the phrase "I'm gay" means _____

 I always get concerned when my husband, Shawn, says, “I didn’t agree with what you wrote.” Not that we always agree, but in general, he is a pretty discerning and nuanced reader. He knows me well, so I want to hear what he says when he comments!

In a recent post, I wrote, 

My generation in the Church hears the phrase “I’m gay” and hears, “I’m gay, and I’m having or looking to have gay sex.” Simply not true in today’s world. To any young person (under forty), when they hear the phrase “I’m gay,” they hear “I am attracted to the same sex.”

Shawn would say, “When anyone—churched or unchurched— hears the phrase ‘I’m gay’ they hear ‘I’m Side A.’” 

I always hesitate to use the terms “Side A” and “Side B” because they aren’t widely understood. A basic primer would define them this way:

Side B: Christians who experience attraction to their same gender but uphold a historical Christian sexual ethic that says marriage is designed by God to be male/female. And that if a person is not in a male/female marriage, they should remain celibate.

Side A: Christians who experience attraction to their same gender and believe that God allows for same gender marriages and relationships that are loving and consensual. Think of the “A” as standing for  affirming of gay marriage (in a simplistic sense).

Many evangelical Christians do not like the use of the phrase “I’m a gay Christian,” because it implies a Side A perspective unless otherwise clarified. Often times even the insertion of the word celibate is frowned upon because it is paired with the word “gay.”

And almost nobody, Christian or not,  has a remote paradigm for a Side B christian. I explain why this is a problem in a previous post.

Regardless of this internal debate (which I have a lot of thoughts about), my primary desire is for evangelical believers to lose the reputation (which has been earned justly in many cases) of hating gay people. We, as the ambassadors of Jesus, reflect God to the world for good or for bad. And our deep-seated bias about gay people reflects on Him. We are one of the reasons that teens believe that God hates gay people. We are the Church, and we can do this differently and with more love.

Ultimately, I’m glad when Shawn challenges my thinking on a topic because that’s what I’m trying to do with those of you reading. I become a better thinker when he challenges me. 

Let’s work hard together to love well, understand language and culture, and reflect Jesus’ huge love for those around us.

Susan Titus