Exploring a Theology of Sexuality: In Light of God’s Revealed Truth, by Christopher Yuan
FEBRUARY 23, 2019
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 Holy Sexuality and the Gospel 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?
Listen to Christopher Yuan’s interview with Steve Brown and the gang here.
Christopher Yuan, DMin, has taught at Moody Bible Institute for more than ten years, and his speaking ministry on faith and sexuality has reached five continents. He speaks at conferences, on college campuses, and in churches. His latest book is Holy Sexuality and the Gospel, from which the above excerpt was taken. Visit him at christopheryuan.com.
Copyright © 2018 by Christopher Yuan. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.