God Creates Dinosaurs V

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the films. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic World” (2015)

Jurassic World is a self-conscious homage to Jurassic Park—from background advertising for Jurassic Tennis, to Lowery Cruthers’ mint-condition T-shirt purchased on eBay, to an Agusta A109 flying past the rock monolith in the ocean and into the same jungle ravine.

This recapitulation includes background plot elements. In Jurassic Park, John Hammond’s daughter is getting a divorce. So, Hammond’s grandchildren Tim and Alexis Murphy are sent away to the island. In Jurassic World, Claire Dearing’s sister is getting a divorce. So, Dearing’s nephews Zach and Gray Mitchell are sent away to the island. Although the park in both movies is seen and advertised as a place for the family in the abstract, the park is where we encounter particular children as concrete individuals with names, faces, and personal histories scarred by the breakdown of family.

The sexual revolution promises to entertain families—or rather individuals broken free of family ties of the past, the present, and the future. In reality, it destroys families in its provision of unsatisfying pleasures decoupled from natural purposes and deformed by vicious desires run amok.

Even the background conversations in Jurassic World are filled with content about various family relations that are strained, broken, or recovering. Zara Young is repeatedly on her phone with her friends discussing her fiancé, her conflicts with him and his friends over planning his bachelor party, and their wedding details. Lowery Cruthers and Vivian Krill can be overheard discussing the surrogate father figure in Lowery’s life or who Vivian is dating while wondering if this is an office friendship that’ll become an office romance.

In the end, we simply cannot escape family. It comes back around to remind us what it is we’re opposing in a losing war over the reality that “God creates dinosaurs”—that God’s design for the reality of family can’t be thwarted without dire consequences.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The vibrant color-coding of the clothing continues from Jurassic Park to Jurassic World and signals to us very basic motifs in the characters.

In Jurassic Park, the elementary color signalling is as follows:

WhiteControlJohn Hammond
BlackChaosIan Malcolm
GreyUrbanismDonald Gennaro
BrownWildernessRobert Muldoon
BlueMasculinityAlan Grant
PinkFemininityEllie Sattler

Even the secondary characters follow the color-coding. Henry Wu and John “Ray” Arnold wear white as agents of control working for John Hammond. Dennis Nedry wears grey as representing urbanism along with Donald Gennaro—giving an impression of cold metal, artificiality, sterility, corporations, finance, regulations, legal bureaucracies, profits, and so forth. Tim Murphy wears blue like Dr. Grant his hero. Lex Murphy is characterized as a tomboy wearing pink and blue. And the functional family of Alan, Ellie, Lex, and Tim are all caked in brown mud displaying their encounter with the wilderness—impressing the sense of warmth, soil, fecundity, savagery, struggle, survival, and so forth.

The same basic color signalling continues in Jurassic World. And color combinations are employed creating meaningful mixtures of these motifs. Interestingly, there’s no pink in the movie, only two mixed uses of lavender that have motherly connotations.

Claire Dearing dresses in all white. She controls her “assets”. She embodies control. She prints out an agenda for a date. She practically screams control. In fact, she even literally screams, “You are not in control here!” Only once her priorities change and she becomes concerned with her nephews does she reveal her lavender undershirt—a subtle signal of motherly concern appearing. As events progress and her motherliness grows, she sheds the white blouse altogether.

Owen Grady dresses in blue and brown signalling his combination of masculinity and wilderness in strength, struggle, and survival. In his most ruggedly untamed moment, he’s wearing two shades of brown, is smeared with grease and sweat, and talks about animals and their urges and instincts. Owen embodies competent masculine agency contrasted with Masrani’s domesticated chic and Hoskins’ domineering chauvinism.

Simon Masrani wears grey and lavender. His grey suit is an accurate and appropriate signal of associations with the world of finance and business. And his lavender shirt fits his rather motherly demeanor toward his park, which is like his child. He is focused on the guests having a good time and the dinosaurs enjoying their life at ease in play. He dotes over his treasured child-like park and wants to spoil it. “Spare no expense.”

Vic Hoskins wears beige (brown) and black signaling a mixture of savagery and chaos. He’s the embodiment of warped and toxic masculine agency. He revels in carnage and blood-lust. He pillages and plunders. He’s disdainful toward women, womanliness, and motherhood. In an abstract sense, he’s a rapist, defiler, and usurper—spoiling all that is pure and taking away all virginity and innocence.

Henry Wu wears black and grey. He’s surrounded by amber-yellow ornamentation and occupies white and grey surroundings. He operates as chaotic urbanism in a context of controlling urbanism. And his black-and-yellow motif is classic nature signalling for all manner of creatures that are dangerous and poisonous.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Simon: “Oh, it’s white! You never told me it was white.”

Claire: “Do you think it’ll frighten the children?”

Simon: “Children? This’ll give the parents nightmares.”

Masrani draws attention to the coloration of the Indominus Rex, and the connotations immediately rush to mind. She’s the product of unprecedented levels of genetic control and manipulation. She’s inordinately aggressive. She has exaggerated predator features and behaviors. She kills for sport rather than food. She’s killing her way to the top of the hierarchy. If the de-extinction of dinosaurs is an allegory for the sexual revolution, then this sort of artificial hybridization for non-natural entertainment and military ends is a frightening allegory for the violent weaponization of sexuality in rebellion.

The Indominus Rex is white. And she’s a she. And she’s also the dark alter-ego of Claire.

“You made a genetic hybrid. Raised it in captivity. She is seeing all of this for the first time. She does not even know what she is. She will kill everything that moves. … She is learning where she fits in the food chain, and I’m not sure you want her to figure that out.”

While Owen describes the Indominus Rex, the camera glares right into the face of Claire, creating a connection between a woman disconnected from nature in almost every way and a mutant hybrid she-monster artificially built against nature in almost every way.

One could readily interpret the Indominus Rex as the embodiment of warped and toxic feminine agency—womanhood, sisterhood, and motherhood hideously transmogrified. A jealous woman who eats her sister. A woman who cares nothing for husbands of any sort and will have nothing to do with children in any form. An Anti-Eve. Not the mother of all living but the destroyer of all living. A Witch-Queen. The demonic Lilith of myth.

One could also readily interpret the Indominus Rex as an allegory for a more ruthless or subversive version of corporations. Corporations inherently supplant natural households. And as corporations exist in a culture that is increasingly nature-neutralizing, they begin to realize that the natural family itself is a hindrance to optimal corporate operations. A new corporatism will eat everything that moves in this family resort destination.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m just going to pin these thoughts here for your own imagine to run with them:

  1. Owen Grady is a noble patriarch with four daughters. And he teaches them virtue.
  2. Simon Masrani is a benevolent Walt Disney. And the dinosaurs are his princesses.
  3. Vic Hoskins is a malevolent Harvey Weinstein. And the dinosaurs are his victims.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“We want to be thrilled.”

“Bigger. Faster. More teeth.”

One of the realities of thrill-seeking is the problem of diminishing returns and the need for escalation in stimuli. This reality has played itself out in many different ways in the sexual revolution as it becomes increasingly revolutionary and extreme as time passes. Nature is fought further and further. The consequences become increasingly severe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Zach Mitchell is a lost boy seeking to be found. A loner going his own way. He assumes he’s on his own in life. He’s waiting to escape from his parents’ custody. His cold truth-telling to his brother Gray is that “there comes a point when you have to grow up”. And it’s clear that “grow up” for Zach means focusing on yourself and your survival.

Zach doesn’t see himself as a son. And he has no aspirations for being a father. Zach’s a wannabe womanizer. He has no affections for the girlfriend he leaves behind to travel to the park. He leers at and flirts with girls. He has a teenage male’s sex drive, yet he knows only what the sexual revolution has told him to do about it. He’s cynical and embittered.

Zach is aimless and purposeless as a young man in a world that no longer knows what to offer or do with young men, because the present culture marred by the sexual revolution fears and despises virile male agency. And therefore the present culture abandons male agency to the frustration of young men. But Zach finds purpose when the circumstances force him to take responsibility for his younger brother’s survival. He finds courage. He finds brotherhood. And that’s an excellent start.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once again, I have to give my father-in-law credit for his movie analysis skills. He nailed the meaning of the climactic showdown with the Indominus Rex.

Owen’s three remaining velociraptors, like prodigal daughters, come to their senses and return to allegiance with their father. The Indominus Rex seeks to destroy them, because they’ve abandoned her and her agenda. Ultimately, only Blue survives the onslaught.

In the midst of the conflict, Claire runs to unleash a new ally against the Indominus Rex and all she represents—an ally with “more teeth” that can be brought to bear. She leads the Tyrannosaur into the conflict. The Tyrannosaur is a challenge for the Indominus but the former ultimately takes a beating and is almost killed until Blue rejoins the fight.

Blue and Rexy together form an effective team and are able to beat down and drive back the Indominus Rex into a standoff. And then a third critical bystander becomes an active combatant. The Mosasaur clamps down on the Indominus Rex, drags her into the lagoon, and drowns her.

This is the allegorical triumvirate that kills the Indominus Rex:

  1. Blue the Velociraptor is Reason.
  2. Rexy the Tyrannosaur is Tradition.
  3. Shamu the Mosasaur is Nature.

The weaponized sexual revolution represented by the Indominus Rex is savagely opposed to reason, tradition, and nature (all of which comport with one another). Reason finds the vulnerabilities in all that is irrational. Tradition holds established ground against all that is dangerously unproven or provably dangerous. And Nature scourges and condemns all that is woefully disordered and in rebellion against its created purpose. Reason launches off of Tradition’s back to strike while Tradition plows with its respectability. And when an opportunity presents itself, Nature is the gargantuan enforcer that comes crashing down and puts an end to it all.

In the end, we simply cannot escape nature. It comes back around to remind us what it is we’re opposing in a losing war over the reality that “God creates dinosaurs”—that God’s design for the reality of nature can’t be thwarted without dire consequences.

God Creates Dinosaurs IV

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the films. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic Park III” (2001)

Surprise. Surprise. The plot of the film revolves around yet another broken family in need of restoration to survive. Paul and Amanda Kirby are divorced and require reconciliation to save their son Eric. Paul and Amanda have succumbed to the enticing lies of the sexual revolution and divorced. This puts Eric in the position where Isla Sorna and its dinosaurs (as the metaphor of the sexual revolution) tempt and endanger him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The movie opens with Eric Kirby and his mother’s boyfriend Ben Hildebrand visiting Isla Sorna as if it was a great vacation destination. That proves to be a mistaken perspective as death and loss ensue. This sets up Site B as a metaphorical Pleasure Island. It’s a place of great allure, promising all the delights of the sexual revolution. A pleasure-seeking man and his boy protégé in pursuit of carnal desires become lost to the island.

Paul and Amanda recruit Alan Grant under the pretense of being wealthy and indulgent thrill-seekers thirsting to venture to the island. This reinforces the connotation of Site B as a metaphorical Pleasure Island.

This Pleasure Island consumes and kills every functionally unwedded, virile, self-assured, adventurous man who sets foot upon it. Hildebrand. Cooper. Nash. Udesky. Very nearly Billy Brennan who was seduced for a time.

Isla Sorna is the house of the adulterous woman from the Book of Proverbs. And fools lose themselves by going in to her house at the enticement of her delights. Pleasure Island and Proverbs become the motif of this movie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dr. Alan Grant is a curious character in this movie. In Jurassic Park, he learned how to be a father and to love fatherhood. But now we see he never married Dr. Ellie Sattler. He never married anyone. Is it because he returned to his old ways of disliking children? No. Grant engages with little Charlie Degler as he awaits Ellie. And he’s willing to address an entire auditorium of teenagers.

Grant continues to study velociraptors. When he speaks to the high school assembly, he insists such study happens in the ground. Real dinosaurs are in the rocks. Site B is of no interest to him. He too has learned the lesson that God creates dinosaurs.

“It is in the ground where real scientists make real discoveries. What John Hammond and InGen did was to make genetically engineered theme park monsters, nothing more and nothing less.”

And if the de-extinction of dinosaurs is a metaphor for the sexual revolution, this means Grant studies natural sexuality. Grant studies the divine order: the creationistic contours of marriage, sex, and procreation. Or at least the metaphor for them.

As he tells his student Billy Brennan:

“The bones will still be there when we get back. That’s the great thing about bones: they never run away.”

Bones in the rocks have fidelity. They don’t run away like adulterers and adulteresses.

Alan Grant is a man in a vocation of celibacy like a monastic scholar. He isn’t putting off marriage and clinging to bachelorhood like an indulgent man-child. He has embraced a devout calling. And in both poetry and irony, he now studies the institution of marriage (metaphorically) and teaches others likewise. This makes him a walking embodiment of the Book of Proverbs. He is a spiritual father teaching spiritual sons the path of life and warning them about the adulterous woman. Warning his sons about the dangers of the sexual revolution.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Paul and Amanda Kirby pretend to be thrill-seekers on their way to Pleasure Island. But in truth, they need a guide who is Mr. Proverbs. They know where they’re going. They know their son is lost in the house of the adulterous woman. Lost in the wilderness of the sexual revolution. They need a prudent son of Lady Wisdom to navigate this terrain.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When the group arrives on Isla Sorna by airplane, they encounter the Spinosaurus. They learn InGen was up to things on Site B that were never public. There’s something newer. Something bigger. Something secret. It kills a Tyrannosaurus (the old ruler) to solidify its dominance. The revolution marches on to greater degrees of radicalization. It has become militant in its radicalism. It stalks the survivors across the island and through the movie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The group (down two members) explores the abandoned dinosaur manufacturing facility. It’s the remains of an aborted industrial operation littered with the remains of aborted dinosaur fetuses. An apt exchange ensues:

Paul: “This is how you make dinosaurs?”

Alan: “No. This is how you play God?”

Things becomes horrific when the truth that God creates dinosaurs is abandoned.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eric Kirby has survived. And he has survived thus far because he is a student of Alan Grant. He has read Grant’s book. His two books in fact! Proverbs and Ecclesiastes? Eric has also read Dr. Ian Malcolm’s book. So he knows the lessons of God Creates Dinosaurs.

The reunited and reconciled Kirby Family escape the island with the aid of Alan Grant, i.e. Mr. Proverbs. In the climactic final confrontation with the Spinosaurus, they call for help to escape. It’s not anyone at random they call. They call a family for help. And the family dynamics are crucial. Alan needs Ellie. Ellie Degler (née Sattler) is married to U.S. State Department official Mark Degler. And they have a son Charlie who answers the phone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Billy Brennan is a student of Alan Grant. He has heard Grant’s warnings. But in a moment of weakness, he steals velociraptor eggs. He abducts a velociraptor couple’s children. He tampers with a velociraptor family and the velociraptor community. He violently disrupts the family and the community for the sake of financial gain. He has given in to the same temptation as the people who made the park: disrupting the nature order for profit.

Billy has acted according to the sexual revolution. He yielded to the Harlot Folly and has gone into the house of the adulterous woman. And he knows it. He confesses this was a stupid mistake. And he pleads that this impulsive act was with the best intentions. Alan makes sure Billy knows how severe and unmerciful folly is.

“The best intentions. Pfff. Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions. As far as I’m concerned, you’re no better than the people who built this place.”

Billy took the severity of this to heart. Afterward, he walked with his gaze turned down as an ashamed son in the eyes of his monastic spiritual father. He seeks to redeem himself to his father and despite his father’s harshness by risking and giving his life to save the Kirby Family in the aviary.

Grant realizes he judged Billy too harshly. Mercifully, Billy survives. Wisdom has looked kindly on him, because it is wise to show mercy. Billy is restored and reconciled to Alan.

God Creates Dinosaurs III

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the movies. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic Park: The Lost World” (1997)

The movie opens with a rich family and their yacht crew anchored and vacationing on the beach of Isla Sorna. Mr. and Mrs. Bowman are squabbling over little daughter Cathy. She leaves their sight and is attacked by compsognathuses.

The story transitions to Ian Malcolm responding to a summons. He witnesses another rich family feud over control of the InGen Corporation. It’s another fight over that which has been birthed and its fate. And as we know about InGen Bioengineering later in the movie, their motto is:

We Make Your Future

What an ominous comment from those in the business of manufacturing this metaphor for the sexual revolution.

Nephew Peter Ludlow is maneuvering to seize control away from Uncle John Hammond. InGen “has been on the verge of chapter 11 ever since that incident in the park.” Some in corporate leadership want to exploit the dinosaurs on Site B as assets to bail the company out of debt. The corporate moneymen want to get back in the business. And we all know “sex sells” as they say.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hammond’s new direction might not be the redemption he’s hoping to find. He’s “gone from capitalist to naturalist” in a very short time. And this may represent not so much a change for the better as a change for an other. When he presents his plans in light of his new philosophy, the following exchange ensues.

John: “Don’t worry. I’m not making the same mistakes again.”

Ian: “No, you’re making all new ones.”

Hammond made a name for himself with the de-extinction of dinosaurs. And that turned out to be a disaster. Now he wants to make a new name for himself with the preservation of dinosaurs. It’s as if what now is must be good and worth preserving simply because it is. As though somehow now it has the status of a thing resulting from the natural course of the natural order. Its mere persistence in our world has normalized it.

Ian, still the voice of warning about the unnaturalness of it all, says this move is no better than the last one. And he rebukes John for endangering more people after having caused the deaths of others.

“You want to leave your name on something? Fine. But stop leaving it on other people’s headstones.”

Following the symbology, perpetrating the beginning of sexual revolution was bad. And Ludlow’s vision for a second wave of sexual revolution is bad. But Hammond’s vision to preserve the results of the first wave as if they’re now good is also bad. Once a bad thing has gotten a foothold, that doesn’t make it a good thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There’s the struggling family dynamic of Dr. Ian Malcolm, his daughter Kelly Curtis, and his independent girlfriend Dr. Sarah Harding. They pull together as a family, and it saves them through the movie’s dangers in a manner similar to Dr. Alan Grant and the Murphy kids in Jurassic Park. Not much need to belabor that point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dr. Sarah Harding is a prominent figure for exploring key motifs of the sexual revolution in our society. She tests female agency and the struggle and status of women coming into the working world that was shaped by men of prior generations.

Harding has a feminist chip on her shoulder. She sees herself as a heroic challenger in the academic world. Her colleagues are rivals. Their work is an outdated obstacle. She wants to prove dinosaurs were nurturing parents rather than vicious lizards. And this is laid out along lines where men being men are the purveyors of the old view. So there is either an irony or a fitting inevitability in this situation. A woman who’s not pursuing motherhood herself is arguing for idyllic motherhood in her research. And this irony sets up a further irony (the reversal between human and dinosaur) in the fabric of the movie.

There’s a moment where Sarah’s struggle in her male-dominated working world becomes most clear. Sarah, Ian, and Nick are in the mobile headquarters dangling off the cliff. The vehicles plummet to the ocean below. The three ascend the rope in the pouring rain and darkness. Sarah takes the lead. She’s the first to reach the ledge. She pulls herself up over the rim. And who’s there waiting at the clifftop? Bending down (condescending) with an outstretched hand to pull her the rest of the way? Roland Tembo. The great white hunter. The man. And his company of men. The flashlight’s in her face, i.e. the spotlight is on her. And her look is one of frustration, exhaustion, and failure.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, let’s face it. There’s only one intact functional natural family featured in this film. And it’s the Tyrannosauruses. The parental behavior of Mama and Papa T-Rex drives much of the plot in the movie.

Harding draws special attention to the importance of tyrannosaurs as good parents. She wants to stick it to fellow paleontologist and rival Dr. Robert Burke by name. He’s the one who called the T-Rex “a rogue who would abandon its young at the first opportunity.” By a happy coincidence, Burke’s on the island advising the InGen rivals who are rounding up dinosaurs. The parental behavior of the tyrannosaurs leads to Burke’s eventual death by Mama T-Rex. A poetic end to a man of the old order destroyed by his foolishness?

That parental behavior proves to be very reliable throughout the film. Roland relies on it to trap his prize, Papa T-Rex. Ian and Sarah rely on it to recover the rampaging father on the streets of San Diego. It gets Peter Ludlow killed as Daddy teaches Junior how to hunt.

One of the final visuals of the movie is Mama, Papa, and Baby Tyrannosaurus reunited at last. They’re together in a field like it’s a picturesque afternoon picnic in the park. Happy T-Rex family life has been restored.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It’s not in the movie, but there’s a noteworthy point about animal parenting in the novel. The velociraptors are the premier examples of dinosaurs lacking parenting. They have no social skills. These lab-grown clones never had a family and a community to impart their natural order to them. And they’re killing each other because of it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Roland Tembo the big-game hunter gives the moral of our story. His long-time hunting companion Ajay Sidhu has been killed by velociraptors. The hunter has tranquilized the male tyrannosaur he intended to kill. He turns to leave. He and Ludlow exchange words.

Peter: “There’s a job at the park in San Diego if you want it.”

Roland: “No, thank you. I believe I’ve spent enough time in the company of death.”

Roland has seen what happens with these de-extinct dinosaurs and figured out where all of this will lead. The pursuit of ongoing sexual revolution is a death wish.

God Creates Dinosaurs II

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the movies. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic Park” (1993)

In the beginning, Dr. Alan Grant is averse to having kids. He’s not fond of being around them. He’s annoyed by them. He finds fatherhood to be inconceivable (pun intended) in his case.

Then, John Hammond’s grandkids (Tim and Alexis “Lex” Murphy) enter the picture. The kids are spending the weekend with Grandpa, because his daughter is getting a divorce.

The guests all set out on the park tour. The power goes out. And the tour vehicles idle in the tropical storm by the tyrannosaur paddock.

InGen attorney Donald Gennaro flees the free tyrannosaur in terror. He abandons the Murphy children in the SUV. Lex reacts by repeating in a panic, “He left us. He left us.” This is an obvious allusion to the traumatization caused by the divorce of her mom and dad. “He left us. He left us.” Every man in charge of the kids flees to save himself.

After the road attack, Lex is still hysterical. “He left us. He left us.” Dr. Grant has to man up, look her in the eyes, and assure her, “But that’s not what I’m going to do.”

Dr. Grant spends the rest of the movie living into the calling of a surrogate father to Lex and Tim. In doing so, he becomes more competent. He gains confidence and affection for children. He teaches them the ways of life as they navigate the wilderness of the park. He protects them all the way to the end. In the end, Lex and Tim nap safe and sound in Alan’s welcoming arms on the helicopter to the mainland.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Then we have the curious conundrum of Dr. Ian Malcolm. He’s the mouthpiece in this movie giving us the moral of the story. And yet he’s no hero in this narrative. His life is that of a man who’s bought stock in the enterprise of free sex and easy divorce. And his crippled condition later in the movie links him to his lecherousness and serial infidelity.

Does he have children?

“Me? Oh, hell ya. I love kids. Anything at all can and does happen.”

Is he married?

“Occasionally. Yeah, I’m always on the lookout for a future ex Mrs. Malcolm.”

Malcolm loves having children. But he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about giving them a stable home life. He’s a guy who can’t make marriage work. And he gets injured and has to rely on others to save him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then there’s the case of Dr. Ellie Sattler. At times, she’s the voice of motherhood.

She taunts her partner Alan about his disdain for children. And she expresses her desire to be a mother. She takes a shine to Lex and Tim and continues her games prodding Alan with the help of the kids.

Ellie and John have a heart-to-heart over melting ice cream and fond old memories. They express (stereo)typical male and female modes of responding to the crisis. John wants to act and regain control of the chaos. Ellie wants to feel her way through the chaos rather than trusting in cold reasoning.

And yet there are occasions where another voice comes out of Dr. Sattler’s mouth.

Malcolm makes his quip.

God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.

Sattler adds to it in a manner that amends the original meaning.

Dinosaurs eat man.
Woman inherits the earth.

In Genesis 5:1-2 (cf. Genesis 1:26-28), we read the following.

In the day that God created man [i.e. Adam], he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them mankind [i.e. Adam] in the day they were created.

But Sattler extracts Woman out from Man as though Woman can stand apart in this way. Her quip is the “Woman destroys God” equivalent to Ian’s comment “Man destroys God”.

On two occasions, Sattler ventures out to do something dangerous.

The first time is when she goes with game warden Robert Muldoon to rescue the group stranded in the park. She announces she’s going. And no one thinks anything of it. It is what it is. Ellie is being a helper. Good work.

The second time is when she goes to turn the power back on. She and Hammond have an awkward moment about who should be the one to go. It draws attention to the question of “sexism in survival situations”. And by doing so, the viewer is forced to consider the events that follow in light of that question.

What is the significance of Muldoon providing cover for Sattler in the jungle?

What of the three velociraptors all being female?

And what about Muldoon’s “clever girl” and subsequent death in this context?

And what is the significance of an old man and a crippled man arguing over who’s right in guiding Sattler to her goal?

And most chillingly of all, what is the significance of Sattler electrocuting Tim Murphy in ignorance and inadvertancy?

A woman with good intentions who went out to do a man’s work endangered the children unbeknownst to her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At the climax of the movie, the sexual revolution eats itself alive as tyrannosaur collides with velociraptor. Alan, Ellie, and the Murphy children escape the Rex vs. Raptor rumble under the rotunda and race to the Jeep out front with Hammond behind the wheel. Grant (as the dad in this functional family) and Hammond (the visionary architect of this theme park) have an exchange.

Alan: “Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.”

John: “So have I.”

They’ve rendered their collective judgment on this allegory for the sexual revolution after nearly being destroyed by it. And being more like natural family was their salvation.

God Creates Dinosaurs

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice a book lurking around in two different scenes in Jurassic World (2015). Zara Young picks up Zach and Gray Mitchell at the Isla Nublar dock. Then she’s sitting behind the boys and reading this book on the monorail from the dock to the main complex. It’s also lurking on Lowery Cruthers’ desk in the control room. It’s the book God Creates Dinosaurs by Dr. Ian Malcolm.

I’m surprised Jurassic World employees are reading this book or are permitted to read it. But I enjoyed seeing it foreshadow the inevitable breakdown of the new theme park.

This title alludes back to Jurassic Park (1993). Dr. Malcolm, Dr. Grant, and Dr. Sattler are watching for the tyrannosaur with bated breath. Then Malcolm quips:

God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.

Malcolm’s phrase “God creates dinosaurs” becomes the motto for his thesis. The use of genetic engineering to bring about the de-extinction of dinosaurs is unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous. Mankind has wielded power to do things we have no business doing. And we’ll dehumanize and destroy ourselves in the process.

This is the exact problem in the real world with another exercise of power. De-extinction of dinosaurs stands as a metaphor for a subject much closer to home in our culture. And the signs of this problem pepper the plots and the characters’ lives in the film franchise. It links the unnatural creation of dinosaurs by mankind to this pervasive cultural problem in a way that’s profound and not coincidental.

The Jurassic Park franchise is about the sexual revolution. And when I’ve explained this to you, you’re going to slap a facepalm and wonder how you never noticed this until now.

Long ago and far away … Okay, after college and elsewhere in town, my father-in-law and I would watch films once the kids went to bed. Afterward, we’d discuss cultural themes at work in the flicks. By 2:30 AM, we’d usually solved the world’s problems for the week.

We observed how the original Jurassic Park trilogy contained a lot of dysfunctional family dynamics. Also on display were the duties, expectations, and places of men and women in the modern social order. This trend has continued in Jurassic World series. Men, women, and children are in social distress, dinosaurs look to be the death of them all, and forming functional family structures saves the day. Our confrontation with the natural order run amok catalyzes this transformation and redemption.

The bold and defiant act of cloning dinosaurs and everything that results is an allegory. It’s an allegory for the sexual revolution and its repercussions. It’s about divorcing sex, marriage, and procreation from each other. About commodifying sterile sexual activity and commercializing child-making. About every sort of reproductive intervention and artificiality to create (or not create) children. About blurring the lines of male and female spheres of activity. About muddying up male and female agency. About human life in the modern world contrasted with human life in the natural world.

Think about it. Why clone dinosaurs? Entertainment. It’s the only effective motivation to fork over the funding. You could try to be noble and say it’s about research and scientific knowledge. But Dr. Henry Wu the chief geneticist tells you there’s nothing natural about this. And he knew this from the beginning. In the original novel, he even argues it would be a feature rather than a bug. He wants to make the dinosaurs less real, less natural, by making them more stereotypical to conform to our uninformed prejudices. Dr. Wu wants to create unnatural dinosaurs to be what we want them to be, not what they were when God created them. And we are to think of them as natural because they fit our fantasies.

You clone dinosaurs for the same reason you precipitate a sexual revolution. To denature nature and convert it into a commodity for our pleasure-seeking consumerism.

In the posts ahead, I will show how this plays out film by film.

Poor Advertising

Natural Marriage and Side B Reluctance

Much of the church practices a revisionist view of marriage. If you suggest to the average chaste gay Christian that he ought to consider the possibility of getting married, it’s likely to be the revisionist view of marriage with which he’s going to wrestle. And he’s probably going to be dealing with an understandable level of frustration and bitterness at well-to-do suburban evangelical lovey-dovey couples who have baptized revisionist marriage and made it shallowly outwardly conform to a paper-thin image of marriage in Scripture. This is my own experience over the years.

A fulfilling romantic desire for a spouse (though good and welcome) is not a constitutive element of natural marriage. Telling that to a Christian with same-sex attraction is a hard pill for him to swallow, because few people in our culture ever swallow it. It’s implausible. Nobody is living it in sight of us. It’s not commonly promoted. Even the idea of marriage as hard and ugly and covenantally locked down is absent in our culture.

Lax divorce laws signal to everyone that we don’t have to and aren’t expected to maintain marriages when they becomes too much frustration, or we become disillusioned that the fairy tale didn’t last. A celibate gay Christian is likely to think you’re asking him to go into a marriage in a condition emotionally comparable to the condition in which most people nowadays are getting out of a marriage. Who can blame him for thinking that?

Difficult Unweddedness

Pauline Vocational Celibacy and Side B’s Framework

In my pushback on Reformed and Side B, I wrote:

And I push against some of my sexual minority traditional Christian brethren for conflating a difficult native state of unweddedness with Pauline vocational celibacy.

This requires some explanation.

Marriage and celibacy are mutually illuminating vocations. There’s no generic celibacy. It has a backdrop that structures and orients it. And the backdrop given by the Apostle Paul in his discussion in 1 Corinthians 7 is natural marriage. One could view both vocations as institutions. Perhaps ideally so. Perhaps a stricter formal celibacy needs to be established by vows, and it needs the recognition and support of the church in order to give it a more substantial public reality just like marriage. Permanent celibacy should be publicly vowed celibacy in which the community has a vested interest.

Apart from that, one is in a state of native singleness that’s about being sexually faithful in that season of life (however long it may be) and isn’t committed one way or another to a vowed state of monasticism or marriage. In any event, celibacy is about forgoing natural marriage for the sake of service to the Kingdom. It involves recognizing a sort of default general call to marriage and procreation as the majority expectation (I won’t call that the normative expectation) for how people must still live and yet will also have to submit to having their marriages subsumed under the priorities of the Kingdom. But the celibate Christian forgoes that path and embraces another path for subsuming his life under the priorities of the Kingdom.

As far as the backdrop of celibacy being marriage, I sometimes hear Side B folks slip into a mode of speaking about celibacy as if the backdrop is self-denial from entering into a same-sex marriage. Of finding a partner of the same sex and building a home and family through additional acts of defiance of the created order with that person. When that slip happens, and insofar as it’s regularly at work in the mind of the individual, that denial isn’t celibacy juxtaposed to natural marriage. It’s sexual fidelity and obedience to Christ in contradistinction to sinful rebellion.

This is a potential pitfall I see lurking in the ambiguity of talking about sexual fidelity as “costly obedience”. What does it cost that is of value? Being a faithful gay/SSA Christian by living a chaste life in celibacy is “costly obedience” only if the measure of cost is the wealth of sin forgone in the form of a same-sex marriage. It’s not “costly” obedience. But it’s hard obedience which is legitimate, respectable, and bears much fruit.

Now, of course, if we’re talking about someone forgoing the vocation of natural marriage, then that’s another story. There are real costs attributable to that. And there are real costs attributable to people who forgo the vocation of celibacy for marriage.

Refraining from sin is not the same as forgoing the dignified calling of marriage. It’s not an honorable deprivation in the sense that refraining from sin is some form of glorious calling. Refraining from sin in all its forms is just universal obligation to Christ. But I do affirm, respect, and champion the unique hard obedience of chaste gay Christians. Often a harder obedience than many other Christians practice. I would do the same for any gay Christian who entered into natural marriage as a particular hard obedience.

I get the impression from some Side B folks that their gay self-conception is an automatic sign that celibacy is the only true and lifelong vocation available or seriously considered. Some Side B folks in their push against Side X (which is conceived according to the rules of the Side A/B game) do not sufficiently seriously consider natural marriage as a viable option for them. I get the sense that such an outlook is fortified by thinking according to the sexual orientation paradigm (Freudian clinical psychology) too heavily.

It’s also fortified by the assumption that a gay man, for instance, must become attracted to women in general before he can become attracted to and marry a particular woman. Except that’s not how attraction usually works. And it’s cynical about what can happen when another person loves us first, what being loved first can bring out of us.

As I read Paul’s comment that remaining unwed is good, but because of intemperance toward sexual immorality, one should marry rather than burn, I don’t think homoerotic and homosexual desires and inclinations are an exception in his opinion or teaching. I wouldn’t grant such desires and inclinations as automatic disqualifying exceptions from the long list of life’s hardships that hinder individuals from marriage. I’d just say life is ugly and messy and complicated and harsh. And it’s differently so for different people.

When Paul affirms the goodness of a man remaining in the calling (e.g. bondservant or freedman, Jew or Gentile, wed or unwed) in which he is called (i.e. into the Faith), those callings are significantly involuntary in their origins. It’s going to mean learning to live with them and live into them even though we’re already planted in them as conditions.

The same would hold true if anyone changes callings. I wouldn’t presume a change of callings puts someone in an inherently easy new condition. It’s more straightforward to say of all faithful single Christians, regardless of personal circumstances, that they are living faithfully in a hard or complicated state of native unweddedness.

Impoverished Conceptions

Some Pushback for the Reformed Tribe and the Side B Tribe

Circumstances being what they are, I’m often forced to think about the collision between the most outspoken elements of the Reformed tribe and the Side B tribe. I’m forced to do so, because I have an awkward foot and vested interest in each one’s territory. And I have my pushback for both tribes.

On one hand, I have the impression that ultraconservative Reformed culture warriors push too hard on the vocation of marriage and family as the universal expectation. Any concession to a vocation of celibacy has so many strange qualifications it becomes non-existent in practice.

Many in the Reformed tribe have a poor conception of the complexity of sexuality and the inner workings of men and women when it comes to affections, attractions, aesthetics, disabilities, deficiencies, dysphorias, disorientations, sufferings, self-denial, chastity, and social structures and needs.

On the other hand, I have the impression that activist Side B posterboys and girls push too hard against the vocation of marriage. If not against the “cult of the family” found in suburban Pop Evangelical churches, then against the natural institution in their own lives in a few forms.

Many in the Side B tribe have a poor conception of the complexity of sexuality and the inner workings of men and women when it comes to edification and transformation (i.e. vivification and mortification), self-discovery, self-conceptions, social presentation, and the resulting feedback on oneself.

As someone who’s a fairly conservative Reformed man who experiences and navigates persistent same-sex attraction, I sympathize with both camps, and I push back on both camps. I push against some of my ultraconservative Reformed brethren for being naive and thickheaded toward fellow Christians who don’t neatly fit the former’s personality enclave. I push against some of my sexual minority traditional Christian brethren for conflating a difficult native state of unweddedness with Pauline vocational celibacy.

In many ways, I’ve come to view both excesses as complementary counterparts mutually shaped by the same distorting influence of our culture. Our culture is one of corporatistic consumerism. Highly untethered from nature writ large (creationistic teleology) and our own human natures as embodied males and females who have roots and bonds.

Identity self-construction and curation, i.e. personal brand development, as consumers is a force at work in every decision we make. So, the ultraconservative Reformed Christians who are being countercultural by emphasizing rigorous federal headship, single-income households, and quiver-fulls of homeschooled children are developing and promoting brand loyalty. And the activist Side B Christians who are hashtagging, rainbow-flagging, and bumblebee-stamping mini-bios and daily social media activities are developing and promoting brand loyalty.

There’s an insecurity on both sides where the constructed and curated identity must be affirmed publicly in a free market of self-identification. No one can just live a vocation where the social context of doing so is its own reinforcement and reassurance. There’s more concern about tribal signalling for market share than their is with contentment in the meaningfulness of daily practice.

War Horse Begets Unicorn Colt

When Our Covenant Children Experience Same-Sex Attraction

We’re at a cultural moment in the American Church where we have staunchly conservative Christians at loggerheads with a highly adolescent Gay Christian movement. That conflict extends to conservative criticism of the way in which even a subset of self-described celibate gay Christians (who claim they hold to traditional biblical sexual ethics) are advised or allowed to express themselves and have a cultural conversation.

How did we get here?

Our sad history of callousness along with its fearful and presumptive “project management” approach (if not outright disgust and dismissal) on the part of conservative Christians is much of the driving force behind the dynamics and conversation being where they are now on this subject and phenomenon.

Real individuals — sons and daughters of the Faith who’ve been baptized and raised to love Jesus — did and still do enter their adolescence only to discover dark and confusing things about themselves in a Christian climate and context that doesn’t take our own teachings about the sinful corruption of our human nature seriously or consistently. We ended up signaling to these teenagers in no uncertain terms that they’re the embodiment of shame and had better keep silent about their particular patterns of perverse desire.

Conservative Christians have fostered a climate that tells their own children they have more solidarity with those who bear the weight of their particular sexual brokenness and disorientation than they do with those who bear the weight of the same confession of faith and manner of life set apart from this present world.

Conservative Christians have offered a new life hidden in the closet, empty promises of conversion therapy, deliverance ministry, and other quick fixes amounting to a prosperity gospel of dramatic sexual transformation. We’ve failed to develop and promote a vision for a plausible life of slow and steady obedience on a long hard road of uneven, incomplete, yet real sanctification.

Conservative Christians have failed to create an internal platform where this conversation could’ve happened under our own communal roof with our own participation as the whole body of believers with all members contributing. Instead, our children resort to conferences just to know they’re not alone.

All the eyes gather together and think that only eyes can understand and help each other. They say to the rest of the body, “We have no need of you, because you made it clear that you have no need of me.” This is profoundly unhealthy for the severed members of the body and pathetically negligent on the part of the scarred and calloused body that remains.

Conservative Christians have failed to provide a climate that says, “You’re one of ours, and we won’t give up on providing you with all of the encouragement, compassion, nurture, exhortation, and admonition you need.” We’ve failed to create an atmosphere where anyone would actually want to ask us for help.

Or so all of this was in recent prior generations. With our culture being where it is now, these things can no longer easily be ignored. And a new generation of conservative Christians are facing this reality as the culture has forced us to face a whole host of challenging and troubling new issues.

Thankfully, the negligence of the past isn’t the case among all Conservative Christians. But it’s a pervasive reality. And I know from experience. There’s been great help to be had. And there’s been great neglect and injury as well. But by and large, it’s been a lot of them or rather a lot of us — Christians who experience same-sex attraction and submit ourselves obediently to the Faith — on our own, figuring much of this stuff out for ourselves and teaching our helpers how to help us.

Conservative Christian community is absolutely where I call home and where I want to be for a lot of good reasons. But this community has certainly made it difficult at times to feel welcome or even simply understood well.

Life of the Bee

A Primer and Critique of the Side B Movement of Celibate Gay Christians

The Side B Movement, which is (now) largely synonymous with Celibate Gay Christianity, isn’t something particularly recognizable or familiar to most folks, even most Christians.

I want to make a sketch of it as I’ve observed the colony living and evolving over the past several years. I hope to be essentially informative in my sketch of the movements of the beehive. But I know I can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t avoid expressing my concerns and criticisms.

I playfully use bee and hive imagery because it’s common playful imagery used by many folks in the Side B Movement to identify themselves.

So, is Side B actually a movement? There’s been some debate about that. In my opinion, when it’s got a recognized hashtag (#LGBTinChrist as distinct from #FaithfullyLGBT for Side A) and emoji combo (🏳️‍🌈🐝), a large Facebook Group (ASBC: A Side B Community), Bee merchandise, and regional and nation conferences, gatherings, and retreats, then I consider it a movement.

The prior map of the terrain from about a decade ago was Side A vs Side B. The imagery of a classic cassette tape meant as neutral terminology that came out of conversation at the Gay Christian Network by those willing to engage with one another as fellow professing Christians. It’s neutral terminology in the sense that it was meant to provide a common deflationary verbiage and avoid inciting continual disputes about “homophobic” vs “loving” or “faithful” vs “revisionist” language. It wasn’t and isn’t meant to imply the equal validity of the two views.

The divide between Side A and Side B was a question of the sanctifiability of gay marriage as a viable context to express gay romantic and sexual passions and find fulfillment, i.e. the ethics of sexual conduct. In that discourse, Side A was the affirming side; Side B was the non-affirming side that held to traditional biblical sexual ethics. In its (now) more traditional usage — if you can actually call ten-years-ago “traditional” — Side B refers to anyone affirming the traditional biblical sexual ethic. The old and new usages have to be borne in mind, because equivocation happens, which can and does lead to bait-and-switch maneuvers and motte-and-bailey fallacies.

Rapidly over a handful of years, this landscape has changed significantly; it’s developed more features, contours, and ecosystems as the locus for Side B thought has further distinguished itself from other groups occupying the shared land of traditional biblical sexual ethics.

The terminology has shifted from Side A and Side B of a cassette tape to the buttons on a video game console. I’m pretty sure it’s an Xbox controller even though I see “GayStation” mentioned. What would I know? I’m a classic Nintendo nerd.

So, here’s a current map of the terrain as I’ve straightforwardly received it from Side B folks who are in the know. I’ve simply visually adapted it to a honeycomb motif.

Cell AAffirming a gay identity through a fully expressed sexuality
Cell C1Transition zone of uncertainty between Side A and Side B
Cell BAffirming a gay identity while rejecting all gay sexual conduct
Cell C2Transition zone of uncertainty between Side B and Side Y
Cell YRejecting a gay identity while admitting to homosexual inclinations
Cell C3Transition zone of uncertainty between Side Y and Side X
Cell XRefraining from discussing enduring homosexual desire or “ex-gay”

This is a statement about the cartographer as much as (or more so than) it’s a statement about the landscape. This is the framework by which Side B sees itself and its neighbors.

This is a map of the same terrain previously mapped as Side A vs Side B only a few years ago. Old Side B has become a spectrum of gradations delineated by the priorities and the interests of those in the new Side B group. Side Y and Side X aren’t the self-conceptions of the people categorized in those groups; they’re the conceptions which Side B projects upon those they classify as Side Y and Side X.

Note that Side A hasn’t been broken down into any sort of spectrum. Perhaps it could be. Perhaps to the folks on that side, there’s some meaningful difference between sanctified gay marriage and sanctified polyamory, etc. But that’s their cross to bear, and those are their mind-games to play among themselves.

This expansion of detail in the cartography of the same sexual landscape tells me that the basis of surveying and landmarking has changed. It’s becoming far more subjective, and it’s being driven by those for whom a subjective sexual sense of themselves is critical and fairly central to their overall self-conception and identity curation and presentation.

The fact that this framework recognizes its transition zones as identified positions speaks to its inherent subjectivity as a product of personal self-perception and self-understanding more than a representation of one’s public professions and practices, even if the former doesn’t rule out some engagement with the latter.

This layout also aligns with the theologico-sociopolitical landscape; it’s openly affirmed as such. It’s a spectrum from progressive to conservative. The sheer fact that religious and sociopolitical convictions map neatly onto this spectrum of sexual identification in itself merits any number of questions and concerns about its implications. One fairly obvious implication is that conservatives have no comfortable or functional place in Side B. And Nick Roen said as much when he distanced himself from the Side B label in June 2019. I can readily identify with Nick’s thoughts and concerns.

I’m not trying to be the language police about what particular words Christians with this particular lived experience can or should use in expressing ourselves to other Christians or to outsiders. But I do believe words are not benign. Neither is the way in which we use and inhabit those words. I’m not concerned about incidental words. I’m concerned about the sort of ethos and micro-culture that the Side B Movement is continually constructing and inhabiting. My concern is that the evolution of Side B is in the hands of folks who are truly Side A Lite.

This reminds me of the modern Reformed proverb: There’s a reason it’s called semi-Pelagianism instead of semi-Augustinianism. We know what the underlying driving motivation is.

I see that trajectory when I see a notable attrition rate from Side B to Side A but little or no attrition from Side B to Side Y or Side X. Or maybe the attrition’s form speaks for itself. Attrition from Side B to Side A is a(nother) coming-out ritual while attrition from Side B to Side Y/X is a quiet withdrawal. That contrast is informative.

The Side B Movement isn’t about affirming a particular sexual ethic; it’s about embracing a particular micro-culture. Insofar as predilections for certain music and hobbies and the possession of culinary skills constitute prominent subcultural features, Side B is a part of the broad and vague Gay Culture that is juxtaposed to a Straight Culture. Personally, I’d say what Sue Sylvester said about it to Kurt Hummel on Glee:

See, that’s the problem with your generation. You’re obsessed with labels. So you like show tunes. Big deal. That doesn’t make you gay. It just makes you awful [or awesome if you prefer].

I get concerned when I encounter fanciful queer theorizing about present, prelapsarian, and post-resurrection anthropologies and an attendant assortment of polysyllabic sexual neologisms among Side B folks in dialogue with Side A Lite folks and Side A converts. It leads me to my ongoing concern that the Side B subculture has a pervasive problem with malakia or moral softness as understood in ancient and medieval Christian ethics. It’s not exaggerated performative hyper-masculinity and hyper-femininity focusing every effort on picking the low-hanging fruit of personality traits and quirks as easy targets.

The chief forms of moral softness among Side A Lite that alarm me are manifestations such as:

  • Queer theorizing about human sexuality before the Fall which seeks to subvert any reasonable and responsible construction of it as functionally heteronormative, and doing so apparently so as to avoid reckoning with the profoundly disordered nature of homosexual and transgender impulses and inclinations according to traditional Christian sexual ethics
  • Tabling vital discussions of cross-dressing, drag behavior, pride marching, celibate partnerships, bro-cuddling, and the like as though it’s sexual adiaphora when it’s all very plausibly sexual immorality deserving of ecclesiastical rebuke and discipline as understood by those who are theologico-sociopolitically conservative
  • Transgenderism and Queer Culture generally receiving a free pass from scrutiny or special privileges of victimhood empathy and never being addressed with regard to Christian sexual ethics concerning appropriate gendered behavior
  • Recurrent public displays of acedia and bitterness that chip away slowly at biblical convictions, the fear of the Lord, and the attendant holiness he expects from those who bear and are called by his Name

These manifestations of malakia make it hard for me to trust the worth and substance of any claim about holding to a traditional biblical sexual ethic that amounts to anything more than crass notions of who can or cannot rub genitals with whom and under what circumstances. That’s simply nowhere near a comprehensive Christian sexual ethic. To me, this is looking less like a docile beehive and more like a hornet’s nest of trouble.

Some Follow-Up Comments on Terminology …

The Side B Movement … is largely synonymous with Celibate Gay Christianity

Yes and no. It’s complicated. Generally and increasingly, yes. But not exhaustively. I don’t regard the Side B Movement to be the same thing as a group like Spiritual Friendship for instance.

In the short and rapidly paced history of things, the Side B Movement has some relationship with Spiritual Friendship. But Side B is going placed that SF hasn’t gone and isn’t going. I have the sense that Side B has presently purchased or co-opted the “Celibate Gay Christian” brand name from SF. And I think it’s a matter of deserved recognition and respect to distinguish men and women at Spiritual Friendship and their efforts.

In the marketplace of movements, the majority shares in the “Gay Christianity” brand are held by the affirming theologically revisionist camp. In the older Side A vs Side B dialogue and framework, Side A had and still holds the larger numbers. ‘Celibate’ was the modifier that folks like those at Spiritual Friendship chose in their efforts at careful articulation of language and a presentation of their concept and framework. The newer Side B wave isn’t as careful and conservative in its language and self-conception.

There’s a reason it’s called semi-Pelagianism instead of semi-Augustinianism.

– Reformed Proverb

The underlying driving motivation of the evolution of Side B is Side A Lite in my opinion. Would Side B like the label or wish to own the idea that they’re Side A Lite? I highly doubt they would. The folks on the leading edge of Side B probably don’t want to think of themselves as Side A Lite. But Side B has an excessively minimalist definition of traditional sex ethics, and it doesn’t have the same perspective as I have on how far gone from a robust traditional Christian sexual ethic it is.

In some ways, Side A Lite seems to like the fact that it’s a murky place but doesn’t think of it as a mess. I get the impression that it’s regarded as a place of freedom, creativity, and dignified diversity. And I see that made possible by a low view of scriptural inspiration and the accompanying theological revisionism and progressivism that come into play. They do so by thinning or emptying out a traditional biblical anthropology with its emphasis on corrupting sinfulness.

Many Side B folks seem to be comfortable being experienced as affirming by Side A folks or expressing how they’re comfortable having fellowship with Side A and Side B equally. This goes hand-in-hand with the perception and the confessions of Side B folks that they don’t regard the Side A position as spiritually perilous and devastating. This adds all the more to Side A Lite being an apropos characterization.

Side Y and Side X aren’t the self-conceptions of the people categorized in those groups; they’re the conceptions which Side B projects upon those they classify as Side Y and Side X.

If you ask me, the way Side B often makes distinctions between itself and Side Y or Side X and between Side Y and Side X, it’s sometimes just a metric for how annoyed Side B folks get or how hurt they feel with what you tell them they can or can’t do or how they should or shouldn’t express themselves. When it’s not that, it’s merely a charitable disagreement about those same do’s and don’ts.

Side Y means Christians who are willing to acknowledge and speak (usually publicly or in a less guarded or closed off fashion) about the fact they experience same-sex attraction or homoerotic and homosexual desires. But they don’t adopt a gay identity, whether a public presentation or a private self-conception. Again, “traditionally” for Side B, Side Y is about an unwillingness to describe oneself as gay.

But more and more, it’s not a matter of one’s willingness to use stipulated language in conversation; it’s an insistence or urgency about whether or not to adopt a “gay” brand identity as a prominent feature of your public self-presentation. Side B does that. Side Y does not. Because Side Y doesn’t operate according to the extent it desires to embrace a gay self-conception, a Side Y individual doesn’t think about himself or herself in the way a Side B individual thinks about a Side Y individual.

Frequently, Side X functionally means those Christians experiencing same-sex attraction who annoy and upset Side B people. Side X means Rosaria Butterfield, Christopher Yuan, and so forth. And Side X means any number of ultraconservative Christians who oppose the Side B construction and trajectory.

To Side B folks, Side X means people unwilling to candidly vulnerably talk about the fact that they still experience same-sex attraction. It tends to amount to Side B folks disliking the fact that Side X folks won’t talk in the way Side B folks desire to hear.

To Side B folks, Side X also means folks who insist everyone says “same-sex attraction” because any talk about being “gay” or more so the self-conception of identifying as “gay” is sinful.

Or it’s X for Side X folks, because it’s the new ex-gay meaning advocacy for conversion therapy or promotion of efforts at orientation change. It’s supposedly also a category for those who claim or give the impression they are no longer same-sex attracted.

I personally suspect that’s a misunderstanding or self-deceit on the part of Side B folks in some cases.

So Side X is a catch-all for a lot of things. A lot of things that Side B folks don’t like. And a lot of things that have genuinely hurt Side B folks in the past. There’s no denying that.

I don’t see many of those who are categorized as Side X as being Ex-Gay 2.0, a rebirth of the debacle that was Exodus International. Can you find plenty of Christians who talk as though homosexuals should or will become functioning heterosexuals as a part of their genuine repentance and conversion to the Faith? Yes, you can find those. And they’re a sect that’s quite out of touch with what we know about the anthropology of this matter along with the anthropology the Scriptures give us about this matter. And they always have been out of touch in these ways.

More and more for younger people who are Side B, “gay” language is about how you see yourself. But for the wider culture, and especially for an older generation, being gay has much more to do with how you live.

So for folks like Rosaria Butterfield and Christopher Yuan who lived for a time in their lives in active rebellion against God and carried it out in sexual immorality, it’s a very different experience from how they were living then to how they’re living now. It’s not confused and angst-ridden Christian teenagers who are regularly lamenting an urge for gay intimacy that they’ve never experienced and aren’t allowed to experience. There’s no sense of what they’ve escaped and renounced, only a sense of what they’re experiencing.

More and more, it seems that a ritual of the Side B Movement is wearing one’s weighty homosexual burden as an odd badge of honor or special privilege due to victimhood or grievance status. It’s not intended that way, but it comes across that way. It’s a felt need to signal about the unique burden. But someone who won’t do that and insists that it’s inappropriate for Christians to make such public displays of acedia about it will get categorized as Side X.

So, a trajectory from the old Side B to the new Side B is a growing matter of the Side B folks finding and expressing solidarity in the shared sexual self-perception with those who are Side A. It’s the solidarity of shared sexuality that Side X and Side Y Christians don’t want and find distantly secondary and rather fleeting compared to the solidarity they have with fellow Christians as fellow members of one Body and one Faith.