Revive Our Hearts Radio

Holy Sexuality

Leslie Basham: After Christopher Yuan came to know Christ, it deeply affected his life.

Christopher Yuan: For so long, I saw myself solely as being a gay man. That was such a big part of who I was. I went to a gay club, I went to a gay gym, I went to a gay grocery story . . . everything. All my friends were gay.

And as I was reading Scripture, I realized I had put my identity in the wrong thing . . . that my identity is not gay, it’s not homosexual, it’s not even heterosexual, for that matter. But my identity as a child of God must be in Jesus Christ alone.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, September 4, 2015.

If you’re with young children, you’ll need to know that today’s program deals with mature subjects. Here’s what we’ve heard from Angela Yuan and her son, Christopher, over the last few days.

Christopher: My mom had given me an ultimatum. She said, “You must either choose the family or choose homosexuality.”

Angela Yuan: Before, I just didn’t think I could ever love him, because he said he was a homosexual. But during that train ride, I thought, I should love my son, even though he says he is gay.

Christopher: When my mother showed up at the dental school in Louisville, it was like, “What are you doing back in my life?” It was not what I wanted, not what I expected. But she came and said, “I love you.”

. . . I was experimenting with drugs, but I didn’t have a lot of money, as a student, so I came up with this idea that maybe I could sell a little bit of drugs to pay for my own habit, and that’s how it began. Unfortunately, it grew to the point where I was selling a lot of drugs.

. . . I opened my door and on my front doorstep were twelve federal drug enforcement agents, Atlanta police, and their two big German Shepherd dogs.

Angela: So it was bad news to find out my son was in prison, but at that moment I was certain this was the way God was answering my prayers.

Christopher: I was walking around the cell block, going over my life and how horrible it was now, the place I was in, and I was about to walk by this garbage can. I looked on top of the trash and, right on top of it, was a Gideon’s New Testament.

. . . Often people ask, “Who brought you to faith? Who shared the gospel with you . . . what ministry, was it a prison ministry . . ." But the thread that goes through our lives and our journey of faith to God, was the Word of God, it was the Bible, it was Scripture.

. . . I sat there in the nurse’s office and I just knew something was not right. I looked down at this piece of paper, and I saw three letters and a symbol, and it read, “HIV+.”

Angela: When Christopher got his sentence, it was six years. I didn’t feel that was so bad, because I felt God was working with whatever it takes . . . putting him in jail.  But when I received the news of Christopher’s HIV status, that was like a death sentence.

Christopher: It took time for me to know God first, know what He’s done, know who He is, know His character, then to know me, know how I needed a Savior, know the idols I had in my life. That took a long time. That last stronghold, for me, was my sexuality.

Leslie: If you missed any of the story, you can hear all the programs at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today Christopher is going to talk about his progression from homosexuality to holiness. He describes it in a unique way, so I hope you’ll pay attention and consider what he has to say.

The goal for all of us, in every season of life, needs to be holiness. Here’s Nancy to pick up the conversation.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Angela Yuan and Christopher Yuan, mother and son—and Dad’s sitting in the studio behind us, praying, cheering, and very much a part of this story as well. I can’t thank you all enough for having shared your story in the book you’ve written, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God and a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope.

Angela and Christopher, thank you so much. You’ve given hours of your time to share with our listeners this week, and I just know God’s going to use it to bear much fruit. Thank you.

Christopher: Thank you, Nancy.

Angela: Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy: This is not a sugar-coated story, and it’s not one where you, Angela, prayed a few prayers and all of a sudden there’s a happy-ever-after-ending. Even Christopher, as you’re in that prison cell with what you thought, at the time, was a six-year sentence, and then having received an HIV positive sentence on top of that . . . God’s at work in your heart. You’re reading the Scripture. You’re in the process of coming to faith because you’ve come to the end of yourself.

But even then, it was unfolding over a period of time, as God was changing you. When we got to the end of the last program, you talked about how He was dealing with some of the idols of your heart, the first one being drugs and drug addiction.

Over the course of several months He set you free from that desire. Is that something you’ve struggled with since . . . the desire for drugs? Or did He finally take that away?

Christopher: It’s not something I really struggle with, though I know that is one of my weaknesses. I need to be careful to have boundaries and not put myself in situations where I could be tempted. But that’s not a stronghold anymore.

I believe we all have strongholds, or we all have issues that we wrestle with, and that really isn’t a major issue anymore.

Nancy: But then, there was another issue that the Lord began to deal with you about, which was longer than a few months of wrestling it through. You just mentioned it at the end of the last program, and it had to do with your sexuality. How did you begin to process that?

You’d been in the gay lifestyle for years, acting out homosexuality, you had a very promiscuous life, you were deep, deep, deep into that. Now you’re coming to faith in Christ. What did you do with this whole area of your sexuality?

Christopher: Well, I lived as a gay man for years. In prison, as God was drawing me to Himself I began to ask myself this question, as I saw how God said, “You shall not have any idols before me."

I asked myself this question, “What is it in my life that I feel like I cannot live without?”

Nancy: Which is exactly what an idol is.

Christopher: If I really think I cannot live without this, then this is an idol. I thought at the time that I could “have my cake and eat it too.” I could have God, and I could still be gay and still have this sexuality. But as I was reading Scripture, I came across those passages that seem to condemn homosexuality.

So I went to the prison chaplain and I asked him his opinion, and surprisingly, this prison chaplain told me that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. He gave me a book to read, and I started reading it, but—I see this as God’s grace—I didn’t just simply read the book. I put the Bible right next to it.

So whenever this book mentioned Scripture, I would open up the Bible and I wouldn’t just read that verse—I would read the whole chapter, the context. What I saw was not the same as the conclusions this author came to.

Really, I wanted to agree with this book. I had everything within me that wanted to find the justification, so I didn’t have to change, I didn’t have to set anything aside. I really believe it was the power of the Holy Spirit that was beginning to work in me that pointed out that this book was distorting the Word of God.

It was twisting Scripture to try to justify something that was not justifiable. So I set the book aside, gave it back to the chaplain and I just turned to the Bible alone.

Nancy: So you realized you had a choice to make there. Were you going to accept the Word of God as the authority in your life, Christ as your Lord, or were you going to hang onto your idol?

Christopher: Yes. So I thought, Okay, let’s set aside the passages of Scripture that condemn homosexuality. I’m going to look at all the rest of Scripture. Let’s just say those six passages are up in the air [which I personally now don’t believe they are] but let’s just say they are. Let me look at the rest of Scripture and see if there’s any positive justification for homosexuality, to bless homosexual relationships. And I read through the entire Bible, looking for where God might bless homosexual monogamous relationships. There was nothing.

That was when I knew I had to either choose God and the Bible, or homosexuality and living as a gay man.

Nancy: You knew you couldn’t have both.

Christopher: I couldn’t have both. But that wasn’t so easy, because I still had these temptations and struggles within me. I really thought I had to become straight to please God, that I needed to somehow be attracted to women and to get married to please God.

But as I read through Scripture, I saw that to be straight meant to be attracted to women, but that also encompassed adultery, fornication, lust. So this term of heterosexuality was too broad a term. Even if I did become heterosexual, I would still have to be obedient to God.

Nancy: So somebody can be homosexual and sin, and somebody can be heterosexual and sin sexually.

Christopher: Yes, we can have these feelings of heterosexuality and have these feelings of homosexuality, and still not be pleasing to God. I was reading through Scripture, poring over the Word of God and I came across a passage which is so profound. It says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

Regardless of whether your temptations, your passions, your desires, your struggles change, God is calling us to live a life of obedience. God is calling us to live a life of holiness. So I realized that the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, but holiness.

The opposite of any struggle with sin is not, to not sin, but it’s to be holy. It’s to be like Christ.

Nancy: And that is really the spring out of which your own identity began to be not your own sexual identity, but your identity in Christ.

Christopher: For such a long time I saw myself solely as a gay man. That was who I was. I went to a gay club, I went to a gay gym, I went to a gay grocery store, and as I was reading the Scripture I realized I had put my identity in the wrong thing.

My identity’s not homosexual, it’s not gay, it’s not even heterosexual for that matter, but my identity as a child of God must be in Jesus Christ alone.

Nancy: And as you began to pursue that identity, the Lord began to make it clear to you that He had plans for your life that were way different than anything you had ever imagined. In fact, you began to sense a call to go into ministry . . .

Christopher: So different! Yes! It was during this time God was giving me all these opportunities to share the gospel with these inmates who knew they were sinners. I would just come right in and open up the Bible, share the gospel to them, and these people were coming to faith.

I was leading Bible studies, I was preaching in prison, and that was when I felt a strong calling to full-time ministry . . . while I was in prison. I knew no matter where I was, whether I was in prison for six years, twenty years, thirty years, I was going to serve God.

Whether I was in for a few months, I was going to serve God, because it didn’t matter where I was . . . in prison or out of prison . . . that calling would remain the same. And when that kind of change of heart happened, that’s when God did another miracle.

He’s worked so many miracles, but then He did another, and He shortened my sentence from six years to three years.

Nancy: And more of that story is told in your book Out of a Far Country, and it’s an amazing story—it’s a God story—but so clear that God was setting you apart for His kingdom purposes and blessing your obedience and responsiveness to Him. He was the One giving you the grace to respond.

So when you realized that your sentence was going to be shortened, you called your mom. I know, Angela, you’ve got to remember that call, when he told you what he wanted to do when he got out of prison.

Angela: Yes, when he was going to court for re-sentencing, when he said that, in my mind I thought, It doesn’t matter if you are inside the prison or outside the prison, because when you receive God you are free.

And so I just praised God—this is my dream.

Nancy: And then when he found out his sentence was reduced and he was going to be released, he told you he wanted an application.

Angela: Yes, he said, “I want to go to a Bible college to learn more about the Bible. Could you send me an application to Moody Bible Institute?” At that moment, I realized, “He was coming home!” Before that I didn’t know what he was going to do. He might still want to stay in Atlanta with his friends.

When he said he would call me back about Moody, I said, “He is coming home,” coming back to Chicago, and I was just rejoicing.

Nancy: And what made you think about going to Moody Bible Institute?

Christopher: It was so interesting. Before I had really gone in that direction, my parents had come to know the Lord, and they would play Moody radio at home.

Nancy: And this program is airing over many Moody stations right now, so the Moody radio listeners will appreciate this.

Christopher: At first I thought that it was just annoying, but it was planting seeds.

Nancy: Did you turn it up real loud, Angela, so he could hear?

Angela: In our home, we have an intercom, so everywhere we go, from morning to night, we turn it on when we start the day and we turn it off when we go to sleep.

Nancy: Thank the Lord for WMBI!

Christopher: Yes, the preaching, the teaching, those songs, they were planting seeds even when my parents didn’t think seeds were being planted. I remembered, “I know there’s some school in Chicago called Moody.” I knew it was a Bible college. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew I wanted to go to Bible college.

I knew of no other Bible college, so I asked my parents to mail me the application to Moody Bible Institute.

Nancy: And then you ran into a little trouble with the application.

Christopher: Because as I did the essay questions, they asked me, as all Bible colleges and Christian schools ask, for references, to make sure what you’re saying lines up with reality.

Nancy: And where were you going to get those?

Christopher: Unfortunately, they asked not just for any references, but they asked for references from people who had known me as a Christian for at least one year. I had become a Christian in prison, and the only people I could find were a prison chaplain, a prison guard, and another prison inmate, as my references for Moody Bible Institute.

So, amazingly, Moody actually accepted me. I was released from prison in July of 2001 and started the very next month, in August.

Nancy: And have since graduated from Moody, and then received a Master’s Degree from Wheaton College in . . .

Christopher: Master of Arts in Biblical Exegesis.

Nancy: Biblical Exegesis, studying the original languages. You’re a man of the Word, you love proclaiming the Word, you’re working on a doctorate of ministry now, and doing a ton of ministry, sharing your testimony along with your parents.

But there was still a sweet time coming up when you got out of prison and were going to be reunited with your family. I want our listeners to hear how that unfolded.

Christopher: Well, it was so amazing, just like my mother said, the fact that I wanted to come home. For a time I thought my home was Atlanta, then I thought, I am going to come home when I get out of prison. I’m going to come to Chicago.

So my parents drove down to pick me up. I had what they call a furlough. They gave me a few hours to drive from the prison, then I needed to check into the halfway house within a few hours. They gave me some leeway time where I could swing by home. I knew we were going to do that. So we drove from southern Illinois to the Chicago suburbs.

I could not believe it. Three years doesn’t seem like such a long time, but . . .

Nancy: You’d been out of communication with each other and estranged from each other a long time.

Christopher: Yes, and so we pulled up to our home. As we pulled up to our home, we have this big tree in our front yard, and around it was tied a yellow ribbon.

I thought, “That’s so special.” So we parked the car, and we got out and walked up to the door and opened the door, in our hallway were a hundred yellow ribbons. I looked at them and they were all signed by someone, I didn’t know who, and they had Scripture written on some of these yellow ribbons, just all over.

My mom explained to me, “These are all from people who have been praying for you.” There were strangers I’ve never known, maybe people I’ve still yet to meet, praying for me for years, those times that I was estranged and had nothing to do with my parents and while I was in prison. They were welcoming me home. I remember Mom said, “Welcome home.” I think it was at that moment that I knew that I was home, I was finally home.

Nancy: And home, not just to your parents, but to the Lord—which is what you had wanted and prayed for all those years, wasn’t it, Angela?

Angela: Yes. You know, that shows the picture of our God. He has His arms that are always wide open to receive the prodigal son, someone like myself or my son. He’s calling all the prodigal sons home to His arms. He’s welcoming us, no matter how far the country we were in, and no matter what we have done, what we have said. He’s there waiting for us. That is His design, to call each one of us home.

Nancy: I know God has been, and He is, in the process of calling prodigals home who have been listening to this story this week. Not just prodigal children, prodigal moms, and maybe your story isn’t as dramatic. Maybe you’re a self-righteous older brother prodigal, and you haven’t lived out a promiscuous lifestyle or drugs, or haven’t divorced your mate, but your heart’s been in the far country, far from the Lord.

He may be calling you home. Maybe you’re the parent of a prodigal, or the wife or the daughter of a prodigal. I love the picture in those yellow ribbons of all those people who joined with you in praying, Angela.

I think of how many parents, in a situation like yours wouldn’t want any of their friends to know that their son’s in the gay lifestyle, that their son’s in prison for dealing drugs. That’s so hard. It’s embarrassing; it’s humiliating.

But you and your husband, as you found grace through Christ, wanted that grace for your son, and so you involved others in praying with you for your son. All those years, God was hearing those prayers, He was answering when it didn’t look like He was, and He was using all those believers’ prayers together to be part of the journey of calling this prodigal home.

I love to think, now, how what the enemy intended for evil has been such a victory for God’s kingdom. All those years that both of you were in the far country . .  . I think of how God’s enemy is getting a “black eye” now, as you are out, both of you, and your husband, Angela, proclaiming the truth that sets people free.

Everywhere you go, there are people getting out of prison, people coming home, prodigals coming home. Not only did the enemy not keep you both in the far country, but God is now using you both as instruments to call others home from the far country.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Angela Yuan and her son Christopher Yuan. She'll be right back. One of the ways God is using their story is through the book they wrote called, Out of a Far Country. We've been telling you about the book all this week and offering to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Today's the final day I'll be telling you about that offer, so I hope that you'll visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Make a donation of any amount and we'll send one book per household to show our thanks for your support. You can also call 1–800–569–5959.

One problem with fear is that it brings along its buddies into your life. Karen Loritts will tell you how fear and its buddies tempted her in a stressful season. I hope you'll hear the very real and very encouraging story on Monday. And now Nancy's back to wrap up our story with Christopher Yuan. I think we've all been encourage to hear how God answered a mother's prayer and the prayer of so many others.

Nancy: I believe there are a lot of people listening today who would just love to have people pray for them as those people prayed for you, Christopher, over those years. I wonder if you’d just close this series by praying for prodigals or prodigal children of those listening, that God would draw their hearts home, and in that way you become a part of writing on a yellow ribbon for those God is calling home.

Would you pray for those listening who need that kind of prayer right now? I’d appreciate it so much.

Christopher: Father, we thank You that You are a loving God, that You know what’s best for us. I pray, Father, that You would break through into the lives of these children, these prodigals, whether it’s a prodigal husband or another loved one. Lord, that You would do whatever it takes to bring them to Yourself. Father, we just want to praise You for the work You continue to do in their lives and our lives, and we pray this in the precious name of Jesus, our Lord, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

Join the Discussion