Exodus International issues statement on reparative therapy

This seems to be a change…

The California House recently passed a bill outlawing reparative therapy for youth under the age of 18. The Senate is set to vote in coming days. With the media abuzz, we have had numerous calls from news reporters across the country, asking for our opinion and position. Many others have simply mischaracterized Exodus International as a reparative therapy organization. One such instance was a newscast on an ABC affiliate  in San Francisco. The reporter stated that our “members now live heterosexual lives—many with spouses and kids—because of reparative therapy”. We have written this statement to clarify our ministry objective which highlights the mission of Exodus International.

Exodus International supports an individual’s right to self-determine as they address their personal struggles related to faith, sexuality and sexual expression.  As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal. Our ministry’s objective is to equip the Church to become the primary place where people of faith seek support, refuge and discipleship as they make the decision to live according to Christian principles.

We believe in a “gospel-centric” view, meaning that all people, regardless of individual life struggles, can experience freedom over the power of sin through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, a commitment to scripture, and by being a part of a vibrant, transparent and relational community of believers found in the local church.  Exodus is partnered with more than 260 churches and support-based ministries who serve individuals and families experiencing a conflict between their faith and sexuality. (emphasis in the original).

Note the phrase not in bold: “ As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal.” As I read it, that means Exodus (as a national group) no longer subscribes to reparative therapy. I wonder how some of the local ministries are handling this. I know the one closest to this area is on board, but I am curious if other groups are.

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  • http://randythomas.co Randy

    “ As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal.”

    That’s the main line that really stood out to me as well. As a former staff person I know that has always been the main focus but it may not have ever been stated as clearly in contrast to reparative therapy.

  • M. Worrell

    Christopher Yuan spoke at our church this weekend and used identical terminology (“gospel-centric”) in talking about a Christian response to homosexuality, and stated his approval of Exodus International’s current trajectory away from change therapy. We’re probably the second largest church in Chicago next to Willow Creek.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    As a former staff person I know that has always been the main focus…

    If so, it was a well kept secret.  Too bad someone didn’t tell the member ministries which are Exodus.

    The statement in the OP, while welcome, still contains statements which have multiple meanings to various groups.  Exodus has a history of using this kind of language to avoid being held accountable.

    Why not just state clearly, “while we have supported change therapies in the past, we no longer feel these are effective and therefore no longer support their use.  This includes any therapy which seeks to categorize homosexuality as a pathology and/or seek to change someone’s sexual orientation, including but not limited to so called reparative therapy.”

    Nice, neat and abundantly clear.  Most of all, it cannot easily be spun.  In the rest of the statement they could make their case for behavior change,  which they believe is something God can help with. 

    While one might disagree, as I do, with that position, at least this statement would comport with reality.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think this is a step forward. It’s more in line with Alan Chambers’ admission that “99.9% don’t change their sexual orientation” and more in line with what Jeff Buchanan said to the Christian Post in March of last year:

    “In no way shape or form is our message about trying to cure or do we try to promote that type of methodology or message…Exodus believes the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. It is holiness. We promote the belief that one can live a life that is congruent with their faith. That is our mission – period.”

    In a post from last year entitled “What Is Change?”, Dr. Throckmorton correctly noted: “Alan’s statement, to be consistent, needs to be understood not as a statement of science but one of faith and belief in the primacy of self-definition. Gay, to many evangelicals, means approval of homosexual behavior. And since they do not believe that is right, they change everything they can to achieve congruence with their beliefs. However, they have not changed their automatic attractions in ways that would meet categorical definitions of change.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2011/03/09/what-is-change-exodus-and-the-our-america-segment/

  • StraightGrandmother

    It seems that Alan Chambers clarified this with Jim Burway at Box Turtle today. From BTB-

    In response to yesterday’s post about Exodus International’s statement on Reparative Therapy in response to California’s proposed curbs on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) by licensed professionals, Exodus president Alan Chambers sent me a message clarifying a point about the line referring to ”an individual’s right to self determination”:

    To clarify the “right to self determination”, we took that from the APA not NARTH.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Message to NARTH,-

    The Cheese Stands Alone

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren commented: “I wonder how some of the local ministries are handling this.”

    I understand some are not too happy about it (and some other changes Exodus has been making). These ministries seem to want a reallignment with NARTH, a reaffirmation of “reparative therapy”, sexual orientation change and a tougher theologcal stance (less centered on what Andy Comiskey calls “cheap grace”.)

    I believe Comiskey and Desert Stream are no longer affiliated. Comiskey felt there should be a change in Exodus leadership, with Chambers playing a “reduced role, at best.”

    Several ministries have left — including two of the founding Exodus ministries, Frank Worthen’s ministry (formerly Love In Action) and OUTpost. Both of these organization played a very important role in the creation and history of Exodus.

  • Ann Ward

    “do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal.” – A MAIN FOCUS OR GOAL. Doesn’t that mean that “reparative therapy” can be a “minimal focus or goal” while the primary focus is Holiness? As a parent of an amazing son (w/SSA), I’ve had to alter my expectations and beliefs as more information has come out. No pun intended.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Hi Ann, I think the stance most people take who pursue congruence is that they would not deny any change in their inner world that took place but they are not seeking it or using change as an indicator of their holiness, stance before God, level of effort to live a congruent life, etc.

  • Michael Bussee

    I find it interesting that Exodus is using the phrase “sexual orientation”. If my memory serves me, they used to avoid it at all costs. But, Alan Chambers used it when he admitted that “99.9% don’t change their sexual orientation” and now Exodus is using it to distance itself from NARTH and other “therapies” where “changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal.”

  • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

    Re Randy’s comment—anyone in marketing or sales just needs to ask the customer–”what is it that you think we/I do?” to find out if the mission matches the message. If the mission of Exodus was REALLY to bring people closer to Jesus and not “fix” them, surely that message would have trickled down in the Exodus culture. But it did not. There are PLENTY of people /groups that disciple–the work or Exodus is not to disciple, but to fix.

  • Michael Bussee

    I really think these are steps in the right direction. It will take some time for Exodus to undo the perception that they have misled the public about sexual orientation change for over 30 years.

    Words like “ex-gay” and “former homosexual”, phrases like “Bottom line, you don’t have to be gay”, “change is possible” and bold claims that “tens of thousands have successfully changed their orientation” will take some time to fade out of public awareness and into Exodus history.

    But if all of this is what Wendy Gritter called “humbly and transparently dealing with the perception that we have lied”, that a very good thing indeed — and I commend Exodus leaders for doing it.

  • daemon

    “humbly and transparently dealing with the perception that we have lied”

    Exodus continues to coat its words and goals in oil as to never be held accountable to anything at all and continue recieving funds for the harm, hurt and spiritual violence it trades in.

    They DO lie. They HAVE lied. I could respect these religious abusers more if they could simply speak the truth about their actions and reality for once instead of shifting and decieving others in order to perpetuate their business.

    daemon

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    They DO lie. They HAVE lied. I could respect these religious abusers more if they could simply speak the truth about their actions and reality for once instead of shifting and decieving others in order to perpetuate their business.

    Agreed.  The English language has plenty of unambiguous words and phrases that Exodus leaders could use to be specific, yet they still do not use them.  If any of this is more than simply PR or self-preservation, there must not be any room for confusion. 

    Randy Thomas’ comment above is a good example of what not to do.  Forget saving face or making excuses, say what you mean and mean what you say.  Afterwards, make every attempt possible to communicate your current position and the fact that you no longer hold the others. 

    Some may be content to sit back and say, “ah, change has come to Exodus, how joyous” without ever expecting any sort of amends to those they have deceived.  Shame on you.  Exodus should not reap the rewards of doing the right thing until they have actually done the right thing.

  • http://www.alanchambers.org Alan Chambers (@AlanMChambers)

    Daemon, to lie would mean that we purposely deceived. We have not done that. Yet, what you and David say about acknowledging there has been an evolution in what we believe is critical and you will see that clearly as we continue making statements.

    Randy is right that therapy and orientation change hasn’t ever been our focus or goal at the Exodus office, but the public sure wouldn’t know it. And, now that we all are getting a firm grasp on these things the burden is on us to prove it and make amends and changes.

  • Teresa

    @Alan Chambers,

    Thank you so much, Alan, for weighing in here on Warren’s Blog. Even though I’m Catholic, your message resonates wonderfully with me. At the risk of alienating some here, I believe many of us homosexuals are only looking for a home in which we can live comfortably with our traditional, Christian faith beliefs within a framework of chastity and celibacy.

    It’s nice to watch Exodus’ spiritual evolution in finally acknowledging: chastity, according to one’s state in life, is enough. Thanks again.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Alan, I am a non combatant :0 Ha-ha.

    I don’t know any people who are gay who have ever wanted to change their sexual orientation. And I am not gay myself. I research this topic because of the political implications of “It is a choice, gays can change if they really want to” And also, “It is a behavior” Those two sentences is what anti gay people latch onto in order to denigrated sexual minorities, and to deny them Equal Civil Rights.

    The more you can guide your Ministry towards, “Well you are always going to be gay but with God’s help, and help through our ministries we can help support you as you seek to find a life that is pleasing to God. We do not encourage anyone to try and change their sexual orientation as there is no evidence that anyone can do that (Read Catholic Courage website they put that right on their website) but our Ministries can help you lead a life that is pleasing to God through celibacy.

    As someone who doesn’t have any skin in the game, other than the political ramifications, I applaud you and lift you up. Be Bold!!!

  • Richard Willmer

    I agree with Teresa that Alan Chambers has, in recent weeks and months, made a very useful contribution to the ongoing debate surrounding issues of human sexuality.

    As an Anglo-Catholic (technically Anglican, but ‘theologically’ Catholic) with, perhaps, a more ‘liberal’ tint than Teresa’s (and Alan’s, and maybe even Warren’s), I would like to see more space made in the Church for those who, in good conscience and in tune with what I and many others regard as the most fundamental moral parameters of human relationships, are in same-sex partnerships. I recall a recent conversation with one of our most ‘senior’ (93 years young and counting) members of the church I attend: she said of a gay couple at the church “those two are really wonderful!” – a statement with which I could not have agreed more. In other words, she was looking beyond ‘sexualities’ and seeing people.

    I respect entirely those who, in good conscience, choose to be single (and am, in fact, single myself), but I really cannot see myself as somehow ‘more Christian’ then those in loving same-sex partnerships. I just can’t bring myself do it – it seems definitively wrong to me.

  • Michael Bussee

    About undoing what Wendy Gritter calls the “impression that we have lied” about orientation change, I am glad that Alan Chambers accepts that the burden is on Exodus — and I look forward to the “proof, amends and changes”.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    At the risk of alienating some here, I believe many of us homosexuals are only looking for a home in which we can live comfortably with our traditional, Christian faith beliefs within a framework of chastity and celibacy.

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a gay person make a statement like “many of us homosexuals…”  That aside, you certainly don’t alienate me.  I don’t share your belief that one must be celibate to be a gay and Christian, and I think such beliefs can be harmful if they are part of some evangelical effort.  However, if that is all Exodus had ever claimed to do, it is unlikely any of us would have much to talk about here.

    I remain skeptical, both because I’ve seen too much of Exodus’ history and because I think I owe it to those who have been deceived over the years.  If Alan is half as enlightened as he claims to be, the he will know it takes a lot more than this to erase such deep seated doubts.  Simply stated, it would be irrational to express any real trust in them at this stage. 

    There are those who are so hungry for acceptance that they will leap at a few crumbs laid out for them.  It’s hard to see fault in this, but it is sad.

    Randy is right that therapy and orientation change hasn’t ever been our focus or goal at the Exodus office, but the public sure wouldn’t know it.

    I sense in those words the old charge that this “misconception” is the fault of your adversaries, Alan.  I really do hope you are not going down that road. 

    I am curious about one thing.  While I realize some of your more dogmatic ministries are leaving on their own, will you be requiring those who remain to adhere to this same stance?  I don’t see how much good it can do if your ministries are still doing the same old thing.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    Alan, until you make a public Exodus-endorsed statement apologizing for using ex-gays (including yourself) as “proof” that us homosexuals who are “still in the lifestyle” don’t need any kind of civil protection, equality, or recognition, you have not truly changed an iota. In fact, Alan, I have some words you need to own up to right here:

    “[R]eally what we’re saying is this legislation is unfair, because it means that I was more valuable as a homosexual than I am today as a former homosexual,” Chambers told reporters before he began visiting on Capitol Hill April 17. “You know, this law would give special protection to those who are gay and lesbian, yet it doesn’t give any protection to those who are children. That’s saying that a gay man is more valuable than a child, is more valuable than a grandmother, is more valuable than the majority of Americans. That’s just not fair.”

    “The bill is “primarily being pushed by those in the homosexual activist community, really as a reinforcement that homosexuality is valid, that they need protection, and that’s just not the case,” said Chambers, who left homosexuality 15 years ago and has been married for more than nine years. “[Homosexuals are] protected as much as I am protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

    Oh and look, here’s an anti-hate crimes ad Randy Thomas (who just commented here) appeared in. http://www.truthwinsout.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Hat-Crime-ad.jpg

    You’re going to have to do more than throw water on the blackboard to get a clean slate. You can’t just pretend the nasty unChristian things you’ve said and done to fellow human beings (sometimes fellow Christians) never happened. I’ll have a change of heart when you truly own up to your history (and I say “history” because it is indeed recorded, for all to see). Til then, as Homer Simpson said, “Close, but you’re way off.”

  • StraightGrandmother

    Emily K I was not aware that Alan Testified before Congress to deny Civil Rights to Sexual minorities. He sure kept on shoveling until that Hill was awfully big. Best of Luck to Alan as he climbs back down that hill.

  • Karen K

    Alan,

    I appreciate that you seem to be considering taking Exodus in a new direction. However, I don’t think that is going to be possible until you and others within the ex-gay movement are more honest. By that I don’t mean that I think you are intentionally lying, I think there is deep denial. You write: “Randy is right that therapy and orientation change hasn’t ever been our focus or goal at the Exodus office.”

    That is simply not true. And until you own up to it, I really doubt there will be any true or lasting change. Part of building trust will be owning up to yes, Exodus headquarters has championed change in sexual orientation, and many ex-gay ministries affiliated with Exodus do so.

    Just 6 months ago your policy statement on “healing” read as follows:

    “Exodus affirms reorientation of same sex attraction is possible. This is a process, which begins with motivation to, and self-determination to change based upon a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We facilitate resources for this process through our member ministries, other established networks and the Church. The key outcome of this is measured by a growing capacity to turn away from temptations, a reconciling of ones identity with Jesus Christ, being transformed into His image. This enables growth towards Godly heterosexuality.”

    Until recently, the Exodus website endorsed reparative therapy. And there is still content that suggest same-sex attraction is developmental and therefore correctable.

    If you are serious about making changes in Exodus you will have to do more than just delete evidence off your website. You will need to seriously address the mixed message that ex-gay support groups and Exodus have sent. I was in ex-gay ministry in the 90s and back then the motto was “its not about heterosexuality, its holiness.” That is not a new thing. The problem was that even though I was not promised heterosexuality, every single week our group was working through a workbook on the “roots of homosexuality” so that if we healed from our developmental wounds we could find “freedom” from homosexuality. The ex-gay movement, with Exodus at the forefront, has had a strong developmental focus. Most testimonies are all about “this was my bad childhood, these are the roots of my homosexuality.” That of course is a very strong message that homosexuality can be treated. Most people in ex-gay ministry hope for that.

    Its this kind of denial that also made it difficult for you to admit that many gay people cannot change sexual orientation in your recent article on celibacy. The whole article consistently referred to gay people who are celibate because they don’t “want” to get married. Which is absurd. There wasn’t one word about how most people are celibate because they **cannot** marry–cannot function heterosexually.

    Be honest Alan, brutally honest. Do some serious introspection. If lots of people are telling you that Exodus has given the message “Change is possible!” then its because it has.

  • Michael Bussee

    Karen K. noted: “Exodus headquarters has championed change in sexual orientation, and many ex-gay ministries affiliated with Exodus do so.” She is correct. This has been going on for over 30 years…

    Now, in reponse to recent comments about orientation change, some of those ministries (including two of the founding ministries of Exodus) have left in protest — and think Alan Chambers should step aside.

  • Teresa

    @Michael,

    Aren’t both those ministries actually one and the same: Andrew Comiskey’s ministries: Desert Stream and Living Waters?

    Now, Andrew Comiskey is a recent Catholic convert and Courage has picked him up, in a way. He’s scheduled to give several talks at the upcoming Courage Conference in late July, 2012.

    @StraightGrandmother,

    SG, I think Courage, now with Andrew Comiskey onboard, is more deeply embedded in the ‘change’ meme. Where on the Courage website did you find that Courage was not about ‘change’ but chastity? I’ve never seen that.

  • Straightgrandmother

    Teresa, I am absolutely positive I read that, no mistake and I remember that clearly. I think the priest who started Courage recently died. I was reading news articles and probably web blogs about Courage because of the founding priest who passed away. I am sure I read it directly on the Courage website. Now they may have taken it down but it was there. I rember it so clearly because I thought that it seemed to me to be the only logical path a church should take. They know people don’t change from gay to straight so if they think it is a big bad sin, then obviously celibacy is the only option. I remember thinking to myself, how refreshing the honesty to come right out and say that they do not encourage anyone to try and change their sexual orientation and I was thinking that this is exactly what Exodus should do, just be honest and tell the people seeking help that our program is celibacy. I’ll go look at the Courage website and see if it is still there

  • Straightgrandmother

    http://couragerc.net/FAQs.html Teresa it is in their FAQ page but I don’t remember it as being worded the way it is now. I am quite sure it didn’t say “we will stand by them” When I read it it was much more against anyone tring to change their sexual orientation. I don’t remember the whole bit about not using the word gay either. I seem to recall it was much more well nicer. It seems to me to be, I don’t know what is the right word, “harsher” maybe.

    Why don’t you call them and ask them if they updated their website recently. I bet. If you would go back and read news or web blogs about that founding Priest you would find it in an article, because I was surprised to read it in an article about Courage NOT promoting SOCE so I went to their website and looked it up for myself, and it was there on the FAQ page. But it seems to me to be different now. There is a possibility I am misremembering but I don’t think I am.

  • Richard Willmer

    There was a man from Exodus at that infamous meeting in Uganda in March 2009, wasn’t there? If so, perhaps, we could have some comment from Exodus on what seems to be latest (and possibly most threatening, since the Ugandan Catholic bashops have now apparently joined the bad guys) re-emergence of the (still*) ‘Hang-the-Gays Bill’?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2012/06/04/ugandas-clergy-calls-on-parliament-to-pass-the-anti-homosexuality-bill/

    * We must remember that, despite what keeps being said by the Bill’s ‘apologists’, the death penalty was retained in the May 2011, albeit disguised by different wording.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2011/05/12/ugandas-anti-homosexuality-bill-is-the-death-penalty-off-the-table-or-not/

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    SG, I think Courage, now with Andrew Comiskey onboard, is more deeply embedded in the ‘change’ meme. Where on the Courage website did you find that Courage was not about ‘change’ but chastity? I’ve never seen that.

    Whatever else Courage may claim to be, they definitely have their hands in reorientation.  They list numerous ex-gay and reparative sites, including NARTH, JONAH and Exodus.  Also, they have been selling a DVD for years which has video of Richard Cohen on it.  You can’t get much more change oriented than Cohen.

    @Karen K

    I agree entirely with your comments, well said.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    While Exodus appears to be getting out of the so called orientation change business I am still not clear what it is they represent or promote.

    Thus, I would love to see a compare and contrast between what Exodus believes concerning identifying as gay (which they typically call sinful and potentially condemnable) and what the Sexual Identity Therapy Framework directs concerning identifying as gay. I see similarities but I would like to know the differences (assuming there are some) in these two ideologies.

    Thanks .. Dave

  • Michael Bussee

    Teresa:

    It appears that a number of Exodus affiliates are jumping ship. The two founding ministries that have left Exodus are Frank Worthen’s ministrty (formerly Love In Action) and OUTpost. Both of these ministries were at the original Exodus conference in 1979 and served on the Board. Desert Stream joined Exodus later.

    Richard: Yes, There was a man from Exodus at that infamous meeting in Uganda in March 2009. He is Don Schmierer — and he says he was “duped”. Although it took nearly a year and a half, Exodus evenutally apologized for ignoring the warnings — and issued an official policy against crimininalization.

  • Richard Willmer

    Michael : Thanks. They were all three ‘duped’, of course. One (the lovely S. Lively) cannot yet admit that, although he speaks of being ‘in a vice’ (of his own making, I say – he was, I suspect, so excited at the prospect of ‘riding his favourite hobby-horse’ in front of an adoring audience that he didn’t bother to find out what was really going on). And the word ‘vice’ was well-chosen on his part!

  • Michael Bussee

    Richard. I think Exodus got caught up in that excitement, too. In 2010, Alan Chambers admitted that they didn’t do their homewordk, didn’t heed the warnings and didn’t really understand what was going on in Uganda:

    “I was personally lax in investigating thoroughly the pre-conference intelligence that was coming in from Timothy Kincaid, David Roberts and Warren Throckmorton, to name a few…I remain absolutely sure that Don Schmierer had no idea what all of this was about until on the ground there…”

    Sad for an organization that has “International” in it’s name.

  • Richard Willmer

    So will Chambers and Co. now actively help in the campaign against the Bill, now that it is ‘back with a vengeance’ (again)? I really think that they should, if they are genuinely to ‘make amends’ for their (rather serious) ‘sins’ (of omission?).

    Chambers himself has certainly ‘made progress’, but I think there’s plenty more he could usefully do … (He and his associates don’t need to ‘approve’ of the full ‘equality package’, and the fact that they don’t might even make a well-targeted publicity campaign against the Bahati Bill, and other measures like it, all the more effective.)

  • Michael Bussee

    A bit of history: Exodus grew out of the charismatic “Word Of Faith” movement of the 1970′s and 1980′s. It’s also known as “Name-it-and-claim-it” theology. The movement emphasizes speaking, stating, or confessing verses found in the Bible.

    The belief is that if one believes the Word of God and confesses it then the believer shall receive what they confess.” In other words, if you say you are no longer gay, then you aren’t — even though you actually still are.

    When Exodus used terms like “ex-gay” and “former homosexual”, we were supposed to understand that they were only expressing their HOPE of “change” — not an actual reversal of sexual orientation from gay to straight.

  • Richard Willmer

    I think I understand!

    But can they be prevailed upon to do more in respect of the fight against such monstrous injustices as the Bahati Bill (and the arbitrary criminalization of gays generally)? Perhaps they could also offer help to people whose souls are being corroded by homophobia?

  • Richard Willmer

    I think that, if I were an Exodus ‘strategist’, the biggest danger I might identify is ending up ‘being trusted by noone’. I’m sure that the anti-gay lot are pretty non-plussed with Exodus; however, although we would not expect Exodus to actively promote same-sex partnerships, we are not yet ‘convinced’, are we?

    One must make sure one actually ‘crosses the Rubicon’, and not end up in it!

  • Karen K

    Michael,

    Where did you get the news about Love in Action and OUTpost leaving Exodus affiliation? I would like to learn more about that. Is there an official statement somewhere? When did this happen?

    Karen

  • Michael Bussee

    Karen, it happened very quietly– a couple of weeks ago. Gone from the Exodus website. Nothing from Exodus about it…There may be other ministries who have bailed out.

  • Jayhuck

    Alan,

    Randy is right that therapy and orientation change hasn’t ever been our focus or goal at the Exodus office, but the public sure wouldn’t know it. And, now that we all are getting a firm grasp on these things the burden is on us to prove it and make amends and changes.

    I believe the possibility that the public might not know this is the fault of your organization. I also believe, in light of existing statements, you might agree with me on this. Thank you for your recent efforts.

    Michael,

    I really think these are steps in the right direction.

    I do as well

  • Ann Ward

    Richard,

    Perhaps they could also offer help to people whose souls are being corroded by homophobia?

    Exodus is doing just that, featuring the work of people like Christopher Yuan with “A Christian Response to Homosexuality” – http://www.christopheryuan.com and Chad Ahrendt with his masterful movie, Reconciliation. http://www.reconciliationmovie.com.

    I’m happy to say that the majority of Christians have moved further and further away from homophobia in recent years! Thank you Jesus!

  • Iain

    I feel like I may be beating a dead horse by bringing up what has already been pointed out, but here is my glaring problem with what Alan (and Randy above) says.

    When I was in the ex-gay culture in 2005-2007, the focus WAS reparative therapy. Every support group, every pastor, every fellow “ex-gay”, every leader I talked to was acutely aware of reparative therapy and the promise of change. That is the message they gave me as a hapless gay Christian teenager, wanting to please my church and family. And I believed them. To me, Exodus clearly meant change. Not because I heard that it the news, not because gay activists told me, not because I misconstrued their message, but because the people involved with Exodus themselves told me. Again and again, they told me.

    Alan does not seem to recognize this. What Alan and Comp. are doing is, while somewhat admirable, incredibly infuriating. They are saying, “that experience you had where EVERY person that had any remote connection with Exodus whatsoever affirmed and guided you along the paths of reparative therapy? Yeah, that didn’t exist. We don;t believe in that stuff, and we never have.”

    And, in the mean time, several crucial leaders and ministries that ARE exodus are leaving because of this change. They are the ministries that are, for good or ill, are the face of exodus to the public. Sure, Alan & Company may know what they believe, but the rest of Exodus – the Exodus that lives and work with the public – does not seem to be in alliance with that stance.

    This is precisely why Exodus is shooting itself in the foot. They are denying what the public not only believes about Exodus, but what Exodus has and continues to tell the public through their affiliated ministries. That does not look good before the jury of the world. That is suicide.

  • Iain

    To continue my previous thought, Alan’s words cause great anger in me. This is a very personal issue for me, and I KNOW it is for many others as well.

    I was a miscarriage of the ex-gay movement. The messages I absorbed, whether real or imagined, became too toxic for me to handle. When it finally became a choice between being gay or being dead, I chose to be gay. I left the movement 5 years ago, a teenager still in the clutches of ex-gay ideology, but knowing that if I didn’t get out, I may very well die.

    That shame the ex-gay world instills in you stays with you. It cuts you deep, like a gutted fish. It gets under your skin, like a hook, and getting it out can do horrible damage, and be terribly painful. Now, after lots of drugs, drinking, and literally hundreds of scars on my body, and lots of prayers, I’m finally beginning to understand that when Jesus said “whosoever”, he really meant whosoever, even the ex-gay miscarriages like myself. (for the record, I am not blaming Exodus or anyone else for the bad choices I made as I came out of the ex-gay world, they were merely the pain-generator.)

    It hurts to hear Alan say that the messages that so deeply hurt me never existed at all. It hurts to hear him say, “those lies we told you that made you implode and took five years of your life . . . we never believed what we told you.”

    That’s hard to handle. As someone who was part of the ex-gay world, who was one who “went back to the lifestyle,” and “didn’t try hard enough,” I want nothing more than to hear them say, “look, we screwed up. And we’re sorry.”

    And I would accept that. They are human. Humans make mistakes. I get that.

    But they are not owning up to their humanity, and that hurts.

  • Gideon Shepherd

    Michael is correct – many of the oldest, longest sering ministries and key spokespersons have withdrawn from Exodus International. EI “management” was quick to get rid of any evidence that many of those folks had ever been there.

  • Jayhuck

    Ann,

    I’m happy to say that the majority of Christians have moved further and further away from homophobia in recent years! Thank you Jesus!

    Do you have a study that backs up the claim that a majority of Christians are doing this? I believe that most liberal Christians did this many years ago. I would hope that most conservatives followed suit :)

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Ann

    I am aware of Christopher Yuan’s work, and have great respect for him.

    It is also encouraging to see that (some in) Exodus want change; as Iain points out, a great deal of damage has been done by ‘positions’ and ‘approaches’ that are not based on ‘objective reality’ as far as we are able to understand it (and, for us human beings, our understanding of reality is an evolving thing). Warren Throckmorton spotted this serious problem before many others, and it does seem that some are listening more closely to him. This is certainly a cause for some ‘rejoicing’!

    But it also true that there is a ‘backlash’ from considerable portions of the Church: witness for example what is happening in Uganda. Those who persist in homophobic attitudes, words and actions are making a lot of noise and they are very far from inconsiderable in number. There is still a great deal of work to be done. In my own ‘part’ of the Church (the Anglican Communion) there is real crisis, with some Anglicans being very extreme in their ‘anti-gay’ endeavours.

    I rather agree with Iain’s point about ‘suicide’ (I alluded to a similar notion in an earlier comment): Exodus could easily end up ‘falling between the shafts’ unless it is undertakes a truly ‘root-and-branch’ reappraisal of its mission. Sometimes one must ‘start over’ (which is never without risk, of course), and when one has the courage to do that, the rewards can be great indeed. And many ‘liberals’ are, I think, prepared to make ‘common cause’ as appropriate with those with whom we might not entirely agree (I doubt that Exodus and ‘us’ are going to ‘see eye-to-eye’ on civil unions, for examples, although we might well agree that the Church should not seek to subvert the democratic processes of the State in this regard), as long as we are convinced that such a ‘root-and-branch’ change (which may well include a very clear “Sorry – but we messed up” along the way) is underway.

  • Michael Bussee

    Karen: Ex-gay Watch is posting that quite a number of minisitries have left Exodus. Exodus says it’s not as many as Ex-gay Watch is reporting:

    “Those without links appear to have no website. A few of these are of particular note. The previously mentioned Desert Stream Ministries is a major ex-gay ministry of many years. First Stone is almost as old as Exodus, and New Hope Ministries is led by Frank Worthen, sometimes called the father of ex-gay ministries and an Exodus co-founder. And perhaps most amazing of all, Exchange Ministries, located in the same city as Exodus, was the ministry where Chambers got his start.

    Update: Exodus contacted us just after posting with some additional information and the list has been updated accordingly. In their estimation, 11 ministries have left directly due to recent changes at Exodus. As our information came directly from Exodus’ own website, any errors are theirs. So the ministries updated as having closed in 2009 or 2010 were still listed as active on the Exodus site in April of 2011 and therefore counted in our original review.” ~ David Roberts

    http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2012/06/exodus-international-has-lost-twenty-ministries/

  • Michael Bussee

    Iain said:

    “As someone who was part of the ex-gay world, who was one who “went back to the lifestyle,” and “didn’t try hard enough,” I want nothing more than to hear them say, “look, we screwed up. And we’re sorry.”

    So would an ever-growing number of Exodus drop-outs, cast-offs and “ex-gay” survivors. Alan Chambers posted (above) that he accepts that the burden is on Exodus. — and has promised “proof, amends and changes”. I hope he means it.

  • http://www.alanchambers.org Alan Chambers (@AlanMChambers)

    Good grief, I took a few days off and there are 46 messages. I will not remember all of them in this message:

    @Karen K – You are right, we did champion RT causes, support and promote NARTH, etc. We had confusing statements supporting orientation change on our site. I guess I would simply say that my point in reiterating what Randy said was to agree that those things haven’t ever been our number one objective or goal and why I said, but that the world didn’t know it. I am owning the fact that we failed here. I tend to say most everything I think. Maybe I should simply say, “We supported these efforts and don’t any longer. There has been a change in our beliefs about orientation change focused therapy and we don’t believe it’s effective.” I value the developmental information but, as Warren once said to me, “The developmental model fits everyone.” I agree that developmental issues are a part of every human’s story.

    @Richard Willmer: We did quickly lend our voice to denouncing the anti-homosexuality bill and our letter to President Musanavi was read before Ugandan Parliament and helped to stall the bill that they mistakenly said we supported.

    @Emily & Straight Grandmother: I did not testify before congress on hate crimes but I did meet with a number of congressional leaders stating that I did not see the value of that legislation. Though I do not have any desire to speak into legislative issues today, and have not for over 4 years, I still think what we have on the books is sufficient. But, if hate crimes legislation passes so be it. I think the Christian community would do well to acknowledge that we share in the reason for the perceived necessity of such a bill and could do a lot to treat and speak of our neighbor the way we’d like to be treated and spoken of.

    @Michael: Thanks for your encouragement. I spoke of you in an interview today and noted my appreciation for you and acknowledged your original intent in the collaborative creation of Exodus.

    What did I miss from the comments directed toward me?

  • http://www.alanchambers.org Alan Chambers (@AlanMChambers)

    @Karen and Michael: All of the ministries they have reported have gone at one time or another, folded or changed their name. What I made clear was that only 11 have left due to the current conflict in recent months. It is a noteworthy story, to be sure. But, I wanted to make sure that it was accurate. XGW mistakenly reports that there are any financial issues at Exodus. 2011 was our best in 3 years and this year looks to be better than that to date.

  • William

    Alan, just a few questions spring to mind:

    (1) Why did you have confusing statements supporting orientation change on your site in the first place?

    (2) Given the amount of adverse criticism that those statements received over the years, it must have been obvious long ago that they were confusing, so why did you keep them on for so long?

    (3) “I guess I would simply say that my point in reiterating what Randy said was to agree that those things haven’t ever been our number one objective or goal and why I said, but that the world didn’t know it.” If that is really so, are you seriously saying that it has taken you all this time to twig that the world didn’t know it? Or if you did realise it before, why is it only now that you are trying to correct the misapprehension?

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Alan: I remember the letter to Museveni. But the situation has deteriorated again, as I’m sure you are aware (my view is that it s part of wider ‘power struggle’ in Kampala). What more do you think you might be able to do at this point?

  • Karen K

    Alan,

    You write: “Maybe I should simply say, ‘We supported these efforts and don’t any longer. There has been a change in our beliefs about orientation change focused therapy and we don’t believe it’s effective.’”

    Thank you. I appreciate the clarity and straightforwardness of this statement.

  • Michael Bussee

    I would also like answers to the questions William asks (above). I think a reasonable explanation is way past due.

    I also think this split within Exodus comes down to 2 basic questions:

    (1) PSYCHOLOGY: Do people change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual through these programs?

    (2) THEOLOGY: Can a homosexual Christian lose their salvation if they accept a “gay identity” or a “gay lifestyle”?

    The groups that have left (including Frank Worthen’s) would say “Yes” to both questions. Alan Chambers seems to be saying, “No” to both.

    I agree with him.

  • Michael Bussee

    BTW — Can I say how pleased I am that we are finally having this conversation and that Exodus seems to be taking Wendy Gritter’s advice?

  • Ann Ward

    Great discussion!

    Jayhuck,

    I should have said something more like, “it has been my experience/observation that a majority of Christians are moving away from homophobia.” It’s a trend that I see in current, relevant Christian community. I searched for quite some time this evening for some statistics but was not very successful. What I did find was a site that exemplifies the trend that I see, of many Christians becoming way less judgemental, and way more compassionate and caring and ready to walk side by side with “strugglers like myself” as we pursue our relationship with Christ and holiness:

    http://six11.wordpress.com/about-resources/

    lain,

    My heart breaks for the pain that you have endured! I believe that Exodus has had good intentions and been very caring, but has learned a few things over the years of caring.

    As Christians, we have learned a lot and needed to humble ourselves and say we were wrong, WE are sinners in need of a Savior, and we have had to say, “I am so sorry!” “How can I love you better?”

    Richard,

    You don’t know how many times I came to Warren’s blog, got mad, left, then came back as things started making sense. Some things I didn’t want to “concede” but..well…maybe he was making some good points.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Hi Alan..

    Straight conservative pastor checking in here. I have followed what you and your ministry have been doing for quite some time .. I even recall some conversations on Bridges Across (though I think I joined that forum after those conversations had taken place). I was also at the GCN conference this last January and listend to that entire conversation.

    Now to the point .. I think William’s questions deserve some real answers. And I think Iain’s posts deserve a really thoughtful and compassionate and humble response. And while I am pleased with what Michael Bussee seems to think you are saying I would like to hear it directly from you. And I would like to hear these kinds of answers, not just here, but everywhere .. in a very public way.

    If Exodus has misled people (and I believe it has) and if Exodus has harmed people (either intentionally or not) .. and if Exodus has put out an theology/ideology (which it no longer endorses) then Exodus needs to repent. And they need to repent publically and be very specific about what they are repenting of. And repentance does not sound like “we were misunderstood” or “we didn’t do those things”. Repentance is where you state exactly what you did that was wrong and what you are going to do in the future to correct that..

    Without repentance there can be no forgiveness. That is a biblical principle. Without repentance there can be no trust. And, as I am sure you are aware, trust will not come easily. It does not necessarily follow on the heels of repentence. It takes time. .. time to see if the repentance is real. And I would remind you that the root meaning of repentance is a change of direction.

    -Repentance (change of direction) starts to look real when public apologies are made.

    -Repentance (change of direction) starts to look real when you recall books authored by you that say that to identify as gay is as sinful as having promiscuous sex.

    -Repentance (change of direction) starts to look real when you map out a clear path for the future for your organization. (Some examples: How does Exodus respond to those who do not share its sexual morality ethic? What does Exodus believe is required to be a Christian .. committment to Exodus ideology on identity and morals .. or faith in and total submission to Christ .)

    - Repentance (change of direction) starts to look real when you screen your church associations and referrals to match that new direction and path.

    I appreciate the courageous steps you are taking . But as an international organization who has made certain claims for years .. its just not good enough to claim you were misunderstood on some issues. As an international organization giving specific advice to churches around the world its your job to communicate well and have clarity in mission, purpose and direction. You are IMO going to need to ‘fess up to some things and make amends and not hide behind excuses.

    I pray that God continues to guide you in this direction and grants you the courage to do what needs to be done.

    Blessings,

    Dave

  • Iain

    I second Dave’s words.

    Alan, I could be the poster child for how the ex-gay culture can destroy people. Do I hate you, and Sy Rogers, Melissa Fryer, John Paulk and all the others? No. I used to, but I don’t anymore. I used to blame you all for everything, for all the pain, for all the agony I went through. I don’t anymore, because I understand that hurt is a complex thing, and I can’t villainize a whole organization because I was hurt.

    The truth is, no matter what your ministry told me, they still pointed me to Christ. And when I think about you, I think of a man who truly does love God and other people. Because of that, I believe that you have what it takes to do the right thing. Exodus is poised to be a powerful voice of reconciliation and healing. Take Wendy’s words to heart, and act on them. I don’t know what that can look like in your situation, and I can’t imagine the pressure. But please act on them.

    The truth is, despite all the wreckage Exodus has been a part of in my life, my faith has remained intact through my whole coming out process and post-ex-gay abuses. My faith, and the God-given will to slowly forgive those who hurt me, will remain unchanged no matter what you say. The truth, though, is that there are many people in the gay community for whom that is not the case. There are many people who know no faith, no assurance of God’s love, only hatred and anger. And when they think of you, that hatred grows.

    You have the opportunity to tell those people that you are sorry, and why. In this situation, repentance may be the most powerful act of ministry you can do to a hurting gay community. That can be a catalyst for life. Exodus still has a powerful, important place in the Kingdom of God, and that place might just be to step forward and say, “look, I was wrong. I hurt you. Please forgive me.”

    It’s what C.S. Lewis said: with our words, we are pointing people to one of two destinations, so choose wisely. You are in a powerful place, Alan, and I totally believe you can say the right thing, and that those words will have the power of life. Reparative therapy has, truly, stolen lives. It stole mine. Your words can have the authority to start to bring back the lives that were lost, because Jesus still wants to save people like me who fled to the outer darkness, beyond the ex-gay walls.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Ann : We’re all learning, aren’t we?! :-)

    And those who think they ‘know it all’ are spiritually dying …

  • Richard Willmer
  • http://www.gracerivers.com John J. Smid

    I don’t want to belabor any point here and many of you have spoken so clearly that what is being said is a great dialogue for sure.

    I just want to chime in on something. Four years ago i was a staunch believer that any gay relationship or behavior was clearly sinful, and totally against God’s standards for His people.

    Then quite amazingly, I experienced a fresh dose of God’s grace and I must say it was transformative and I’ve never been the same since. But, my transition from my former staunch positions was not immediate, but it assuredly started a process that is continuing today. Once I got it (a true experience with grace, I mean) I couldn’t stop its effect on my life, my soul, and my belief system.

    From what I have seen, it appears that Alan has experienced something quite dramatic, at a deeper spiritual level. He has made quite amazing changes in his own response to this topic.

    I remember all too well, trying to communicate what was going on in me. It sounded crazy, I felt unsure of myself. I experienced great anxiety about the “new me” coming out and what my lengthy friends might think. Much less, ministry comrades that were very important to me. So, yes, I danced around a little bit, well maybe a lot, for a season.

    It wasn’t until I finally had lost many friends, was alienated by ministry comrades, and was disfellowshipped from my small home group for my position, that I found my ground and my feet are settled now.

    I would like to walk alongside Alan as he has likely been under tremendous pressure and alienation much like I experienced. If in fact he got a new, fresh dose of grace, I can trust that God has Alan tightly within His hands and he will continue the work he is doing.

    We are all seeing it actually. He has stood against a huge tide so it seems he has a new conviction that certainly didn’t come from the Old Exodus! It appears that those who may not fully understand this kind of grace are moving away, and defrocking Alan. Hum, sign that something quite wonderful is occurring in Alan!

    As he evaluates the history through this new looking glass, he will find things that he will speak to, just like I did’.

    It took me two years of processing deeply before I could actually begin to see the things I was accountable for. And….. This last weekend I experienced a huge dose of grace, and healing relating to the “RAGE” I have been holding onto regarding my own personal experience with the “Big Black Box” of shame that I was given through the faulty religious system. That shame has cost me 25 years of my life!!!! I’ve invested a tremendous amount of my heart and soul into the faulty message, and I quickly became a deliverer of shame to hundreds closely, and certainly thousands world wide.

    So, I guess in summary, grace, grace, God’s grace for us all!!!

    John

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    @Karen K – You are right, we did champion RT causes, support and promote NARTH, etc. We had confusing statements supporting orientation change on our site. I guess I would simply say that my point in reiterating what Randy said was to agree that those things haven’t ever been our number one objective or goal and why I said, but that the world didn’t know it. I am owning the fact that we failed here. I tend to say most everything I think. Maybe I should simply say, “We supported these efforts and don’t any longer. There has been a change in our beliefs about orientation change focused therapy and we don’t believe it’s effective.” I value the developmental information but, as Warren once said to me, “The developmental model fits everyone.” I agree that developmental issues are a part of every human’s story.

    I think history and prudence demand that we maintain a healthy scepticism toward the changes at Exodus, whatever they may be. However, Alan deserves credit for the statements above.  I would really like to see those thoughts expounded upon and in a more substantial venue.  As many as possible of those who took those errant recommendations to heart in the past need to hear that.

  • Teresa

    @John Smid,

    “How do I love thee, let me count the ways …” Your Comment needs to be written in gold letters, in stone, in my heart most of all. I, too, had that experience of radical grace following some years of hating who I was; and, trying to fit the myself in a construct that did nothing but reinforce me in my shame. Nothing has been the same for me, ever since.

    Thank you, so much, for the courage of sharing this with us. Through your comment, my eyes were opened to so much; not the least, was how you have been injured, personally, by the structure that kept you in shame.

    Perhaps, Michael Bussee, knows all this; and, that’s why his comments always radiate thoughtfulness, compassion, and kindness.

    Thank you, again, John.

  • Michael Bussee

    California Assembly Committee Advances Bill To Protect Patients From Ex-Gay Therapy

    “After hearing testimony from victims of ex-gay therapy, California General Assembly’s Committee on Business, Professions And Consumer Protection voted 5-2 to endorse S.B. 1172, a bill to protect patients from the harmful “treatment.”

    State Sen. Ted Lieu, the bill’s sponsor, noted that “bans quackery and junk science in the form of reparative therapy.” The measure now heads to the full Assembly.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/06/26/506810/california-assembly-committee-advances-bill-to-protect-patients-from-ex-gay-therapy/?mobile=nc

  • Michael Bussee

    “Conversion therapy inflicts harm by sending the message that there is something defective or immoral about people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It justifies discrimination by arguing that we can and should change and do not deserve any legal protections. It misleads families into believing that there is something wrong with their child or their loved one. Tragically, it harms the most vulnerable among us – children. This must stop.” ~ Ryan Kendall, “Ex-gay” survivor

    http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/prop-8-witness-ryan-kendall-testifies-before-california-assembly-on-conversion-therapy/news/2012/06/26/42221


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