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Christopher Yuan
Scott Strazzante/Genesis
Christopher Yuan

From gay to joyous

Q&A | Author Christopher Yuan journeyed out of a pit into the arms of God

Issue: "The Battle for Africa," Feb. 8, 2014

Given the same-sex marriage juggernaut’s political and judicial success last year, we can expect on Valentine’s Day this year to hear early and often how great it is to be gay. Christopher Yuan, who was a homosexual and a drug dealer, has a different story that led to two sentences: prison and HIV positive status. God brought him and his parents to Christ, and Yuan went to the Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, gaining in 2007 an M.A. in biblical exegesis. Now pursuing a doctorate of ministry, he came to Patrick Henry College to answer questions about an outstanding book he and his mother co-authored, Out of a Far Country (WaterBrook Multnomah, 2013). 

Why does the subtitle of your book describe it as A Gay Son’s Journey to God rather than A Gay Son’s Journey Out of Homosexuality? We wanted to write not simply a story about a gay son, but a story about God—and God not just bringing me to Himself, but my mother and father also coming to Christ as well. 

Did you become a gay son because of nature, nurture, or both? People say, “There’s some evidence of a biological component to the development of sexuality,” and then jump to the conclusion, “Therefore people are born gay.” The accurate answer isn’t so much nature or nurture, but nature and nurture. Biblical anthropology tells us we all are born with predispositions toward certain sins, whether gossiping, lying, cheating, sexual addiction, whatever it might be. 

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What effect did your exposure to pornography at age 9 have on you? It’s difficult to say whether that was a causative agent, but it was a catalyst. It awoke things in me that shouldn’t have been awoken.

What other environmental factors may have added to your predisposition? I was born in the Chicago area, at a time in the suburbs when there were not many Asians. I was bullied for being Asian and was not good at sports, so I was called gay, fag, sissy, and began to ask myself, “Who am I?” 

Who are you? As I came to God, I realized who I am in Christ and realized that any identity, any label, should not be before my main identity in Christ. 

Your excellent book tells the story of how you learned that—but also how your mother learned that. I came out of the closet in my early 20s, and it devastated my mom. She and my father weren’t Christians, and she thought an ultimatum could bring me to my senses. She said, “You must either choose the family or choose this.” I left home. Then I got involved in drugs and started selling drugs in Louisville, Ky.

What happened to your parents as you did this? My parents were about to get a divorce after being married for close to 30 years. My mother bought a one-way Amtrak ticket to Louisville: She was going to say goodbye to me, then end her life. But someone gave her a little pamphlet that she read on the train. It explained how we’re all sinners, and yet in spite of our sins, the God of the universe still loves us. She realized God could still love her and she could still love her gay son. 

She visited you in Louisville. She said she loved me. I thought she was a little crazy. But she stayed in Louisville for six weeks, and a wife of a retired pastor gave her a Bible, led her in Bible studies, gave her Christian books. She grew in her Christian faith and went home. Within a few months my father became a believer as well. I saw how Christianity changed their relationship—they were no longer getting a divorce—and thought, “That’s good for you, but not for me.”

Then what happened? They moved to Louisville. I was supplying drugs to dealers in over a dozen states at that time, and they had no idea the depth to which I had gone, but they knew I needed to know Christ. They prayed for that miracle, that God would do whatever it takes, which for a Chinese mother is a scary bold prayer to make. She knew there was nothing she could do or say to soften my heart to make me a follower of Jesus, that it needed to be truly an act of the Living God. 

Were the police in a sense the agents of Christ in your life, showing up when you had a huge amount of drugs on your counter? Yes. I had just received a large shipment. They confiscated all my money and my drugs, and I faced 10 years to life in federal prison for having the street value equivalent of 9.1 tons of marijuana. I tried calling home from jail, and was imagining my mother in her own self, before coming to Christ, saying, “You deserve what you got,” giving a harsh response. But as my mom picked up the phone and I told her where I was, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Are you OK?” 

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