Hoo boy, if that isn’t a hard question then I don’t know what is! In one of our YOBcasts, Ryan raised the question of how much “internalized homophobia” has played a role in our choice of sexual ethics. This definitely got me thinking.
“Side A” folks (those with a gay-affirming theology) who are critical of YOB and other “Side B” organizations (those holding a traditional belief on sexuality) will often say we are in denial of our true selves, full of self-hatred, and it’s all because of our internalized homophobia that we choose to live this way.
Well . . . are they right? This question has made me pause for self-reflection as I reanalyze my beliefs.
They are right, but only in a sense.
As I’ve blogged before, I used to have an extremely homophobic attitude. My high school environment was very anti-gay. The phrases “that’s so gay” and “dude, you’re such a fag” were tossed around like crazy amongst the other boys. I must’ve heard those words and insults at least 500 times a day, and it rubbed off on me somewhat.
Let’s also face facts here: I grew up in a (relatively) conservative household in a thoroughly middle-class, white, suburban environment. My parents often expressed disgust about homosexuals and homosexuality in general.
I grew up in the height of the modern American culture wars of the early 2000’s. It was a time of absolutes: liberal versus conservative, pro-gay versus anti-gay with no in-betweens.
I bought into this socio-political toxicity and wanted to crusade against the gays because they were going against what the Bible said. Never mind those feelings I felt within myself.
Nowadays when I listen to the very conservative Christian crowd’s ungracious attacks against the Christian “Side B” movement and the LGBTQ community, it hauntingly reminds me of my ugly attitudes from the past.
Are my current views on the traditional sexual ethic and how I live out my sexuality purely a response to my socio-political upbringing and nothing more?
I’ve read more and more hard stories about mistreatment and abuse against LGBTQ people from many fellow Christians, the damage they’ve caused, even amongst people in this “Side B” crowd. Thankfully, I’m not someone who has experienced such prejudice, but I was really shocked to hear these stories.
It can often make one feel like he’s on the wrong side of history.
So, all this said, do I live the way I live purely because of the way I was raised? Do I still harbor any internalized homophobia of myself and others? Is that why I’m “Side B”? Is this all coming from a place of pious self-righteousness?
I’ve studied the arguments for both “Side A” and “Side B” theologies. I have listened to arguments by Matthew Vines and Justin Lee, contrasting their thoughts with those from Greg Coles and Preston Sprinkle, and I remain convinced of the Bible’s forbidding homosexual sex.
Do I write this to encourage people to question being “Side B”? Not exactly. But one should make sure he’s living this way for the right reasons. With this culture war surrounding LGBTQ issues, many Christians have taken harsh stands against gay-affirming theology for the sake of being a good conservative rather than actual Christian convictions.
Sometimes I feel “Side B” folks take similar stands.
Having said that, I’ve heard some refreshing backstories from other “Side B” folks. Some come from rather liberal backgrounds, and their parents wouldn’t mind if they embraced a “Side A” theology — yet they stick to their “Side B” convictions.
A good majority of “Side B” folks come from conservative backgrounds, yes, some of those coming from ultra-conservative, even abusive backgrounds. Enough to send anyone scurrying to the “Side A” world as quickly as possible — yet they also stick with “Side B.”
I’ve also seen people argue for “Side A” purely from liberal convictions — the exact opposite of conservatives in many ironic ways.
Here’s the most important thing for Christians across the board when it comes to LGBTQ issues: take all the toxic, socio-political culture war baggage, crumple it into a ball, and toss it out the window. Frankly, it dehumanizes everyone involved.
Conservatives want to lump all gay or SSA (same-sex attracted) Christians into the “liberal gay agenda” while liberals will call out people with conservative views as “homophobic hatemongers.”
People’s individual stories and feelings seem to have no place amid these arguments.
As for feeling like being on the wrong side of history, yes, the church has unquestionably handled this homosexuality issue very poorly. Yes, much abuse has resulted.
As Christians who believe homosexual sex is unbiblical, are we on the wrong side of history? While I believe the Bible’s forbidding of homosexual sex is a truth, it is a truth that has been abused.
But just because a truth has been abused, doesn’t mean it’s any less true. It wouldn’t be the first time Christians have horribly abused truths we still hold true today.
Yes, we still believe adultery is a sin, but burning people at the stake for adultery wasn’t exactly the best way to go about it in medieval times, was it?
But here’s one of the main reasons why I’m “Side B”: I LOVE IT.
No question, being “Side B” still has its struggles: like the anxieties of fitting in with society and some sense of loss about not having a “normal” American family.
But these past three years in the “Side B” world have been the happiest of my life.
I love my brothers; they are my best friends and my family. I am no longer alone and isolated like I once was, and I know I won’t have to face life’s hardships alone in my future. I have let go of my feelings of self-hatred and embraced God’s love through my brothers.
What a beautiful feeling that is. God has truly led me to his promises in this life.
I’m not just living this way because I feel spiritually obligated or socio-politically pressured against my will. I have no regrets about living a “Side B” life.
And besides, why would someone want to settle with intimacy with one man for the rest of his life when I can share intimate (albeit platonic) connection with dozens of other men living the same life as me? I can live without sex, but I know I will wither and die without intimacy (not to mention a healthy helping of snuggles).
I know this is not the case with everyone. I have met some men who have a hard time grappling with a life without sex, so I can’t call this the be-all, end-all case for going “Side B” (oh, if only it were though).
Still, I don’t think living a happy “Side B” life is impossible for everyone.
I have seen God provide such amazing blessings for me and others. What a thrilling adventure it’s been, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
And I haven’t gone crazy and tried to burn any sexy gypsy dudes at the stake, which is always a plus.
Have you experienced internalized homophobia? Do you feel merely obligated to live out a “Side B” life, or do you feel passion to live under this traditional sexual ethic? What’s the hardest part — and the best part — about being “Side B”?