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Same-Sex Attraction

An Axis Course On Sex Talk 2.0

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16

Welcome to our track on Masculinity, Femininity, and LGBTQ+. Over the next few days, we’ll be discussing same-sex attraction, transgender identities, masculinity, and femininity. These topics are incredibly relevant for Gen Z, and their attitudes about these things are often very different from how previous generations regarded them. Consequently, the discussion of same-sex attraction has become one of the most complicated discussions in Christian culture.

Today we’re going to present you with three major views that have been a part of the discussion in Christianity, known as Side A, Side B, and Side X. (Although most of us at Axis have not experienced same-sex attraction, we tend to see Side B as showing the most integrity.)

Side A is the perspective, held by Christians who experience same-sex attraction, that a scriptural case can be made for monogamous, same-sex relationships (including but not limited to same-sex marriage). This perspective tends to involve assertions that passages like Romans 1:25-26 aren’t actually forbidding committed same-sex relationships, but something more like rape, domination, or pagan worship with temple prostitutes. The assumption is that the culture of Biblical times was so different from today’s culture that to compare what was forbidden then to today would be like comparing apples to oranges. Included in this group are writers and activists like Matthew Vines and Justin Lee.

Side B is the perspective, also held by Christians who experience same-sex attraction, that no scriptural case can be made for same-sex romance/sexuality. Because of their convictions, those on Side B commit their lives to singleness and celibacy for the sake of the gospel, while living in the tension of still experiencing same-sex attraction. These individuals tend to take a much “plainer” reading of the verses in scripture which prohibit same-sex behavior, and appeal to the complementary design of male and female bodies as an indicator of God’s intention for sexuality. Included in this group are writers and pastors like Wesley Hill, Sam Allberry, and Christopher Yuan.

Side X is the perspective (named for “ex-gay” ministries like Exodus International) that same-sex attraction can be completely converted into opposite sex attraction through therapy and various interventions. This perspective is often blacklisted by those on both Side A and Side B for pretending like the issue is simpler than it really is. This is especially true after the former president of Exodus International made this remark about his former clients: “I would say the majority, meaning 99.9 percent of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted, or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”

There are some who, although they have remained primarily attracted to the same sex, have been attracted to one or two members of the opposite sex, and enjoyed satisfying opposite-sex marriages. This is (of course) not the same thing as a total elimination of same-sex attraction.

Three things add to the overall confusion around this topic: labels, idolatry, and cruelty. First, labels: summarizing research by Jonathan Ned Katz, Nancy Pearcey writes, “from ancient times, the adjective homosexual was used to describe acts that anyone might perform, not an unchanging condition or an essential identity. It referred to an action, not a category of person.” But today, we are encouraged to build our sense of identity around our desires and inclinations. In light of this, one question you might ask your son or daughter is, “How do the labels we accept affect our sense of identity?”

The next difficulties are in the way both Christian and secular culture have tended to idolize sex and romance, treating both as essential to human flourishing. This attitude pushes Christians who experience same-sex attraction toward Side A. At the same time, the cruelty with which some Christians have responded to the LGBTQ+ community pushes others outside of any desire to follow Jesus at all. As Sam Allberry wrote in his book Is God anti-gay?,

[S]ome believers have undoubtedly been abusive in their behavior and language toward gay people, and thought that by being like this they were somehow advancing the cause of Christ. But we must also recognize that such behavior is not itself Christian in any way. It comes not by adhering to the message and example of Jesus, but by contradicting it.

As Wesley Hill wrote in his book Spiritual Friendship, “A great company of saints testifies to the fact that we can indeed flourish without romance, marriage, or children. I don’t know of one who witnesses to the possibility of our flourishing without love altogether.” What he’s getting at is that none of us can survive without love, but romantic love is only one type of love. There’s also the love of friends, and the love of family (ideally including the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ). All these types of love find their source and are replenished by our primary connection to God’s love.

There is way more to this discussion, but for now, one final point we’ll make is that at its core, this whole conversation should prompt our own deeper surrender to Jesus first. To go back to Sam Allberry’s book Is God anti-gay?, he writes,

Ever since I have been open about my own experiences with homosexuality, a number of Christians have said something like this: ‘the gospel must be harder for you than it is for me’, as though I have more to give up than they do. But the fact is that the gospel demands everything out of all of us. If someone thinks the gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started following Jesus at all.

Action Steps

Write down any points you hope to highlight with your son/daughter. For more on these topics, check out our interview with Laurence Koo on same-sex attraction, our Parent’s Guide to LGBTQ+ and Your Teen, and our Conversation Kit on Gender and LGBTQ+ issues.

If you feel ready, sometime today, or as soon as you’re able, here are some questions you might ask your son or daughter to spark a conversation about this:

  • Do you know anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+? What do you think about that
  • How do the labels we accept affect our sense of identity?
  • How would you explain the difference between temptation and sin?
  • Do we have any control over the kinds of temptations we face?
  • Where do you think our identity comes from?

If you’re feeling up to it, you could also ask, “How can we tell which parts of the Bible are binding for all time, and which parts are culturally relative?” Either way, particularly with conversations about LGBTQ+ issues, we would challenge you to listen to where your son or daughter is coming from longer than you may feel like listening. They may not start from the same place as you. Especially with older kids, listening to understand first (instead of to immediately respond) can build a significant amount of trust. As more trust is established, they will want to know what you think. Start to incorporate some of these talking points as they begin to ask you.


“Father, help my son (or daughter) to see the way you designed men and women to fit together—but more than that, to see that both men and women were made for you. Help me to balance grace and truth as we enter into this conversation. In Jesus’ name, amen.”