I’ve been researching a rising star in the Evangelical ex-gay sexual ethics speaking circuit, Christopher Yuan. Yuan has what seems to be a strong testimony of coming out of a homosexual lifestyle and being saved by Christ.
To summarize Yuan’s testimony, he says that he began to realize he had romantic attractions toward other men when he looked at pornography at a friend’s house during his early teen years. During his time at home and even through military service, Yuan hid his sexual desires from his family out of fear that his mother and father would reject him. But he later fully came out to them.
Both of his parents at some point came to know Christ and then began to pursue their son to also come to Christ. Yet, he continued in rebellion and embraced an open life of homosexual promiscuity, drug addiction, and drug trafficking, and ultimately ended up in jail where he found out he was HIV positive.
During his stay in prison, he says he found a Gideon bible in the trash can where he began to read it and began to realize through God’s word that God was pursuing him. Ultimately he was saved and gave up the promiscuous lifestyle and drug addictions.
Yuan then graduated with a doctorate of ministry from Moody Bible Institute, taught at the school for twelve years, and now is in full-time ministry with his mom.
And this is where it starts getting a little weird. Yuan has been traveling around from church to church with his parents where they all co-preach together giving a testimony, often with graphic details which include images of him dressed in homosexual attire and images of him using drugs.
First, the good.
Yuan’s conversion testimony appears to be solid and genuine. Without further evidence, there is no reason to question his salvation.
Further, Yuan says quite a few correct things when speaking about issues of sexuality. Yuan denies that those Christians who struggle with homosexual desires should claim the identity of a “gay.” This is different from what others in this movement claim. For example, Sam Allberry, the founder of the gay Christian movement, Living out, is a gay priest who proudly boasts his sexual identity.
“I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life,” Allberry describes himself according to an article at CBN. “By that I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep-emotional attractions to people of the same sex.”
Yuan also says he rejects the Revoice movement, a movement quite similar to Living Out. In 2018, he said about Revoice:
In that, he is absolutely correct. Here, he appears to accept a far more biblical understanding of sexuality than many of his counterparts and colleagues, like Sam Allberry.
Now the Bad.
I saw red flags everywhere when I saw his heavy association with The Gospel Coalition, when I saw him featured on Living Out’s website, and when I saw some of the endorsements he’s received.
One of the biggest problems in the Evangelical Church today is the incessant need to platform people who have an affinity with a particular sin to speak as authoritative voices against that sin. Even though Yuan says he is against identity politics, he is partaking in identity politics when he joins the elite speaking circuit of former practicing homosexuals as the authoritative voices on biblical sexual ethics. The idea that those who’ve “experienced” something are better able to speak authoritatively on something stems from the Marxist notion of standpoint epistemology. More on that later.
First, I want to show similar Yuan’s theology actually is to Revoice even though he says he rejects the Revoice movement and their theology. Below is an excerpt from Revoice on human sexuality:
Notice how Revoice abandons biblical theology altogether and embraces the world’s ideology on sexuality. Here, Revoice denies that heterosexuality is normative as God’s design for mankind—the denial of God’s created order. For Revoice, same-sex attraction is merely a neutral condition, an ailment, that one must remain with and it is not necessary to pursue change in order to live a holy life in accordance with God’s will.
Now, notice in the video below how similar Yuan is to this idea:
Also, notice the way he frames his point. He frames it in a way that makes it sound good, righteous, and noble, and difficult to refute, but when actually scrutinized, it is completely nonsensical. First, he starts off with the claim that he believed that the more sexually attracted he became to women, the more of a Christian he would become. He then uses this in a logically fallacious attempt to discredit heterosexuality altogether and separate it from biblical holiness.
This word salad is confusing. You can’t just claim you’re not homosexual or heterosexual because you’re “holy.” And think about this nonsensical statement: “the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, it’s holiness.” That’s a confusing statement and begs the question: is the opposite of heterosexuality also holiness?
This type of obfuscation is especially confusing to young people who may be struggling with this sin. Yuan’s words here are straight out of the Revoice playbook and his words are meant to be confusing and obfuscating, even if he didn’t personally mean them to be.
This is basically Queer Theory mixed with Christian theology. In the same way that Critical Race Theory has been introduced into the Church to mix with Christian theology to create the woke church movement, what Yuan is preaching here has been heavily influenced by Queer Theory, also known as Queer Marxism.
The idea that being created in God’s image doesn’t include our sexuality is contrary to Scripture. God created men to be attracted to women and women to be attracted to men and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. This notion that we can consign ourselves to a life of “celibacy” for no other reason than that we have disordered sexual desires is antithetical to Scripture, it is a modern invention of the Hegelian “woke church” movement. It’s a small, almost unnoticeable step toward “inclusivity.” It’s one that sounds acceptable on the surface and that most Christians can accept. It sounds like a noble and righteous cause, but the word “celibacy” is found nowhere in Scripture and objectively speaking, it was invented by Roman Catholics for the priesthood.
Further, the idea that we were naturally “born this way” and therefore, God doesn’t require us to change is also unbiblical. It is true that we are born with a sin nature, but that’s not what this is. Disordered sexual desires are what Paul describes as “contrary to nature,” meaning unnatural. So then if disordered sexual desires are unnatural, then we have to conclude that God’s design for human sexuality is natural.
What Yuan is teaching in this clip is unbiblical and if he says this to people who very well may be struggling with this sin, there is the real possibility that he’s going to lead them to believe that repentance of their disordered, unnatural sexual desires is not necessary and that they can pursue a life of celibacy while still daily struggling with these desires for romance, intimacy, and sex. The apostle Paul describes this as “burning with passion.”
In fact, one of the main complaints I hear when listening to people caught up in the “celibate/single” Christian movement is that they still struggle with desires for close, intimate relationships. This is why movements like Revoice and Sam Allberry’s Living Out have advanced the idea that single/celibate men can develop close, intimate relationships with each other that actually mimic marriages so long as they fall short of bodily penetration.
I’m not saying that’s what Yuan advocates. In fact, he’s clearly advocated against that type of same-sex intimacy. However, his confusing discourse on what God desires for mankind leads people to believe that Paul’s solution for “burning with passion” isn’t necessarily the best solution.
So clearly, these people, even though they are making an attempt to live a godly life in spite of their sin struggle, they have the wrong idea about it. Paul says for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). Yuan offers an alternative solution—heterosexuality is not the goal.
But see, here’s where the obfuscation lies. We can technically agree with Yuan that “heterosexuality is not the goal” and that a life surrendered to Christ is. But the way that Yuan framed it is as though the two are separable. They are not. This is not to say that one is going to instantly have heterosexual attractions upon salvation. But to deny that heterosexuality, God’s design for His creation, isn’t part of sanctification, a work of the Holy Spirit, is a denial of the gospel itself.
Would we make the same conclusions about other sins? Some people are naturally angry and have a disposition of hatred toward others. Would we deny that loving our neighbor is a work of the Holy Spirit in the sanctified life of the believer? Would we not pursue that goal? Would we not pursue the goal of ending an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Would we not pursue the goal of treating and ending our anxiety, depression, or other mental illness? Why would we not pursue the goodness of heterosexuality if God said it is good?
In reality, it appears that Yuan does make this same conclusion about other sins. In fact, he makes this same conclusion about pedophilia by stating that people can be given over to pedophilic lusts and still be right with God so long as they don’t “act on them.”
This whole teaching falls under the Marxian idea of tearing down structures. One of the “structures” that Marxism desires to tear down is the family unit. This entire teaching comes from a man named Mark Yarhouse.
Who is Mark Yarhouse?
According to several bios compiled, Yarhouse is the author of several books, including Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Modern Psychopathologies, Understanding Sexual Identity, Sexuality and Sex Therapy, and Homosexuality and the Christian. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Psychology and Theology and Christian Counseling Today and has served as an ad hoc reviewer with the Journal of Homosexuality.
Mark Yarhouse was a featured speaker at Revoice’s 2019 conference. In 2010, Yarhouse drafted a whitepaper for the Christ on Campus Initiative for D. A. Carson for The Gospel Coalition. Yarhouse is the “behind-the-scenes” authority on sexual ethics in Evangelicalism and his teachings are influential in nearly every organization within the professing Church.
Yarhouse is the progenitor of the Christian eunuch “singleness/celibacy” movement. You can find more about Yarhouse’s influence on this movement in this podcast at Biola. The description of this podcast reads:
Gay men and women who desire to be faithful to Scripture and thus choose a life of celibacy have chosen a difficult path and have much to teach the church. Psychologist Mark Yarhouse led a study of these men and women and some fascinating conclusions emerged from this study.
Through The Gospel Coalition and other Evangelical outlets, it is clear that Yuan’s teaching, like everyone else’s, has been heavily influenced by the teachings of Mark Yarhouse.
Back to tearing down the family unit, this whole teaching on celibacy falls under the Marxian idea of tearing down structures. One of the “structures” that Marxism desires to tear down is the family unit. In the chart below, we can see the drastic decline in the marriage rate over the last several decades, and increasingly so in recent years.
It just so happens that as “singleness” has been elevated to equal grounds with marriage in our churches over the last few years as churches have adopted the woke church movement, marriage rates have fallen. Prior to this, churches did not teach that perpetual, lifelong singleness was just as good as marriage. Prior to the influx of this new wokeness teaching, churches taught that God desired people to pursue marriage, be fruitful, and multiply. Now, churches teach that it is just as much God’s will for people to remain single forever.
We, as the Church, are partaking in systematically tearing down the “structure” of the family unit.
Take a look at this case study. In 2019, a kid named Grant Hartley was a Campus Crusade leader who worked with Rachel Gilson (a TGC contributor who subsequently works with Yuan.) He posted the following tweet. Notice how similar it is to what Yuan is preaching in the video above. That God doesn’t call us to be heterosexual.
Since this tweet in 2019, he left Evangelicalism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. This is what he tweets three years later:
Back to the “burning with passion” mentioned above, Paul says it’s best for those, like Grant, who are clearly burning with passion, to pursue marriage as an outlet for that. But he was taught to remain single, celibate, and that “heterosexuality isn’t the goal.” This is the fruit of Yuan’s teaching. It’s the logical next step.
Yuan also teaches that “gender” is independent of biological sex.
In an article at John Piper’s Desiring God, Yuan writes about transgenderism, “The modern notion of ‘gender,’ on the other hand, is a quite recent invention and is more difficult to examine. Unlike sex, gender is a category that exists objectively only in the realm of linguistics. It doesn’t point to anything tangible.”
Even though he says that the “subjective” notion of gender *should* be grounded in the “objective” truth of biological sex, the idea that he believes the two are separable to begin with, even on a psychological level, demonstrates a lack of understanding of the biblical doctrine of depravity.
No person actually believes that they are the opposite sex of what their biology says they are. Their sex and gender are not separable and this has been CLEARLY REVEALED to them according to Romans 1:20 “in the things that have been made” (them, their sex organs, etc.)
The fact that one is willing to go so far into rebellion against God as to deny their own sex/gender simply demonstrates how depraved one’s mind is. It is not an ailment, a sickness, or a disease. It is a suppression of the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
While Yuan may have great intentions, his qualification to teach on this subject should be questioned. His testimony is strong and appears to be genuine. He says a lot of good things about sexuality and there is likely more that we can agree with him on than disagree. However, pastors, teachers, and churches should use extreme caution when platforming anyone from The Gospel Coalition who has been influenced by the sexual ethics teachings of Mark Yarhouse.