Discussing Homosexuality with Gentleness, Respect, and Clarity


Give us if you will a state of the union. From your perspective, where are we?

We are on the deep end. When the culture shifts to a different viewpoint, those holding a traditional viewpoint are now required to explain and even defend their refusal to shift with the culture. Peter said, “Always be prepared to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV), and that word “answer” to my thinking is a key word in this discussion. We are making our apologia our defense.

That is what the book Speaking of Homosexuality: Discussing the Issues with Kindness & Clarity is about because more than ever, the church is required to make a defense for our claim that God indeed defined what He created as existing between a man and a woman exclusively. Because we believe that marriage has a specific definition, which our culture has now varied from, we’re called on to defend that position.

Here’s where it gets dicey, though. We are being called on to defend something we know but largely have not examined because we never thought we would have to defend it. It seems so self-evident. Our very anatomy testifies to the normalness of a heterosexual union and the abnormalness of a male mating with a male or a female with a female. What we seem to know intuitively and by observation we are still being challenged to defend. Sometimes I think defending the obvious can be tough because the thing is so self-evident we wonder why we have to defend it, and for that reason I think many people haven’t bothered to think it through.

Let’s start with your own life story. You were a gay-activist., yourself?

I was. I was like many people. I realized early in life that I was attracted to the same sex. I acted on those attractions at a young age, and then heard the Gospel and responded. I was born again in 1971 under the ministry of Pastor Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, during what we often call the Jesus Movement. I served the Lord very fervently for years, while silently wrestling with homosexual temptations.

I reached a point of giving myself permission when I was in my early 20s to give into those temptations, and then I had a dilemma. I did not want to abandon Christianity. I also didn’t want to abandon homosexual practices, and I heard about a church where I would be given permission, sanction if you will, to express both parts of myself—my spiritual life and my homosexuality. I thought for years, when I say thought, I debated on college campuses and I promoted the idea that homosexuality and Christianity were compatible until 1984, when the conviction of the Holy Spirit combined with the knowledge that I had with sound teaching in my earlier years just became too much for me, and I had to admit I had been kidding myself.

You say that you knew what you believed, but at first you didn’t know how to state it. Then you knew how to state it, but you didn’t know how to defend it. And then you came to the place where you knew how to defend it, but you didn’t do it with the right attitude. I think a lot of people can relate.

I think so. Yes. So often we know what we believe, but we’ve never known how to explain it. Often times, as I point out in the introduction to my book, when I first tried to explain my beliefs, I sputtered through it because the subject can be so emotional that when you try to finesse it too much you make a fool out of yourself. I’ll give you a good example; it’s the one I gave in the introduction to the book. When I repented of homosexuality in January of 1984, I needed to tell my gay friends about the decision I had made. I sat down with some of them and I started trying to explain. Now I made one of many mistakes that I have made over the years. The first one I made was trying so hard to put it nicely that I got too vague, too hypersensitive, and I lost all verity. I said vague things like, “I’ve had kind of a spiritual awakening” and “I’m not sure that this is right anymore” and “I’m seeking God’s will;” rather than simply saying, “I repented of homosexuality because I have come to believe it is a sin.”

What I have found, when people sense you are trying too hard to finesse your words, you come across as phony, you come across as apologetic and not really convinced of what you’re saying. I bring this up because I think many believers today are so concerned about not giving offense, that they are actually dancing pirouettes, when they should be speaking plainly, always respectfully, and with gentleness, but with clarity. I find many people who are either non-Christian or pro-gay appreciate it much more when we are honest and direct and respectful with them; rather than trying to finesse our words so much that we wind up saying virtually nothing.

—Joe Dallas

This blog adapted from the October 3, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.