Bob: This is FamilyLife today for Monday, April 1stst, Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. Is your thinking about human sexuality more influenced by what you read in the Bible or what you read online? We’ll talk to Christopher Yuan about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife today, Thank you for joining us. You have been working in the local community for almost three decades; And I guess in the past decade you’ve seen the issue we’re going to talk about turned upside down where people are confused about their own emotions / feelings. and they are confused about how to show grace, kindness and compassion, and how to show the truth to people dealing with gender issues.
Dave: When we started in 1990, I don’t remember a single conversation on the subject. I really don’t know – not that it wasn’t important – it just wasn’t at the forefront of people’s minds as it is today. I can’t drive a week now – in the past eight, nine, ten years –
Dave: – without discussions about it – good / really necessary discussions; But the people who come to our church on weekends want to know: “How do you feel about homosexuality? What is your attitude “
Bob: What are women and mothers – how is the conversation with them?
Ann: I was just going to say, in the past five years, I can’t even tell you how many mothers are coming to me, desperate. Children come to their parents – especially their mothers – and say, “Help me. I don’t know what to do and that’s me. ” mothers come to me and say, “Help us,
Ann: “What do we say as a church? How do we help our children? “
Bob: We have a book here. Let me just read what Rosaria Butterfield said about this book – and Rosaria was a guest with FamilyLife today– She said: “You are holding the most important humanly composed book on biblical sexuality and divine life for our time in your hands.”
Bob: We have the guy who wrote the book with us today. He is back – Christopher Yuan – welcome back to FamilyLife today,
Christopher: Oh thank you Bob for getting me back.
Bob: What a kind what to say about this book for them.
Christopher: I could not believe it. I am humble and she is one incredible Friend. I call her my “big sister”. She calls my mom and dad “mom and dad”; So we are really brothers and sisters in Christ.
Bob: This is your second book.
Bob: Your first book is a treatise; and the last time you were here we unpacked your story – your mother was with us. In fact, I would just say to our listeners, “If you haven’t heard Christopher’s story yet, visit FamilyLifeToday.com and listen to the podcast of your story.” It’s a remarkable story that took you from the dental school to the drug trade –
Bob: -into jail-
Bob: – and same-sex attraction. They lived in the gay lifestyle. You started reading the Bible in prison. God has your life under control. You come out of prison. It was funny – you said “I was released from prison” and you “ended up as a student at the Moody Bible Institute”.
Bob: Everyone complained about the rules; and you went, “Hey, the rules are great!” [Laughter]
Christopher: “What rules ?!” [Laughter]
Bob: “I can leave my room if I want to.”
Christopher: Anytime – that’s right. that’s right.
Bob: This book, Holy sexuality and the gospel, moves away from memoirs and looks at: “Let’s take a look at what the Bible says on the subject.” A lot of prayer / a lot of blood, sweat and tears flowed into the writing of this book.
Christopher: Yes; Yes, essentially. My first book, which I think is really unique and written by a mother and a lost child, doesn’t have many stories that help mothers see “that’s what my child thinks”. But I introduced this concept towards the end of my book – that I only used this expression: “sacred sexuality”. I was just introducing this concept so my first book came out in 2011.
I have since knew I had to work out this concept. It took all the time to do that. Basically, my book is a theology of sexuality – so as not to deter people with theology – because we think, “I’m not a theologian.” But it’s actually not true; We are all theologians. If we are Christians / if we have knowledge of God – essentially theology is knowledge of God – then we are theologians. That was my hope with this new book.
Dave: I add this – as I read it – yes; it’s full of theology / it’s very theologically grounded – but it’s very practical. Read it because it’s not just theology – it’s that Foundation, endowment you have to have. I want to make sure that you define sacred sexuality. but then, “How do you live it?”
Christopher: I had this amazing theology professor in my first year at Moody; and he told us: “Bad theology leads to apathy. Good theology forces You in action. “So I want to teach people a good theology – that you can no longer sit on your seat / that you can no longer sit on your back – you have to go and to do the work of God.
Sacred sexuality is essentially this: there are two ways – either chastity in loneliness or fidelity in marriage. That exactly and completely tells us how we do all should live.
Bob: Now when you say “chastity in singleness”, it doesn’t just include our behavior –
Christopher: That’s right.
Bob: – but that includes how we approach our thought life. It’s bigger than just – “What are your actions?”; right?
Christopher: That’s right. I explain it in more detail and fill out these words a little. But why did I use chastity? Why did I use singleness? Why loyalty? Why marry Chastity is more than just abstinence. Abstention just doesn’t do anything. God doesn’t call us “No”. That’s why I like chastity – chastity is about purity, holiness, wholeness and loyalty. That’s why I like this word, chastity, much more than just doing nothing.
Singleness is the state of being unmarried – not necessarily a calling or a calling or whatever – which may be some – but I serve many people who are unmarried and say, “I didn’t choose that.” That’s why I chose “Singleness”. Loyalty – I am open to marriage; When God gives me a woman to marry, I don’t just want to be you, you know, “You’re the only woman I’ll be sexually intimate with. You’re the only woman I go …” – No; it will mean much more than that; right?
As a single man, I don’t have that experience. but I know I want to commit to it. It is faithful to her – not just physically – emotionally, relationally, spiritually – I am committed to her. That is why I chose this word, loyalty, as opposed to other words.
Bob: We often talk about keeping your marriage vows is not just about staying married because you have praised more. When you speak of loyalty, you say, “Sexual intimacy is not just exclusivity. It’s about More as the.”
Christopher: That’s right.
Christopher: That’s right.
Bob: Let me jump back into loneliness; because we have people who ask, “What should my sexuality be like?”
Ann: Right; I am-
Bob: – “In the season when I’m single?”
Ann: – I listen to these words and: “This is a high bar.”
Christopher: Yes; right.
Ann: You set standards in today’s culture. So how does that look?
Christopher: Yes; Well, I mean, I think we have to realize first that we have to be different from the world. because the world really says, “Your sexuality should please you and define you.” I look at God’s Word and it’s like, “No! Christ should please me. Christ should define me ”- that’s the big difference.
I don’t want to sound banal or just make it sound like I’m oversimplifying it – it’s not! I mean how we live shouldn’t just be a “no”. It has to be a lot more that God really forces us to do to, We need to recognize that God has given us affection, and that affection for relationship is Really, However, I am not saying that our desire to have non-sexual, non-romantic desires is part of our sexuality. I do not believe that. because if we went that way it would make everyone at this table gay, or bi- or whatever; right?
So instead of just saying, “How do we deal with our sexuality?” I think, “How do we deal with our desires for intimacy?” This intimacy could be physical; this intimacy could be relational, etc.; and TheThen for me it points out the real family that is the Church.
What I was missing in many previous books on homosexuality was the absence of the local church. You talk about “we have to do this”, “we have to do this” – and good things – or even about the biblical texts and ethics – you know, “is it right?” Or “is it wrong?” ? ”- how clearly does Scripture say that same-sex relationships exist Not God’s will.
Then there was this missing piece of the church because e.g. me, the church was a key Part of my growth, my healing and my freedom. Without that there is none because – yes; Union with Christ – that’s all – but then we focus so much on the person of Jesus Christ that we forget the body of Christ. You cannot love Christ without loving the body of Christ.
Bob: And when you say that the Church is vital here, don’t say, “You really have to make sure that you, you know, attend a few services –
Bob: – “In a month”. You speak of an active engagement with the biblical community.
Christopher: Yes; and discipleship. That is how I ended my book – discipleship. Everyone on duty – they speak of discipleship; But when I look at how discipleship is done, I don’t see it as the Bible tells us. Discipleship is not a support group – not to mention that support groups are not helpful. I think they are – but self-help groups are not meant to replace discipleship.
The context in which discipleship is to take place is the body of Christ, which means having the main office / meaning that someone is speaking into your life. Like me and my best friend – this is not a discipleship – this is friendship. You know that can be accountable – but God has made the body of Christ available to us with shepherds and leaders who are supposed to be our spiritual shepherds to guide us. Unfortunately, I see this as a missing link / almost an afterthought in what – sometimes in this conversation. So I want to let that flow back into the conversation.
Dave: Still, I think that so many people – as a pastor, I always think of the person who doesn’t come to my church or another church – the unmarried / unmarried man – you name it – out there who is my perspective would be – and so I thought before I could ever become part of a Christ-centered community church – I thought: “Die last Place I want to go to think about my sexuality –
Dave: – “is church.
Dave: “I know what you think.
Dave: “I know their theology” – whether I know it or not, I thought I knew it – and I know how people are there. “So, whatever you’re saying, I think,” Well, the average guy says, “I’m not going There, “
Dave: Because if you say the word “sacred sexuality” I know what it means – if I’m a man without a church – “it means no sex.”ever,
Christopher: Right; Yes.
Dave: “And these Christians never have sex. If so, only for reproduction. “
Christopher: “Sex is bad.”
Dave: Right; I agree. You already talked about it – it has to be more than a “no”. So talk to this guy who says, “Why would I want to know –
Ann: – and a woman.
Dave: – “Church” – yes; Unchurched person who has a way of thinking like so many people, who listens to the culture and thinks: “That is my identity. Why should I go somewhere where the sacred unites what God means?
Dave: – “and sexuality together? How can that be good? “
Christopher: So I want us to do the first to the first. So if I had a man with whom I speak – who doesn’t know Christ and who struggles with his sexuality – whether it’s heterosexual promiscuity or same-sex relationships or whatever – you know these things don’t come from God blessed – especially if it is heterosexual promiscuity or maybe he is even only committed to his girlfriend; but they are not married – so these are not things that are blessed by God.
If I know that they are not Christians, I will not really deal with sexuality. You could come up to me and have the following questions: “Well, what do you think about sex before marriage? What do you think about same-sex marriages? “I will say:” Let ‘s put that in the background and concentrate on the first one. And that means: “Is there a god at all?” – because frankly, why does it matter what God thinks if you don’t even believe in God? right? [Laughter]
Christopher: “So, let’s go first.” So I think as a Christian sometimes we Lose our responsibility to preach and share the gospel. We put it in the hands of the Church and the pastor, like, “I want my neighbor to know Christ. So I invited him to church. “Good, great, but have she invited him to your home and shared the gospel? “- or at least – I’m not saying that you just have to hit people over the head; I mean-
Bob: – Tell them your story.
Christopher: Yes; right. I mean like Rosaria Butterfield –
Christopher: – Pastor Smith – he knew How stubborn she was and I say that because I know her really well.
Christopher: And it just had to be softened. You must live the gospel before preaching the gospel.
Christopher: So I think we have to do the first one first – it’s faith in Christ. As Rosaria says so well, “I was not saved from homosexuality. I was saved from unbelief. “
With a person who doesn’t know Christ, I just live the gospel – invite him into my life and wait for these divine moments to be able to share the gospel. Then when God begins to work in that person’s life and the Holy Spirit dwells and changes in that person, we can address these other problems. because they have – their minds have moved from a dark understanding to be enlightened in Christ.
Bob: I’ve shared this story before, but it had such a profound impact on me when I first heard it. Tim Keller, who has been pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York for years – in his early years he said whenever he finished preaching – he said, “Amen,” and all these New Yorkers would flood and say: “I have a question to you.”
He said, “One Sunday a woman answers – and there is a lot around me – and she says,” I have a question for you. “She says,” I’ve been coming here for three or four weeks. I think I might want to join the Church. “She said,” I am a lesbian. Do I have to give up my lesbian relationship to be a member of the Church here? “Here he is – before the firing squad; right? – with this question. Everyone turns to look at the pastor in New York and say, “How are you going to answer him?”
It was great – he said, “I think you are asking the wrong question.” She said, “What do you mean by that?” He said, “Well, I think you have to ask the question,” Who do you think? Jesus is; and do you think he is who we said he is and we think he is? “If you NotThen it makes no sense to join the church. If you do this, it will affect each Area of your life – not just your sexuality –each Area of your life; But if he is who we say he is, you have no choice but to surrender. “
Christopher: That’s right.
Bob: I thought, “Boy, you’re talking about dropping a bomb.
Bob: But he did the same thing you’re talking about: someone comes in and says, “I want to know something about this question” or “… this question”. and you say, “Let’s just pull back and say,” What do you think about God? Who do you believe in is Jesus? What do you think it’s about? “
Christopher: Yes; I mean, Jesus’ words are needed: “If someone comes after me …” I mean, we are all.
Christopher: – these are not just some.
Bob: “Everyone” means in Greek someone; right?
Christopher: Someone; right. [Laughter] It means not only pastors, only missionaries, only church leaders – “… everyone would come after me” – he / she – “must” – this is “must” –
Christopher: -Not sort of / not could be– “Got to Deny yourself, take his cross and follow me. “Even the” … wear [your] Cross, ”Luke adds“ daily ”.
I think we got it wrong. We think carrying our cross means “carrying this burden”: “Okay; My boss – he is simple / he is an unbeliever – and he is just so hard on me. I’m just – I just have to carry my cross and I just have to grind and endure it. “
The cross is probably most of it horrible Form of death Anyone could ever know –The is what we’re supposed to wear – that’s the symbol of it, so we have to die. I don’t know how else to fix it, but it’s just about death for myself so that Christ can live in us. That is – for me it is one gloriously Thing; because I know what I am capable of and I want Christ to live in me.
Ann: So let’s say we come to some practical things. Let’s say I have my son or daughter or friend or colleague come to me and say, “I have a same-sex attraction” or “I live a lifestyle that the Church would not accept.” “What’s the best answer? – You know, because everyone is like,” I don’t want to say the wrong thing, “” I don’t want to … “If you think about it – if someone carries this cross –
Ann: – They have these desires and don’t know what to do, but they want to follow Jesus. Are you saying that the best we can do is love them – love them towards Christ?
Christopher: Good so okay; First – yes, it’s love. However, I somehow start in my book by tweaking this statement a little. because the world says “love is love is love”; right? – you know – “We just have to love –
Ann: – “and accept.”
Christopher: – “the gay community. The Christians – what you do is you Not loving.”
My point is actually that I don’t find a problem where we have to be more loving. I think we need to know what this love is based on. All love rests on truth, If you have that not correct In truth, you will have the wrong love. If you have that right In truth, you will be in the right shape. If you have God’s truth, you will be able to love as God loves.
So if you have a loved one who comes to you and entrusts / opens up to you, I suggest that you thank him first – “thank you” – and say: “you know what? I know how difficult it was for you to open up to me. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for opening up to me. Tell me more. “One thing you don’t want to do as a parent is to say” thank you “and they say” I love you “at that moment with” but … “
Christopher: The reason – and I’m not saying that you no longer believe that. I’m just saying, for this moment, just listen. Keep this “… but …” for later. Because if you say “… but …” at that moment, you have only deleted what you just said.
Bob: That’s right.
Christopher: You should have more conversations afterwards. because then you can talk about it – and frankly I can almost guarantee that if you live for Christ, if you are in God’s Word and if you grow in Christ – you know what you believe in. However, you wonder whether you will accept them or not.
Bob: Yes; We’ll talk more about these types of interactions as we continue our conversation this week. You deal with it in the book, Holy sexuality and the gospel, I just keep coming back to what we talked about today – pretty simple – chastity in singleness; Fidelity in marriage. Today we live in a culture that only says: “This is crazy. You don’t think or act like that.”
Dave: I would add: “It’s easy; it is not easy.”
Dave: It is really simple and very profound how to live it out. I like the clarity of simplicity, but – and I’m looking forward to talking more about it: “Okay, what does it look like to live?” Because it’s not easy.
Dave: That doesn’t mean it’s bad. That means it is worth trying, because it is a high bar for which it is worth living.
Bob: Now, if you have a book here that is returning to Rosaria Butterfield, the most important humanly composed book on biblical sexuality and godly life for our time, copy of and spend some time reading.
Dave: I mean that – she said it was just right with the Bible.
Christopher: Well, I don’t know.
Dave: It’s like, “Wow!”
Bob: Yes / Yes; It is quite significant and a great book. although I wouldn’t say it on a biblical level. We have copies of Christopher’s book, Holy sexuality and the gospel, It is in our FamilyLife today Resource Center. You can order it online at FamilyLifeToday.com. or order by phone at 1-800-FL-TODAY. So again, the title of the book, Sacred sexuality and the gospel: sex, desire and relationships that are shaped by God’s great history by today’s guest Christopher Yuan. At FamilyLifeToday.com you can order your copy online or call 1-800-358-6329 – that’s 1-800- “F” as in the family, “L” as in life and then the word, “TODAY.”
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Well, Christopher Yuan gave us a lot to think about in today’s program. and the President of FamilyLife is here with some thoughts about what we were talking about today. David-
David: Yes; You know, when I listen to Christopher’s story today, I am reminded that obedience will have an impact. There is no devotion and no obedience without Implications.
When I discipline men and see how God works in their lives and draws them to more – but the cost of surrender and what God invites them to do is hesitant – I often use a simple principle, which I call the principle of attachment / Solving. I’m going to tell them, “Look, let’s invest some time in bonding with Christ and thinking about His worth and everything about who He is. And let’s not focus on the detachment that He could invite you to . “
The reality is: He will probably invite you to give up some things and there will be consequences of obedience. but as you see its value, obedience becomes a joy.
David: Obedience becomes a decision you make because the Spirit of God moves within you and gives you the strength to follow His instructions, as Ezekiel 36 says. Think of a way or two of how you can help yourself or your family recognize the value of Jesus and focus on binding with Him this week.
Bob: It’s good. Thanks, David.
I hope that our listeners can visit us again tomorrow. We’ll hear from Christopher again. We will talk about how important it is for us to understand our identity as children of God when dealing with all kinds of temptations, including sexual temptations. I hope you can be with us again tomorrow.
I would like to thank our engineer Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team today. On behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson, I am Bob Lepine. See you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife today,
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