As members of the Christian community at Yale, we write this letter reluctantly, not wanting to exacerbate further the hurt, confusion and frustration of this past weekend’s events surrounding Christopher Yuan. Yet we hope that some clarification may facilitate longer-term, constructive dialogue on campus. We roundly repudiate every form of bigotry and intolerance — any action or attitude that undermines the value and dignity of any person. We recognize that, contrary to the very spirit of Jesus, the Christian church has often perpetrated such wrongs, and to the extent we can, we apologize for these inexcusable offenses.
Our hope in bringing Christopher Yuan to speak to members of the Yale Christian Fellowship and Yale Students for Christ was to shore up a respectful and loving tone among Christians. In no way did we seek to position Christopher as someone to address the broader campus community.
Unfortunately, a series of divisive and factually imprecise emails rallied together a much larger audience, many of whom did not share the faith tradition in which Christopher was operating. His story and his perspectives have been deeply influenced by his encounters with God, and it is only within that framework that his words would make sense (if, in fact, they do). The thrust of his argument was that a Christian’s identity derives ultimately from a dynamic relationship with a living God. We took the risk of inviting Christopher because he regularly speaks out against discrimination based on sexual orientation and challenges churches to communicate a holistic picture of God’s love. Nevertheless, we recognize that his presence, for many individuals, was an offense rather than a help, and we are grieved by this.
Though this may seem perplexing given this past weekend, we have long desired for more amicable relationships between LGBTQ persons and Christians (and, of course, these are not mutually exclusive groups). Emotions have been frayed, and we, too, have been weary, wishing so desperately to get past destructive polarizations and to find a place of dialogue and connection where every person feels safe to consider gender, sexuality and faith matters. Our commitment is that the staff and students of YCF and YSC never act or speak disrespectfully, much less, hatefully, toward anyone. If you know members of these groups personally, we hope that you would be able to concur that this is indeed the case. We are by no means perfect, but the God in whom we put our confidence is — perfect in love and perfect in wisdom.
Sang Yun ’93 and Greg Hendrickson ’03
Yun is the staff director of Yale Students for Christ. Hendrickson is the staff director of the Yale Christian Fellowship.