Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality late last month made headlines around the world. During an impromptu 80-minute press conference with journalists, the Pope answered questions on a variety of issues, but the media has latched on to this one quote:
If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?
The pope was summarizing his thoughts about celibate clergy who have unwanted same-sex attractions. That’s the quote that caused the media floodgates to open, with many news reports breathlessly hinting that the Catholic Church was changing its positions on the topic.
The problem is the Pope wasn’t hinting at second thoughts on homosexuality. Instead the Catholic Church’s leader was trying to convey thoughtful, nuanced thoughts on an important issue in a five-second-sound-bite culture.
It’s challenging for people of faith to take on sensitive topics like human sexuality without their comments being misconstrued, misquoted or taken out of context nowadays. In fact, I’ve found myself in that situation a few times.
It’s almost enough to discourage Christians from trying to engage the culture on the issue.
The thing is, as believers, Jesus gave us a mandate to “go and tell.” And while having the correct views on sexuality isn’t what will save people, choosing to follow or ignore God’s design in this area has huge ramifications for each person’s well-being. So when we’re talking about God’s plan for humanity and we’re asked questions on things like same-sex attractions, we need to answer those inquiries with love, knowledge and respect. Doing so can be a daunting task, however.
That’s why I’m grateful for men like Joe Dallas, a widely respected author, speaker and pastoral counselor. He’s the head of Genesis Counseling, a ministry for men dealing with sexual addiction, homosexuality, and other relational problems. Joe has the ability to talk about these tough topics with grace, compassion and unflinching honesty.
Joe’s message to the church can’t be boiled down to an oversimplified, five-second sound bite – and that’s precisely why it’s worth your time to listen to what he has to say. With all the confusion circling around issues related to sexuality, I’m glad to let you know that Joe Dallas is our guest on the Focus on the Family daily broadcast airing today and tomorrow. Please try to tune in, or listen to How Should We Respond to Homosexuality? online.
Note: If you want to read a good evangelical perspective on the Pope’s comments, I recommend Al Mohler’s piece, “Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press and the Predicament.”