Minister’s message divides audiences

Controversial Christian minister Christopher Yuan polarized audience members during his campus visit this weekend, drawing both broad support and accusations of spreading hate.

Yuan, an HIV-positive professor and minister who teaches about sexuality and HIV/AIDS, is an alleged supporter of the “ex-gay movement” to reverse homosexuality in individuals. His visit, sponsored by Yale Students for Christ and the Yale Christian Fellowship, sparked outcry among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students despite Yuan’s repeated claims that he has no involvement with the movement. Organizers from Dwight Hall, which was slated to host Yuan’s Saturday discussion about biblical interpretation, asked the sponsors to relocate the event after hearing Yuan speak.

At a Friday lecture on Yuan’s personal identity and Christian faith at the Afro-American Cultural Center, LGBTQ advocates and YSC members packed the venue past capacity. An on-scene fire marshal and police officer turned away at least 60 students trying to hear Yuan speak. During the talk, he explained his view that homosexual sexual acts are against the teachings of the Bible. While Yuan said that he identifies as a gay man and that he finds no biblical justification for hostility to same-sex love, the Bible makes a distinction between the “holiness” of heterosexual versus homosexual sex acts.

“It’s not the love God is talking about — it’s the sex,” Yuan said. “I’m just expressing a view that holds to the traditional teaching of the Bible and still respects people.”

Yuan’s mention of respect drew a strong reaction from audience members, who throughout the talk expressed their opposition to Yuan’s ideas. While both Yuan and LGBTQ leaders at the talk said they wanted to create an atmosphere of mutual dialogue and respect, several individuals left throughout the course of the talk Friday, and many applauded when other audience members challenged Yuan’s views.

“His comments show an apparent inequality between homosexuals and heterosexuals,” said Katie Miller ’12, who left West Point to attend Yale because of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and who attended the Friday event. “His conclusion is that all gays and lesbians should be celibate, which is extremely disrespectful.”

Further controversy arose after Yuan’s first engagement when Dwight Hall community organizers asked YSC to move Yuan’s Saturday speaking event from the Dwight Hall library, as scheduled, to another venue.

Alexandra Brodsky ’12, co-coordinator of the Student Executive Committee for Dwight Hall, said that when the organization booked the Dwight Hall venue, they did not specify that their intention was to host Yuan. Brodsky said she became aware of this plan after attending the Friday talk. She said she and other Dwight Hall executive committee members decided to ask Yuan to switch locations because his message was “one of bigotry and hatred.” Yuan spoke on biblical interpretations of homosexuality at Linsly-Chittenden Hall instead.

Esther Kim ’13, a YSC member who attended both of Yuan’s scheduled talks, said Saturday afternoon that she appreciated Yuan’s message, which she characterized as loving.

“I don’t know why Dwight Hall wouldn’t want to be affiliated with [Yuan’s] message of love,” Kim said. “It makes me sad that people think the gospel [Yuan] is bringing with him is one that is belligerent or hurtful to people.”

While several Yale Students for Christ members voiced disappointment that some students left the Friday event emotionally upset, they said they stand by their original intent in inviting Yuan to educate students about what Christian doctrine teaches with regard to LGBTQ people.

“We thought he could help the Christian community understand the issue more clearly,” said Sang Yun ’93, staff director for Yale Students for Christ. “But I know there are many people who left feeling unsatisfied or judged.”

While Friday night’s discussion was far different than YSC intended, Yun said, he still hopes Yuan’s visit will eventually lead to a respectful dialogue between Christian and LGBTQ communities.

In protest of Yuan’s visit, the LGBTQ Co-op — an umbrella organization of gay rights groups at Yale — distributed 138 stickers at the Af-Am House door which read, “Ask me about being an ally at Yale.”

About 200 people attended the public discussion Friday afternoon. Saturday’s talk about biblical interpretation was limited to YSC and YCF members only, and drew about 40 people.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    Is the present world od 2011 to be molded and shaped by the needs of tribal people in a desert wasteland 3000 years ago ?

    Of course it was VITALLY important for every baby possible to be brought into the world when a plague or drought or famine could wipe out an entire tribe.

    If homosexual and lesbian sex was not made taboo, babies wouldn’t get made. ( Remember, sex is popular.)

    Fears of tribal extinction are no longer reasonable. As Spencer Tracy says , (playing the Clarence Darrow character for the defense in the Evolution Trial aka the Monkey Trial) in *Inherit the Wind*: ***”The Bible is a book, a GOOD book, but it is NOT the ONLY BOOK!”***

  • timemachinist

    How about those other traditional teachings in the bible? The ones regulating slaves and the righteous beatings of them, massacres of war captives, etc? Its obvious we have to pick and choose which biblical lines to invoke when asserting any present-day agenda. But I wonder why anyone would care about a morality so silly as to care more about sex than one’s relation to the poverty, oppression and war? Real morality would focus on war and social injustice and unmet human need, which are the real evils all around us.

  • River Tam

    > “We thought he could help the Christian community understand the issue more clearly,” said Sang Yun ’93, staff director for Yale Students for Christ. “But I know there are many people who left feeling unsatisfied or judged.”

    Gosh. Wouldn’t want anyone to feel *judged* now, would we?

  • Yale12

    I have a feeling that if somebody was telling Esther Kim that she has to be celibate her whole life, or comparing the love she has for her significant other to alcoholism or jealousy (as Yuan explicitly does in his website), she wouldn’t be calling it a “message of love.”

  • RexMottram08

    Free love, man! Loosen up!

    F*ck anyone (or anything) you want!

    Ignore those mean Christians with their millennia of insight into the human person!

  • dalet5770

    Purim is over the mental cruelty of women and men posing as same sex couples has to stop. We need to have a sin tax on their insurance polices and their marriage licenses just as we do with cigarettes alcohol. with one quantified case study I will point out why – neighbor looses his wife to best friend He seeks out the comfort of same sex relationship and contracts the first reported case of aids – no one who has been to africa can donate blood to the Red Cross – what do you think that costs?

  • Standards

    What millennia of insight are you referring to, Rex?

    Is it the recognition of human personhood that led to the Spanish Inquisition, rampant anti-semitism, support for slavery, and subjugation of women? Are those the insight into the human person you’re referring to? What about the recognition that sexual attraction isn’t under an individual’s control?

    No?

    @Yale12 Priests are told they need to be celibate, as wlel. While I find celibacy to be repulsive, I don’t see any problem with telling an adherent of a religion the conditions necessary to adhere to that religion. Frankly under traditional interpretations of Christianity (that is to say, with even a hint of scriptural support), that is the only acceptable way to be a homosexual not interested in hetero sex. I don’t see the problem with stating the obvious. So long as the message isn’t being forced on anyone and people are adhering to them willingly, I see no problem.

  • River Tam

    > So long as the message isn’t being forced on anyone and people are adhering to them willingly, I see no problem.

    But people might feel *judged*.

  • The Anti-Yale

    This quibbling can go on forever. The PROBLEM is idolatry. People worship a BOOK as sacred. (Graven Image?)

    That’s blasphemy.

  • MJG

    River and Rex, you make my day.

  • Standards

    PK,

    I don’t think you know what idolatry, graven images, or blasphemy means.

    River,

    If anyone goes walking around telling homosexuals they will burn in hell, they are about as repugnant as human beings can get, no matter how sincerely they may believe it.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Worshipping as sacred a text edited and bastardized by centuries of translations and cross translations is idolatry.

  • PhysicsAlum

    “F*ck anyone (or anything) you want!
    Ignore those mean Christians with their millennia of insight into the human person!”

    So you’re saying… Consensual sex (or possibly masturbation, based on the “thing” part), minus the shame? Rational thought? A respect for the choices of one’s fellow human being?

    Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

  • terryhughes

    The Student Executive Committee for Dwight Hall has created a religiously intolerant environment on the Yale campus. The university should investigate those involved, who manipulated an official Yale organization to serve their own bigoted agenda, or run the risk that it has failed to respond adequately to the religious harassment concerns raised here.

    Yuan was first engaged in accordance with all applicable procedures to speak at the Dwight Hall library. Based on nothing but disagreement with his religious beliefs, the Student Executive Committee for Dwight Hall humiliated Yuan and all who sought to listen to him by forcing him to another venue.

    To argue that this hateful decision is justified because the organization that booked the Dwight Hall venue did not “specify that their intention was to host Yuan” is perverse. Does the Student Executive Committee now claim to be an Inquisition of acceptable religious opinion? Why stop with banishing those articulating religious views with which one disagrees. Does Dwight Hall now have it’s own Taliban? Does the Student Executive Committee now assert its right to demand the demolition of Buddha statues in the Trumbull collection because those statues offend the religious opinions of the Student Executive Committee?

    Regardless of whether one agrees with Yuan, he only SPOKE, which ought to be as sacred as anything on this campus. But the Student Executive Committee did not just SPEAK. Its demand that Yuan switch locations was an action constituting an abuse of office, an action that was itself “one of bigotry and hatred.” The Student Executive Committee needs to find the plank in its own eye.

    Any traditionally religious person would be justified in being really frustrated and disappointed if Yale fails to respond to this gross act of religious harassment. What the Student Executive Committee did here constitutes an assault on religious tolerance which creates an environment in which any person holding traditional religious perspective may feel devalued, and worse. Shame. Shame on the Student Executive Committee for Dwight Hall and each of its members who participated in this disgraceful abuse.

    To any sensitive person, regardless of his or her religious, sexual or political orientation, the Student Executive Committee action needlessly creates barriers to traditionally religious persons from participating in all aspects of Yale life. Worse, it perpetuates an environment in which these sorts of acts are ok.

    Any such sensitive person should also hope that Yale will take the abuse perpetrated by the Student Executive Committee in this case extremely seriously and fully investigate this perversion, including performing a “climate check’’ for religious intolerance by interviewing Yuan, each involved member of the Student Executive Committee, and any other students, faculty, and administrators who may have collaborated in humiliating Yuan and this program of religious intolerance.

  • AddisonS

    In response to “The Anti-Yale,” is the United States of 2011 supposed to be molded and shaped by the needs of some founders from nearly 250 years ago? I believe the Holy Bible and the United States Constitution have much in common, structurally: they were both drafted in a manner that allows for fluidity. Just as the Constitution contains “elastic” clauses, the Holy Bible also has flexible exhortations that allow for unforeseen changes in cultures, technology, etc. So to answer your question, yes, I believe that our current world is “to be molded and shaped by the needs of tribal people in a desert wasteland 3000 years ago.”

    I would also like to ask “timemachinist” where in the Bible you have found justification for abusing slaves, let alone owning them, and annihilating captives of war. If you can find where provisions are made for these atrocities, then I might be more susceptible to your argument, but until then, I feel that it is completely invalid.

    The point I am trying to make is that I think anybody who reads the Bible will find that it contains truths and commandments that are abounding in love — truths and commandments that were given to you and me so that we can live lives according to the author of life. Does anyone agree or disagree?

  • The Anti-Yale

    structurally: they were both drafted in a manner that allows for fluidity.

    Bible wasn’t drafted. It is a collection of various authors, much of it bastardized by oral tradition and the political needs of translations.

    It’s poetry. It’s not God. Worshipping IT (the Bible) as sacred, is to worship a false idol, aka idolatry.

  • caringstd66

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