Our intentions may be good, but they may not always come out in the best way.
Sharing what it’s like to receive well-meaning advice from Christians, Dr Christopher Yuan recommends better ways to share the Good News with people who are attracted to the same sex.
A renowned speaker on faith and sexuality, he has authored two books based on his theological expertise as well as his personal experience: Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God and Holy Sexuality And The Gospel.
Dr Yuan suggests that there are three things to keep in mind as we engage with our non-believing friends and loved ones in truth and grace.
If you’re looking for ways on how you can speak to a brother or sister in Christ who is struggling with same-sex attractions, read “Conversations in the Church on same-sex attraction: How can we do better?”.
REALISE THAT WE ALL SIN
“Before we point a finger at anyone, we need to be convicted about our own sin and make sure we have the right attitude,” he emphasised.
Recounting his impressions of Christianity before he came to know the Lord, Dr Yuan said he felt like the message he got as a non-Christian pursuing same-sex relationships with men was that this was the worst sin that anyone could commit.
We all must struggle and resist sin.
Highlighting examples of sin in the Bible that God is not pleased with, he cited Leviticus 18:22 and Proverbs 6:16, where both homosexual acts and pride were similarly listed.
All sin grieves God, so let’s begin with humility and be convicted that we, too, are sinful.
From his personal experience, Dr Yuan knows that there are many who wrestle with their sexuality in secrecy. And because of this isolation, some even battle with depression and thoughts of suicide.
The reality that some people are struggling alone should move us, he said.
“We all must struggle and resist sin, so don’t be surprised. Your struggle might look like one thing and for another person it may look like another,” added Dr Yuan.
“But at the end of the day, we’re united because of our need for Jesus.”
He advised that if we suspect that a close friend is same-sex attracted and not giving in to sin, we don’t need to feel like we have to ask them about it.
“Instead, give them the assurance of your friendship. Tell them, ‘I thank God for you and nothing can change our friendship’.
“When you say that, you’ve just created a safe space and invited them into it. They will then feel more confident that they can share this burden with you.”
Dr Yuan also shared examples of what might be unhelpful words as we engage with those who are not walking with the Lord.
- “lifestyle”, “choice”
For those who believe sexuality is who they are, this doesn’t make sense because of how intertwined sexuality has become with identity, he explained.
- “love the sinner, hate the sin”
This actually has the opposite effect of making someone feel loved. You don’t have to say it – just love the person, urged Dr Yuan.
DON’T LEAVE OUT THE WHOLE TRUTH
It’s important to tell people the truth because the truth can set a person free. But it’s also important to remember that an incomplete truth can be as harmful as a lie.
“Our message has to be redemptive,” he said.
If we only say homosexuality is a sin, that’s bad news. So what’s the complete truth?
“My biggest sin was not being in same-sex relationships, but unbelief.”
Referring to 1 Corinthians 6 which Christians usually quote when discussing this topic, Dr Yuan pointed out that many miss out the later part of that passage.
“Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV)
“That’s not just good news,” Dr Yuan exclaimed. “That’s amazing news!”
“My biggest sin was not being in same-sex relationships, but unbelief,” he said, referring to how he only came to know Jesus later on.
Dr Yuan also addressed the problem of attributing homosexual behaviour primarily to the result of childhood trauma like having an absentee father or a dominant mother.
“What’s the root cause of sin?” he prodded. “Our sinful nature.”
“If we make our past the root cause, then we are listening more to Sigmund Freud than to God… But our sinful nature is the main problem, and you know what’s the answer? Jesus.”
Finally, Dr Yuan reminded that there’s no need to debate with people all the time.
Leaving the audience the same challenge, he concluded: “My prayer for us is that we would live our lives in a way so that it’s unmistakable that not only is following Jesus better, but also following Jesus is best.”
- What sins have you struggled with and repented of?
- When engaging with your non-believing friends and loved ones on issues of sexuality, are you moved with love and compassion, or are you driven by other emotions and motivations?
- How can you live your life in a way so that it’s unmistakable that not only is following Jesus better, but also following Jesus is best?