I think of Rosaria Butterfield as the modern day embodiment of the woman of Thebez, who heaved the upper millstone out of a tower to end a ruler’s bloody rampage in Judges 9. The matron of the Thebez tower feared not to do the deed. Dr. Butterfield does not either. And her deed is to heave an explicit call to the Christian church to repent. She and her husband, Kent, both preach in a straightforward manner, without caring where the axe may fall.
In her latest book, Rosaria cites Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. Not surprisingly, much of the book is about gender. It is significant that she casts gender currents as the prevailing forces destroying the church. If the trends in culture break down the relationships in the body of Christ, they do indeed deserve to be on the list of her title. Her sharp insights, such as “my feminism was my idol, and as a new believer I was tempted to build the gospel around it;” and “transgenderism hates women;” lend credence to the examination. Upon gender minimization follows a multitude of messes.
The Thebez mother’s millstone was deadly because she landed it on a specific head—Ambimelech’s, the son of Gideon. She needed to be direct and she did not miss. Even so, Dr. Butterfield is painfully specific. Her critique names “big” Christian names with a specificity that leaves the reader asking, “Is she allowed to do that?”
Well, yes, she is. You cannot call anyone to real repentance without being specific. The reader can weigh the merits of her critique in the examples she gives and judge for themselves, but given the turning away from God’s gift we are witnessing her scrutiny is warranted. In those parts she does little more than hold up their public speech/writing and say, “See?” Seems fair enough.
Many parts of the book are delightfully autobiographical. If you have read her earlier work, you probably know much of her conversion story. But she goes over that ground again, adding insight to the journey, bringing in more of the experiences that before and since have shaped her. In what should be a disturbing revelation to us, she discloses how as a prominent English professor she had never read the Bible! (What an indictment of our educational system.) But the English professor subsequently discovered and devoured the Bible. In several fascinating disclosures, she chronicles her changes of mind, as she is wizened by wifery and matured in motherhood.
Concerning trans, Dr. Butterfield writes on the sin of envy. This is one of the factors sometimes involved for those wishing to overcome a trans identity. “Detransition” for those who went trans as adults is indeed a repentance. For some, that will involve turning from the sin of envy. Sometimes other issues loom large, in both sins one commits and sins committed against one. For example, we will increasingly see trans folks whose parents set them on their course in childhood. For these early gender deviators, coming back means treading a long difficult road of forgiveness. Parents and authorities decimated their bodies and they need an enlarged heart to recover from that betrayal.
The woman of Thebez successfully returned God’s people to peace (Judges 9:55). One hopes that this English professor’s bracing message can do the same.