How do evangelical Christians view sexuality in light of what we hear in the culture around us? What does the Bible say about sexuality? How do believers respond to those who struggle with same sex attraction? All these questions and more author Christopher Yuan addresses in his latest book, Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story.
Holy Sexuality is a follow up to Yuan’s memoir, co-authored with his mother, titled Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God, a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. It tells the story of Yuan’s journey to faith and how he found his identity in Christ alone. At the end of this memoir, he referred to the concept of holy sexuality. This idea is what he unpacks in his latest book.
Holy Sexuality begins by developing a Biblical framework of human sexuality as seen through the lens of the Bible’s big story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. Beginning with Creation, Yaun explores how we were made in God’s image: “when we make anything else the core of our being—especially our sexuality—it’s not only a distortion of the imago Dei but also an affront to our Creator” (p.17). He then discusses original sin and the impact the fall had on all mankind. Because of the fall, we are all born into sin and are enslaved to it. “For each of us, sin affects all our faculties: actions, words, thoughts, and desires—including our sexual desires” (p.30). These two foundational truths, creation and the fall, are central to our understanding of humanity and human sexuality. Yuan then explores the need we all have for redemption in Christ. We all need to be born again. “Sin is the great problem; Jesus is the great solution” (p. 38).
What this means is, we all need Jesus. “It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born an alcoholic; you must be born again. It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born a liar; you must be born again. It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born a porn addict; you must be born again. It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born with any other sexual sin struggle; you must be born again” (p.41). Once we are born again, we are new creations. Christ transforms us from the inside out. We spend the rest of our lives putting sin to death and living out the reality of our new life in Christ, all the while looking forward to the day when we’ll shed our sin once and for all.
Using this framework, Yuan then develops the concept of holy sexuality. God’s vision for sexuality consists of two paths: chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage. This means sexual purity for those who are unmarried and faithfulness to one’s spouse for those who are married. Yuan argues that in Christian circles we often hold up marriage as the ultimate goal. Rather, Yuan points to Scripture to teach us that the Bible affirms singleness. In fact, the Bible teaches that both singleness and marriage are equally good and advantageous. He reminds us that we will all be single in eternity. Yuan urges the church to welcome, value, and love singles as brothers and sisters in Christ.
While the bulk of the book helps us to think Biblically about sexuality, the latter part of the book provides practical application, specifically for our interactions with others. One chapter provides helpful tips on what to say and what not say to atheist gay friends. Yuan points out words, phrases, and concepts that do not help the conversation, and actually hinder it. When talking about sexuality with a Christian friend or loved one who shares about an attraction with someone of the same sex, Yuan offers helpful suggestions on how to respond, how to be a friend, and how to walk alongside them. The book ends with a chapter on discipleship. “If sex, desire, and relationships are shaped by God’s grand story and God’s grand story is shaped by Christ, then this means that sex, desire, and relationships—our whole sexuality—must be shaped by Christ as well. All my sexual behaviors, erotic desires, romantic feelings, sentimental relationships, and even all my platonic friendships must be conformed to Jesus Christ and nothing else” (p.195).
Holy Sexuality is a book every Christian should read. Christopher Yuan is a helpful guide into a topic that is not talked about enough in the church. His writing is clear, concise, and thoroughly Biblical. It will challenge readers to set aside misconceptions and false teaching and instead dig deep into God’s word. It will equip readers to understand their own sexuality in light of God’s big story and how to help others understand that story as well.
Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.