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The Joy-Robbing False Hope of Side B Gay Christianity

Note: We as a Church need to readily admit that people who have identified as gay or admitted that they struggle with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) have been mistreated in horrendous ways in and by the Church. (Both through the ex-gay movement or through poor and hateful treatment.)  As a Christian, that grieves me. My intent in writing this article is not to add to that hurt but to provide clarity.  In that,  I write this out of a heart of love for the many people I know and am friends with who experience this struggle.  There is real hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for people with this struggle.  However, Side B Gay Christianity is not the answer. 

For most people Side-B Gay Christianity (also Side-B Christianity) is a new term, and it is one that should be shocking and concerning.  That a “brand” of Christianity would be categorized based on sexuality is antithetical to what Christianity is.[1]  But to those of us familiar with these debates it comes as no surprise at all.  Once a group creates another category of personhood and being, it is only natural to apply that grid to all of life and every other societal structure.

What is Side B Gay Christianity?

As succinctly as possible, I’ll briefly and loosely define two terms.

Side-A Gay Christianity, observing that there was very little success in people actually changing “orientation,” teaches that it is permissible and good for “gay people” to be in same-sex marriages and therefore sexual relationships because that is who they are. They view the Scripture’s prohibitions on homosexual behavior [2] not to apply to committed same-sex relationships.

Side-B Gay Christianity, recognizing that Side-A is not faithful to the Scriptures says that while “being gay” or having a “gay orientation” is a valid category of personhood and identity, Scripture clearly forbids the acting out of those desires. They advocate for a “gay but celibate” way of life.

Rev. Dr. Tim Keller, as a prominent author of the AIC Report on Human Sexuality defines Side B like this:

People attracted to the same sex, though remaining celibate in obedience to the Bible,  still can call themselves ‘gay Christians’ and see their attraction as a part of their identity which should be acknowledged like one’s race or nationality….the PCA’s Ad-Interim Committee on Human Sexuality considered this Side B view and clearly rejected it.

So what is the Problem?

On the surface the Side-B option seems to be a good. They do after all uphold the Biblical Sexual ethic as sex being limited to 1 man and 1 woman within the bounds of marriage. That’s good, right?  Well, in a legalistic way, yes.  But that isn’t the whole story.  The Side-B position has a false view of anthropology (man) and ontology (being) and this often leads to a false eschatology (end times view of our glorification). In that, this is a Theological issue.

While there are a range of troubling and sinful beliefs that fall under the Side-B umbrella [3] , one thing is consistent. Sexuality becomes a category of personhood and being.[10]  It’s as if they have created a 3rd type of human. There are straight natural born males and straight natural born females and then LGBTQ humans.  Or perhaps they have 2 categories of personhood straight people and LGBTQ people.  Really that doesn’t adequately express it and indeed nothing can which is why there is no end to the gender-sexuality combinations in society and psychology.

DESIRE IS NOT BEING

Of course, Scripture knows no such distinction.[4]  Gen 1 says God made humans, male and female, in His image.  It refers to the actions of people with sexual desires apart from God’s design as “against nature” (Romans 1).  It refers to the behavior not the “being.”

When Scripture speaks of people who sin in a variety of ways and calls them liars and prideful and homosexual, it is referring to a person who does those things and calls them sinners.  They don’t become individual ontological categories of being. To be a liar therefore is a person who exhibits the BEHAVIOR of one who lies.  And to be a “homosexual” is a person who exhibits BEHAVIOR of desiring and acting in forbidden ways to the same-sex. It is a description of a behavior of the sinner.  It is not meant to create a subcategory of “sinner” into additional categories of personhood and being.

The Heart of the Matter

Side-B Christians affirm gay identity and gayness not as desire and behavior but as being and a category of personhood.[5]  In affirming this, they have created a scenario where they have to tell a person with this struggle that they must deny who they are at the core level of being.  To be sure, all Christians are called to deny themselves (Mark 8:34).  But that is a statement of denial of your desires, man-made identities, and idols not of what defines your personhood rightly understood.

Why This Robs people of Joy

It is hopeless and joy-robbing to tell someone THIS IS WHO YOU ARE, JUST DON’T DO THIS. To a “gay person” telling them NOT to live out who they are at the core of what they believe their existence is, is to tell them not to be human. It’s irrational. It’s hopeless. It’s incoherent to them.  That is soul crushing and joy robbing and amounts to legalism. As if Christ simply wants us to behave and doesn’t care about a heart change.[6]   And it’s unbiblical.  The Scriptures know of no core category of personhood based on sexual desire. It is for all of those reasons why Rosaria Butterfield, who has struggled with SSA, now speaks against Side B Christianity, saying “There’s No Such Thing as a Gay Person…its a millstone, you do not need to wear whatever sin pattern you have, and people that say you do should just be run out of town.” [7]

This hopelessness very often leads people to abandon the hope of the Gospel altogether.  Peter Scanlon, British author of Plastic People: How Queer Theory is Changing Us, has chronicled the trajectory of Side B Beliefs in England which gained prominence well before here, and he relates 5 things that have flown out of the embrace of Side B beliefs. [8]  He concludes with this statement:  “The doctrinal outlook of Side B is such that it functions as a gateway for some, over time, to change sides and advance the Side A outlook. We have seen this in England, and I expect you will see the same in the PCA if this trend is not clearly and firmly resisted.” 

So What is the Alternative to Side B

Christians are a people who are united to Christ. And that union creates a new identity in Christ. We are Children of God, being conformed into the image of Christ, and while we still sin and openly admit we do, we are called saints.  The idea that we would cling to a gay identity (or any identity rooted in sin)[9] while being conformed into the image of Christ is absurd.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore rather than tell a person “this is who you are, just admit it and don’t do it,” we tell a person that this is NOT who you are. [10] Your struggle is a disordered desire that comes from your sin nature, and that will no longer exist in your glorification in Christ.  That is hopeful and hope-filled and in the heart of a regenerate person leads to joy.   While our sinful desires still exist, we are not our sinful desires, we are not defined by our sinful desires. We are not slaves to our passions.  (Romans 6:15-22)  We are new creations in Christ Jesus.  May we all joyfully say with Paul

 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 3:20)

CLOSING NOTES: Since the publishing of this article I have faced much pushback claiming that Side B advocates  wouldn’t describe there views in this way.  While I readily acknowledge SOME would not describe their position in this way, my point in this piece is that this is the logical outworking of their view and many of them actually do. They have created a new category of personhood based on sexuality and/or orientation[11] and this article illustrates what that means. Simply review the below footnotes and do your own internet search for “Side-B Gay Christian” and make your own assessment if what I am saying is true.[12]  Yes, I have been in extensive one-one conversations with Side B Christians for many years prior to writing this piece.

___________________________________

[1] Rev. Albert Mohler highlights the issues with Side-B Gay Christianity and Revoice Theology

[2] Bible Verses Prohibiting Homosexual Behavior: Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:10

[3]Here is an article , and here, and  Here is another article highlighting in a positive light the troubling beliefs of Side B Gay Christianity, including it being a gift,  a God-given identity, aiding being able to see beauty, providing a beneficial outlook on aesthetics, culture, and worldview, its own community, something to be celebrated, and aiding in spiritual (romantic yet celibate) relationships among other things.

Here is an article by Denny Burk engaging one of those articles and the issues.

Here is a Prominent PCA Pastor who promotes Side B Gay Christianity, and identifies as Gay.  You’ll notice how he identifies, communicates and discusses the fixed nature of his personhood in this struggle.

[4] The Nashville Statement which was declared Biblically faithful by the PCA in 2019 and to be used as a Discipleship tool states in Article 7

“We affirm that a self-conception as male and female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.

We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.”

[5]Dr. Carl Trueman explains the cultural view of behavior as being.
Rosaria Butterfield explains the problem with claiming a gay identity.
Jackie Hill Perry explains identity from a Christian perspective.

[6] The PCA Human Sexuality Report Statement 7 on Sanctification states: “The goal is not just consistent fleeing from, and regular resistance to, temptation, but the diminishment and even the end of the occurrences of sinful desires through the reordering of the loves of one’s heart toward Christ.

[7] Rosaria Butterfield Article on the problems with Side A & Side B.  Also this interview, where she says “There’s no such thing as a gay person…”

  • In this most extensive and recent interview on Presbygirls of Presbycast, here Rosaria Defines Side-B, rejects sexuality as a category of personhood.

[8] Peter Scanlon, British author of Plastic People: How Queer Theory is Changing Us, has chronicled the trajectory of Side B Beliefs in England which gained prominence well before here. He offers these warnings in this article entitled: A Letter to PCA Friends From England.

[9] The PCA Human Sexuality Report, statements 4 & 5 affirm the Reformed view of sin, desire, and concupiscence, stating that illicit desires within us, while a result of the fall and indwelling sin, are themselves sin to be repented of.  They are not, as some have falsely taught, the same as a person being born with a physical impairment.

[10] 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

[11]  It was shared to me by a Side B advocate that Al Mohler has come to embrace the concept of “orientation” as a category.  However, look at how Mohler has defined orientation in bold. “Actually, the Bible speaks rather directly to the sinfulness of the homosexual orientation — defined as a pattern of sexual attraction to a person of the same sex.” He defines it as desire (attraction) not being and personhood, and roots it in sin.

[12] Side B Defined by QChristian which was formerly the Gay Christian Network, which popularized and the Side B Term.

Here is another popular site that says the same.

Additionally, the articles in [3] above, which are Side B affirming articles,  illustrate how proponents use terminology associated with Side B that confirm these definitions.

And lastly, Dr. Rev. Tim Keller defines Side B the same way I’m defining it here.

George Sayour
George Sayour

George is Senior Pastor of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian
Church (PCA) in Lexington, NC. When he's not pastoring or writing, he's fishing, kayaking and spending time with his family.

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