Who are you, and how dare you say these things?
I came to Christ in 1999. I broke up with my lesbian partner because I was convicted of my sin, but my heart was a mess. I never called my partner my wife because I had rejected all things “heteronormative.” I —and others of my generation—dismissed the idea that we were “born this way.” Instead, I believed that my lesbian sexuality was a cleaner and more moral choice.
Conversion to Christ did not initially change my sexual attraction for women. What conversion did change immediately was my mind. Indeed, I was not converted out of homosexuality. I was converted out of unbelief. My mind was on fire for the Bible, and I could not read enough of it or enough about it. I experienced a small taste of what it means when David declares in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; of whom shall I be afraid?” The light the gospel gave me was ruinous; it ruined me for the life I loved. The Lord’s light illumined my sin through the law and illumined my hope through Jesus and the gospel. The gospel destroyed me before the Lord built me back up.
I also developed deep and resonating friendships with both men and women in my church. Through these friends, I learned to repent of sin in a holistic way. I began to see that my sexual desires for women were not a reflection of who I was but, rather, a distortion of it through original sin. One quotation from the Puritan John Owen stood out to me: “You cannot mortify a specific lust that is troubling you unless you are seeking to obey the Lord from the heart in all areas.” I realized that focusing on one sin at the exclusion of the others was not what God was calling me to do. And because sexual sin ran so deep and hard for me, it was very painful to even see it as a sin at first.
I realized through John Owen that Christ bled as much for the sin of my pride and lying as he did my sexual lust. Soon, union with Christ became an emerging component to my identity, one that competed with my sexual identity and that sometimes made me feel like I was losing my mind or being pulled apart by wild horses.
Then I noticed it: sexual attraction to anyone or anything forbidden by God is degrading. It degrades a person. Psalm 73:22 expressed what it was like for me to wake up to my sexual sin. When the veil of deception lifts, suddenly you behold what you could not see before: “I was senseless and ignorant, I was like a beast before you.”
At this time, I was surrounded by other lesbian couples who had decade-long monogamous relationships. They were dear old friends with whom I had shared vacations and holidays and traditions. We were like family. I knew them and their households and children well. I loved them and couldn’t imagine life without them. The thought that they would have to break up to find Christ seemed so unfair. They would have to lose everything. The safety and stability of their households seemed to prove that some people are just better off if left to what the Bible called sin.
I cried out to God to help me understand how this could be—how I could see my own lesbian appetite and identity as something that degraded me and made me a beast, but at the same time see others in the lesbian community and their happy and stable households in a completely different way. I asked God to let me come face-to-face with His Word on this. This prayer brought me to the gospels and the disciples and the holy love they had for the Lord Jesus and for each other. This was real love. This love didn’t cause others to sin. This love so cherished God and the person you love that you sacrifice all unholy desires that could separate your lover from the God who made her.
Sacrifice is a bloody word, and all of this felt like a real death to the “me” I once was. I started to understand that my lesbian friends could have this kind of love too, and I started to believe that my dearest friends would actually love each other more and better if they were sisters in Christ instead of lovers. This made me call out to God to make me a godly woman, because I realized that I was taking for granted the privilege of this new blood-bought life.
Over time, the desire to be a godly woman grew into another desire—to be a godly wife. Let me say that I do not believe this is a gospel requirement. There is a vital and powerful role for singles in the church, and their singleness in Christ is not selfishness or second-class gospel citizenship. Instead, as the Apostle Paul says, singleness is a freeing of your hands to pour yourself full-tilt into ministry. But I felt called—if God willed—to ask God to make me a godly wife, to work in me such that I could be a helper in all aspects of life to a godly man.
This season of life was messy and filled with terror. I had a failed engagement with someone in my church, and this fed into some of my old hurt and distrust about men. Then I met my husband, Kent Butterfield, and we have been joyfully married since 2001, walking with the Lord together. My role as Kent’s helper and the mother of our children is my daily witness that we serve a God who loves His people.