Minneapolis web ministry: By canceling Pride, COVID-19 may be 'answered prayer'

Rosaria Butterfield asks, "Can the Pandemic Be an Answered Prayer?” Twitter answers, "Yikes."

Rosaria Butterfield asks, "Can the Pandemic Be an Answered Prayer?” Twitter answers, "Yikes." Nicole Neri, Star Tribune

At least, we thought we could all agree on the fact that COVID-19 sucks. According to a recent guest piece published by a Minneapolis nonprofit, we were wrong.

Desiring God, a self-described “web ministry” that boasts “3.5+ million monthly users,” tried giving us all something to think about on Saturday when it published a piece titled, “Can the Pandemic Be an Answered Prayer?”

The answer may surprise you. If the headline didn't already.

This piece comes to us from Rosaria Butterfield, a former tenured professor and LGBTQ activist who later became a pastor’s wife and wrote many seminal works on how to cope with the “sin” of homosexuality and “how should we understand transgenderism.” (One could start by saying merely using the term “transgenderism” means you don't understand it, but we digress.)

Butterfield starts by describing her life in her progressive North Carolina neighborhood. Her husband has been a pastor there since 2012, blocks away from the nearest LGBTQ community center, and for some reason, they’d been having a hard time reaching their fellow residents.

“In August, neighbors would ask if our church was LGBTQ affirming, and if not, why we were here,” she wrote. “In October, parents would clutch the hands of their costumed children in the street, directing them not to take anything from our hand or even receive our smiles.”

The Butterfields prayed God would give the church a “reason” to be in the neighborhood at all, and that the neighbors would “receive” their “desire to do them good.” Then along came 2020 -- and, we shit you not, this fucking doozy of a line:

“Then God answered our prayers by sending COVID-19, and with it, shelter-in-place laws and severe restrictions against assembling in groups for any reason.”

Sounds crazy, right? But Butterfield explains. Restaurant shutdowns and gaps in the supply chain hit North Carolina “like a brick,” and the Butterfield family started delivering food for a local CSA. Later on, they turned the church into a food distribution center. All of a sudden, the neighbors started showing up, graciously thanking them for the food and their hard work, and sometimes even asking for prayer.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: “Surely God could have found a way to better connect you to your neighborhood without a pandemic causing the deaths of countless people.”

But wait. There’s more.

“Have you considered the ramifications that this June will be the first in decades without a public gay pride march?” Butterfield writes. “Sexual identity,” she explains, “depends on an affirming audience who can sway others to its side, using an ideology of personal freedom and victimhood.” Presumably, without a big parade this year, this “particular fire” is denied the “oxygen” it needs to survive. And so:

“Giving thanks to God for COVID-19 highlights our union with Christ,” she writes.

Desiring God didn’t respond to interview requests, so we don’t know what, if anything, its leaders have been hearing from the people of Minneapolis about this particular hot take.

If you find this particular brand of theology vibes with you, good news: Desiring God founder John Piper, who, when asked about God and COVID-19, said, “God sometimes uses disease to bring particular judgments upon those who reject him and give themselves over to sin,” has a new book out. It’s called Coronavirus and Christ, and the paperback is only $8.99 on Amazon.

If it doesn't, good news: Even though Twin Cities Pride isn't convening in person this year, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. You can check those out here.