Rosaria Butterfield’s Retraction on Therapeutic Choice
April 19, 2023

Elizabeth Woning, Co-Founder Changed Movement

Mike Davidson, CEO Core Issues Trust, IFTCC Chairman

It’s rare that Christian leaders publicly repent of positions that they can no longer adhere to. Dr Rosaria Butterfield has been a foremost commentator on debates and narratives around human sexuality, the Bible, and the church. This is undoubtedly because of her writing that shares her testimony in coming to Christ. She left both her lesbian living and the promotion of Queer Theory as a tenured professor at one of America’s premiere research-led institutions, Syracuse University. We admire her integrity in setting the record straight.

Rosaria was specifically critical of Reparative Therapy (TM) and the Reintegrative Therapy Protocol (TM). Her recent change of mind in recognizing the validity and usefulness of counseling and psychotherapeutic help is significant for pastoral carers working in this field. You can read this volt face in Butterfield’s ‘Retraction of My Position on Reparative Therapy and Ex-Gay Organizations’, here.

The IFTCC recently interviewed Dr. Butterfield to hear firsthand her beliefs concerning the use of therapeutic and counseling interventions for those seeking help with sexuality and gender.

Rosaria’s new position is relevant not only from the point of view that understands Christian pastoral care but also regarding the position we take as Christians in the imposition of so-called ‘Conversion Therapy’ bans coming our way from governments and local authorities. In other words, the threat of ‘conversion therapy’ is not only an attack against the Church and the Gospel of Jesus but against all human beings, from whatever background, because such bans are fundamentally wrong for humankind. Not only do they restrict individuals from engaging professionally trained counselors to better understand or even resolve emotional pain associated with their sexuality, they also impose government-mandated expectations on counseling outcomes.

She writes, “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)… 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… I support freedom in health care, including Biblical counseling and change-allowing therapies.”

“Conversion therapy” bans have implications beyond LGBTQ culture and practice. While they may seem to narrowly focus on a specific kind of counseling practice, the ideology behind such bans is fundamentally anti-Christian. Butterfield highlights this in her retraction by acknowledging the risks of such bans to the public practice of Christianity. “Conversion therapy” bans are a “bully club wielded against the proclamation of the Gospel by denying as harmful the Biblical witness that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins and that in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness, hope, and transformation.”

Christians have an essential role today in society to protect individual freedoms for all people while also keeping open avenues to Christ for salvation. “Conversion therapy” bans do not protect LGBTQ-identifying people. On the contrary, they advance an ideology from which, increasingly, there is no legal dissent. Christian concession to such bans is alarming.

Those who see homosexuality as essentially, or only as the result of personal human sinfulness will look to sexual redemption as the only relevant or possible answer or antidote. From this perspective, there can be no solution or resolution except for those who are in Christ. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity is eliminated from any level of help unless they repent. This truly is ‘conversion’ therapy.

Michael Davidson writes,

“From what I have seen, many can find enough freedom from homosexual practices, identities and feelings without doing so as Christians. If seekers belong to Him, of course, there is the chance to be “free indeed”. My experience through the years has shown me how to respect the strivings of individuals from other- and no-faith backgrounds who achieve satisfying outcomes through counseling and personal work. How can it be right to deny any person access to try to change what they are dissatisfied with? It seems to me the fight to keep the doors open for choosing help to assist changing unwanted sexual behaviours and feelings should be one which the church takes on, on behalf of any other fellow citizen.”

“The human condition, whether viewed from a Christian point of view or from outside of the faith, for a significant number of people at least, becomes dysfunctional or unsatisfying when homosexual acts or feelings are experienced or embraced. When they seek help to resolve difficulties, no one has the right to dissuade or deny them the freedom to choose new directions and to fix what they perceive as broken. We know enough about the dynamics of family life, personal responses to trauma, and early socialisation processes within and outside of the family to be able to help people begin to resolve their difficulties, and this shouldn’t be denied to any human being, whatever their faith, view or commitment. My concern is that Christians who promote only a sexual redemption viewpoint inadvertently deny those outside of the faith the chance to resolve their difficulties if they make the only starting point, faith in Jesus. Further, it discourages many inside the church from engaging trauma-informed therapeutic approaches that may impact one’s sense of identity and sexual feelings.”

Core Issues is a non-profit Christian ministry supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression.

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