There are many competing perspectives on human sexuality and LGBTQ+ issues. Helping delineate those perspectives is the “Side” approach. This divides the spectrum of beliefs on sexuality into four categories: Side A, Side B, Side X, and Side Y. These labels are used to describe what a person generally believes concerning LGBTQ+ matters. Each of the four Sides has advocates within the realm of Christianity.
Side A. Side A Christians believe that God intentionally created queer people with same-sex attractions; therefore, same-sex relationships are blessed by God. Side A is commonly called the affirming view. The number of believers who take this stance has grown over the last several decades, and there are now several affirming denominations led by Side A preachers. Advocates of this Side claim that the various Bible passages that prohibit homosexuality (e.g., Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11) do not apply to modern gay relationships. They argue that the biblical authors were referring to ancient sexual practices—or nonconsensual encounters—and not the loving, monogamous, homosexual relationships of today. Thus, Side A Christians affirm that believers can be part of same-sex relationships if they choose because that desire is made by God and is honoring to Him.
Side B. Side B believers hold that homosexual orientation is not a sin, but acting on homosexual inclinations is. Side B takes the position that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are morally wrong, but romantic relationships are different, so celibate same-sex partnerships are not necessarily wrong. Queer individuals can maintain their sexual identity and even celebrate it while remaining celibate. Proponents of this view say that homosexuality is no different from any other sin since it is listed among many sins and not singled out (see 1 Timothy 1:8–11). Also, every human on earth has sexual attractions that fall outside God’s design. The key is to not act on those ungodly attractions. So, Side B Christians encourage all believers either to marry a member of the opposite sex or, if they are same-sex attracted, to live celibately and get involved in an understanding church community.
Side X. Side X Christians believe that homosexual attraction itself is a sin. Those with same-sex inclinations must repent, for heterosexuality is God’s purpose for all people. God can and does change sinful attractions, and homosexuals can be cured; Side X uses terms such as ex-gay and former LGBTQ+. According to Side X teachers, the phrasing in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13—specifically the word detestable—categorizes homosexuality as a terrible offense. Indeed, Side X’ers assert that homosexuality was the primary reason Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in Genesis 19 (cf. Jude 1:7 and 2 Peter 2:6–7,10). Therefore, Christians must leave behind all same-sex attractions to truly follow and honor God. Josh Proctor, producer of the Life on Side B podcast, summarizes that, for Side X, “marriage and chaste singleness 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 single for life, the pursuit of marriage is always seen as the higher calling” (www.lifeonsideb.com/thefoursides, accessed 2/18/2023).
Side Y. Side Y basically falls in between Side B and Side X—agreeing with both Sides that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong. Side Y’s stance is that we find our identity in Christ, and therefore we shouldn’t identify ourselves by our sexual orientation. We have all been called to holiness. Side Y focuses on identity as a Christian rather than sexual identity, much like Paul removes identification labels in Galatians 3:28 because “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So, unlike Side B, Side Y does not see maintaining a queer identity as God-honoring. And unlike Side X, Side Y does not strive to make all Christians heterosexual. The ultimate goal, according to Side Y, is becoming more like Christ in the individual way God has for each person.
These four Sides are a way for believers to address LGBTQ+ questions and understand other perspectives. It should be said that Side A has no scriptural basis whatsoever. The other Sides have varying degrees of biblical support. It is up to Christians to study, pray, and decide for themselves whether Side B, Side X, Side Y, or somewhere in between, best represents their convictions.