Joe Dallas is one of the most articulate people who address homosexuality and the church. He is an author, blogger, and professional counselor. While I have been a fan of his writings for years, we sat down for coffee recently and got to connect in person. As a result, he gave me the opportunity to endorse his most recent book Speaking of Homosexuality. While there are some excellent books on the Bible and homosexuality, this book now stands out to me as one of the best. I highly recommend it for its content and gracious approach.
Dallas answered a few of my questions. Check out this interview, and if you enjoy it, consider getting a copy of his timely book.
SEAN MCDOWELL: You've written a number of books on how the church can address homosexuality. Why another book? What makes this one unique?
JOE DALLAS: I’ve had the pleasure of writing books for people who are affected in different ways by homosexuality – families with gay loved ones, for example, or individuals struggling with their own sexual feelings – but this time I’ve been able to write a book for the average Christian who wants to dialogue with gay or pro-gay people. So many of us know what we believe, but we’ve been unsure how to express those beliefs, or when it’s appropriate to express them, or how to express them without coming across like a bigot. That’s why I wrote Speaking of Homosexuality.
SEAN MCDOWELL: You have been writing on this subject for roughly two decades. How have you seen both the issues and manner of the debate change?
DALLAS: If you hold the Traditional view on homosexuality, you’re definitely on the defense now. Not too many years ago, the majority of Americans believed homosexual behavior was wrong. But today, the culture has come to believe that if you think homosexuality is a sin, then you’re the one with a problem. So when believers express the Biblical view on human sexuality, they make their apologia, or their “defense,” in the marketplace of ideas. That’s both exciting and unnerving.
MCDOWELL: The subtitle of your book is "Discussing the Issues with Kindness and Clarity." What is it about homosexuality that requires both kindness and clarity? Do you think we need to address all moral issues in the same manner?
DALLAS: We seem to be forever swinging between the extremes of harshness and sloppy sentimentality. Kindness is required when you discuss this issue, because you can hardly convince people if you’re not showing them respect and even friendliness. But clarity is a crying need as well, because we can hardly win people to the truth if we’re not clearly explaining what the truth is. So both are needed when addressing this or any other moral subject. If I was into tattoos, which I’m definitely not, I’d put “Remember: Grace AND Truth” on everybody’s right arm.
MCDOWELL: Jen Hatmaker is a popular and influential Christian author. In fact, my wife has loved her books. Recently, in an interview with Religion News, she declared that same-sex relationships are holy. How do you process an announcement of this sort from such an influential figure?
DALLAS: I hate to say it, but “buckle up.” There will be plenty of influential Christian speakers, musicians, pastors, and leaders of all sorts announcing their epiphany from a traditional to a pro-gay view. Hatmaker’s the latest; she surely won’t be the last. It’s a symptom of the times. We mistakenly assume that if someone is a leader, she or he must be well grounded Biblically, but that’s hardly true. These days, if you’re articulate, empathetic, and personable, that alone can elevate you to a place of prominence in the church. So while I’m disappointed in Hatmaker, I’m more concerned about the church in general, and about how readily we accept people’s teachings without taking a Berean approach and checking what we hear from the individual against what we read in scripture.
MCDOWELL: Some people have claimed that within 10-15 years homosexuality will be as acceptable in the church as divorce, even though the Bible has strong teachings against divorce. What do you think? Any predictions as to where the issue is going over the next few years?
DALLAS: I agree with the prediction, although while those who make it tend to view it as a good development, I think it will be more proof of our general deterioration as a church and a culture. Where there’s doctrinal weakness, moral compromise is sure to follow. So I think we’ll see a growing acceptance of homosexuality within churches that claim a Biblical base, and we’ll see a broadening of our boundaries on other vital issues like the exclusive claims of Christ as being the only way to the Father, the existence of hell, and the sinful nature of man. Churches that stick to a truly Biblical world view are likely to face lawsuits, revocation of tax-exempt status, and eventual legal sanction for refusing the alter their teachings and in-house practices. Then again, since Jesus, Paul, and John in the Revelation foretold the downward spiral we’re experiencing, should it really be a surprise to us? But, praise God, there will always be people who’ll respond to truth, embrace and live it, and reap its benefits. So let’s keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, and finish the race. It’s still on, and there’s still a prize to be won.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D.is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.