From the author of Out of a Far Country, which details his dramatic conversion from an agnostic gay man who put his identity in his sexuality to a Bible professor who now puts his identity in Christ alone, comes a gospel-centered discussion of sex, desire, and relationships.
Dr. Christopher Yuan explores the concept of holy sexualitychastity in singleness or faithfulness in marriagein a practical and relevant manner, equipping readers with an accessible yet robust theology of sexuality. Whether you want to share Christ with a loved one who identifies as gay or you're wrestling with questions of identity yourself, this book will help you better understand sexuality in light of God's grand story and realize that holy sexuality is actually good news for all.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER YUAN, DMin, has taught at the Moody Bible Institute for over ten years and his speaking ministry on faith and sexuality has reached five continents. He speaks at conferences, on college campuses, and in churches. He co-authored with his mother, Angela, their memoir (now in seven languages), Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope. He is also the author of Giving a Voice to the Voiceless. Dr. Yuan holds degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, and Bethel Seminary.
Read an Excerpt
Shaped by God’s Grand Story
Framing the Conversation with Theology
“I am gay” is a simple statement with a complex and multifaceted meaning. We all know someone who’s gay. You most likely picked up this book because you have a gay child, sibling, coworker, or dear friend.
As a follower of Christ, you recognize that John 3:16—“For God so loved the world”—includes this individual. Your love for him or her is not in question. Rather, the question is, What does this love look like?
Many books provide advice for showing compassion to those experiencing same-sex attractions. They offer different and sometimes conflicting approaches on how to do this. Do we help gays and lesbians embrace their sexuality and encourage a modern church “reformation” that affirms same-sex marriage? Do we help heal a torn church by advocating for unity between “affirming” and “nonaffirming” sides?
Do we help gay Christians cultivate deeply spiritual friendships while they accept a stark reality of lifelong celibacy? Do we help those with unwanted same-sex attractions fulfill their heterosexual potential and marry someone of the opposite sex? Or could the gospel be calling us all to something costlier and more magnificent than we’ve ever envisioned?
I believe the diverse approaches in these books all begin with a common intent: love. The difference is not just methodology, but it stems from varying definitions of love. In fact, I believe many well-intentioned pastors who preach fire-and-brimstone sermons against the gay community believe they’re doing it out of love—albeit a deeply misguided love and a lopsided view of the gospel.
With so many methods, which is the right one? Discerning the correct way to love is not a theoretical exercise. For me, it’s deeply personal.
This Is My Song
In 1993 I announced to my parents that I was gay. This led to massive disruption in our family, to put it lightly. Ultimately, this moment became a catalyst that led each of us, one by one, to the Lord.
At the time, my unbelieving mom rejected me. But contrary to the stereotype, after she became a Christian, she knew she could do nothing other than love her gay son as God loved her.
However, with no more secrets, I felt unimpeded to fully embrace “who I was.” This new freedom quickly propelled me down a path of self-destruction that included promiscuity and illicit drug use. Certainly, not all gay men go down this road, but it was my reality. Ultimately, I was expelled from dental school in Louisville, moved to Atlanta, and became a supplier to drug dealers in more than a dozen states.
During this time God graciously worked in the lives of my father and mother and brought them both to a saving trust in Christ. My parents didn’t realize the extent of my rebellion, but in the light of their newfound faith, they knew my biggest sin wasn’t same-sex sexual behavior; my biggest sin was unbelief. What I needed more than anything else, through God’s gift of grace, was faith to believe and follow Jesus.
My mother began to pray a bold prayer: “Lord, do whatever it takes to bring this prodigal son to you.” She didn’t pray primarily for me to come home to Chicago or to stop my rebellious behavior. Her main request was that God would draw me to himself and that I would fall into his loving arms as his son, adopted and purchased by the blood of the Lamb.
The miracle in answer to her prayers came in an unexpected way: I was arrested for drug dealing. In jail, I experienced the darkest moments of my life when I received news that I was HIV positive. That night, as I lay in a prison cell bed, I noticed something scribbled on the metal bunk above me: “If you’re bored, read Jeremiah 29:11.” So I did and was intrigued by the promise I read there: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”
I read the Bible more and more. As I did, I realized I’d placed my identity in the wrong thing. The world tells those of us with same-sex attractions that our sexuality is the core of who we are. But God’s Word paints quite a different picture. Genesis 1:27 informs us that we are all created in the image of God. The apostle Paul says that in Christ “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Thus, my identity is not gay, ex-gay, or even straight. My true identity is in Jesus Christ alone.
Ultimately, upon my release from jail, I committed to studying and submitting to biblical and theological truth. I enrolled in Bible college and later seminary. Over time, God has given back the years the locusts had taken away (see Joel 2:25). My parents and I now travel around the world as a two-generational ministry, communicating God’s grace and God’s truth on biblical sexuality.
Meaning to Method
Through my journey from agnostic gay man to evangelical Bible professor, I’ve come to realize that the differences in how people respond to gay and same-sex-attracted individuals are rooted in meaning. From ancient times, humanity has been pursuing meaning. And out of meaning flow actions.
Our divergent approaches on how to love the gay community—stemming from competing interpretations of meaning—can be overwhelming and confusing. Clarity comes not by trying to decide which approach is more compassionate but by observing which approach is grounded in the correct version of truth—God’s truth. With good intentions, we may rush into doing “what’s right,” but if we don’t begin with right thinking, there’s a good chance we could be doing what’s wrong.
Both compassion and wisdom are virtues. But compassion without wisdom can be careless, even reckless. Wisdom without compassion is useless, even pharisaical. True compassion flows from wisdom, and true wisdom results in compassion—there should be no dichotomy. The real Christian life is built on godly wisdom.
We’re often encouraged in our society to embrace relevance and pragmatism at the expense of truth. But correct practice flows from correct truth. We must resist the natural impulse to disjoin practice from truth or truth from practice.
Certainly, there’s great importance in exploring the ethics of same-sex relationships, and many scholars have written about the key Old and New Testament passages prohibiting same-sex sexual practice. This work is vital, and several books have done it well.
However, we limit ourselves if we think that “right knowing” simply means studying a handful of biblical texts relevant to the topic at hand. This would be missing the forest for the trees. A robust theology cannot be built on what we’re not allowed to do, for the Christian life is much more than the avoidance of sinful behavior. If scriptural prohibitions are the only lens through which we see things, then we may well miss the gospel.
My goal for this book is to provide both theological reflection on sexuality and practical action points for those of us trying to share Christ with our gay loved ones through the lens of God’s grand story—creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. You may be thinking, I’m no theologian! but the Greek word theologia literally means “knowledge of God.” Do you have any knowledge of God? If so, you’re a theologian!
Kevin Zuber, a professor of mine in Bible college, deeply impacted me when he challenged the class to think about theology as a verb. Christians are supposed to do theology. Theology done well engages heart, mind, and hands. Anemic theology breeds apathy, but good theology compels action.
Even still, you may be thinking, What I need right now is not theology but practical advice on how to better minister to my gay loved ones and friends. Yet how can we know what God wants for our gay friends without ample knowledge of God? Thoughts precede action.
Good theology, right action. Bad theology, wrong action.
Breaking Bad Paradigms
In 2011 I coauthored a book with my mother, Angela, entitled Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God, a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. Toward the end of our memoir, I briefly introduced the concept of holy sexuality.
The impetus for this new phrase stemmed from my frustration with the heterosexual-bisexual-homosexual paradigm, particularly its incongruence with biblical and theological truth. I knew that at some point I needed to flesh out this important biblical definition of holy sexuality.
Over the years, I came to understand that the goal of holy sexuality is not just for those who experience attractions toward people of the same sex; holy sexuality is for everyone. This understanding of sexuality is tethered to God’s grand story—creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. This full-orbed, coherent theological framework helps us better and more fully comprehend human sexuality in light of God’s revealed truth.
Will you join me on a journey as we investigate a theology of sexuality? As we go, be prepared to think biblically, theologically, and critically; to challenge some of our old human-made paradigms not grounded in Scripture; and, in some situations, to change and realign to God’s truth.
As always, don’t resist the Holy Spirit as he convicts us of wrong thinking and even as he grants us the gracious gift of repentance. Get ready for us to deepen our knowledge of God and his grand story, which will then rightly shape our understanding of human sexuality.
Are you ready?
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Is Sexuality Who We Really Are?
“This is who I am.” The words were spoken by Andy, one of my classmates from seminary. He and I and another friend occasionally debated Bible passages after class—just for fun. Andy was a bright young man, raised on the mission field, and married to a godly young lady. So I was surprised when I heard that Andy had come out of the closet and was no longer living with his wife. It had been his secret, and many close to him felt blindsided by the news.
As we got together to discuss the Bible that week, our dialogue inevitably turned to texts related to homosexuality. It became apparent as we talked that a shift in Andy’s hermeneutics had occurred. His flippant dismissal of biblical authors as ignorant or simply uninformed gave evidence that he had changed his views regarding biblical authority and inerrancy.
We’d been challenging each other for about an hour when Andy suddenly thrust our conversation in a different direction entirely, from theoretical to intensely personal: “Why would God make me this way and then not allow me to be who I am? For years, I prayed for God to take this away and change me. Nothing happened, and nothing will. I’ve been denying this for far too long. I never chose this. I just have to be honest and authentic and accept the truth that I’m gay. This is who I am.”
At that point, I knew from personal experience that the issue went beyond Andy’s incorrect interpretations of Bible passages relating to same-sex relationships. It was more profound than simply bad exegesis or a low view of Scripture. Andy’s words revealed a deeper philosophical and theological misunderstanding, a faulty presupposition that pointed to his essence, to the core of his being: This is who I am.
Being gay is no longer what I’m attracted to, what I desire, or what I do—it’s who I am. Matthew Vines, a gay activist, writes that sexual attraction “is simply part of who you are” and “as humans, our sexuality is a core part of who we are.” In the conversation around sexuality, this subtle shift from what to who has created a radically distorted view of personhood.
There is no other sin issue so closely linked to identity. For example, being a gossiper is not who he is but what he does. Or being an adulteress is not who she is but what she does. Being a hater is not who he is but what he does. Should the capacity for same-sex attractions really describe who I am at my most basic level? Or should it describe how I am? Might this be a categorical fallacy that ultimately distorts how we think and live? The terms heterosexual and homosexual turn desire into personhood, experience into ontology.
My friend Andy’s statement, which is similar to that of many gays and lesbians, brings to the forefront an age-old question: Who am I? From Plato to Descartes, from Kant to Foucault, philosophers throughout history have attempted to shed light on this profound mystery.
Philosophers aren’t the only ones who’ve asked that question. We’ve all asked it. During puberty, teenagers especially struggle with their identity, and middle-aged adults commonly question their existence and meaning. For many, the search for identity can last a lifetime.
For some, self-identity is shaped by family, friends, and culture. Others find their identity in work, in sports or hobbies, or in the latest trending activism. Some find their sole identity in being a parent. Still others, as we know, find their identity in their sexuality.
Do these substitutes for identity truly describe who we are or only what we do or experience? And specifically, does sexuality describe who we are or does it really explain how we are? Our answers to these questions affect many facets of our lives. It impacts the way we think, the choices we make, and the relationships we build.
All our thoughts and actions are influenced at some level by how we answer the question Who am I? This suggests a closer relationship between essence and ethics than many realize. The two inform each other. Who we are (essence) determines how we live (ethics), and how we live determines who we are.
If we have a flawed view of who we are, we’ll have a flawed personal ethic, and if we have a flawed personal ethic, we’ll have a flawed view of who we are. Personhood affects practice, and practice affects personhood.
When I came out in my early twenties, I believed the only way to live authentically as a gay man was to fully embrace that identity. Being gay was who I was. As a matter of fact, my whole world was gay. Almost everyone I knew was gay.
All my friends were gay. My neighbors were gay. My apartment manager was gay. My barber was gay. My house cleaner was gay. My bookkeeper was gay. My car salesman was gay. I worked out at a gay gym and bought groceries at the gay Kroger.
Sexuality was the core of who I was, and everything and everyone around me affirmed that. And if I am gay truly means that’s who I am, it would be utterly cruel for someone to condemn me for simply being myself.
Yet we know that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Thus, rejecting our inherent essence and replacing it simply with what we feel or do is in reality an attempted coup d’ état against our Creator. We don’t need to find our identity; our identity is given by God.
Excerpted from "Holy Sexuality and the Gospel"
Copyright © 2018 Christopher Yuan.
Excerpted by permission of The Crown Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Rosaria Butterfield xiii
1 Shaped by God's Grand Story 1
Framing the Conversation with Theology
2 A Case of Mistaken Identity 7
Is Sexuality Who We Really Are?
3 The Image of God 14
Where Identity Begins
4 The Imprint of Sin 24
The Gravity of the Fall
5 Why Anthropology Matters 33
Consequences of Ignoring Who We Are
6 Holy Sexuality 43
God's Good Intent for All
7 The Temptations 53
Addressing Same-Sex Attractions
8 Anatomy of Desire 58
Seeing the End from the Beginning
9 "Sexual Orientation" 67
Blind Acceptance or Critical Assessment?
10 The Biblical Covenant of Marriage 73
More Than Companionship
11 A Theology of Marriage 86
The Meaning Behind "I Do"
12 Singleness 97
For Better or for Worse?
13 More on Singleness 105
Simply a Good Gift
14 Spiritual Family 122
Everlasting Brotherhood and Sisterhood
15 Sanctification 138
The Path to Holy Sexuality
16 Bad Fruit on Vines 147
The Good Fruit of Sanctification
17 Compassion 156
The Only Way Forward
18 Outreach 166
Guidelines for Our Conversations
19 Receiving the News 177
How to Respond When a Friend Opens Up
20 Discipleship 185
Grounded in a New Identity
Study Guide 197
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I understand why Yuan’s work is popular. First, he’s a nice guy and is a great speaker with a compelling story, the kind that Christians love to hear—the classic bad boy, really bad boy, to preacher story. It also titillates us and makes us feel good listening to theology that agrees with what we’ve been told about the dark and evil located outside of us, in the stuff we would never do. Because it is likely that the majority of potential readers of “Holy Sexuality” will be pastors, youth leaders, families, and friends of LGBTQ people (both Christian and not), I’m writing this review for you. I’m a straight evangelical Christian, mother of two adult straight children, faithful follower of Jesus, active in my evangelical church, author of a book on the history of the cultural and religious discrimination against LGBTQ community, and speaker on the topic. With this review, I hope to push readers beyond what might be comfortable. Often we aren’t interested in digging around in difficult topics until an issue becomes personal in some way. Only then you may see what is glaringly obvious to ever increasing numbers of us Christians—that there are millions of LGBTQ single and married Christians faithfully following and serving God. And books like “Holy Sexuality,” ignores them, and does great injustice and harm to them. I hope you’ll also begin to wonder why conservative leaders continually create a turn stile of methods, nuanced language, and shifting theology to “deal” with homosexuality. Since his last book, Yuan has significantly ramped up his negative messaging about homosexuality. His words carry weight and go a distance (he speaks publicly several hundred times each year). The impact from this book will be elevated levels of damage to LGBTQ people and their families, a continuation of misinformation about sexual orientation, and driving of people (not just LGBTQ people, but those who support their full inclusion in churches) from Christian churches. In “Holy Sexuality,” Yuan creates freshly nuanced language and reshaped questionable theology. His ideas might indeed seem “holy.” So, let me lay them out a bit more clearly. First, I need to step back here a bit to lay some historical groundwork. Christian theology about sexuality in general, and with respect to gay people in particular, is quite a new concept. Christians had widely avoided discussing sexuality at all until the 1970s. And there was certainly no theology about homosexuality coming from the conservative church during that time. Further, did you realize the first usage of the word “homosexual” in the Bible was in the Revised Standard Version in 1946 where it appeared in 1 Cor. 6: 9-10? Before the RSV was published, throughout history that Corinthians text had been interpreted and understood as a situation in which a socially more powerful and/or older man imposed exploitative, abusive penetrative sex on a boy, or on a subservient person. During the RSV translation process of Corinthians in the 1930s and early 1940s, the team decided to join two Greek words—malakoi and arsenokoitai—into one word “homosexual” for ease in understanding. The team had been tasked to update the language of the popular King James, the ASV, and the ESV to more modern English. For the most part, until then, the two Greek words had been a variation on “effeminate” (one who takes the sexual penetrated role of a woman) and “sodomite” (one who penetrates another person, typically with excessive lust and with
One of the most divisive issues in my church in recent years has been the push to be inclusive and accepting of the LGBTQ lifestyle. We've lost many members, on both sides of the issue, because we've held to the belief that God says no to this. It's tough, when you truly love someone who is fighting this battle, to stand by, love them, and yet, call their desire sinful. Christopher Yuan, in Holy Sexuality and the Gospel, asks us to look at sexuality with a different slant. As the book description says:"Dr. Christopher Yuan explores the concept of holy sexuality--chastity in singleness or faithfulness in marriage--in a practical and relevant manner, equipping readers with an accessible yet robust theology of sexuality. Whether you want to share Christ with a loved one who identifies as gay or you're wrestling with questions of identity yourself, this book will help you better understand sexuality in light of God's grand story and realize that holy sexuality is actually good news for all." As a gay man himself, Yuan has concluded that the Gospel calls all of God's people to holy sexuality, not heterosexuality. While he agrees that homosexual relationships are sinful, he also points out that heterosexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage are also sinful, and there should be no distinction between the two. He states that "any sin (such as same-sex sexual practice) or any struggle with sin (such as same-sex desire) has only one root cause: original sin." He then goes on to point out that "All sinful temptations and behavior present us with a real struggle and fight." Yuan writes with great grace for all sinners, whether their struggle is with gossip, or dishonesty, or sexuality. He speaks hope that, "When we're born again, the old has gone, and the new has come - we are a new creation. Our sexuality is no longer who we are, but how we are." That distinction is important throughout the book. For churches struggling to minister to the world around them, Yuan's book will be an important reference. I can definitely recommend reading it. No matter what your viewpoint is, Yuan clearly, and firmly backed by Scripture, explains how he came to his conclusions. I received this book free from the publisher but the opinions expressed are mine.
Just a few weeks ago, I received an advanced readers copy (ARC) of Christopher's newly released book "Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God's Grand Story." I began reading and found myself highlighting phrases and paragraphs on almost every page. Dr. Yuan unpacks so much related to sexuality. While he addresses LGBTQ+ identifiers, his book is not focused solely on these. Sexual sin, whether homosexual or heterosexual is sin. Yuan states... Dr. Yuan's solid emphasis on the gospel and identity as bestowed by God presents a firm foundation for the book. As an HIV+ man who had for years lived sexually promiscuous as a gay man, was a self-described partier and drug user, and eventually went to prison for dealing drugs, Yuan does not speak as one who views sin as superficial or overly-simplified. He writes and speaks as one who has been in the pit, experienced an undeserved rescue, and continues to live amazed at the grace and mercy offered from God. The main character in Dr. Yuan's story is not himself, but God. On a practical level, Dr. Yuan's latest book on holy sexuality should be read by any evangelical pastor seeking to minister well to those in the church or community desiring to better understand their LGBTQ+ friends and relatives without abandoning biblical fidelity. He addresses the reality of loving without affirming. For those who do not believe their friends or church families are impacted by this reality of culture, it is time to wake up. Many pastors would rather just not address these issues. Some who have done so end up doing more harm than good, that is certain. For pastors seeking to ignore the very real questions being asked by those self-identifying as gender fluid or any one of the many letters being expressed by the common LGBTQ+ identifier (or their loved ones) the fact is clear - you cannot remain silent. Your silence speaks loudly. Dr. Yuan's book is not only informational related to the biblical understanding of sexuality, but relatable, insightful, and practical. The included study guide provides real-life questions that can be addressed in small group studies. These all point to biblical answers and are firmly rooted in the gospel and a biblical worldview. Some have declared Yuan's perspective on anthropology or ontology to be flawed. I have read declarations that he misuses data and scientific proof. Others who identify as LGBTQ+ see Dr. Yuan as a sell-out or a betrayer. The negative reviews of his books mostly feign to be intellectual analyses, but often reveal a personal vitriol against Dr. Yuan based on his current message and lifestyle. I agree with Rosaria Butterfield who stated in her review that this book is the "most important humanly composed book about biblical sexuality and godly living for our times." I encourage every Christian with a loved one identifying as LGBTQ+ to read this book. I encourage every single adult Christian (heterosexual or same-sex attracted) to read this book to better understand the very real concept of holy singleness and holy sexuality. In addition to Dr. Yuan's clear and correct take on holy sexuality, his focus on the value and role of those whom God has called to singleness within the body of Christ is powerful and needed. He addresses head-on the idolatry that has overtaken some within the Christian church regarding the false elevation of marriage as essential for spiritual maturity.
Holy Sexuality and the Gospel by Christopher Yuan This book addresses what the Bible has to say about sexuality and the Bible. Christopher doesn’t bash the reader over the head with his Bible, but provides a reasoned, well-thought out and Scriptural approach to the subject of all sexuality. Not all readers will agree with his stance, because as Rosario Butterfield says in the forward, “. . . the gospel is on a collision course with the idol of sexual freedom.” However, what he has to say as a same-sex attracted person and a Christian is crucial for the church to hear and act upon. At the heart of his assertion is the fact that an individual’s identity is not found in his sexuality, but rather in Christ. As a Christ-follower, a person must live in a way that honors God and His word. He also calls for the church to minister to those who find themselves as singles because of choice or same-sex attraction. For readers who are aware of the conflict this subject raises and the proponents on the other side of the issue from Christopher, he addresses some specific arguments against his stance. Although he does so boldly, this book is laced with compassion, calling all readers regardless of same-sex attractedness or opposite-sex attractedness, to a holiness that represents the gospel well. This book was thought-provoking and required a careful reading, but was definitely worth the time it took to read. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for my honest review.
Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God's Grand Story "Holy sexuality: chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage." This definition is repeated multiple times throughout the book. "This term holy sexuality is meant to simplify and disentangle the complex and confusing conversation around sexuality. The truth is that God's standard for everyone is holy sexuality: chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage. Different expectations for different people are not only unfair; they're unbiblical." Christopher Yuan is a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction. He and his mother wrote a book together called "Out of a Far Country" which gives the story of his journey through the gay lifestyle and his conversion to Christianity, along with the journey of the mother who prayed for eight years for his salvation. Now Chris is back with a book about what the Bible has to say about sexuality. First off, Christopher helps the reader figure out their identity. In the case of same-sex attraction, the reason we often hear is this is who I am and I can't help it. Christopher helps us debunk that theory both for same-sex attraction and for every other issue we may face in life. "True identity is not what I do. Nor is it how I am. True identity is who I am." And we are made in the image of God and as such we represent God. Gender and sexuality is not our identity, it's what I am and what I do, but not who I am. And when we let "experience supersede essence - what I feel is who I am. In other words, psychology usurps biology. When anyone embraces this ideology, truth is no longer absolute. Truth becomes what I think and what I feel." Our first step must be to place our identity in Christ and recognize that we are made in His image and need a Savior. And then as Christians to, out of that knowledge, treat all humans with dignity and respect. Another thing he debunks is that sin is a result of our upbringing, he was speaking primarily of same-sex attraction because that is the gist of his book, but I think it could apply to many sins. If we say it was our upbringing that made us sin or made us struggle with sin, then we are not acknowledging the sin nature within us and we are basically saying that we don't need Jesus, we just need a better environment. I could go on and on quoting things from this book. It was so good and eye opening for me. I was made to recognize that sin is sin. Chris gave the example of a mother weeping brokenly for her son who had turned to the gay lifestyle and wondering why he couldn't be normal like his brother who had a steady girlfriend and a baby on the way. Chris' point was that both boys were in sin, why was one so much worse than the other. He also gives a really good chapter on desire and temptation, but I don't have the space to go into it right now. One thing I really appreciated about the book is how every topic went back to the Bible and was dissected and based on what the Bible had to say. Chris didn't sugar coat anything. While he struggles with same-sex attractions, he doesn't make any allowance for acting on it, just as he doesn't make any allowance for acting on your desires for an illegitimate relationship with the opposite gender. Towards the end of the book, he does give some pointers on relating to those friends and family who struggle with same-sex attractions. He gives some dos and don'ts for relating to them. I am not going to go into all of them, but to say that to listen w
One of the most challenging questions facing Christians today is how we should respond to the shift that is taking place in our society’s ideas about sexuality. Some are quick to condemn, while others preach acceptance. In Holy Sexuality and the Gospel, Christopher Yuan offers a better alternative. He presents a thorough biblical perspective on sexuality that challenges both sides. Yuan claims that tying our identity to our sexuality distorts our view of personhood. Our identity is not rooted in our desires, but in the fact that we are created in the image of God. This foundation enables us to evaluate our desires based upon God’s standard. Thus, he says, “We’re able to hate our sin without hating ourselves. Our sexuality is no longer who we are but how we are” (41). He then sums up the biblical standard by saying, “Holy sexuality consists of two paths: chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage. Chastity is more than simply abstention from extra-marital sex; it conveys purity and holiness. Faithfulness is more than merely maintaining chastity and avoiding illicit sex; it conveys covenantal commitment” (47). Yuan speaks with clarity and compassion to the gay community. He relates his own experience with same-sex attraction, but asserts, “My identity is not gay, ex-gay, or even straight. My true identity is in Jesus Christ alone” (3). He states, “I’m not saying the capacity to have same-sex attractions is actual sin. However, the concept of original and indwelling sin fits every description of a same-sex sexual orientation” (39). He explains that this view provides hope, because, “Whatever our condition upon coming into the world, we need a total transformation—the kind that our God and Creator has made possible only through faith in Christ” (41-42). He recognizes that salvation does not eliminate same-sex desires. To grow in holiness, believers must learn to resist temptation. He presents a biblical case for the goodness of singleness and the close relationships that should characterize the church. Yuan also challenges those who do not have same-sex desires, by saying, “Sentimentalizing marriage is not what God intended. Overromanticizing this holy union puts us at risk of idolizing it” (75). Since “Sex and marriage are not eternal fixtures in God’s grand story” (110), married believers must value the family ties we share in Christ. He says, “We aren’t living as true spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ, and as a result, many singles—particularly those with same-sex attractions—experience feelings of confinement and isolation” (130). He concludes by advising Christians, “The most important thing is not that we convince others that same-sex relationships are sinful. Rather, the most important thing is whether people will receive the gift of faith and follow Jesus” (170). I found Yuan’s book to be culturally relevant, biblically grounded, theologically articulate, and compassionately constructive. His discussion of sexuality is framed by a compelling vision of how Jesus wants his followers to relate to one another and to the world. I wholeheartedly recommend it. (I received an advanced copy of the book free in exchange for an unbiased review.)