Hi, this is Jim Daly with Focus on the Family, and thank you so much for tuning in. Before we get started, I want to make you aware of a great event that's coming up, October 20th and 21st in Jacksonville, Florida. It's the Legacy Grandparenting Summit, and we have the man behind it all right with us today, Larry Fowler. Larry, thanks for joining us.
Good to be with you, Jim. Okay, what's the Legacy Grandparenting Summit all about? Well, it's the only national conference on Christian grandparenting. And to equip Christian grandparents to become more intentional in passing on their faith.
It is live in the Jacksonville, Florida area, but it's live streamed to about 110 churches across North America. That's fantastic. Why should grandparents participate in the summit, and what are they going to learn? Well, they're going to learn a lot about how to fulfill their biblical responsibility to be faith storytellers, to pass on the legacy to their grandchildren, and to see faith perpetuated in their families. I think it's all kind of capsulated in a wonderful and heartwarming story about someone named Tom.
What is Tom's story? He couldn't imagine, Jim, going to a conference and spending two days talking about grandparenting when he thought he was already a really good grandfather. But he would tell you that his whole perception of grandparenting was absolutely transformed in the first hour of the conference. He saw a kind of side to grandparenting that he had never considered.
They're wonderful, godly people. They never thought about grandparents and their biblical responsibility to be intentional and pass on faith. He would say it's absolutely transformed his perception of grandparenting. And, Jim, we've seen that happen with thousands of grandparents as they have participated in the conference, and we want to encourage even more to be transformed by the message of intentional Christian grandparenting.
No, that's terrific. I'm not a grandparent yet, but my boys are in their early 20s, and I'm sure it's around the corner at some point. You're a grandfather wannabe. I'm a wannabe.
But if I were a grandfather, I hope Jean wouldn't have to kick and pull and cajole me there, but she might someday. And I just want to encourage you to consider participating. You can get more information at our website. That's FocusOnTheFamily.com slash broadcast.
So get registered and become a better grandparent. Thanks, Larry, for being with us. You're welcome. Glad to be with you. Thank you for being with us. Thank you for being with us.
That's not easy to do in this culture where people are choosing their own path apart from God, where anything goes. There's a lot we can learn from Joe. And I hope you'll stay with us for some thoughtful dialogue. Joe Dallas is an author, conference speaker and pastoral counselor. He's the founder of Cloud Fire Ministries in Tustin, California.
That's a counseling ministry for men dealing with sexual addiction and other sexual and relational problems. Joe has written a book called Christians in a Cancel Culture, and you'll find the link in the program notes. Here now is Jim Daly with Joe Dallas on Focus on the Family. Joe, welcome to Focus on the Family. Hey, thank you for having me, Jim. It's so good. Great being here.
Man, I've watched you from afar. We haven't had a chance to really sit down and talk before, so I'm looking forward to our discussion and kind of getting into some of the things that are going on in the culture. Lots to get into.
Yeah, there's a lot to get into and helping people better understand where you've come from. I think everyone probably knows what cancel culture is. Let's start there. When you look at it, how would you define what cancel culture is all about? Jim, the term has kind of morphed. Cancel culture a few years ago meant more specifically the attempts to erase the history of figures that were now deemed unacceptable.
If they owned a slave, for example, or if they held the wrong position on different issues, we would cancel their memory or tear down their statue or remove them from the history books. Now, the concept has broadened, so really you can lump cancel culture, the woke movement, social justice movement, all of them are part of what I call a crusade. Basically, cancel culture then is part of a crusade to revise our understanding of some basic concepts that have always bound us together. The definition of family, the definition of marriage, the definition of social justice, the definition of patriotism, definition of faith and religious freedom. These have all been basic kind of pillar concepts that we've always held onto.
Cancel culture has basically moved in over the past decade especially and said, we want to revise this and we will revise this. If you will not go along with the revision, then you are one of the infidels. Every crusade has infidels, right? The good guys and the bad guys.
You got it. We're the bad guys. I don't care how nice we are, I don't care how reasonable we are, how loving we are. If we hold to biblically based values, if we hold to a biblically based worldview, cancel culture as a movement will not accept us as anything but infidels. Now, I don't want to make everybody involved in it out to be some lethal enemy because every movement is made up of individuals. Just like you got the Pharisees, they were obviously hostile to Jesus.
But then you got Nicodemus. You get reasonable people and you have reasonable people in any movement. But the movement itself basically views anyone holding to traditional viewpoints as needing to be converted and if they will not be converted, they need to be silenced. So that's my long answer.
Yeah, no, that's really good. And cancel culture to me, when you look at it, always tilts to the progressive left. I mean, it's not a cancel culture toward the right in any way to those traditional positions. I think one of the difficulties we have, Joe, being more conservative is it's even hard to have a dialogue with these people because there's no definition of anything. You know, what you talked about a moment ago, those traditional values of family, nuclear family, I mean, it always drives me nuts when they say nuclear family is a Western European construct. You're going, well, Jesus talked about it.
He said, a man shall leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So it's kind of interesting that they lay that at the feet of Western European enlightenment. I think that somehow makes it look more like it's a human construct.
There's no divine authority attached to it. It's just cultural. And as such, it needs to be revised to move ahead with the times. Yeah.
And again, it just always tilts to the left and we're going to weave in and out of all of these themes. So I'm coming back to some of the things you're talking about, but I want to get a little laser focused on the LGBT movement. And if you look at that effort, you know, they gained some incredible ground in this culture. You know, one of the things I try to make contact with people in that community and I, you know, thankfully I have been able to develop some friendships.
And, you know, before people say, wow, you know, how can you do that? Hey, I believe the Lord does call you to do that. The key is don't give up your biblical position in that relationship. But, you know, it's important to develop relationships with people who think differently.
I don't, I'm not afraid of that. I think the gospel will do its work regardless. But in that construct, the thing that I've found is the gains again that they've made. I mean, they were able to make those gains in a democracy. They got to the table of power, you might say. And I think one of the biggest challenges they have is how do they change from being a more militant group into a pluralistic element within a culture that believes a lot of different things. You know, Christians have a place at the table.
I think it's fair to say they built the table, you know, Judeo-Christian values in this country. And in that construct, you know, how do we recognize where the LGBTQ community has come from and where they're at today? Well, you know, I was part of that.
Right. I mean, from 1978 to 1984, I was a very committed member of the gay community and for years served on the staff of a pro-gay church and very actively promoted the idea that homosexuality and the Bible were compatible. And then my last few years when I was with the gay community, I became much more of an activist. So I've been on that side of the issue. Now, I won't legitimize any of what I stood for when I was a part of that, but I will tell you this, Jim, it was a more reasonable movement at that time.
I have to say, oh, I look at it now, I don't even recognize this. I mean, in my day, which was a long time ago, admittedly, but in my time, I don't know anyone who wanted to impose an ideology on churches. I didn't know anyone who wanted to silence the church or silence conservatives for that matter. What we were fighting for at the time was decent treatment. Please don't beat us up. Don't call us ridiculous names. Don't outlaw us.
You know, let us at least be able to live in peace. Now, there may have been some in the leadership at that time, late 70s, early 80s, who had something a little more sinister in mind and thought, well, we'll get our foot in the door and then once we're in, we'll take over. But I sure didn't see that. I mean, at the time I was a part of it, I think most of the things we were asking for were at least reasonable.
I was wrong. We were wrong in a lot of areas. But the movement did not have the same complexion it has today. What it's become now is basically a demand for the normalization of homosexuality and transgender. And normalization includes acceptance by all. Yeah, this is not tolerance we're talking about. This is basically approval. I mean, there was a time, gee, I even remember a few years ago, do you remember all those nice bumper stickers that said coexist and you had all the different religious?
Yeah, well, wouldn't that be nice? I mean, that train's gone. But, you know, in that regard, it's interesting to me that great old saying, you know, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And I think whether it's in the hands of the church or in the hands of people that don't believe in God like the cancel culture, LGBT leadership, when people get power as a movement, they usually wield it in very negative and even evil ways. And again, I'd put even the church, you know, slavery isn't evil.
It's a scourge. People did not catch up to that quickly enough and America didn't make its correction as soon as it could have. Now, I do give the Founding Fathers great credit for creating a document that gave a 90-year off-ramp to slavery.
They just needed Abe Lincoln and, you know, the American psyche to kind of move. And so it did provide a way for everyone to be seen as equal and created in the eyes of God, right? Right. Let me take you back to your story because I think people need to hear that.
You've referred to it being part of the LGBTQ community. Let's talk about that. Where were you at? What was going on in your life? What do you think in that self-analysis kind of moved you in that direction?
And let's talk about both the pain and then the aspiration of coming out. Yeah, Jim, I think the term accidental activism would apply real well to my life because I never intended to be actively defending principles that I'd been utilizing just to serve people. But I think the trajectory in my life took me in that direction. I became a Christian at age 16, 1971. I'm 67 now. And by that time, I had already begun identifying myself as gay, which in 1971, that could get you killed, right?
Really. But I had had a number of relationships with adult men, and I had known for years that I was attracted to the same sex. Let me pull this out. In that regard, where did that sexual confusion – and people are going to erupt on that, the fact that I'm using that term – but where did that sexual confusion start for you as you've had plenty of time and you're on all sides of this debate?
Sure. When you do your self-analysis, what do you think led you in that direction? I know a part of it was in my upbringing. I felt from early on – and I don't know who's to bless or who's to blame for this, so I'm not pointing fingers. I will only say that from the time I was conscious of who I was, I was also conscious of my awkwardness. I felt unwanted.
I felt that I was viewed as being stupid, as being in the way, just not of much value. And that set me up for a horrible encounter when I was eight years old with an adult man in the theater in the downtown area of my city, where I was raised in California. He approached me when I was waiting to watch a movie. I was alone. I spent a lot of my time alone. I was in the lobby. He chatted me up. He was very friendly. And the idea that an adult man – a father figure, if you will – found me interesting and liked me and wanted to hear what I had to say, Jim, I'd have followed him off a cliff.
I just drank that in. So he asked me if I needed to use the restroom, and he followed me into the men's room and then waited until everyone was gone and grabbed me and sexually molested me. Now, what was a turning point about that was not just the pain and the bewilderment of it, because I didn't even know what sex was. I sure didn't know what molestation was.
But it was the lie. Now, this is something I feel strongly. Any time you have either physical abuse of a child or sexual abuse of a child, you're going to get confusion. It's like this evil catechism.
Catechism is very didactic. This is what life is. This is what you are. This is your purpose. Well, that's what molestation teaches a kid. This is what love is. This is what your body is for. You have no boundaries.
This is all you're good for. Go along with it. And that lodged deeply in that little eight-year-old boy's soul. I know it did.
And that set me up in a couple of ways. It left me with a deep conviction that I was not like other boys or else this would have never happened to me. Kids, when they're victims, they tend to blame themselves. They've got to figure it's not the adult's fault.
It's got to be me. Well, there's something obviously terrible about me that this man would have felt free to do this to me. And that kept me away from peer relationships. It made me very insecure. It left me feeling that I could not relate to boys and men the way boys and men normally relate. I was there to be sexualized.
Right. It worsened your isolation. Oh, absolutely. It set me up for years and years of living in a fantasy world where I would steal pornography from a liquor store and go off by myself and just view it and get lost in the imagery. So I was ripe for sexual confusion. You ended up going out with a girl, I think in high school, and that was kind of the spiritual element of that, that she... That was awesome.
You know what's so funny about that? I still dated girls, and I was still interested in girls. This one in particular, she asked me to a dance. It was a backwards dance, the girls.
Right. Guys, she was a Christian. I kissed her goodnight, said, I'd love to see you again. She said, I'd like to take you to church. I couldn't believe that. Church. Right.
But she did. That Sunday, we went to Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. This was at the height of the Jesus movement. Chuck Smith.
Chuck Smith, and places burst into the seams, all these hippies that just got saved. Right. That's when I first heard the gospel, and when I heard the gospel, what confronted me was my own stubborn hanging on to something that I knew I was going to have to relinquish, and finally God won that battle. So that was all well and good, but here's the problem. When I was born again, Jim, 1971, nobody was doing what you and I are doing.
Right. Nobody was talking openly about this stuff from a biblical perspective. Few people were even talking about it at all, but certainly not within the church. And because of that, I thought, okay, I've repented the sin, got that, cleaned my act up, got that. I'm in Bible studies every night, and my prayer life is thriving, and I'm doing all the right things. And I really was thriving spiritually, but I still had homosexual temptations. And I thought, something's wrong here. I'm supposed to be a new creature.
Everything's supposed to be new. I should be relieved of this. No true Christian could ever feel the desires I am still feeling. There must be something wrong with me, but I was scared to death to tell anybody. And this is something I harp on with my clients that I'm working with is, for heaven's sake, don't ever think you can do this alone. If you've got a deeply ingrained sexual sin, pornography, homosexuality, whatever the thing is, if you don't bring it out into the light, forget about doing it in isolation.
That's not going to happen. I tried to do it in isolation. I prayed harder. I fasted. I did all the right things.
The temptations were still there. I did not understand the fact that we've got an ongoing struggle between the flesh and the spirit. Now, around that time, the gay rights movement was starting to gain visibility, and I started thinking, why am I doing this?
Why am I saying no to something that is so deeply ingrained? If God didn't take it away from me, I'm just spitting in the wind, and I am tired of this, and I think I'm going to give myself permission to say yes to it. So at age 23, I left the church.
I said, I'm out. This is who I am. Your identity was in the other.
And you know what? It was pretty exhilarating. I mean, I understand at National Coming Out Day why so many people are saying, oh, I never felt so free. I get it.
I get it. Because you stopped keeping a secret, and you feel like you now have something solid you can cling to by way of community, built-in relationships, even celebration. You're seen as heroic for making that declaration. And for a while, there's a real high that goes with it, but I missed my fellowship with the church. I missed my relationship with God, but I wasn't really willing to submit my sexuality to God. That's when I heard about the gay church, and that's when I visited a pro-gay church, and that's when I realized there were not only plenty of people who were gay like me, there were people who were Christians who identified as gay.
And this, to me, is an important point, Jim. Every person I met in the gay church had belonged to another church, been born again in another church, and had wrestled silently in that other church. And I'm talking people who had been Southern Baptist, Calvary Chapel, Foursquare Assembly of God, Episcopal Catholic, you name it.
They had come to Christ in those other churches, left those churches to embrace their sexuality, missed their spiritual relationship with God, thought they found the answer in the pro-gay church, which basically said, you can be gay and Christian, we've got a better understanding of the Bible now, it does not condemn that, it does not call it a sin, and here's how you can embrace that belief. And to a lot of us, that looked like an answer to prayer. Yeah. Joe, I want to tread into some deep waters here, because I think it's important to have this discussion. I remember I wrote a book called Refocus, and a local bookstore owner who leans liberal asked me to come and do an author talk and a signing. I thought, yeah, I'll do it. And I went down, there's probably 50, 60 people there, right here in Colorado Springs, and there was a gay activist there. I remember at the end of my talk, which really just meant, how do we stay true to the principles but love a world that is hurting? That's the general principle of what I talked about. And he put his hand up and he said, you know, when are you Christians going to get out of the archaic sexual arena that you have lived in for thousands of years and kind of get caught up to the 21st century?
And he had that little smirk on his face, and I got it, and I'm standing there smiling, actually. And I said, you know what, it's very kind of you to want to make me the editor of the book. But not only am I not the editor, I'm not the author, and I'm trying to contort my life to the Scripture, which is what I think God calls me to do. I don't contort Scripture to my life and my wishes and my desires. And I even said, hey, when you look at a woman, have lust in your heart, I'd like to erase that. Because that happens.
It happens if men are honest about it. But we don't have that luxury. That is not what God calls us to do. It's not us bending Him to our will. It's our will bending to His. And I think the deep waters of that is the acceptance of LGBT ideology in the church right now.
More and more churches are opening that up. They're being accommodating. And it's dangerous. It's grave danger.
It's grave danger. Look, there are some things we can agree to disagree on, right? I mean, there are some doctrinal issues. The rapture of the church pre-trib, mid-trib, mistrib. I'm not going to break fellowship over that.
Can you drink alcohol or can you not? I mean, these are secondary issues. But when you see sexual sin condemned, named and condemned specifically in virtually every book of the New Testament, that tells me right off the bat, if something is a sexual sin, that's serious. If homosexuality is listed as a sexual sin, among many others, not more than others, not less than others, but among many others, as it is in both Testaments, then that tells me homosexual behavior constitutes sexual sin. Sexual sin is a primary moral doctrinal issue. So no, there's no room to just say we agree to disagree within the church. And the culture, we've got to go along with Paul. He told the Corinthian church, it's not my job to sit here and judge those who are on the outside, okay? And he said, if you want to quit hanging around with fornicators, you're going to have to leave the planet. But within the church, you have to recognize we answer to a different authority. And just like you were saying, God has spoken.
God has spoken in and through a document that's divinely inspired so that we don't have to sit around and guess what his will is. Now, what I realized when I repented in 1984 was along the lines of what you were saying, Jim. I wasn't reading the Bible. I was reading into the Bible. I knew what I wanted it to say.
And you know how that plays out. If you choke the Bible hard enough, you can make it say anything you want it to say. It's kind of like what people are doing with the Constitution.
When people say it's a living, breathing document that is always morphing or whatever that tells me. Okay, so whatever you want it to say, you can impose that meaning onto it. And I think that's what I did. I know that's what I did. Yeah, and I think, again, for the person just joining us, your testimony, which is terrific.
I mean, it is authentic because you were in that space. You were leaning into the ideology of the LGBT community. And then God started working on your heart, albeit it took years to do that work. But that's what God does. So often, I think, Joe, sinners feel like, and by the way, we're all sinners. But when we don't know the Lord, you can get the impression that you have to clean your life up so that it's acceptable to God.
That's not the transaction. Good luck with that. Yeah, God's going to take you right where you're at. And that actually is great comfort to the person who realizes I'm inadequate when I'm in my own strength. I want to make sure we make that point that you don't have to clean your life up to be good enough for God. God's going to take you where you're at and start the great work of renewing your heart. And sometimes it can be instantaneous, like alcoholics I've met that stopped drinking right then.
Yeah, great. And others, it takes months, maybe years, to do the cleaning of the heart. That's a good point because, and this applies across the board, Jim, but in the kind of work I do, the change question is always the big controversial question.
Can homosexual people really change? And my take on it is similar to what you were just saying. The call is the same for everyone.
The outcome is individual. So just for example, the end of John's Gospel, Jesus is talking to Peter. And he tells him, you're going to be led where you don't want to go. Peter points at John and says, well, what about him? And Jesus says, you know what?
That's really none of your business. You follow me, he'll follow me, and the outcomes will be different. Now, I repented of homosexuality in 1984. I found that within even a year, the strength of the attractions had hugely changed to the point that I met and fell very deeply in love with a woman who I've been married to 35 years now. Now, I know other people who repented, and after three, four decades, they still are essentially attracted to the same sex.
They have no attraction to the opposite sex. Their outcome was different. They and I were both called to follow Jesus. The outcome may be different. Now, does that mean they did something wrong, I did something right? No.
No. I mean, they're living godly lives and they're living healthy lives. They have temptations that I don't have, but I got plenty of temptations they don't have. So this whole idea of narrowing it down to determining success by the absence of temptation, it's not a very biblical concept. We're all called to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow him.
Some of us may experience this remarkable transformation in some area. Some of us will continue to steward our area of temptation and everything in between. But I guess the point is, we have to recognize that all of us are called to the obedient, taking up the cross, following him, living the disciples' life, leave the outcome in God's hands. And I think that the Church's position has got to be one of simplicity. Simplicity meaning this. Jim, I think we try to get too fancy and figure out, okay, let's start really doing extensive research to see how we can better communicate and finesse all of the things we need to do. Now, good grief, if the early Church had thought that way, the Gospel would have never gotten past Samaria.
You know? I mean, I think that we need to get back to the basics of realizing the Word of God is still living and powerful. If we will preach it faithfully, we preach evangelism to the unsaved, they need to be born again. If somebody's transgender or homosexual or whatever they are, if they have not been born again, that's secondary. You know, Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman, she was in sexual sin. He wasn't so into telling her she was in sin.
He recognized it and he by no means validated it. But he said, let's keep the main thing the main thing. I want you to know me.
I want you to live. Because that's where it starts. That's the point. I mean, shoot, if I hadn't been born again, why would I have ever questioned my sexuality? Correct.
Why would I even care? And that's where most of these people are living. That's my point. So to them, we preach the Gospel. Within the Church, we disciple. To the world, we speak prophetically. And I think that what we're going to have to abandon is the idea that if the world is telling us we're hateful, we should believe our own bad press.
Yes, let's not be jerks about it. You've mentioned pride, and I think that's what's tripped us up from the beginning. Let's always be humble enough to examine ourselves, examine the way we are presenting truth, examine the way we relate to people. Let's be aware of who we are. We've been forgiven much.
That's Joe Dallas on Focus on the Family, and we'll have to end right there with part one of the conversation. And, Jim, I so appreciated Joe's testimony and his vulnerability. There's something for all of us to learn from him. Yeah, John, including that reminder that we've been forgiven much. We need to remember how much we needed a Savior, all of us, no matter who we are. We were all lost in sin. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So we need to realize our own weaknesses and failures and take a humble approach as we reach others for Christ and share His love, which is the good news. Joe will have more to say next time about how we should respond in a godly way to those in the culture who have a different perspective.
In the meantime, be sure to get his book, Christians in a Cancel Culture. Talk about a timely resource. For a gift of any amount, we'll be happy to send it along to you. As our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. Join the support team. Help us reach families and individuals around the world. Give us a call and donate as you can. 800-232-6459.
800, the letter A in the word family. Or donate and request your copy of Joe's book, Christians in a Cancel Culture. Details are in the show notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the rest of the team here, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. And you can give that to Focus on the Family. You can find out more at FocusPlannedGiving.com. Reduce your taxable income and help families thrive for generations to come. It's a gift that appreciates and we appreciate you for giving it.
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