As we discuss sex and sexuality, it is important to highlight one of the latest developments in the sexuality discussion. It is what is called "Side B" Christianity.
Side B requires some attention not only because it is a growing phenomenon, but because it is one that is becoming prominent within conservative, evangelical circles. It is not just "out there" among liberals or secular types, it is fostered in places that would be akin to churches like ours or in a college where we might send our kids.
The idea behind Side B is that people can identify as LGBTQ, but, because of their sexual orientation, they must remain celibate. They abstain because they recognize that Scripture teaches that sex and marriage are designed by God to be between one man and one woman.
Side B stands over and against Side A, which says that same sex attracted people can marry and have sexual relations. Side A would be what we are used to when we think of the LGBTQ agenda. Side B is a little more tame. Some might even label it a more conservative approach to the LGBTQ issue.
While we can commend the Side B adherents for recognizing that that homosexual acts and homosexual marriage are contrary to the Bible, we also must confess that they do not go far enough in their criticism. For they fail to understand the nature of Christian identity, the fall, and progressive sanctification.
First, the Side B fails to understand the nature of Christian identity. A Christian's identity is never to be in their fallenness or their sin. As a Christian, I would not be right in saying that I am a Christian Alcoholic or Christian Podophile. The two terms would be an oxymoron.
Once I am in Christ, my identify is to be found in Him. Sin has been dethroned and no longer has dominion over me. While I may struggle with addiction or sinful tendencies, it is not biblical to legitimize my sin by saying, "this is who I am."
Secondly, Side B fails to grasp the nature of the fall. In Adam, we lost our original righteousness and became filled with the corruption of sin. However, we are still created in male and female with a divinely designed sexual orientation.
Side B proponents say that they are not culpable for their homosexual orientation because it is part of their personhood. Sin, in their view, is only found in the explicit acts of homosexuality, not the orientation itself. To put it another way, their homosexuality is seen to be part of who they are. Thus, they would say that their homosexuality is not wrong at the level of desire because it is part of their sexuality.
Yet Scripture teaches that these feelings and tendencies are part of our desires, not our person. Just as one's feelings of anger or lust must be crucified and replaced with patience or chaste thoughts, so too must grace be brought to bear on one's homosexual inclinations. Thus, there is no countenancing one's homosexual orientation. It is sinful and should be repudiated through the power of the gospel.
Which leads to the third realm, that of progressive sanctification. The gospel promises life and redemption. There is no area of the fall that it does not bring hope and restoration. Paul said that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom. 5:20).
For Side B, they would say that there is no need for sanctification in this area, other than maintaining a life of abstinence. For again, the orientation (in their view) is not wrong.
In contrast, Scripture tells us that we must align ourselves with the standard it sets forth. Thus, we must not identify with a homosexual orientation. We must identify with a heterosexual orientation and seek to conform our lives to a heterosexual lifestyle as God intends.
We recognize that this may be a struggle and one may have to fight with diligence against their sinful desires. But that is where the hope of the gospel plays its part. We recognize that the Holy Spirit can bring about the necessary change. He has, after all, "given us everything we need for life and godliness" (2 Pet 1:3).
Though the battle be long and difficult, one can say, "This is who God made me to be. I will claim this identity for myself and strive with all my soul to conform to it." That is the nature of progressive sanctification.
To be sure, this short space is not enough to fully cover the topic of Side B. Much more could be said about what it is and how it fails to measure up to the Biblical standard. Yet it is enough here to simply recognize that Side B can have a great allure in our present day. With our culture awash in an anti-Christian sexual ethic, the church will be tempted to syncretize in some way on the issue.
With its growing allurement, it is at least good to have a small introduction to it. That we can have it on our radar and express some discernment should we ever exposed to it.
This is part four of a series on sex and sexuality. Be sure to view part one, part two, & part three.
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