Trading homosexuality for holiness

November 4, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Christopher Yuan describes what it means to be a homosexual living a Christian lifestyle

News | Sarah Boadwine

christopher-yuan.jpg

Yuan, a Bethel seminary student sparked campus discusison by asserting that he had given up his sexuality to become celibate. | Photo for The Clarion by Kristine Schmidt

On Wed Oct. 16, Christopher Yuan enlightened campus with his eye-opening view of sexuality in relationship with Christianity. Yuan is a Christian who has taken a step toward holiness by giving up his sexuality to become celibate in the name of God.

Yuan is a current member of Bethel’s seminary and spends a large amount of his time traveling and telling his life story. His chapel speech left many faculty and students either pleased, upset or confused.

Yuan was brought to campus as part of a relationship program that is funded by grants and offered annually.

At the age of nine, Yuan, a non-Christian, viewed pornography and came to the realization of his same sex attractions. Yuan later left his family to move to Atlanta where he found himself worshipping the creation and not the creator through his addiction to money, fame, drugs and sex.

“In my world, I had become God,” Yuan said, describing the situation.

Yuan’s father gave him a Bible that he ended up throwing in the trash can. His parents cried out to God for him but nothing reached him until he was arrested for drug possession with a 10 years to life sentence.

While in prison Yuan found himself, an upper middle class male, in the presence of common criminals. In his mind he had become trash. Yuan found a New Testament in the garbage can and took it back to his jail cell where he began to consider Christianity.

“What we have in our Bibles is not just ink and paper, what we have in our bibles is the very breath of God,” Yuan said.

While in prison Yuan found himself in the nurse’s office where he was given the news that he was HIV positive. For him the days after that were dark, lonely and HIV status felt like a death sentence.

Yuan came into contact with a prison chaplain who knew of his sexual orientation and who proceeded to give him a book about Christian homosexuality. Yuan found this to be a distortion of God’s word and he couldn’t finish the book. Yuan looked to the Bible to find justification for homosexual relationships and was unsuccessful in finding it. At this point of his life he decided to put his identity in Jesus and not in homosexuality.

“The opposite of homosexuality is holiness,” stated Yuan.

Yuan’s prison sentence was shortened to three years and he went on to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago after leaving.

“Christopher is a person who has chosen to live a biblical lifestyle in terms of his sexuality as a single man who has experienced same sex attraction,” Vice President of Student Life Edee Shultze said.

Yuan's talk brought up the question in students and faculty at Bethel of whether his view of the opposite of homosexuality being holiness coincides with Bethel’s beliefs and whether people should give up their sexuality for God.

Bethel University’s Covenant for Life Together states, “We believe that sexual intercourse and other forms of intensely interpersonal sexual activity are reserved for monogamous, heterosexual marriage.”

Schulze stated that she believes the stance Yuan gave at chapel is a reflection of Bethel’s core beliefs and that he is a model of Bethel’s belief in sexual, intimate relationships being reserved for one man and one woman in a marriage relationship. Schulze also brings up the fact that sexuality does not just mean sexual activity.

“Sexuality is not just sexual activity, there is a lot more to that. It’s how somebody presents themselves or surrounds themselves with aesthetic things,” Schulze stated.

Schulze believes that Yuan’s stance helped to challenge students by the concepts of holiness and celibacy, and hopefully inspired and empowered students to make holy choices--other Bethel community members had different beliefs.

One student refused to comment because of a worry of having a different view than the majority of people on campus, and other professors said that they too had no strong stance on what was said.

Jim Beilby, professor of biblical and theological studies, responded to Yuan’s stance with some questioning. Beilby stated that he isn’t absolutely sure what Yuan meant by his stance that he “traded in his sexuality for holiness."

“My gut response is that holiness should be a given - or, rather, it should be a given that we strive for holiness," Beilby said. "And anything that gets in the way of that pursuit, whether it is a job or a hobby or a relationship or a self-understanding or a sexual orientation, needs to go. Maybe that was his point in the first place."

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