Rosaria Butterfield has not to my knowledge spoken recently about whether or not she continues to experience sexual temptation towards other women. People talk about her as a “former lesbian,” and as long as everything is defined in terms of “identity,” she can get away with saying that. But this allows equivocation, where people get the idea that if Rosaria Butterfield can stop being a lesbian, so can the celibate lesbian in front of you. Perhaps the difference is only as deep as what words the person is using, rather than anything more significant. Without further clarification from Butterfield, we’ll never know.
Similarly, it allows Butterfield to ignore differences between her experience of sexual temptation and that of others. In Johanna Finegan’s talk, she talks of realizing she was “gay” quite early in life. Many of us have had similar experiences. In Butterfield’s book, she talks about having had heterosexual relationships in her teens and undergraduate years, and pursued romantic and sexual relationships with women only after becoming disillusioned with relationships with men and becoming steeped in feminist theory.
Erickson’s remarks fit with what I observed while reading Butterfield’s conversion narrative as well. It seems to me that the question she is trying to answer–what does conversion look like when your life is quite intentionally lived in ways that contradict divine law at every turn?–is very different from the question someone like Wes Hill is wrestling with. Hill’s question seems to be something to the effect of, “can someone who wishes to be chaste and lives with same-sex sexual desires live a healthy life in submission to Christ in our modern context?” So these are very different questions and we obscure more than we reveal by acting as if they are the same.