Moody Bible Institute professor and author Christopher Yuan, who formerly identified as homosexual, cautioned that same-sex attraction is sinful even when not acted upon.
In a recent episode of Jason Jimenez's "Challenging Conversations" podcast, Yuan refuted the belief that only acting on same-sex attraction is a sin, saying that “all same-sex desires are sexual and romantic desires are sinful.”
Yuan told listeners that the view that only the act of homosexuality is sinful “denies what Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount [in Matthew 5:27-29] where He says: ‘If a man looks lustfully after a woman, he’s committed adultery.’”
The professor explained that although years ago he believed that "just the behavior is sin," he has since concluded otherwise after reading and studying the Bible more.
"I had thought that a desire turns into lust, so as long as you don’t lust, then that’s OK. But then I realized that, actually, wrongly ordered desire is lust. It is sin,” Yuan said. “It’s not just sexual, it is also romantic. So sometimes when people limit sin to be just sexual in the act, well then, they’re not talking about the desires in their heart."
In the podcast, Yuan further addressed his viewpoint that it's “unfortunate” that many people believe that only acting upon same-sex attractions is a sin.
"They’re saying: ‘Well, no, it’s just the act that’s wrong. The desire is OK, just don’t act on it.’ Or some people say: ‘Even a same-sex marriage is OK, just don’t act on it.’ That is, people are promoting two men being in a life-long covenanted relationship and ‘it’s OK as long as you don’t have sex,’" Yuan said.
“As Christians … we need to call it what it is. Marriage is never a friendship. It’s never meant to replace marriage. People will call it basically something else … friendship, a covenanted life-long spiritual friendship, when that’s actually just marriage without the sex, which is still sin."
Yuan asserted that "biblical sexuality is black and white,” adding that it's clearly outlined in the Bible, pointing listeners to the Song of Solomon 8:4: “Don’t awaken love until it’s time.”
He noted that the writer of the verse was having romantic desires that were both physical and sexual. The verse warned not to awaken physical and sexual feelings until the right time. In the same way, reasoned Yuan, people need to be careful about their thoughts and desires for someone who is not their spouse.
“Just reading Scripture, relying on Scripture alone, actually drives this really clear path of what God is calling us to do,” Yuan said. "It’s realizing the distinction between purely platonic desires, romantic desires and sexual desires."
“If we are just talking about same-sex desires ... what’s that purpose? If it’s sexual, that’s sin. If it’s romantic, it’s also sin. And a lot of people say, ‘Well, why are you saying that? Romantic is not a word in the Bible.’ True. Neither is Trinity. But I think the concept is there,” he added.
Earlier in the podcast, Yuan emphasized that although people are “made in the image of God,” as noted in Genesis 1:27, they also have a sinful nature that they were born with and, later on, they make the decision to sin because sin is something people can “choose” to do.
Yuan stressed that he believes it's important for Christians to be “full of grace and full of truth” when addressing the topic of same-sex attraction and sexuality.
“Christians, we are not sinless. Hopefully, we are sinning less and less," explained Yuan. "Though we might still sin, we are being convicted by the Holy Spirit and are to be repentant of our sin. And that’s the key. But I think we need to realize that we need to be full of grace and full of truth and avoid either side of the spectrum."
“Either you are just full of grace at the expense of truth or you are full of truth at the expense of grace."
Yuan said that while he believed "historically, the Church has responded in a very truthful way" regarding labeling what is sinful, it has not been "the complete truth."
"It’s telling us ‘you’re a sinner,’ but then from the response that I hear, there’s never the more important truth, which is, ‘and there’s a Savior for your sins,’” said Yuan.
“Sometimes their reactions have been ‘this is just sin, this is awful, etc.’ And yes, sin is awful. All sin is awful, but then, we sometimes elevate this one sin as greater than the others."
According to Yuan, while sometimes the Church responds to homosexuality with truth but not grace, it has also sometimes responded to it with grace but not truth.
“People say: ‘Well, we just need to love.’ Is that true? Well, yes. But the question, as an apologist, we need to ask: ‘How do you define that word? How do you define love?’” he said. “That's how we're called to love: recognizing that people are sinners, but then pointing them to Christ.”
Yuan, who previously left a life of homosexuality, co-wrote with his mother a memoir titled, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God, A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. The book has sold over 100,000 copies and is available in seven languages.