Controversial minister draws outcry

Controversial Christian minister Christopher Yuan is scheduled to speak at Yale this weekend.
Controversial Christian minister Christopher Yuan is scheduled to speak at Yale this weekend. Photo by Christopher Yuan.

A weekend conference with a Christian minister with ties to a movement that seeks to reverse homosexual behavior is drawing opposition from students.

Christopher Yuan, an HIV-positive professor and minister who travels to churches and college campuses to speak about sexuality and HIV/AIDS, will arrive at Yale Friday afternoon to participate in three events hosted by the Yale Christian Fellowship and Yale Students for Christ this weekend. His visit has driven several leaders of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student leaders to plan demonstrations in response to Yuan’s alleged support of the “ex-gay movement,” which supports the reversal of homosexual behavior in individuals, despite Yuan’s claims that he has no role in the movement.

“When they decided to bring someone like him, it begins to be a concern to our community, especially to people who are both LGBTQ and Christian,” said LGBT Co-op Board Member Amalia Skilton ’13. “And at that point I find it difficult to believe that this event is just for them, because they will be talking about [the LGBTQ community].”

Yuan’s impending arrival was announced in a Wednesday e-mail from Skilton to unspecified “LGBTQ and allied Yalies,” leading some students — even those within the Christian community — to speak out against Yuan’s message. Student activists will attend Yuan’s Friday talk at the Afro-American Cultural Center in protest, and publish an open letter to campus rejecting ex-gay teachings written by Benjamin Crosby ’13 and David Washer ’11.

In an interview, Yuan said he does not wish to be affiliated with any organization, movement or Christian denomination, and is accustomed to people misunderstanding his goals.

“I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t really change people’s perspectives and hope they can listen to me and not the baggage that comes with my associations and their perceptions,” he said.

When asked about his sexual orientation, he refers back to his website, in which he states that he is “not a gay Christian or a straight Christian. I am not a Chinese Christian or a male Christian. I am simply a Christian. This is my main identity.”

Skilton dismissed these claims, adding that Yuan’s assertions that he is not a part of the ex-gay movement are “dishonest,” given his collaboration with one of the world’s biggest Christian ex-gay organizations, Exodus International. Yuan has spoken about his experiences at many Exodus International events. In 2009, he and two top Exodus International officals co-signed a letter discouraging discrimination against homosexuals to the president of Uganda; in their signatures, the three described themselves as “former homosexuals.”

Yuan’s hosts in the YCF and YSC said that the event is an opportunity to begin a conversation about sexuality within the framework of Christianity that is free from the bigotry and disrespect that has characterized some dialogue from the conservative Christian church. YCF staff member Gregory Hendrickson ’03 said he invited Yuan to speak at Yale given his nuanced views on the Christian religion, which he hopes will constructively help shift the way people view issues regarding sexual orientation and identity.

Washer, a member of YCF, said he disagrees with Yuan’s published work, but hopes the event will be a “positive catalyst” for constructive discussion between Christian and LGBTQ communities.

“I feel like often times between Christians and members of the LGBT community, emotions are amplified,” said Yale Students for Christ Staff Director Sang Yun ’93. “I don’t feel like it’s baseless [for the LGBTQA student leaders] to react like they did, but it’s just the facts — the heart behind our event — haven’t been clearly assessed.”

Christian campus leaders — and Yuan himself — asserted that Yuan is not an advocate of ex-gay ideals, and that his visit is meant to be an intimate discussion with Christian groups. In fact, due to the potential negative reaction to Yuan’s visit and the personal tenor of the events, Hendrickson said, publicity for the gatherings this weekend had been limited to the Yale Christian groups.

The student reaction to Friday’s event has raised some concern among Christian leaders, Yun said, adding that the presence of many divergent points of view could shatter the intended intimacy of the talk.

Yuan will speak Friday at the Af-Am House Gallery at 7:15 pm about his Christian faith and its impact upon his personal identity. He will discuss biblical interpretations of homosexuality Saturday at 9:30 am at the Dwight Hall Library.

Comments

  • coldy

    Don’t be fooled. A HUGE segment of Yale’s Christian community is disgusted by ex-gay ideology.

    It is really sad when these ideas are represented by the media (cough, msnbc/cnn/fox etc) as being the authoritative “voice” of Christians.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Protest but don’t prevent him from speaking.

    Christianity has been unrelentingly cruel in its oppression of same gender physical affection for centuries and it needs a mirror held up to its hypocrisy as the the “religion of love” every chance you get.

  • timemachinist

    Biblical discussions of homesexuality? I hope the advice will be better than what I’ve found here:

    1) A woman cannot be a teacher to a man, nor have authority over a man. Women must not be allowed to be Governor, President, Senator, CEO, shift supervisor, etc. BIBLE SAYS NO. See 1 Timothy 2:11-12, also 1 Cor 14:34-35 and Numbers 31:14-18.

    2) In war, if the enemy fails to surrender then we should put all the men to the sword and enslave all the women and children, as the Bible illustrates in the righteous Israeli slaughter of the Midianites. See Numbers 31:1-18. See also Deuteronomy 21:11-14 for more sanction of the rape of female prisoners of war.

    3) To Mr. Yuan: Do you believe homosexual men should be killed, as the Bible commands? See Leviticus 20:13.

    4) Not only gays, but others who blaspheme the Lord, should also be killed, as the Bible commands. See Leviticus 24:16; also 2 Chron 15:12-13 and Deut 13:12-16. See also Hosea 13:16 describing the righteous punishment of unbelievers, including the massacre of women and children: “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

    5) We have the right to own slaves and treat them as property, as is clearly established in the scriptures, both by precept and example. See Leviticus 25:44; also Col. 3:22 and Titus 2:9. Of course there are many, many more Bible passages regulating and sanctioning slavery. But I am unaware of any that prohibit slavery or pronounce it a moral injustice.

    6) Our slaves should be beaten, as condoned in the Bible. See Exodus 21:20.

    7) People who work on the sabbath should be stoned to death as the Bible commands. See Exodus 31:15 and Exodus 35:2; also see Isaiah 40:8.

    8) If I want to marry a young virgin that catches my eye, I can rape her then she must be compelled to marry me, as commanded in the Bible. I can afford the 50 shekels the Bible requires me to pay. See Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

    9) I should have the authority to assign one of my female slaves to be the wife of one of my male slaves, without consulting her. This is how the Bible describes slave marriages in Exodus 21:4.

    10) We should use torture against war captives–for example, as 2 Samuel 12:26-31 righteously describes how David “gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it…And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon.”

    I fail to see why the bible should be our source of moral guidance.

  • timemachinist

    I already anticipate the objection: that was the OLD bible, now Jesus gave us a new one. Ok, let’s see, there is love even for one’s enemies, forgiveness, charity, non-violence, poverty, rejection of worldly authority and ambitions, humility, acceptance of the outcast….

    A damned good ethic, except opposite of how the world works. For example, they’d never let a guy like Jesus run the country, or even a corporation. The worldly laws of greed and revenge and pride are the organizing principles of power and commerce, and anyone posing serious disruption of the worldly order is more likely to get nailed to a tree than undermine the obedience of the people to the rich and powerful.

    The problems of this earth, the problems Jesus had so much to say about, had nothing to do with whether one’s sex partner is of the same or opposite sex. That is a silly, irrelevant “morality” that offers nothing towards solving the real problems of our world (you know, poverty, war, exploitation, oppression, alienation….).

    But some people like that vengeful and punishing view of cosmic justice, they like that sanctimonious feeling of defining others as sinful and beneath their own higher moral level. Such petty morality also allows them to escape the larger, systemic problems of society (economic and social inequality, poverty and injustice, disparities of opportunity and quality of life, etc) and to instead simplify the world into a morality of individual deeds, mostly those having no real impact on the real problems of society.

  • uncommons

    “Washer, a member of YCF, said he disagrees with Yuan’s published work, but hopes the event will be a “positive catalyst” for constructive discussion between Christian and LGBTQ communities.”

    Wow. That’s reasonable. I’m gonna go back to the screaming over Title IX now.

  • GetOverYourself

    They said that he wasn’t here for an “ex-gay talk.” And even if he is, so what? Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, thats kind of a LAW here in the US, so Get over yourself.

  • Larchmont

    coldy – thanks for that link, it was quite interesting to listen to.

  • jnewsham

    @uncommons: Spoken like someone who has never been sexually assaulted.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Christianity’s God of “Love”.

    Humbug!

    I’m with Bertrand Russell on this one: Any religion which would introduce into the world the concept of eternal damnation is ITSELF evil.

    Paul D. Keane

    M.Div. ’80

    _________________________________
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    See also: Hell, Sheol, and Hades in Christianity
    In Christianity, Hell is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved will suffer the consequences of sin. The New Testament speaks of the after-death fate of the wicked, using the Greek words γέεννα (gehenna) and ταρταρῶ (tartarō).
    In the New Testament, it is described as the place or state of punishment after death or last judgment for those who have rejected Jesus.[1]
    Hell is generally defined as the eternal fate of unrepentant sinners after this life.[2] Hell’s character is inferred from biblical teaching, which has often been understood literally.[2] Souls are said to pass into Hell by God’s irrevocable judgment, either immediately after death (particular judgment) or in the general judgment.[2] Modern theologians generally describe Hell as the logical consequence of the soul using its free will to reject the will of God.[2] It is considered compatible with God’s justice and mercy because God will not interfere with the soul’s free choice.[2]
    Only in the King James Version is the word “Hell” used to translate certain words, such as sheol (Hebrew) and both hades and gehenna(Greek). All other translations reserve Hell only for use when gehenna is mentioned. It is generally agreed that both sheol and hades do not typically refer to the place of eternal punishment, but to the grave, the temporary abode of the dead, or underworld.[3]

    PS:
    Hate your Family and your life (“If any man come to me, and HATE not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”)(Luke 14:26).

  • adien

    Christopher Yuan has an autobiography coming out soon that I’ve had a chance to read, and I would say that he’s hardly in leauge with exodus intl… actually he makes fun of them. I don’t see that he’s ever been an “activist” either. The LGBTQA people may have experienced poor treatment at the hands of christians (or they may not have as well, but just hearing horror stories is enough) but their behaviour seems an unjustifiably intolerant knee jerk reaction to me. Pity.

  • The Anti-Yale

    What’s the harm of listening to the guy? Know thy enemy. Infiltrate and subvert.

  • Leah

    Ok, guys. He was really mild compared to the hype. No endorsement of switching sexualities by prayer, no denunciation of gays as uniquely sinful, etc. Just called them to celibacy.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Celibacy?

    You mean, what just cost the California Jesuits $168 million.

  • coldy

    Paul Keane, I am worried.
    Chronologically, you posted at 5:37 AM, 4:45 PM, 12:50 AM, and just again now at 4:15 AM.

    When do you sleep?

  • AlumO4

    This is a rather confusing dangling modifier:

    “Student activists will attend Yuan’s Friday talk at the Afro-American Cultural Center in protest, and publish an open letter to campus rejecting ex-gay teachings written by Benjamin Crosby ’13 and David Washer ’11.”

  • penny_lane

    I’m actually with PK on this one. “Just” called them to celibacy? Ever tried being celibate, Leah? Ever tried living your entire life without forming a romantic relationship or making plans for the future that involved a romantic relationship (e.g. getting married)? Lifelong celibacy is a lot to ask of a person. Going without sex is unhealthy. Going without romance is unhealthy. It puts people at risk for serious mental and physical health problems. (Of course, all the Christian babble about homosexuality being a sin also ramps up depression and suicide rates. And these people think Christ loves them. Hah.)

    Adien- Not all knee-jerk reactions are created equal. Gay-straight therapies/programs do ridiculous amounts of harm and put those who receive “treatment” at very high risk for depression and suicide. I think suspicion and concern surrounding individuals who seem to support movements like that is perfectly warranted, considering the very real harm they cause.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Coldy,

    Thanks for your “concern”. Somewhere in The Ant-Yale posts I have written about this.

    I have had only two uninterrupted nights of sleep since May 4, 1970. I was told to get used to it—-(probably PTSD, but that diagnosis hadn’t been invented in 1970) —-so I have done so.

    I rise, work a bit, and return to sleep.

    Doesn’t seem to have hurt me. In fact I read once that Buckminster Fuller used to sleep two hours and work two hours all of his adult life until he died at 88 years.

    The comedian Red Skelton was a lifelong insomniac and lived to be 78.

    I’ve probably got 12 more years of posting , maybe 22, by those statistics.

    I’m on borrowed ( or stolen) time anyway!

    :>)

    PK

  • The Anti-Yale

    PL:

    Dr. Oz literally recommended on his afternoon TV show “at least three orgasms a week” to maintain health.

    That guy has life down to a recipe.

    (Until Nature and circumstance intervene.)

    PK

  • penny_lane

    PK–if you’re happy with your unusual sleep patterns that’s fine, but, treatments for sleep disorders have come a long way in the past 40 years. It may not have to be something you just “get used to” anymore.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Thanks PL.

    There’s a sleep disorder center nearby at Dartmouth, but you have to SLEEP there.

    I prefer my own bed.

    Plus, I’m opposed to medication unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

    I’ve already beat the odds.

    Every day’s a gift!!

  • penny_lane

    The perennial philosophical issue in the study of abnormal psychology is how to decide what’s a mental illness and what’s not. The mnemonic they teach undergrads is the three D’s: deviant, distressing, and debilitating. With few exceptions, you need all three to declare something pathological. So if your sleep patterns aren’t distressing you and they’re not destroying your quality of life, then it’s not a disorder. Live long and prosper my eccentric friend.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Many thanks !!!!!!!
    You too my articulate, outspoken colleague !!!

  • gzuckier

    ” reverse homosexual behavior ”
    unfortunate turn of phrase.

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