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“.