Hey, hey, HEEEEYYY!!! Get that cursor away from the “X” on your browser! Yes, I know you are sick to death with all things political right now. Especially with an upcoming election. But hear me out.
It’s no secret we live in very divided times, in a country with a toxic political atmosphere. Battle lines have been drawn between liberal and conservative in a tug-of-war we call “the culture war.”
Some say this culture war has its roots all the way back to the Civil War. A more contemporary understanding suggests it may have its origins in the Vietnam era when our country was split between the hawks and doves.
Either way, the culture war deeply affects us today. I remember well the culture war flare-ups during my teen years.
The post-9/11 early 2000s saw a revving up of the culture war yet again, and I remember three controversial issues at the forefront: the Iraq war, abortion, and of course *drum roll* gay marriage. It seemed to me then you were either for or against these things with nothing in between.
So yes, it was a pretty depressing polarization.
Even after the legalization of gay marriage in 2015, I’ve noticed many Christians still arguing over homosexuality like it’s still 2004.
In my years before finding Your Other Brothers, coming to terms with my sexuality was extremely difficult as it seemed there were only two options for my future. These two options reflected the polarized extremes embodying the culture war.
The first was the conservative option which upheld the belief that homosexual sex was condemned in the Bible and immoral. This side often championed the “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” option.
Thus, in order for me to live a godly life and not suffer with living alone, I would have to rid myself of all same-sex attractions, become straight, and marry a woman some day. This would require pursuing reparative therapy which would presumably change my sexuality.
The other option, championed by liberals, was just to be my “true self,” start dating men, and eventually marry a man to pursue a sexual relationship, while somehow cultivating a belief that the Bible does not forbid gay marriage or gay sex (an affirming belief known as being “Side A”).
Out of these two options, the former seemed to line up most with my biblical beliefs. Not to mention, I saw all the outrageously sexual imagery from gay pride parades.
The secular gay world turned me off, so the choice seemed a little easier. I never did any real reparative therapy, though I did dabble a bit with online ex-gay support groups.
Frankly, amid my decision-making, I myself had been caught up in the culture war. It was always: “This is good, this is bad, the end.”
When I first came across Your Other Brothers back in 2016, it truly blew my mind. A bunch of gay/SSA Christians suggesting an actual middle and moderate way? Living with my sexuality as a celibate, abstaining from gay sex (known as being “Side B”) just never even crossed my mind.
I never realized there were so many nuances to the issue.
The sad thing is, I’ve met many gay/SSA Christians who have told me that they too were forced to choose between two cultural narratives on homosexuality. Tragically, many felt pressured into marrying a woman in hopes that it would make them straight, only for it all to end in disaster and divorce.
Others felt the only way to love and be loved was by rejecting their biblical beliefs and marrying a man. Or rejecting their faith altogether.
I’ve been active in YOB and the larger Side B world for about four years now. As you may imagine, I’ve seen a lot of STRONG pushback from both cultural sides of the homosexuality debate.
The conservative ex-gay side has slammed our movement as “radically liberal” and “part of the gay agenda.” While the liberal Side A crowd labels us as “just another super conservative ex-gay thing” and “led by people with internalized homophobia.”
It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so sad and revealing of our culture’s polarization.
Thing is, I often see people choose and argue their convictions on sexuality not so much because of deep biblical analysis but just out of “being a good conservative” or “being a good liberal.”
I don’t think this is done consciously, but it’s often self evident.
For example, a guest host on a conservative Christian podcast dismissed the testimonies of mistreatment and church abuse from gay/SSA folks saying, “Oh, these people are just like Black Lives Matter — always playing the victim.”
I’ve also listened to a Side A podcast where they dismissed celibacy as “abusive,” that it’s cruel to deny anyone sex because living without sex is impossible.
So yes, neither side is interested in much dialogue. In my discussions with conservative ex-gays on Facebook, I get Bible verses chucked at me like spears while those with a liberal Side A sexual ethic just stop talking altogether.
Neither conservative nor liberal side wants to hear my full views, beliefs, and nuances on the subject because I’m judged as “one of the other.”
I grew up in a somewhat conservative, white, midwestern suburb among a hostile homophobic crowd in high school. Was I all too eager to choose a Side B life because of my own cultural upbringing? Was I merely brainwashed?
I did go through a period of soul-searching to make sure this wasn’t the case. I read several books by “Side A” authors such as Matthew Vines and Justin Lee.
I kept an open mind and sympathized with many of their viewpoints. I even felt they made some legit points, but ultimately I disagreed with their conclusions.
Still, I’m glad I read them and felt my convictions were rational rather than reactionary.
The point of this blog is not to bash liberals and conservatives. After all, I think both sides have some things right.
The conservative side lines up with my beliefs that the Bible forbids homosexual activity while the liberal side honorably fights against homophobia and for fair treatment of LGBT+ individuals.
In my experiences in the Side B world, I’ve met people from across all the sociopolitical spectrum which is super refreshing. If the people were entirely on one side or the other, then I’d be very concerned.
We are all sort of victims here as the homosexuality and gay marriage debate has been so wrapped up in our country’s politics. It can be hard not to be reactionary to suggestions that a particular issue has more depth and nuance than we first thought.
Wrapping one’s biblical beliefs around the sociopolitical status quo has been the downfall of many Christians for centuries. Such as using the Bible to justify slavery.
The Church as a whole has been fighting so hard to defeat the “gay agenda” that they have failed to see the LGBT+ people amongst them trying to live according to traditional biblical teaching. But to them we might as well be dancing in the streets of San Francisco in sparkly pink thongs.
I think it’s important to look past the social stigmas and take off the lenses of the culture war when viewing homosexuality and the Bible. It’s not a “left” versus “right” issue anymore.
In my case, I’ve been forced to reexamine societal expectations of masculinity and male friendships.
There are many nuances in between the lines. And a lot of them are shaped by our society and culture.
Ultimately, what’s hot now politically will wither in time while God’s words remain eternal.
Do you feel yourself caught up in the culture war? How have you escaped feeling trapped by either side, or do you struggle with this dynamic?