Four Christian Views on Sexuality

Written by Josh Proctor

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When it comes to Christian understanding of sexuality, there is a wide spectrum of beliefs and perspectives. Today, one of the main systems which has emerged to categorize these perspectives is the “Sides” terminology which is predominantly encompassed by four Sides: Side A, Side B, Side Y, and Side X. No system of belief categorization is perfect, but it can help us better communicate nuances within the conversation.

IMPORTANT NOTES BEFORE PROCEEDING

  • These Sides specifically address issues of sexuality and do not address questions surrounding gender or the trans* experience. We cannot automatically assume a person’s beliefs on sexuality communicate a specific view of gender and the trans* experience.

  • We also must understand that there is some diversity within these views. So if a person says they adhere to one view or the other, that does not automatically mean they agree with everything stated here. This is simply an overview of the general beliefs.

  • The goal of the Sides terminology is not to pit Sides against each other nor to minimize their differences. People across each viewpoint find themselves in community and fellowship with people of other viewpoints. The goal should always be to simply help improve communication within a complex conversation.

Before delving into the detailed differences of the different Sides, here are quick definitions for each one:

Side A – God blesses sex between members of the same sex within certain boundaries and intentionally created queer people to have sexual attractions to members of the same sex. 


Side B – God has defined marriage as the lifelong covenant between one man and one woman and any sex outside of marriage is sin. Therefore, God calls believers to the vocation of celibacy within community or to a monogamous marriage with a member of the opposite sex (often called a mixed-orientation marriage) as how they are to live out their sexuality.


Side Y – Efforts to change a person’s sexual attractions are generally not supported but not always denounced. Yet Christians who find themselves oriented toward their own sex must renounce any identification with their attractions as LGBT+ identities as seen as incompatible with the Christian faith, meaning that sexually they will remain celibate and single or enter a opposite sex marriage and in every other area of life they will strive toward heterosexual norms.


Side X – “X” stands for ex-gay. Being oriented toward or sexually attracted to members of your own gender is sinful, a spiritual sickness, and must be repented of and “cured.” Heterosexuality is seen as God’s\ best for all people. Therefore, Side X Christians usually promote efforts to change a person’s sexual attraction.
 

To go into more detail, the differences between these four sides can be marked by their answers to the following questions:

  1. Is sexual intercourse between two people of the same sex blessed by God?

  2. What should be the goal for a Christian with same-sex attractions?

  3. Is sexual attraction to the same sex in and of itself sinful?

  4. Can and should a person with same-sex attractions pursue changing their attractions through therapy or interventions?

  5. Can people with same sex attractions identify as LGBT+ while being Christian?

 

Here is a quick chart that explains the short answer of each side to each question:

Side A

Side B

Side Y

Side X

Is sexual intercourse between two people of the same sex blessed by God?

Yes

No

No

No

What should be the goal for a Christian with same-sex attractions?

Find a spouse of the same sex.

Live celibate or in a opposite sex marriage

Live celibate or in a opposite sex marriage

Change their attractions and find a spouse of the opposite sex

Is sexual attraction to the same sex in and of itself sinful?

No, it is blessed by God

No, it is not sin in and of itself.

No, it is not sin in and of itself.

Yes and the Christian should renounce it and pursue opposite sex attractions

Can and should a person with same-sex attractions pursue changing their attractions through therapy or interventions?

No. It is harmful and dangerous

No. It is harmful and dangerous

It is not endorsed but can be an option

Yes, it is encouraged!

Can people with same sex attractions identify as LGBT+ while being Christian?

Yes

Yes

No

No

By looking at their answers to these questions we will get a clear understanding about how the four views approach the topic of sexuality and gender dysphoria differently.

Side A

 

History and Prominent Leaders and Books:
 

The Side A view on homosexuality in Christianity also known as the affirming view has been a growing view over the past few decades. During this time, some new specifically affirming denominations were created including the Metropolitan Community Church which is geared toward affirming queer Christians. This view reached new popularity in the States with the creation of the Gay Christian Network in the early 2000s by prominent Side A leader Justin Lee. The Gay Christian Network, while majority Side A, was meant to support the faith of all queer Christians of all sides (at the time of its founding, views on homosexuality were only divided between Side A and Side B). Later on, the Side A view rose in popularity even more with the video released by Matthew Vine arguing for the Bible’s approval of gay marriage. Matthew Vine later on founded the Reformation Project which aims to work with churches to move towards a more affirming view of gay sexual relationships. Since that time Side A Christianity has grown with conferences like the Q Christian Fellowship and the Reformation Project now drawing thousands of attendees each year. Side A theology is currently held by multiple mainline denominations of Christianity including sections of the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Methodist churches.

 

Prominent leaders among Side A Christians include:

Brandon Robertson, a famous Side A bisexual lead pastor, speaker, and author.

Bukola Landis-Aina, the new Executive Director of the Queer Christian Fellowship

Dave and Tino Khalaf, a famous Side A gay Christian couple and authors of Modern

Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage

Julie Rogers, a former Side B and Side X leader who became Side A in recent years.

Julie's story is prominently shown in the Netflix documentary, Pray Away.

Justin Lee, founder of the Gay Christian Network (now known as the Queer Christian

Fellowship)

Matthew Vines, founder of the Reformation Project and author of God and the Gay

Christian

Matthias Roberts, creator of Queerology, a podcast on faith and sexuality

Nadia Bolz-Weber, the founder of a prominent Side A church and author of New York

Times bestseller Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

Prominent books written from the Side A position include:

Justin Lee, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate (Jericho

Books, 2013)

James V Brownson, Bible Gender Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-

Sex Relationships (Eerdmans, 2013)

Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex

Relationships (Convergent Books, 2015)

Mark Achtemeier, The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of

Heart (Westminster John Knox Press, 2014)

David and Constantino Khalaf, Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage

(Westminster John Knox Press, 2019

Is sexual intercourse within marriage between two people of the same sex blessed by God?
 
The Side A advocates believe that the mandates regarding sexual relations between members of the same sex in the Bible do not apply to same sex sexual activity within monogamous relationships for multiple reasons. First, Side A advocates argue that the homosexual relationships found in the ancient world during the composition of the Bible did not include monogamous romantic relationships. Therefore, the authors were not referring to monogamous same-sex relationships.

As Justin Lee, the founder of the Gay Christian Network, argues in his famous article entitled “The Great Debate”: 


The passages that mention those acts (often called “clobber passages,” but I don’t care for that term) could be interpreted in two ways.  They might condemn only those specific acts and situations, or they might condemn all homosexual behaviors for all time, regardless of situation.  For instance, when the Bible speaks negatively of “tax collectors,” we realize that it’s not talking about modern IRS agents.  Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were frequently corrupt and cheated people out for more money than they owed.  So when the Bible talks about “tax collectors,” it’s not condemning all tax collectors for all time; it’s condemning the specific behaviors of the tax collectors at that time.

His entire article can be found here

There are multiple other arguments made by Side A theologians including Matthew Vine and James Brownson. Regarding the Sodom and Gomorrah story, many Side A theologians argue that the sexual sin is the gang rape not loving monogamous relationships. Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian, explains:
 

It’s commonly assumed that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah out of his wrath against same-sex relations, but the only form of same-sex behavior described in the story is an attempted gang rape — nothing like a loving, committed relationship. The Bible explicitly condemns Sodom for its arrogance, inhospitality and apathy toward the poor — not for same-sex behavior.

James Brownson’s main argument is that the biblical writers condemned homosexuality because they believed all people were inherently heterosexually. Therefore, according to his argument, since modern scientists are concluding that homosexual attraction is inherent, he argues their condemnation of homosexuality no longer applies.

It is important to note that there is diversity of thought within Side A about what are the parameters in which sexual activity is permitted. Some Side A Christians believe sex is reserved for marriage, while others believe it is permissible within parameters outside of marriage, such as within committed relationships.
 
What should be the goal for a Christian with same-sex attractions?
 
As God blesses sexual relationships between members of the same sex, the gay or lesbian Christian who is Side A should make it his or her goal to find a partner of either sex, whichever sex toward which the person finds themselves attracted. 

Is sexual attraction to the same sex in and of itself sinful?

 

No. Side A advocates believe God creates people with same sex sexual attractions as part of his original creation with the intent that they would marry someone of the same sex. Matthew Vine shares:

There’s something terribly unseemly about straight Christians insisting that gay Christians are somehow inferior to them, or broken, or that gay people only exist because of the fall, and that God really intended to make everyone straight like them. But you know, I am a part of creation, too, including my sexual orientation. I’m a part of God’s design. That’s the first thing that I learned growing up in Sunday school – that God created me, that God loves me, that I am a beloved child of God, no more and no less valuable than anyone else.

 

Can and should a person with same-sex attractions pursue changing their attractions through therapy or interventions?

 

No, because Side A advocates believe it is harmful and dangerous. If God created a person to be gay or lesbian, then it would be damaging to try and change their sexual orientation just as it would be damaging to try and change someone’s sexual orientation from straight to gay.

 

Side A advocates also point to multiple health organizations such as the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Medical Association who report that conversion efforts can have very negative effects on LGBT+ individuals.

 

Side A couple, David and Tino Khalaf, who personally went through conversion therapy themselves, write their thoughts on the topic in an article saying:

It isn’t that we automatically reject the truth of some of these [conversion therapy] testimonies; we believe God is capable of anything, and that if it is His desire to change someone’s sexual orientation, then it is well within His power. But even if some of these stories are true, there’s a glaring problem with writing about them: They are the outliers. The vast majority of men and women who seek to transform their sexual orientation see virtually no change. Those who focus on the outlying gay conversion stories are like those who focus on the dearth of scientists who deny climate change—it’s a conscious rejection of the preponderance of evidence. All of which is to say, it’s irresponsible and dangerously negligent.

 

David and Tino list five reasons why they believe the conservative church’s focus on trying to change a person’s sexual orientation is wrong.

  1. Conversion therapy testimonies focused on changed attractions neglect the experiences of the majority of LGBT+ Christians. 

  2. Conversion therapy testimonies subtly push the view that those who have changed their orientation are better than LGBT+ individuals

  3. Conversion therapy testimonies causes LGBT+ people who have pursued change but not experienced it to feel extreme shame and damnation. 

  4. Conversion therapy testimonies deny the experience of bisexual individuals, which according to statistics is the largest population of LGBT+ people.

  5. Conversion therapy testimonies many times exploit vulnerable subjects who would rather remain private.

 

Can people with same sex attractions identify as LGBT+ while being Christian?

 

Again as Side A advocates that God creates people as gay or lesbian, it goes without saying that therefore there would be no problem with identifying as gay or lesbian. For Side A Christians, it is a natural thing to do though many would also acknowledge that sexual identity is a recent modern construct.  

Side X

 

History and Prominent Leaders and Books:

The Side X view on homosexuality in Christianity also known as the ex-gay view was one of the most prominent views among Evangelicals during the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s but in recent years has begun strongly declining in many countries. The Side X view was birthed out of the modern psychological movement and pseudo-Freudian thought in the 1960s and 1970s. The first contemporary Side X organization, Love in Action, was formed in 1973. Over the next decades, Side X ministries grew around the world and formed the largest and most famous Side X ministries - Exodus International and the Exodus Global Alliance. In 2013, Exodus International closed and the President, Alan Chambers, apologized for the organization’s efforts and beliefs regarding sexual orientation change. Exodus’ closure however did not affect its member ministries nor the Exodus Global Alliance which continue to operate. The former member ministries of Exodus International have since joined together to form two different networks namely Restored Hope Network and Hope for Wholeness Network.

Prominent leaders among Side X Christians include:

Anne Paulk, the Executive Director of the Restored Hope Network and a self-identified

ex-lesbian.

Joe Dallas, an author, conference speaker, and ordained pastoral counselor who has

written six books on human sexuality.

Robert Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological

Seminary and a member of the Advisory Council of the Restored Hope Network.

Stephen Black, the Executive Director of First Stone Ministries and a self-identified ex-

gay.

Prominent books written from the Side X position include:

Ron Citlau, Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted: Biblical Direction for Friends, Family

Members, and Those Struggling with Homosexuality (Bethany House, 2017).

Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle With Sexual Identity (Harvest

House Publishers, 2003).

Joe Dallas, When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When a Family Member Says

They’re Gay (Harvest House Publishers, 2004).

Robert A.J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abington Press, 2002).

Alan Medinger, Growth Into Manhood (Shaw Books, 2000).

Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Rowman & Littlefield

Publishers, 2004).

Leanne Payne, Healing Homosexuality (Baker Pub Group, 1996).

Denise Shick, Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith Based Perspective (Help 4

Families Press, 2014).

Is sexual intercourse within marriage between two people of the same sex blessed by God?
 

In agreement for the most part with Side Y and at least partial agreement with Side B, Side X believes that gay sexual and romantic relationships and marriage are not blessed by God but instead go against God’s intent for humanity. While they all agree on this point, there are some differences between Side X’s approach to coming to this answer versus the approach of Side B. (Side Y does not really have any major theologians who have developed a theology for the view, but Side Y Christians normally find themselves between Side X and Side B but closer to Side X).

 

Both Side X and Side B theologians agree that the passages in Leviticus 18 & 20, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1 condemn sex in general between members of the same sex. Side X would say the condemnation also includes romantic same sex relationships which not all Side B Christians would agree on. There is also disagreement on the issue of the Sodom and Gomorrah story in Genesis 19. (See the Side B view of this passage in the Side B section)

 

Side X theologians including Joe Dallas and Robert Gagnon argue that homosexuality is one of the sins for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. This is shown by the fact that the group of citizens came to Lot’s door wanting to have sex with the visitors. Since Lot gave them his daughters to have sex with, it shows that Lot was more opposed to the homosexual factor of the incident than the general sexual factor. Dallas and Gagnon also argue that Jude 7 and 2 Peter 2:6-7, 10, which refer to the sexual immorality of the men of Sodom, support this conclusion.

 

The main characteristic of Side X theology is highlighted by Robert Gagnon in his book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon, 2001). Gagnon argues that homosexuality is not just sin but one of the gravest sins in God’s eyes. He says, 

The prohibitions in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 declare that for a man to ‘lie with a male as though lying with a woman’ is ‘an abomination’ or ‘detestable act’—in Hebrew, to’evah—something utterly repugnant to God….The indictment of same-sex intercourse is particularly severe, as suggested by the specific attachment of the label to’evah and by making it a capital offense.

 

Joe Dallas does not take as severe of a view as Gagnon nor do all Side X Christians but they do still argue for the seriousness of homosexuality in the Bible.
 
What should be the goal for a Christian with same-sex attractions?
 

The Side X View believes God’s will for everyone is to pursue heterosexuality. God created humans in the Garden of Eden to be in heterosexual relationships. Therefore, restoration in the life of a person with same-sex attractions should include the pursuit to minimize one’s same-sex attractions and increase opposite-sex attractions. This does not mean that all people with same-sex attractions who follow the Side X view will end up in heterosexual marriages. Marriage and celibacy are both viewed as godly options for people with same-sex attractions to pursue, but while there are multiple ex-gay individuals who end up celibate for life, the pursuit of marriage is always seen as the higher calling.

 

Stephen Black, a Side X leader, explains this view saying, 

“Concerning the goal of repentance from homosexuality, I publicly repent from repeating the statement, ‘The goal is not heterosexuality but holiness” as being the goal. This statement has misled many believing that same-sex attractions may remain in the soul and has been a segue for empowering orientation and ‘gay Christianity.’ The truth is, that the goal must be a life surrendered to the divine will of God, which is moving forward in holiness in His divine image, to be male and female, man and woman - holy sexual human beings. Therefore, the goal in real holiness is always to be realigned in His divine intent and creative design as innately heterosexual, reflecting His glory and image, which is Imago Dei, and can only be heterosexual, anything less is not the truth.”

Is sexual attraction to the same sex in and of itself sinful?

 

According to the Side X view, a person’s attractions are in itself sinful which is why a person with same-sex attractions should pursue ridding himself or herself of those attractions. Jesus says that lusting after another person is the same as adultery so therefore sexual attractions outside of God’s design is sin. As 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” So we as Christians must always pursue ridding ourselves of sinful desires which includes same-sex attractions.

 

Albert Mohler, president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes:

The Bible identifies internal temptation as sin. As Denny Burk and Heath Lambert argue, “same-sex attraction, not just homosexual behavior, is sinful.” We are called to repent both of sin and of any inner temptation to sin….Surely, the mortification of sin required of Christians would demand that we put as much distance as possible between ourselves and any temptation to sin (Romans 8:12-13).

 

Can and should a person with same-sex attractions pursue changing their attractions through therapy or interventions?

 

The goal of the life of a Christian with same-sex attractions according to Side X is to pursue heterosexuality then yes everyone should pursue changing their sexual attractions. It may not always happen for a person to the degree that they desire, but it should be pursued. The Side X View sees most same-sex attractions as the result of broken or unfulfilled relationships with the same-sex parent and peers in the formative years of the person’s life. This theory was made popular by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. Therefore, if a person has not formed healthy relationships with their same sex parent and same sex peers, those needs for relationships turn sexual at puberty. So, according to this view, it is believed that if a person can mend their relationships with their same sex parent and same sex peers, it can minimize those sexual attractions. 

 

Joe Dallas, a famous Side X/Y leader, shares regarding sexual orientation change efforts:

You’ll generally find [we] believe that we are created beings whose Creator had a specific plan in mind for our sexual experience, and that homosexuality, like many other human conditions, falls short of His design. That makes it a sin, certainly, but hardly insanity.

 

You’ll also find that we do, indeed, believe in change. Change of perspective, behavior, relational skills, identity, and change in the power homosexual desires have had over us along with a belief in the potential, in many cases, of heterosexual arousal occurring as well.

 

Some Side X advocates admit that change in attractions is not guaranteed for all who undergo processes to change their sexual orientation.

 

Robert Gagnon, professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and major Side X advocate shares in an article he wrote after a Side X conference:

Speakers at the conference were quite clear that change of sexual orientation for all meant no longer living under the control of sinful desires….We recognize the possibility for some to experience some degree of change on a 0 to 6 Kinsey spectrum of same-sex attraction (as the Kinsey Institute itself did). We also recognize that God often doesn't see fit to remove sinful desires but manifests his life by empowering obedience in spite of the retention of such desires. As with Paul's discussion of the “thorn in the flesh,” God often does not remove the deprivations and difficulties of our lives, in order to show us that knowing him and his grace more than offsets these distractions.

 

In general, Side X Christians hold that pursuing heterosexual attractions should be the goal of Christians with same sex attractions even though they do not always promise it will happen for everyone. 

Can people with same sex attractions identify as LGBT+ while being Christian?

 

Because the identities of gay and lesbian are connected to attractions that for Side X are sinful, Side X Christians believe it is sinful to use such language as part of one’s identity. Our identity should be in Christ alone. 

 

As Albert Mohler writes on the identity issue:

Several issues press for immediate attention. One is the identification of people as “LGBT Christians” or “gay Christians.” This language implies that Christians can be identified in an ongoing manner with a sexual identity that is contrary to Scripture. Behind the language is the modern conception of identity theory that is, in the end, fundamentally unbiblical….The larger problem is the idea that any believer can claim identity with a pattern of sexual attraction that is itself sinful. The Apostle Paul answers this question definitively when he explains in 1 Corinthians 6:11, such were some of you. But, writes Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.”

 

In this view, a Christian who identifies as gay is no different than a Christian who identifies as a pedophile. They are both identities based on attractions which are wrong. In place of using LGBT+ language, Side X believers normally use terms like “ex-gay,” “former homosexual,” “leaving the gay lifestyle,” or “same-sex attracted.”

Side Y

 

History and Prominent Leaders and Books:


Side Y was the last of the four Sides to be defined therefore making it the newest with most of its thoughts and theology still being defined. Gabriel Blanchard invented the term to encompass Christians with same-sex attractions who hold a strong belief that using LGBT+ language to identify oneself cannot be reconciled with Christian faith yet also did not advocate for Side X methods of attempting to change sexual orientation. Because Side Y is so new, many of the leaders in the area do not necessarily think of themselves as Side Y and many times trying to define a person’s beliefs as Side Y can be difficult at times. With time, the entire movement is developing into its own right. The Southern Baptist Convention is one denomination that is slowly moving towards a more Side Y view. It has, in recent years entered a strong tension regarding its views regarding homosexuality. Some in leadership at the SBC hold to a strong Side X position like Albert Mohler while more progressives hold to a more Side Y/B position like Russell Moore.

Prominent leaders among Side Y Christians include:

Christopher Yuan, professor at Moody Bible Institute and author of Out of A Far Country

Daniel Mattson, a nationally known Catholic speaker, blogger, and author of Why I Don't

Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace

Jackie Hill Perry, author of the book, Gay Girl, Good God

Sam Allberry, church pastor in Maidenhead, England and author of Is God Anti-Gay?

Prominent books written from the Side Y position include:

Sam Allberry, Is God Anti-Gay? (The Good Book Company, 2013).

Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? (Crossway,

2015)

Jackie Hill Perry, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always

Been (B&H Books, 2018).

Daniel Mattson, Why I Don't Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and

Found Peace (Ignatius Press, 2017). 

Christopher Yuan, Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped

by God's Grand Story (Multnomah, 2018).

Christopher Yuan, Out of A Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's

Search for Hope (WaterBrook, 2011).

Is sexual intercourse within marriage between two people of the same sex blessed by God?
 

Side Y Christians agree with Side X and Side B that God does not bless or approve sexual or romantic relations between people of the same sex in any scenario. There are few Side Y theologians so what makes Side Y’s approach to the theology topic different from Side B and Side X is not completely clear. Sam Allberry, author of Is God Anti-Gay? is one of the few Side Y theologians out there along with Kevin DeYoung’s book What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?. Sam Allberry’s arguments do not deviate too much from Side B and Side X though he emphasizes that homosexuality is no different than any other sin in contrast to the view more prominent with Side X believers that believes homosexuality is seen as a more grave sin in the eyes of God.
 
What should be the goal for a Christian with same-sex attractions?
 

Side Y Christians are famous for the phrase, “The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality but holiness.” For Side Y Christians, the goal for Christians with same-sex attractions is to live holy lives. For some that means celibacy while others that means marriage, but Side Y Christians make a major emphasis that neither heterosexuality nor opposite-sex attractions should be the primary goal for Christians with same-sex attractions. Christopher Yuan once explained in a sermon

“Heterosexuality is never mentioned in Scripture. You will never find that word in the Bible. So what is Biblical sexuality? Biblical sexuality is holy sexuality. Every person heterosexual or homosexual is called to live holy.” 

Jackie Hill Perry, the author of Gay Girl, Good God, also writes about this in an article called, “The Heterosexual Gospel”: 

Stop telling gay people that if they come to Jesus, he will make them straight.

I know, I know, some of us Christians believe that we are only pointing our gay and lesbian friends to the miraculous. To the power of God to make all things and them new. Well-meaning believers, in an effort to encourage or cast vision to their same-sex attracted (SSA) friends or family, preach this gospel often. This gospel is not the good news of Jesus however, but another gospel. A gospel that I call “the heterosexual gospel.”

 

What the gay community needs to hear is not that God will make them straight, but that Christ can make them his. In this age, they may never be “straight” (for lack of better words), but they can be holy (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must remind others (and ourselves) that Christ is ultimately calling them to himself — to know Christ, love Christ, serve Christ, honor Christ, and exalt Christ forever. When he is the aim of their repentance, and the object of their faith, they are made right with God the Father, and given the power by the Holy Spirit to deny all sin — sexual and otherwise.

 

Many Side Y leaders emphasize that while marriage is an option for queer people that come to Christ, the majority choose celibacy and therefore the church needs to emphasize that singleness is equal to marriage.

Is sexual attraction to the same sex in and of itself sinful?

 

Unlike Side X, Side Y believes that same-sex attractions in and of themselves are not sinful. It becomes sin when a person lustfully indulges in those desires whether in thought or action. Sam Allberry shares saying, 

“James reminds us that temptation gives birth to sin (James 1:15). It’s not itself sin. So the two are not the same thing. When we’re tempted, we need to flee temptation and to stand faithfully underneath it. I take it that it’s possible, therefore, to be tempted without sinning….I don’t think it’s right to say that having the capacity to be tempted is itself a sin. It’s a sign of our fallenness, but I want to repent of the ways I sinfully respond to temptation. I want to flee temptation itself. Otherwise, you’re saying to somebody, ‘Even if you’re not sinning, you’re still sinning, just because you’ve got the capacity to be tempted in a certain way.’“

 

Also, Side Y Christians (and Side B) use other arguments like the passage in Hebrews 4:15 that says "[Jesus] was tempted in every way according to our likeness, but without sin." This does not mean that Jesus had same sex attractions but that he probably had sexual temptations yet never sinned. This means that temptation is not automatically sin.

Can and should a person with same-sex attractions pursue changing their attractions through therapy or interventions?

 

Side Y Christians believe that it is more important to focus on living lives of obedience rather than focusing on trying to change attractions as seen in the quote from Jackie Hill Perry above. Christopher Yuan, another prominent Side Y leader and professor at Moody Bible Institute said in an article on the issue, “Sanctification is not getting rid of our temptations, but pursuing holiness in the midst of them. If our goal is making people straight, then we are practicing a false gospel.” While most Side Y Christians do not endorse efforts to change sexual attractions, they rarely take a strong stance against it and rather emphasize that those who decide to do so should pursue efforts to change their sexual attractions of their own accord rather than being pushed to do so or condemned if they do not try to change their attractions.

Can people with same sex attractions identify as LGBT+ while being Christian?

 

Side Y Christians normally see LGBT+ labels as incompatible for Christians with same-sex attractions to identify themselves or at least as not the best option. Many Side Y Christians would even say it is unbiblical for people to use LGBT+ language to identify themselves. Jackie Hill explains her thoughts on the issue sharing:

LGBT culture encourages us to find greater joy in identifying with sin rather than with the Creator. By contrast, same-sex-attracted believers—like all believers—are called to find our identity in Christ.

 

In place of LGBT+ language or Side X language, Side Y Christians prefer to call themselves “same-sex attracted.” Sam Allberry explains the reasoning for this: 

I want to use language that can describe an aspect of what is going on in my life, but which doesn’t imply that that is what defines me, or what is the center and heart of who I am. The language of “same-sex attraction” perhaps is less familiar to people outside of Christian circles. It’s a bit more clunky. But I think it’s less prone to being misunderstood. I use it because I don’t want to imply that a particular set of sexual temptations is where I see who I am. It’s not the lens through which I understand myself. That’s why I tend to use the language of being same-sex attracted.

 

Still some Side Y Christians do use LGBT+ language in specific situations from a missional perspective when speaking with non-Christians. Sam Allberry shares about some of the times he uses LGBT+ language:

There have been times when the secular media have wanted to interview me about my own position on this. In some of those times, I have used the language of being gay simply because I’m either talking to someone in the secular world who is just not going to understand the language of same-sex attraction, or I’m talking to an unbelieving friend or something like that.

There are times when I felt I needed to use the language of being gay in order to have the conversation. Then I’ve immediately qualified what I meant by it. Some may say that’s an inappropriate thing to do. That’s just the way it’s landed. It’s not my preferred way of speaking. I see it as parallel to when Paul appeals to his Roman citizenship. It’s something that opens a door for his ministry. But it’s certainly not how he sees himself.

Side B

 

History and Prominent Leaders and Books:

 

The Gay Christian Network was founded by Justin Lee, a Side A leader, to be a place for all LGBT+ Christians to grow in their faith. At the time, there were not four views but simply two: Side A and Side B. Side A represented the view that gay marriage was blessed by God, and Side B represented the view that God was against gay relationships and therefore included all the views here divided into Side B, Y, and X. Over time as the nuances between Side B, Y, and X became more apparent, the one view was divided into three in order to give more clarity to the beliefs of each view. In 2010, the Side B view grew in fame with the publication of Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting, which is arguably the most famous Side B book to date. Over time Side B Christians were slowly pushed out by Side A and Side X/Y Christian circles which led Side B Christians to create their own gatherings, ministries, and conferences - the most notably being the Revoice Conference which began in 2018. 

Prominent leaders among Side B Christians include:

Wesley Hill, assistant professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary and

author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality

Ron Belgau, founder and editor of the Spiritual Friendships blog

Nate Collins, founder of the Revoice conference and author of All But Invisible

Eve Tushnet, blogger, speaker, and author of Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality,

Finding Community, Living My Faith

Preston Sprinkle, president of the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender 

Prominent books written from the Side B position include:

David Bennett, A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus

(Zondervan, 2018).

Greg Coles, Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual

Identity (InterVarsity Press, 2017).

Nate Collins, All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith,

Gender, and Sexuality (Zondervan, 2017).

Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and

Homosexuality (Zondervan, 2016).

Preston Sprinkle, People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue

(Zondervan, 2015).

Eve Tushnet, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My

Faith (Ave Maria Press, 2014).

Is sexual intercourse within marriage between two people of the same sex blessed by God?
 

Side B agrees with Side X and Side Y that sexual relationships between members of the same sex is not part of God’s design, yet Side B is unique in that it emphasizes sexual relationships as sinful and not romantic relationships. This is not a concensus among Side B people, but it is important to note that a growing number of Side B adovocates believe that romantic non-sexual relationships (referred to a celibate partnerships) are permissible and a healthy avenue for queer Christians. Those who advocate for celibate partnerships emphasize that it is a category apart from marriage which they still believe is reserved only for one man and one woman. 

 

Unlike Side X, Side B theologians emphasize that sex between members of the same sex is no different than any other sin. Side B theologians clarify that homosexuality is never mentioned on its own but always mentioned in a passage alongside other sins that all humans commit. This therefore means that same sex relationships cannot be considered more sinful than other sins.

 

Another major difference between Side X and Side B theology is that Side B theologians normally argue that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah should be left out of arguments related to the morality of same-sex relationships. Preston Sprinkle explains that “most non-affirming Evangelicals are moving away from applying Genesis 19 to the current debate about monogamous, consensual, same-sex unions.” He argues that since the men of Sodom are attempting to gang rape the visitors, an act which even Side A Christians agree is wrong, it does not help our argument against the morality of monogamous, consensual same sex relationships. 

 
What should be the goal for a Christian with same-sex attractions?
 

According to the Side B view, the goal for every person’s life is to pursue holiness in their lives and actions. Every human on earth has sexual attractions that fall outside of God’s design because of the fall. Some are attracted to people besides their spouse. Some are attracted sexually to the same sex. In this way, changing a person’s attractions is not the objective. The objective is helping people to live holy lives regardless of their circumstances. Celibacy and opposite sex marriage (referred to in Side B circles when involving queer people as “mixed orientation marriages) are both godly options for queer people who are Christians, but while there are multiple Side B people who pursue marriage, most pursue celibacy and communal living with others.

 

Along with emphasizing obedient living, Side B Christians also emphasize the importance of finding community and intimacy especially for those who end up celibate. They emphasize that the community within the church should be emphasized about community within the nuclear family. Bridge Eileen, a Side B blogger, wrote:

Healthy Christian community offers a celibate gay person relationships deeper and more meaningful than anything a secular marriage could give. In fact, it offers this to everyone. Ultimately, the family of God reflects the type of relationships found in paradise — spiritual relationships where no one is married (Matt. 22:30). Imagine a world where you are loved more deeply by your friends than you were ever loved by your spouse (John 15:12-13). If such a world seems impossible to you, then perhaps you’ve never experienced Christian community.

Side B Christians emphasize that in order to support LGBT+ people who decide to follow Christ by living celibate, the church needs to help them find deep community in ways outside their biological family.

Is sexual attraction to the same sex in and of itself sinful?

 

People who adhere to the Side B view believe that, a person’s attractions are not sinful in and of themselves. Sin enters with how a person acts regarding their attractions. Whether by having sex outside of marriage, looking at a person to lust after them, or watching pornography, these are all decisions. A person cannot control who they are attracted to, but they can control their decisions. Hebrews says even Jesus himself was tempted in every way we were tempted yet he did not sin. This must have included sexual attraction. Also as James 1:14 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” Temptation (which includes sexual attraction) is not a sin. If we act on our temptations, then we are sinning. 

 

Nick Roen, a writer for Desiring God, shares on this topic:

Experiencing a specific same-sex attraction is not necessarily a sin. Let’s say that I experience an attraction to another man. I don’t go looking for it, but it rises up spontaneously within me. At this point, my attraction falls into the category of temptation, and I can do one of two things. I can fight the desire in the same manner that anyone who is tempted with pride, jealousy, or fear would, and kill it before I sin. Or I can follow the desire into lust of the mind and eventually the flesh, which is a volitional sin.

When I look at another male and experience the butterflies of attraction, I must lay the desire for inappropriate activity with him at the feet of Jesus, and turn toward the superior promises of reward found in pursuing righteousness. If I do this, even though I have experienced the disordered groan of a broken creation, I have not sinned.

Can and should a person with same-sex attractions pursue changing their attractions through therapy or interventions?

 

Since the goal is holy living regardless of circumstances, changing a person’s attractions is seen as unnecessary and at times harmful, according to the Side B view. 

 

Wesley Hill writes in Washed and Waiting, 

“As I would later write in a letter to a friend, ‘A sexual orientation is such a complex and, in most cases, it seems, intractable thing; I for one cannot imagine what ‘healing’ from my orientation would look like, given that it seems to manifest itself not only in physical attraction to male bodies but also in a preference for male company, with all that it entails,’ such as conversation and emotional intimacy and quality time spent together.”

 

In this way, many Side B leaders emphasize that a sexual orientation is about more than simply wanting to have sex with another person. It is a relational orientation. A person with a gay orientation is also geared toward more meaningful friendships with members of the same sex. Therefore there can be good in a person’s orientation even though the Fall has manipulated it to become sexual. 

 

While people who wish to try and change their attractions are not criticized, most Side B people believe that therapies and interventions which try to change sexual attractions do not work based on reports from multiple ex-gay leaders who later left their spouses and returned to gay relationships. A study done by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse revealed that only 18 percent of people who completed conversion therapy reported that their sexual attractions had changed. After the study was published, multiple people who had originally claimed they had experienced a change in their attractions later renounced those claims. Based on the lack of evidence for conversion efforts, Johanna Finegan, a writer for the Spiritual Friendship’s blog, said during her talk at the Spiritual Friendships pre-conference at Revoice 2018: 

“The rarity of change can no longer be seen as an unspeakable thing that we cover over with sentimental talk about how with God all things are possible. God can do anything he pleases, but wisdom demands that we pay attention to how he is typically pleased to act in the lives of those same-sex attracted believers who surrender their sexuality to him.”

 

Side B Christians also cite multiple health organizations such as the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Medical Association which report that conversion efforts can have very negative effects on LGBT+ individuals. Because of these reports, Side B Christians feel conversion efforts are harmful to LGBT+ people in most situations and condemn churches which pressure LGBT+ people to go through it. They do not however condemn a person who decides to undergo such a process in order to attempt to change their sexual orientation of their own free will.

 

As said before, even while a person has attractions to the same sex, the Side B view believes a person can still find someone of the opposite sex that they could pursue marriage with if the person desires. 

Can people with same sex attractions identify as LGBT+ while being Christian?

 

Some Side B people may use gay or lesbian identities not necessarily as the core part of their identity but as a simple way to describe their situation of life being attracted to the same-sex or experiencing gender dysphoria. This includes some people who are in opposite sex marriages but still identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

 

Joshua Gonnerman explains:

The central locus of my identity, which shapes all other aspects of it, is Christ. But no one, upon honest self-reflection, can realistically claim that this entirely does away with all other aspects of one’s identity. Christ is the foundation which shows how other aspects of my identity can and cannot be expressed, but other aspects of who I am do say something significant about me.

 

Above the issue of identity, the most important thing for Side B believers is that they live lives according to Scripture either celibate or in opposite sex marriage. 

 

There are two main reasons Side B Christians advocate for using gay, lesbian, and bisexual identities. First, using other terminology like “same-sex attracted” is not understood outside the church like the terms “gay” and “lesbian”. Johanna Finegan shares in a sermon, “If you tell a non-Christian, ‘I struggle with same-sex attractions,” they will look at you with a dead stare. The phrase has no significance outside the walls of the church.” 

 

Bridge Eileen also explains, “Let’s imagine telling an unbeliever, ‘I’m not gay. I’m same-sex-attracted.’ The obvious question is, ‘What do you mean?’ When translated, you literally just said, “I’m not attracted to the same sex. I’m attracted to the same sex.” That’s like me saying to a friend, “I’m not a woman. I’m just a mujer.” I literally just said, “I’m not a woman. I’m just a woman.” Congratulations to me on successfully sounding both pretentious and crazy at the same time.”

 

The second reason is that Side B believers argue that LGBT+ identity is not about affirming same-sex marriage. It is a cultural identity and an explanation of shared experiences.

Theological discussions are ever evolving which means these descriptions can quickly become outdated. Have suggested updates for this page? Let us know by commenting below.