Christian neighbors—Ken and Floy. I had people who loved me enough to tell me the truth. They loved me enough to make sure that the Bible in its entirety had full reign in our conversations and our relationship. They showed me good practices—daily Bible reading, Psalm singing, family devotions—and kept me accountable to them. They showed by example what a life looked like that allowed the Bible and its teachings to interrogate it. They showed me by example what godly sacrifice looks like. They did not sugar-coat God’s call on our lives, His claim on our identity (and sexuality), and the many treasures He gives us here on earth as well as in the life after this one. They made me know that there is no isolation in the Christian life. I was welcome, with all of my struggles, to join them. They did not act as if I was polluting them with my struggles or my questions. They showed me that real Christian living means leaning hard on the Bible and on Christ, on applying our faith as a life condition (the just shall live by faith). They also helped me to see that our job in this life is to listen to God, not listen to ourself.
So, in summary:
Daily and long Bible reading, Psalm singing, prayer meetings, fellowship of the saints, rolling up your sleeves and helping people who cannot (yet) help themselves, worshiping the Lord, memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism, reading and applying the Westminster Confession of Faith, and taking communion as often as possible (at the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Durham, we have weekly communion).
The most helpful Biblical principle is that God wants us to be “complete and well” (Psalm 41:B, verse 12). “And thus am I sustained by You to be complete and well, And in Your presence evermore, You make me safely dwell.” The most helpful family worship text for me is Doug Comin’s Family Worship Helps.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” The line “need of the moment” is important. Too often in our relationships, we feel as though we must speak our full heart on all matters. We feel dishonest if we don’t spell out the whole story of gloom and doom as we see it when we see people we love making dangerous decisions. We panic, say more than we ought, and then justify this as honesty. We would do well to show ourselves people who value humility, gentleness, and patience, as Jesus does with us. We also should not fear learning from people who think differently than we do, and welcoming the chance to dialog across these differences. Finally, we must be very careful about thrusting private conversations into public venues. Real heart changes happen in private not public spheres.
It's vital to regularly attend a church that holds the Bible—the inspired Word of God—in high esteem, and whose people seek diligently to learn it and to live it. There are many churches that do that, but also plenty that do not. When people ask Rosaria to recommend a church she is familiar with, she points them to the following church denomination's sites to see if there is a congregation nearby.
For additional options, please visit the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council website: www.naparc.org
To find a good counselor near you, Rosaria recommends the following site: