May 3, 2023

#27 - A Wager Like Pascal's: Paul-Anthony Turner on Side A Sexuality

#27 - A Wager Like Pascal's: Paul-Anthony Turner on Side A Sexuality

Paul-Anthony Turner is a gay Christian philosopher and pastor who used to be Side B (holding a traditional Christian sexual ethic of chastity in opposite-sex marriage or a celibate vocation) and is now Side A (affirming same-sex marriage). He takes TJ through his reasoning and philosophy for how he arrives at a Side A position. Preview: He likes Kant a LOT.

One of our main goals with Communion & Shalom is to bring people who believe differently than we do, and differently than each other, into conversation on difficult topics like Christian sexuality. Wherever you find yourself on these topics, we hope you’ll find this conversation gives you insight into other perspectives.

Also, this episode uses the terms “Side A” and “Side B” as shorthand quite a bit. If you’re new to the conversation, we recommend one of these resources as an overview.


Timestamps (06:40) Paul Anthony introduces himself

(09:02) "I always knew I was gay...”

(12:58) When did you become "Side B"?

(28:52) What was your process of transitioning from Side B to Side A

(35:03) Epistemology, ontology, phenomenology... and other philosophical frameworks

(46:47) What is the place of spiritual revelation in your philosophical model?

(55:07) "Doesn't the text have some power to resist the interpretations we bring to it?”

(59:34) But why are you Side A?

(1:04:49) A wager like Pascal's

(1:10:27) How does the idea of sin interact with the account you're giving for sexuality?

(1:17:56) "I think in some ways that absolute knowledge is like the boogeyman in your account...”

(1:18:27) What role does tradition play in your account of same-sex sex within Christianity?

(1:32:34) How do you relate to Side B people now that you're Side A?

(1:39:18) Interpreting the text and the world we are in: "To what extent do you think we [Side B] are wrong?”


Other Notes

For those of us who aren’t students of either theology or philosophy, a quick-and-dirty reference list….

hermeneutics—different methods of interpretation

ontology—“what makes a thing what it is?”

epistemology—”how can we know what we know?”

teleology—”What is a thing’s goal or purpose?”

phenomenology—“How does my experience affect my engagement with the world?”

Some named-dropped philosophers and theologians, for your spelling convenience: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Alfred Whitehead, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Lindbeck

monsignor - Wikipedia

Books by James K. A. Smith—Desiring the Kingdom, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?, and Who’s Afraid of Relativism?

Paul Anthony’s friends Ed Oxford and Kathy Baldock are writing a book called Forging A Sacred Weapon


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Creators and Hosts: David Frank, TJ Espinoza

Audio Engineer: Carl Swenson (

Podcast Manager: Elena