In the last decade, public opinion on issues related to the LGBT+ community has shifted so rapidly that many Christians are still trying to catch up. It’s never helpful trying to understand an issue from a distance but the reality is that many of us have never sat down and had thoughtful conversations with people who have a first-hand understanding of same sex attraction and transgender temptations and are also fully committed to the Scriptures as the Word of God. That’s why I found Christopher Yuan’s workshop on “Christianity and Homosexuality” so helpful. Let me share some of what I learned.
Even if you can’t listen to the entire 70-minute workshop – and you should – you need to at least make time for the first fifteen minutes where Christopher shares a riveting testimony of God’s grace in his life. Born to a father with two doctorates, Christopher was a dental student with a gay lifestyle but also a nagging emptiness inside. He turned to drugs to try and fill that void and soon began to sell drugs to fellow students to earn the money he needed to support his habit. He was able to hold it all together for a while but with three months until his PhD graduation, he was expelled from university. He decided to focus on his drug business and managed to expand its scope and profitability.
His parents didn’t know about the drugs but they knew that he was in trouble and sought to reach out to him as best they could. His father gave him his Bible but he threw it out. His mother turned to God in prayer and, amazingly, fasted every Monday for seven years. Her prayer was simple but profound, “God, do whatever it takes to reach him.” The first step toward her prayer being answered was a raid on Christopher’s home in which he was arrested by twelve drug enforcement agents and found with 9.1 tons of marijuana in his possession.
He remembers calling home from jail, expecting a lecture, only to hear his mother’s reassuring words, “Son, are you okay?” He would later learn from Romans 2:4 that “God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” His mother was genuinely encouraged that this might lead to a turnaround in his life. She began thanking God for small signs of blessing. She started by thanking God that her son was now in a safer place (prison) than he had been before (on the street dealing drugs). As she continued to pray, that list of blessings grew and grew.
One day he found a Gideon’s New Testament sitting on top of the trash in the garbage can. He picked it up and that day read the entire Gospel of Mark. He was drawn into the message. Still reading, a couple of weeks later he was called into the nurse’s office and given the verdict that he was HIV+. He had been sentenced to six years in prison but the HIV diagnosis felt like a death sentence.
God began to speak to him through His Word and Christopher began to change. But his sexuality was the last area where he was holding out. He finally came to a turning point:
“Either abandon God and His Word, live as a gay man and pursue a monogamous gay relationship by allowing my attractions to not only dictate who I was but also how I lived. Or abandon pursuing a gay relationship by liberating myself from my sexuality and live as a follower of Jesus Christ. God showed me that I only had one direction. Follow Jesus.”
Having come to faith and grown in his understanding of God's Word, God amazingly called him into ministry while he was still serving his prison sentence. Upon his release, he went on to get degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, and Bethel Seminary and now serves as an author, conference speaker and professor at Moody. He writes this:
“My identity as a child in God must be in Jesus Christ alone. I read passages in Scripture, which told me, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality, but I realized that the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God was telling me, ‘Don’t focus upon feelings. Don’t focus upon your sexuality, but focus upon living a life of holiness and living a life of purity.'”
You can hear his workshop here:
The book that he co-authored with his mother is:
Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God and a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope.
Next week I’ll share about some of the lessons that he gives to help Christians minister more effectively to the LGBT+ community.
In awe of Him,