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              What many would consider their worst nightmare has become a reality for Christopher Yuan. While attending dental school, he began living promiscuously as a homosexual and experimenting with illicit drugs. Within a few years, he was expelled from dental school, imprisoned for drug dealing and discovered that he was HIV positive.

              But God has turned his nightmare into an exciting and inspiring story of redemption, grace and transformation. Christopher has an understanding heart for and a desire to minister to those working through issues of sexuality and to those living with HIV/AIDS. He speaks locally and internationally to youth, on college campuses, in churches and in prisons.

              Christopher graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2005 and Wheaton College Graduate School in 2007 with a Master of Arts in Biblical Exegesis and is currently pursuing a doctorate of ministry at Bethel Seminary. He now teaches at Moody while continuing his speaking ministry which has reached four continents around the world. Christopher has spoken at both Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church in America and at many conferences including InterVarsity's Urbana and the Moody Pastors' Conference and Men's Conference. He is also featured in the award-winning documentary, "HOPE Positive: Surviving the Sentence of AIDS" and has co-authored with his mother, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope (forthcoming May 3, 2011 by WaterBrook Multnomah a division of Random House).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ray Boltz Comes Out of the Closet


In May 2002, I attended a Ray Boltz concert with my parents and my good friend, Joe Hendrickson. Even though Ray is not the most recent or contemporary of Christian recording artists, I have to admit that it was one of the best concerts I've been to. He sang well known songs like "Thank You" and "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb."

This past Friday, September 12, Ray Boltz announced that he was coming out of the closet and that he was gay. Before we begin pointing a finger at Ray, let us begin by taking the "beam" out of our own eye. Here is a quote from Ray, "A few years ago I made the decision to retire from contemporary Christian music. I had won awards, performed in front of thousands of people, and sold millions of records. Still, I believed that if people knew who I really was, I would never be accepted."

There is something wrong when people feel that they would not be accepted or be loved by Christians when Jesus said that we are to be known by our love! Unfortunately, people hide their "secret" and feel that they have to put on a facade.

THIS MUST CHANGE!

We, as the Church, must be a place where people can come and be real and be honest and feel welcomed and be loved. If we do not do this, then how will we be able to see a bountiful harvest of souls into the loving arms of God?

It is tragic that Ray felt he could not share his feelings and that he felt that he had to hide and keep things a secret. What he needed was the Church to come alongside him and love him for who he was.

With that said, it must be clear that God loves us unconditionally. But unconditional love does not mean unconditional approval of our behavior. God loved Adam and Eve unconditionally but this does not mean that he approved of their behavior. The same applies to us. God loves us but does not approve of our behavior. This is the same love that the Church needs to give.

Ray also says that now he does not hate himself and that God made him this way. What Ray does not realize is that God created us with feelings but not every feeling we have is right. Just because we have a feeling does not give us justification to act upon it. I may feel angry but I have the option to act upon it or not. We are not bound by our feelings and our feelings do not dictate who we are.

Ray states that he tried many different things but he never changed. Like Ray, too many people have an unbiblical perception of what change means. Change does not ever mean that we will never be tempted again. God never promises that we will have a life free of temptations if we pray hard enough. Look at Jesus as he prays on the Mount of Olives, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me" (Luke 22:42). He begged God the Father to deliver Him as many people do of their struggles. But God did not take away the cup of suffering and I doubt that anybody would say that Jesus just didn't pray hard enough. But Jesus realized the truth of struggles and temptations by what He said next, "yet not my will, but yours be done" which means, God, if you don't deliver me than I will still follow you anyway in spite of this difficulty.

Too many people identify themselves solely by their feelings and say that they were created or born this way. However, there is no objective or scientific evidence for this - only subjective evidence that they have these feelings. As I say in my testimony, "Change is not the absence of struggles but change is the freedom to choose holiness in the presence of our struggles."

I praise God that I can I love myself and not hate myself because I am not defined by my feelings but rather that I was created in the image of God. Let us be in prayer for Ray, his ex-wife and his three children.

6 Comments:

Blogger Honouring God from a Cliff said...

thanks for sharing this christopher, here in australia one of the pastors from a big power church who was apparently dying from a critical illness came out and reveals he had faked the illness for two years, keeping it from his family and even singing a song he wrote about jesus the healer with oxygen tube in his nose. the song made it big b4 it was revealed making no. 2 in the arias. Apparently it was found out that he had a problem with porn and the other leaders at the church were going to take him off the team so he made a "white lie". i dont know if you have heard about this event yet. it has come up in the midst of alot of catholic priests being charged for sexual assulting kids in church and to be honest it angers me that he could have covered up his porn addiction with a lie like that. anyway i think the church needs to deal with sexual issues a bit better than it is. we have tiny ministries in a few places here trying to get it out in the open so christians dont find themselves trapped and alone in situations like this and so they can deal with the issues in the right way.
its hard when you think some1 elses bad is a high rank of bad yet we dont look in our own eyes. i am blessed to have friends around me who know where i am at and that is including a pastor at my church. What do i have to hide?
thanks for sharing,ur an encouragement! :)

September 15, 2008 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger Felix Chai said...

Well said, well said.
Recently i receive this news from a friend of mine, and she was so upset and felt like being lied to by his songs.
i always believe in honest with ourselves, with God, with the community about who we are. For Ray his honesty will pay a price (A great price!). I pray that Godly people will understand him, accept him and love him for who he is.
I sincerely felt sad that he couldn't share his struggles with the church. Jesus didn't look out for those who are well, but rather the weak, poor in spirit, those that are socially unacceptable in the community such as the samaritan woman at the well who committed adultery. Jesus loves them with His life. i pray the church will realize this and stop chasing people out of the church.
Now it's time we need to learn about Jesus' unconditional love even to the gay people.

Felix

September 21, 2008 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Giraffe Pen (기린 만년필) said...

It's such a tragedy to hear news like this. I almost did what Ray did 10.5 years because so many Christians told me that God only sends gays to hell. I read my Bible because I wanted to hear what GOD said and I'm so glad I did because now I'm a Christian.

The thing is lots of Christians are aware that they put gay people off but that still doesn't stop them from showing homophobia. They've known about this for AGES... When will they ever learn and change? 힘들어!

September 23, 2008 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger Neville said...

Chris. Just wanted to quote something you said, because I had a question about it. You wrote, "Ray also says that now he does not hate himself and that God made him this way. What Ray does not realize is that God created us with feelings but not every feeling we have is right. Just because we have a feeling does not give us justification to act upon it. I may feel angry but I have the option to act upon it or not. We are not bound by our feelings and our feelings do not dictate who we are."

Is it possible---is it at all possible---that God gave Ray these feelings and they are right? Is it possible for one person to be tempted to a life of homosexuality and have it be sinful and another person be actually living out their true selves by embracing it? I'm just wondering. As someone who's dealing with this, as someone who knows Ray and his family personally, I can't help but cringe when I see you quickly correct Ray and what he "doesn't know." If it's true no one can truly know God, why do we consistently claim to know God? I know it's a trick question, but I ask it b/c it worries me to see so many people certain about this issue (with everyone who deals with it) and treats all people dealing with this in the same way. It's rarely talked about, "What if homosexual relationships were okay with God, then what would be the theology? How would are understanding of God change?" Redemption would look a lot different. Wouldn't it?

I think we really have to be a little more sensitive to the uniqueness of people's stories out there who are living as disciples of Christ.

I agree some feelings we have are not from God, but at the same time, many of them are. I'm not sure I ever recall a passage in the Bible where God points out homosexual feelings people are having and says, "I did not give you those feelings." I'm aware of the talk of it being "unnatural" (in the poor translation we have) but I still don't think that can lead one to write what you did in this blog post about Ray Boltz. I know you start of your post with a non-judgmental approach, but then you proceed to make a serious judgment / assessment of him. Isn't that similar to saying, "Please people, let's not judge Ray. We have enough problems ourselves and only God can judge. (pause) But Ray doesn't understand it. He doesn't understand himself. He doesn't get it."

This line of reasoning doesn't make sense to me. I could understand it if you knew Ray personally but you don't. I think many people today would've been outraged to hear those "heroes of the Bible" who asked God to change His mind. Those people who wrestled with God on the truth he had so proclaimed.

So this is how I can respond: confused, broken, tired, helpless, arms open wide, asking God to love us, asking God to bless us, asking God to reach into the unique hearts of all people---gay, straight, bi, transgender, everything---and see them for who they really are, and who they are trying to be in Christ. This is my prayer.

Thanks for the post, Chris. It's good that you're having this conversation. I'm at student at Fuller Seminary and this has been reignited here too, although, I must say I'm one of the more theologically liberal students on this position. So please don't see my views as representative of Fuller or faculty here. It's but my own opinions / thoughts I've come along in my own search, different from so many others, but somehow the same too.

Grace and peace, my brother.
Neville

October 30, 2008 at 2:10 AM  
Blogger J said...

What if I were to say that God gave me the feeling that i should kill all white people? Maybe those feelings may stem from prejudiceness as oppose to doing what seems to feel right. It doesn't make it okay if I believe this is the way I am. Human feelings aren't dependable. They aren't reliable. If you know God well based on His word, is homosexuality something God intends for his people to live and explore? I guess while you're in Fuller, you'll have more chances to go indepth with God's response to different situations and sins people commit (especially OT). My previous and current Pastors (and friends) studied from Fuller...so I have a fond regard to that seminary :) Whether Chris have or have not known Ray personally, he still must have some type of understanding since he is someone who has lived that life for many years with many friends and encounters. There are always more details to every story as all of us do. My guess is that he is speaking from experience and the lessons he learned as oppose as a real personal judgement or attack on Ray. Just my thoughts.

November 4, 2008 at 5:15 AM  
Blogger Debbie Haughland Chan said...

I'm disappointed to hear about Ray Boltz's choice but I certainly understand. It is incredibly difficult to keep saying "no!" to desires that, fulfilled, would dishonour God.

Does Ray's position now cancel all the good he and his music did (and that his music may still be doing)? I don't believe so. I see a man who lived for many, many years wanting to and trying to honour God with his songs. On the second page you linked to, he is quoted as saying:

“[My struggle with homosexuality is] there on every single record,” he says. “That struggle of accepting myself and my feelings. There’s a lot of pain there and it connected with a lot of people. They weren’t struggling with the same thing necessarily but we all suffer with our humanity."

I was one who connected strongly with Ray's music while I was in my own struggle with homosexuality. A number of his songs spoke to me very clearly and helped me immensely. Ray's choice now does not change how God used his music in the past. I am grateful for the role he played in my ability to choose differently than he has. My heart aches for him and the pain he has been in.

February 18, 2009 at 7:24 PM  

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