Sean McDowell is a popular Christian YouTube apologist with 189K subs on the platform. He recently did a deep dive on the Unconditional Conference hosted at Andy Stanley’s Church. As expected this was a major boon for his channel as the video in question garnered 100K views and the acclaim of Ruslan KD and Mike Winger in the comment section. The problem is that this acclaim is ill-deserved as Sean McDowell’s rebuttal of Andy Stanley’s positions on homosexuality and transgenderism are compromised and covertly Side B theology. Side B theology teaches that homosexual identity and desire are not sinful.
Alan Shlemon attended the Unconditional Conference at Andy Stanley’s church, but unlike Protestia who infiltrated the event, he lauds much of it. Shlemon praises the insight of Julia Sadusky on transgenderism. Sadusky, as mentioned by Shlemon is Mark Yarhouse’s coauthor on his transgender affirming book. As noted in our exposure of him:
In the last several years, Mark Yarhouse has shifted his focus to transgenderism. On numerous occasions, Yarhouse claims that the Bible “does not say much about gender identity.” On numerous occasions Yarhouse uses preferred pronouns and preferred names. What stands out is that Yarhouse legitimizes the “trans experience.” He calls comparing transgenderism to transracialism an absurd kneejerk reaction. Despite, or because of, his psychological background, there is no mention of autogynephilia, a sexual fetish in which a man is sexually arouse by imagining himself as a women.
When navigating issues, Yarhouse posits three frameworks, the integrity framework, the disability framework, and the diversity framework. The integrity framework is the standard biblical objection to transgenderism. The disability framework, in contrast to the integrity framework views transgenderism as a nonmoral issue and credits the effects of the Fall for this happening rather than sin. According to this view a person is not responsible for their gender dysphoria. Then there is the diversity framework which posits that being a transvestite is something to celebrate. Mark Yarhouse believes in a fourth way he calls the “integrated framework” which takes the “best” elements of the other three frameworks.
From the integrity framework, Mark Yarhouse upholds the distinctions between male and female. The integrated framework “give us pause when we consider seeking the most invasive procedures; seek wisdom and maturity in light of a Christian view of sex and gender.” Mark Yarhouse believes that the disability framework is the best at bringing forth compassion and empathy, by removing moral culpability. From the diversity framework, Mark Yarhouse believes the meaning making of both identity and community is valuable and good.
Mark Yarhouse erroneously claims that once a person reaches adulthood, gender dysphoria is not likely to discontinue because psychologists have not developed a protocol to see this result manifest. Mark Yarhouse and his prodigy Julia Sadusky wrote a pastoral paper for the Center For Faith and Sexuality, Preston Sprinkle’s Side B organization.
Shlemon also details a breakout session where parents were sharing their struggles to cope with their grooming of their children to be transvestites. Shlemon initially held this as a positive of the conference before noting the lack moral accountability. Sean McDowell cites the Mark Yarhouse framework of transgenderism (see above) as a positive development. McDowell also describes Yarhouse as a data driven guy which is a gross mischaracterization given his opposition to change therapy.
Sean McDowell presents a false dichotomy of whether to tell “kids with same-sex attraction” to be celibate or in a monogamous homosexual relationship. He completely ignores being restored to a proper God-honoring relationship with the opposite sex as a possibility. This is a tacit admission that he believes in sexual orientation, an unbiblical concept.
However, Sean McDowell’s Side B theology becomes most apparent in his recommendations. Aside from the aforementioned Mark Yarhouse, who spoke at Revoice in 2019, a conference that is the embodiment of Side B theology, Sean McDowell cited 5 names as positive examples: Sam Allberry, Preston Sprinkle, Beckett Cook, Rosaria Butterfield, and Rachel Gilson. Sprinkle, Allberry, and Gilson are all Side B. Sprinkle has done preconference events at Revoice. Allberry is the founder of Living Out, a gay affimring ministry. Rachel Gilson believes that preferred pronouns is a difficult Christian liberty issue.
Sean McDowell pretends that the red line is whether or not to affirm gay relationships, but the reality is that he is defending compromised ground of all the sin that leads up to this and seems ignorant to this fact