Exodus International President’s Apology Represents a Hopeful Opportunity For the Church

Throughout its thirty-seven years of operation, Exodus International has been infamous for championing the Christian “ex-gay” movement. “Ex-gay” organizations advance the belief that, with the help of Christ, anyone within the LGBTQ community can experience a profound reversal in their sexual desires and attractions–even to the point of becoming exclusively heterosexually oriented. Organizations like Exodus have had a tremendous influence on the way that wider Christian culture treats LGBTQ people, and their pie-crust-promise approach of extraordinary, extra-Biblical change has left countless testimonies of failure and hurt in its wake.

Now, after decades of operation worldwide, Exodus is attempting to influence a new kind of profound change. President Alan Chambers issued a heartfelt apology to the entire LGBTQ community:

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

Exodus quickly followed his bold apology with an announcement that the organization would be closing its doors, and was beginning the process of opening an offshoot ministry with the intent to ” reduce fear, and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”

While there will be those who believe the above statements are far too permissive, and others who feel they don’t go nearly far enough, those on both sides should feel hopeful about the impact this change could have on the Church. The end of Exodus International may mean the start of a new, more productive approach towards loving our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and open a wider discussion on how to better minister to anyone living with same-sex attraction beyond simply saying “stop it“.

About Faith Newport

Faith Newport writes, knits, drinks lattes, and sings in the shower in a small Midwestern town. She lives with two cats, too many books, and her very patient husband. Follow her on Twitter @knittybarista.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Lots of SSA people have successfully gone on to live heterosexual lives. Lots haven’t. Sometimes you’ve just got to grit through a lifetime of temptation. At any rate, I’m particularly concerned about Chambers’ seeming acceptance of homosexual families/adoption, with the reference to same-sex couples being “great parents.”

  • Vione Guy

    You should concern about your life. Apologise to God for your sick mind and live your life and let others do the same.

  • Brett Falkenbergski

    I would call them straight-for-pay. The pay is love and acceptance from family and friends. Just what gay people want.

    I have to ask: is it better to abort than have your baby be adopted by a married gay couple?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    This is a spam comment and should be deleted.

  • Susan Gerard

    I think this is a kind, humble, sincere, repentance and restitution filled apology which will go far in reparation of the church’s mistreatment and persecution of gays. It does my heart good. As the blogger said, it “open[s] a wider discussion on how to better minister to anyone living with same-sex attraction beyond simply saying “stop it“.”

    How refreshing it is to acknowledge that gay couples can raise normal families. There are no studies that have not reached the same conclusion. Good for Chambers to acknowledging that.

    SOME commentors on this thread have WORLDS of experience with this issue at the ripe old homeschooled age of, what, 19? 20? I’m happy that she can confidently and in a godly manner tell people of same-sex attraction how to live their problematic lives. She knows so much more that a now humble man who has worked with these individuals for 37 years – almost twice as long as her life. Starr comment, Ester.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Just an explanation for Susan’s comment about the spammer who was deleted: Susan, I checked on the commenter’s disqus history, and it looked suspicious and robotic, so that’s why I called attention to it.

  • Jerry Lynch

    esther, we meet again. How many Christian organizations are dedicated to transforming adulterers into manogamy? How many Christian organizations are formed to transform greed into a cheerful giver? How many Christian organizations look to specifically change liars, cheats, and thieves into honest citizens? How many Christian organizations target only the covetous and jealous to end their sinful ways? How many Christian organizations challenge the 1% that are Christian to be more giving?

    Pastors most usually refrain from talking about what the Bible has to say about divorce because a good part by the good book are living in sin. Why is homosexuality getting all the attention as the sin of sins? Yes, it is wrong–along with any number of other sins that are equally wrong. The failure to help “the least of these” is how we will be judged unworthy for Eternal life. It would be pastoral suicide to call congregants on that point.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Hi Jerry. In my opinion, when it comes to charity, it’s very difficult to gauge all the motives and circumstances surrounding a person’s giving patterns. The greedy rich person is just a stereotype. I’ve known very generous rich people. And even rich people can’t give to every charity that might possibly approach them for money! I also see an irony in the adoption of “least of these” rhetoric by the Christian left, when those same people are pro-choice. How best to help the poor is an incredibly complex, multi-faceted problem. Killing babies is none of the above.

  • Jerry Lynch

    It may seem obvious why homosexuality is a focus for the Church. Certain denominations are accepting both gay marriage and gay ministers. Heavy yeast infection. Yet for someone like me, the political involvement of so many in the Church is a far, far greater infection of The Word, and one that explains so many sick aberrations taken as tradition and dogma in the Church, such as the “just war.”.

    The Church flourished as it never has since under continual persecution from Rome. Freedom of religious worship does not help to advance the kingdom or make for greater faith. Our freedom is only in Christ, as the Early Church showed. Real Liberty is in The Word, not in any statute. Live in The Word, and we live as if already in heaven despite all conditions and circumstances. The sinner needs our love and our love alone, as he or she has for a few thousand years.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Jesus promoted restitution in Matthew Matthew 18:15-22. How do the churches that label themselves “Christian” go about restoring all the lives they have destroyed with their promotion of fear and hatred toward all “others?” They have and will always lie to protect their own positions. We must walk away from this pseudo Christianity. Their members and leaders obviously are not following Jesus as their “Christ.”

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t argue that all wars are wise or justified, but you seem to be taking the position that there can never be such a thing as a just war. Not that you’re alone there, but please understand there are cogent arguments on the other side of that very large issue!

  • Maryjo Morrison

    Such “Meism”…It’s
    W.R.O.N.G P.E.R.I.O.D ! A Sin is A Sin People…Where are all the “John
    The Baptist” of the World…Too Many willing to Condone and Not enough
    willing to STAND FOR GOD…LET THERE BE NO MISTAKING…GOD Is Not
    concerned with hurting your feelings people…His son Died a cruel and
    horrific death for us and we trample him underfoot with our hurt
    feelings and whine and whimper about “Personal Rights”…Well my
    friend…go to “YOU WERE BOUGHT AT A PRICE…AND A HUGE ONE AT THAT…SO
    YOUR LIFE IS NOT YOUR OWN…WHEN WILL THE PEOPLE OF THE PULPIT STEP IT
    UP and the flock they are herding READ THEIR BIBLES…TEACHERS PUT DOWN YOUR PRECIOUS REPUTATIONS AND PREACH THE TRUTH, FOR THE
    SAKE OF THE FLOCK AND FOR THE GLORY OF THE SHEPARD…THE SACRIFICIAL
    LAMB WHO GAVE IT ALL UP FOR US…ALL OF THE LGBT GROUPS SHOULD BE ON THERE KNEES AS WE ALL SHOULD BE THANKING GOD THAT WE HAVE A KIND OF GOD WHO IS WILLING TO FORGIVE OUR SELFISH SELF-CENTERED WAYS AND THINKING AND START DOING FOR OUR CREATOR WHOSE LOVING-KINDNESS AND MERCIES NEVER CEASE! AND YET WE HAVE THE GALL TO COMPLAIN BECAUSE WE CAN’T HAVE SEX WITH WHOM WE WISH…PAAALEEEZ, I’M SO SICK OF HEARING ABOUT SIN THAT’S ACCEPTED, EXPECTED EVEN DEMANDED BY A MERE MORTAL BEING WHOSE GONNA CALL IT QUITS WITH GOD IF HE DOESN’T GET HIS/HER WAY. EXTEND ME MY INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS OR FORGET YOU JESUS. SO MANY WHO CAN IGNORANTLY ARGUE SINFUL RIGHTS DO NOT KNOW THE TRUE CHARACTER OF GOD BECAUSE IF YOU TRULY KNEW GOD IN YOUR HEART YOU WOULDN’T EVEN THINK OF DOING THE ACT…YOU WOULD WRESTLE WITH SUCH INNER TORTURE YOU COULDN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT…THIS IS GODLY SORROW AND LOVE YOU HAVE FOR A MOST WONDERFUL LOVING GOD…WE SHOULD LEARN TO SACRIFICE FOR HIM
    AND GIVE UP OUR SELFISH DESIRES JUST AS HE DID US WHEN HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON FOR US..FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO
    DIE IS GAIN…WE WORSHIP A GOD WHO DOES NOT TOLERATE AND WHO CANNOT LOOK UPON SIN…HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN..PLAIN AND SIMPLE…JESUS SAY’S “IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WILL KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS…IT’S ONE OR THE OTHER, YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH…YOU CAN’T SERVE TWO MASTERS…


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