Christopher Yuan on Living Holy in the Midst of Temptations
As I shared in my last blog, I deeply appreciate Christopher Yuan’s excellent new book Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story.
This blog will be followed by one centered on another amazing and powerful book, Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry. These two books work together to give a remarkable picture of the power of God’s redemptive grace, the clarity of His Word, and His calling to live in sexual purity. I would recommend that every Christ-follower read and take to heart both of them. They are not just for people who have same-sex desires, but for all who seek to understand LGBT issues.
In the last decade there has been increasing confusion among evangelical Christians on the subject of sexual identity. One example is God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships. This book, printed and sold by a Christian publisher, tries to persuade God’s people the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with Scripture and the Christian life.
I first became familiar with Christopher Yuan when he wrote a Christianity Today review of God and the Gay Christian. I found his insights to be profoundly biblical and personal. If you want to hear Vines’s arguments and Yuan’s counter-arguments, I highly recommend reading this book review: Why God and the Gay Christian is Wrong.
Christopher’s chapters in Holy Sexuality and the Gospel on singleness, and the church as spiritual family, are a wakeup call for local churches to rethink our unwitting assumption that marriage is God’s calling for everyone. Scripture emphatically tells us otherwise, and demonstrates it in the singleness of Jesus who was not only God, but also the most well-adjusted human being who ever lived.
In our culture, sexual confusion and immorality is as rampant among people who’ve never had a homosexual temptation as those who have. What’s wrong with us that in some Christian circles it’s considered healthier to say yes to heterosexual lust than to say no to homosexual temptation?
Christopher Yuan is that rare individual who has personally grappled with these issues in the crucible of life. Instead of reinventing theology or engaging in creative interpretation, he lives consistently with biblical beliefs even when it’s personally difficult or unpopular. In that respect, he is God’s gift to us, and I for one am profoundly grateful. (Here are Christopher’s parents, two of the dearest people I have ever met, with his book. Christopher wrote on Twitter, “Beyond grateful for my parents for their support. p.s. The last time they were this excited was when they became grandparents!”)
Here’s an excerpt from Holy Sexuality and the Gospel, where Christopher writes about holiness and temptation:
God exhorts us in the Old Testament, and again in the New, “Be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44–45; 1 Peter 1:16). Holiness is the goal, and sanctification is the process.
Unfortunately, many Christians have envisioned an incorrect goal and a faulty process for those of us with same-sex attractions. I’ve explained in this book how everyone’s goal in regard to sexuality should be holy sexuality—chastity in singleness or faithfulness in marriage.
For too many and for too long, holy sexuality has not been the goal, and singleness has been deprecated. Unmarried Christians are projects to be “fixed,” so we try to “fix” them up with someone. Think about it. Although there has been some progress in recognizing that the correct objective is “holy sexuality” not “heterosexuality,” many still embrace the wrong process by continuing to use “sexual orientation change” therapy as their main methodology.
I’m often asked, “Do you still have same-sex attractions?” Sometimes people ask it in a different way: “Have you been fully delivered?” Queries like these stem from a sincere desire to better understand me and my journey of coming to faith and of following Jesus on a daily basis. I love helping a fellow brother or sister better understand the topic of sexuality. Yet behind these questions is a misunderstanding of what the process of sanctification looks like.
After Paul’s listing of vices in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, which includes same-sex sexual behavior, he says this: “Such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Later, Paul makes a stark distinction between the believer’s pre-conversion and post-conversion realities: “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But if a Christian—who is a new creation—is still tempted with same-sex sexual desires, does this mean there has been no true transformation, no real healing, and no complete deliverance? Does conversion mean that same-sex attractions should be a thing of the past? Or more generally, is the Christian’s goal, while here on earth, the eradication of trials and temptations?
Let me offer an illustration. Beau was a drunk. But by God’s saving grace, he has become a Christian and stopped drinking. Yet even after years of sobriety, he admits that he still has urges to drink—but he doesn’t. Would we therefore question Beau’s transformation? Would we doubt that he’s been healed? Does Beau need further deliverance? Does Beau need the demon of alcoholism cast out of him? No! In fact, the manifestation of God’s grace is more evident in his life, because he says no to his flesh and says yes to Christ! It’s when we live holy—even in the midst of temptations—that God is glorified. In an earlier chapter, I discussed temptation’s reality. How temptations are not sinful per se, but can certainly lead to sin. Then, what does daily life look like for the ordinary Christian who is tempted? From the point of our conversion until at last we enter the presence of the Lord, what’s the process for our pursuit of holiness?
And in particular—because of this book’s focus on holy sexuality—what does it mean to be holy and to become holy for people like myself who may experience same-sex attractions? Let’s begin by further exploring the doctrine of sanctification, and by dispelling certain myths about it.
To learn the vital truths Christopher deals with next, get the book, read it cover to cover, and let it help you develop a true biblical theology of human sexuality. (It’s available from both Amazon and Christianbook.com.)