June 22, 2013 marks a historic day for the LGBT Christian community. Exodus International, the largest ex-gay ministry in the world, is holding the last day of its annual “Freedom Conference.” In the opening statement on June 19th, leader Alan Chambers announced that Exodus International is shutting down after 37 years of service. He issued an apology to the LGBT community for all of the damage that the organization has caused in promoting churches to shun gays and apologized to ex-gay survivors of reparative therapy on Lisa Ling’s Our America.
In his address, he went over the 4 options that were considered at the North American Leadership conference in January 2012. He stated, “we are at a cross-roads at Exodus and we believe we only have four options.”
Option 1: Stay the same.
Option 2: Re-brand (Quote: “Things aren’t going well, so let’s put lipstick on the pig.“)
Option 3: Modify (Quote: “What we realized is that God doesn’t want us to modify Exodus any further. He’s provided us with an opportunity to take option four.”)
Option 4: Shut down. (Quote: “We believe that God has called us to go out of business so that the church CAN do its job.”)
Alan noted that when he took the position as the leader of Exodus International, he was asked what success would look like to him. He stated that his goal would be to eventually shut down Exodus BECAUSE “the church is doing its job.” He explained that Exodus was created in a time where the church was completely silent about homosexuality and gay church members were left with a void. Exodus International filled that void by providing a place where gay Christians had a voice. Personally, it seems that this “voice” has spread throughout many churches, but the voice was based on a lie that homosexuality is changeable.
Thousands of gay and lesbian Christians flocked to Exodus International in attempts to change from gay to straight. Millions of heterosexual Christians have added to this voice and push out any LGBT church member who maintains a healthy committed same-sex relationship. Over time, some realized that being gay was unchangeable, so many jumped on the bandwagon to endorse forced celibacy. Ironically, it became acceptable to “have a slip” and have empty gay sex with a stranger, as long as no relationship was formed and you promised to try not to do it again. This attitude about homosexuality actually promoted gay sex with prostitutes as better than gay monogamous relationships.
Alan Chambers has recently admitted that change is not possible. Although he has been married to his wife, Lesley Chambers, he admits that he still has same-sex attractions (i.e., he is bisexual, NOT a cured ex-gay.) This brings up a big point. If the Will of God is to have all of his followers be heterosexual, than why has he not provided a single way out from same-gender attractions?
Although Alan’s vision to shut Exodus down was not based in his goal that the church is currently doing it’s job (to accept gay and lesbian Christians into their fellowship), he feels that shutting down is a way to prompt churches to “fill the void” of Exodus by allowing gays and lesbians into their church. What will come of this will only be revealed in time…
As a Christian lesbian myself, I have personally experienced the impact of Exodus International through nearly every church-going Christian I have ever met. The original vision of Exodus was to show that change is possible and that gays can turn straight. This false belief system has created a distorted perception that I personally continue to choose to be gay and haven’t tried hard enough to be straight (despite my previous genuine attempts at dating men). My only acceptable options are to marry a man whom I have no capability of romantically loving or be celibate and never experience mutual romantic love again. To this day, my mother says that I have “chosen my lifestyle.” When I shared with my dad about Alan Chambers admission that no one in Exodus International has ever truly changed from homosexual to heterosexual, he gasped in utter shock, exclaimed “WHAT?!!” and nearly fell backwards in his chair. He admitted that he was under the impression (due to the claims in the church) that thousands of gay people have transformed into heterosexuals.
The false doctrine of gay-to-straight transformation was all based upon wishful thinking and the intentional omission of its leaders and followers to hide their continued same-sex attractions and say that they were “cured of homosexuality.” This lie has spread like a disease into the churches across the world and has caused many lost lives and lost souls. Aside from gay suicides, it’s biggest damage has been to the LGBT community itself on a deep spiritual level. Countless gay and lesbians have turned away from God because they saw the church’s non-acceptance as God’s non-acceptance. The voice of Exodus has mutated in the church to inflict further damage. The main message in most evangelical denominations today is that “you can NOT be gay and Christian at the same time.” This has caused many souls to be lost, forever.
Thankfully it seems that change is on the horizon. The main message of Alan Chamber’s opening address was that God loves us how we are. We have not and cannot do anything to “procure Salvation.” It is all based on the grace of the saving blood of Jesus Christ. AMEN! He made the message clear that as long as you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, God accepts you as you no matter what you do and He will never turn His back on you. He stated that Exodus International has “lost the battle with culture,” but that the battle was “meant to be lost.” He stated that he felt it was the Will of God not to fight any longer, but come together to bring the (gay) “refugees” home into the church.
The video of Alan Chamber’s opening address at the 38th Annual Exodus Freedom Conference can be seen starting at 18:50 (18 minutes, 50 seconds) here.
♥Please also visit http://www.gaychristians.2freedom.com to learn about the alternate translations of the Bible verses that appear to condemn homosexuality. ♥