By Destiny Mitchell
Chapel services continued to speak on the topic of Homosexuality with Dr. Mark Yarhouse a week after messages given by Christopher Yuan and Chaplain Mark Holcomb.
As a professor of psychology at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia and a self-proclaimed “sex re- searcher,” Yarhouse offered a different approach to the subject of sexual identity.
His messages merged the findings of psychological studies and findings with Christian beliefs and values.
“I read his book, Homosexuality and the Christian, and loved the compassionate way he talked about this issue,” University Chaplain, Mark Holcomb said.
“When Dr. [Lisa] Vander Veer from our Counseling Center contacted me about having Dr. Yarhouse on campus, I jumped at the opportunity.”
In a Christian Sexuality Q&A Seminar stocked with cookies, water, Diet Pepsi and Capri-Suns, thirty students seized the opportunity to ask both questions about Yarhouse’s professional perspective on Christian sexuality and personal advice on dealing with sexual identity in their own lives.
“Can a person be both gay and Christian?” “Do you believe the gay community is more accepting than the church and should the church change?” and “I am not in a same-sex relationship but have a deep longing to be in a same-sex relationship. How do you meet the needs for intimacy as a single person?” were just a few of the hard-hitting questions Yarhouse answered.
Most students chose to ask questions anonymously by writing them down on an index card but others chose to ask their questions outright.
In his response, Yarhouse expanded on the theme that homosexuality is not a choice and that no one knows the source in the same way that no one knows the cause of any other sexuality.
He counseled the group of students towards a mindset of love and understanding, expressing that sexual minorities– a term used in the field of Psychology to describe those who have some level of same-sex attraction– should be accepted into the church and that Christians should seek personal relationships with them.
Holcomb felt that the student body had much to gain from this type of speaker.
“He is one of the leading Psychiatrist in the area of adolescent sexual identity, an evangelical Christian, and intentional about rebuilding the relationship between the church and the gay community. That is a unique combination,” he said.
Holcomb added that “his differentiation between identity/orientation and volition is a needed message, a narrative we don’t hear often. It is what was central to Chris Yuan’s story, giving him hope in the midst of navigating orientation and HIV.”
Yarhouse also shared stories of gay and transgendered friends of his, some single and celibate, some open to a same-sex relationship and some currently in same-sex relationships. “I consider them all Christians” Yarhouse commented.
“I would hope that I am part of church where [sexual minorities] would be welcome,” he said, highlighting that the church should more readily accept the gay community into their own before shying away.
“Wow, I haven’t said anything to disqualify myself from [speaking] tomorrow, have I? “ he laughed.
But the door to visit as a guest speaker remains open, with Holcomb saying he would “definitely” invite Yarhouse to speak again.
“I learned a lot the last two weeks, and am grateful for his ministry to our campus and the church,” he said.