Exodus Publicly Backs Away From Reparative Therapy

If you’ve been reading here, you would know this.

An AP story is all over the place yesterday and today with the headline that Exodus has removed reparative therapy books from the website, and is no longer promoting change therapy. According to Alan Chambers, Exodus President, “the ministry’s emphasis should be simply helping Christians who want to reconcile their own particular religious beliefs with sexual feelings they consider an affront to scripture.”

Again, no surprise to anyone who reads here regularly, I think he is on target.

I must admit, this is satisfying. When I first dropped my article in 2005 questioning reparative therapy, I was beaten up pretty badly by those in what was the ex-gay movement at the time. Things have changed. Focus on the Family is out of the reparative business for the most part. Exodus is now working on congruence as a goal, and NARTH is fighting for its life. And the APA has taken a position that congruence as an objective is acceptable.

Speaking of NARTH, the AP article says is “a professional association made up of about 2,000 therapists and others who still espouse such treatments.”

Wait, what? 2,000?

Did they gain 1,000 members in less than a year? In October, 2011, I asked David Pruden at NARTH how many professional members were on the rolls. He told me the number was at 250, with the remaining 750 or so being advocates and laypeople.  Is this puffery or have they gained 1,000 names since last October?

UPDATE: David Pruden just wrote to say that he did not tell the reporter 2k so perhaps it was a misunderstanding.

 

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  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Do we know that they are embracing a congruence model?? I have not seen anything clearly stating this from Exodus .. and .. unless I missed something .. there are plenty of ‘you can change your orientation’ organizations operating under the Exodus umbrella of church affiliates and contacts.

    I would also like to to see an article (by you) on how you believe SITF differs (or doesn’t differ) from what you think Exodus is currently promoting. From what I understand: .. SITF seems to steer people away from identifying as gay .. but Exodus takes this a step further and typically calls identifying as gay as being as sinful as sexual promiscuity (even if you are celibate). I also doubt they would help a person find congruence with an affirming view.

    Blessings,

    Dave

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

    SITF follows the moral and ethic view of the client. If they believe identifying as gay is right, then we do not moralize about it. Gay therapists use this model as well but don’t steer people toward coming out unless that is what the client believes to be right.

    Exodus is one half of that model. They are promoting congruence with a traditional view and if someone wanted to go another direction, I think they would steer them toward a gay affirming group. I know a local ministry which has both gay affirming and non-affirming people in it. That said, there will be a wide variety of approaches depending on the local group.

  • Michael Bussee

    “Focus on the Family is out of the reparative business for the most part. Exodus is now working on congruence as a goal, and NARTH is fighting for its life.”

    Warren: Can you give some specific examples to back up all three of these claims? Granted, Exodus is making some changes in its language, but I strongly doubt that they would steer someone toward a “gay affirming group.” I think you may be a bit overly optimistic…

    The problem has always been “a wide variety of approaches depending on the local group.” What Alan Chambers says he believes (or what Exodus believes) often turns out to be just his opinion, or language he can adapt depending on the audience. And there no standards that Exodus affiliates must fall in line.

  • Michael Bussee

    “Is Exodus really willing to surrender clients, media, and money for the sake of honesty? I certainly hope so, but let’s not underestimate the pressure on Chambers as he allegedly tries to transition his group. It will be a tough road and incredibly difficult for him to survive in his current post if he goes down this path.

    Perhaps, the next step for Exodus is addressing the many victims who were harmed over the years by their false promises, deceptive ads, and misleading claims. These individuals (the ones who did not commit suicide) will never get back the years of their life and money wasted as they chased a mirage.” ~ Wayne Besen

    http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/06/26582/

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    @ Warren .. Thanks for the fast response .. Further question(s) .. I do notice that the co-author of SITF, Dr Yarhouse, paints identifying as gay as more of a ‘gay script’ per his book: Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends. But I know gay Christians who hold to a more conservative sexual ethic that still identify as gay .. How would SITF respond to that? How would SITF help such an individual find congruence? I was wondering about this since I get the impression that SITF centers on how someone identifies. I am asking all of this to get a better idea of what this congruence model represents and to compare it to what Exodus is allegedly offering.

    —–

    While I am pleased with the ongoing changes that Alan is taking Exodus through .. I share some of Michael’s concerns here regarding Alan’s adaptive language and the screening of Exodus affiliates to make sure they are following Exodus’s alleged new direction. Also .. as I mentioned on a different thread .. if he (Alan) no longer holds to a moral imperative on how a person identifies it seems he will need to retract some of his books along with his earlier newsletters that had this imperative. While I acknowledge that some of these changes probably require some agreement from the Exodus board I would think Alan’s newsletters and books are something he could retract / change without board approval.

    Dave

  • Michael Bussee

    As your readers are no doubt aware, several Exodus affiliates have already jumped shipped over these changes. Now, as expected, there is conservative Christian backlash over Exodus’ “rebranding”.

    “Why is Exodus International Denying Therapy Works?” ~ by acmedia, June 27, 2012

    “Exodus International is headed by Alan Chambers and has recently thrown the whole field of reparative therapy under the bus.

    Today we have 2 hours planned for you that you will not want to miss. First hour, at noon Pacific, we’re going to discuss Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International who still struggles with strong homosexual feelings and his denial that therapy works and also share with you the latest from Exodus International and why you need to not support this now liberal ministry. ”

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/acmedia/2012/06/27/why-is-exodus-international-denying-therapy-works

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

    I couldn’t listen to more than a minute of that link – I wanted to heave. Anyway, there will be a fallout from this stance, but it is the right one nonetheless.

  • ken

    Michael Bussee says:

    June 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    “this now liberal ministry. ”

    So apparently, “liberal” now means people (or organizations) that accept reality. I guess under that definition, Warren does qualify as liberal.

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

    ken – sign of the apocalypse, I guess

  • Michael Bussee

    The Advocate weighs in on the changes at Exodus:

    “Chambers added that he still has “same-sex attractions,” but said they “don’t overwhelm me or my marriage; they are something that informs me like any other struggle I might bring to the table.”

    Exodus last week issued a statement condemning antigay violence and laws that criminalize homosexuality, in the wake of a visit to Jamaica by its vice chairman, Dennis Jernigan. Jernigan made appearances in May with antigay activists in that nation, where LGBT people face government persecution and are frequently victims of violent crimes.

    He made some statements that appeared to support the government’s antigay policies, which Exodus officials claim were “misconstrued,” but he nonetheless resigned from the organization.” ~ Trudy Ring

    http://www.advocate.com/society/activism/2012/06/27/exodus-backpedals-gay-cure-still-urges-celibacy-or-straight-marriage

  • Michael Bussee

    Janet Boynes Ministries: “It’s a matter of fact I don’t agree with him [Alan ]Chambers] at ALL!!!!!!”

    I wonder if they will stop selling her books, too?

    http://www.exodusbooks.org/Called-Out_p_21.html

  • Michael Bussee

    She may strongly disagree with the direction he is now going, but Alan wrote the following glowing endorsement in Janet Boynes’ book:

    “Janet Boynes’s life is an amazing testimony to God’s grace and truth. Called Out proclaims that freedom from homosexuality is not only possible, but inevitable for anyone who chooses to surrender their sexuality to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Janet is a good friend and a hero of the faith.” ~ Alan Chambers President, Exodus International

    With all that is going on with Exodus’ rebranding, one wonders how long such a friendship can last…

  • Lynn David

    David Bussee’s NetRadio link:

    “Nowhere online I can find his [Chamber's] education, our his credentials …. where he has some authority to speak on these issues.”

    “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

    Chambers “needs to get into some serious therapy himself….”

    They have also affirmed that having a homosexual attraction (they deny gender/sexual preference as existing) is a sin of itself.

  • Lynn David

    She went to Vanguard University of California where they have a course entitled: Spiritual: PSYC 477C: Psychology and Christianity.

    The school’s psychology dept has a link to the APA’s white papers on sexual orientation:

    http://psychology.vanguard.edu/amoebaweb/gender-psychology/

    They also have a link there to your 1998 article on “Attempts to modify sexual orientation,” Warren. It’s on some Presbyterian church website out of South Africa.

    What they have a lot of on that page are the works of Daryl Bem.

  • krissy

    The ap article is so sad! These people are against reparative therapy yet they continue to advocate for mixed orientation marriages. I feel bad for these women married to gay men. They deserve better. Mixed orientation marriages are no way to “accept” same sex attraction and they end in divorce.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I am SO with you Krissy!!! Mixed Orientation Marriages, it makes me shudder. It was either on Warren’s blog or else on reading Mark yarhouse and Stanton Jones’ research that I first even ever heard about Mixed Orientation Marriages, I never even knew such a thing existed. Anyway I went and learned about them firsthand by reading at the Straight Spouse Network. I have never commented as it would be intrusive I don’t have anything to say to them but I read their stories still from time to time and it just re-confirms for me what a bad bad bad thing Mixed Orientation Marriages are mostly for the Straight Spouse. Here is a link to their open Forum. Those stories there are just heartbreaking. They really are. A lot of people writing that they are 52 years old and their husband could no longer suppress his natural sexual orientation and left the woman for a man. Story after story like that. And the stories from the men about their wives leaving them for another woman, it just literally crushes these men.

    http://www.voy.com/86426/

  • Michael Bussee

    Robert Gagnon is not too happy with the changes Alan Chambers is making at Exodus.

    Here are some of the section headings from his lengthy article:

    “Alan Chambers Assures “Gay Christians” That Unrepentant Homosexual Practice Is No Barrier to Salvation … among Other Gospel Distortions and Bad Moves”

    “Alan Chambers’ Falsification of the Gospel of Grace: Assuring Gay Christians of a Place in Heaven Irrespective of Repentance”

    “Other Problematic Statements and Policy Decisions Made by Alan Chambers”

    “Alan Chambers has moved in the past year or two to take Exodus out of the “culture wars,” in a rather one-sided way, abandoning the very helpful role that Exodus leaders played in the past to inhibit homosexualist advances in the political sphere.”

    “Alan Chambers’ Claim That the Bible Nowhere Has a Hierarchy of Sins or Says That Homosexual Practice Is Worse than Any Other Sin”

    “Alan Chambers’ Claim That the Bible Nowhere Has a Hierarchy of Sins or Says That Homosexual Practice Is Worse than Any Other Sin”

    It’s 35 pages long. He’s not to happy about Exodus dumping NARTH. I think he’s part of that faction (Frank Worthen, Andy Comiskey, et all) that wants Alan to “repent”, resign — or both.

    http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexAlanChambersAtlanticInterview.pdf

  • Michael Bussee

    To sum it all up, it seems like the “exodus” from Exodus is motivated by major differences on three levels:

    (1) Theological: They think Alan is too heavy on “grace” and too light on “repentance”.

    (2) Psychological: They think Alan should reaffirm “reparative therapy”, NARTH and sexual orientation change.

    (3) Political: They think Alan should stay “in” the “culture wars” and use his position at Exodus to continute to fight against the “homosexualist” agrenda and equal civil rights for LGBT people.

    It’s still too early to tell how Exodus will emerge from all of this, but the battle lines are more clearly drawn than ever before.

  • Ann

    Those stories there are just heartbreaking. They really are.

    SGM,

    I have never looked at that web site, however, any marriage that is entered for the wrong reasons is very sad. To put things into perspective and fairness, I don’t think any mixed marriage that is working for all the right reasons because it was a thoughtful and well informed decision from the two people who chose to enter it, will show up on that web site. There are many support groups for spouses that are struggling in a marriage – mixed marriage being just one.

  • Ann

    It’s still too early to tell how Exodus will emerge from all of this, but the battle lines are more clearly drawn than ever before.

    Michael,

    With all the new developments and yet uncertain outcomes, one thing we know to be true is Ecclesiastes 3:1

  • Michael Bussee

    The recent “changes” at Exodus have me asking “What if”?

    What if Exodus was really ONLY about “helping people to live above their temptations” and “acting in accordance with their faith”? What if they stayed OUT of anti-gay politics and OUT of countries where homosexuality is a crime?

    What if they stopped telling false narratives about “cause” and “cure”? What if they stopped blaming parents? What if they truly have abandoned NARTH and “reparative therapy”? What if they are finally being really CLEAR with everyone that “99.9%” do not change their sexual orientation?

    What if they stopped promoting mixed-orientation marriages? If they acknowledged that people CAN indeed be LGBT, Christian and happy? What if they stopped opposing equal civil rights for LGBT people?

    What if they truly morph into a benevolent network of support groups for conservative Christians who think that acting on their “SSA” is “sin”? What if this IS the direction Exodus is heading?

  • Michael Bussee

    July 4, 2012: Is Change Possible? Shifting the Ex-Gay Question

    The idea that gays and lesbians could be “cured” meant, for evangelical anti-gay activists, that gay people’s rights didn’t need protection. The game appears to be changing” ~ By Lynne Gerber

    “This is not to say that Exodus can necessarily be trusted to independently take those and other positions in support of the life and liberty of gay people in a responsible and timely fashion. But it does suggest that Exodus is changing, is engaged in an actual conversation with gays and lesbians, and is receptive to efforts to keep it a little more honest and hold it a little more accountable.

    That change may be tentative, its direction may be uncertain, it may well be motivated by money, and suspicion, of course, is warranted. But dismissing that change is inaccurate, it minimizes the persistent, effective activism of former Exodus members and other Christian and/or gay critics, and runs the risk of shutting down whatever openness exists for Exodus to play a less damaging role in the lives of queer people.

    A similar assessment can be made about the changes regarding their position on reparative therapy. The difference between insisting that sexual orientation can change and recognizing that it doesn’t is a real one. Halting the cognitive dissonance that is reparative therapy is an important move and Exodus should be recognized for making it.

    Some gay Christians may still want to try to live in accordance with conservative understandings of sexual ethics, but that path will be a lot more honest, and a lot less psychologically harmful, if they’re not expecting a full scale change in sexual orientation and are not blaming themselves or questioning the state of their souls if they fail to achieve it. Exodus’ critics—gay, Christian or otherwise—who have maintained conversation with them should be credited with helping effect this change. And they, like the rest of us, should continue to work to hold Exodus to promises of amends for harm done by their earlier positions.” ~ Lynne Gerber

  • Ann

    Perhaps the term SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts) should be changed to SOME (sexual orientation modification efforts).

  • Michael Bussee

    Here’s the link to the article I quoted, above. The author does an excellent job in exploring the history of the “ex-gay” movement and the forces that are motivating the currents changes at Exodus.

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/6142/is_change_possible_shifting_the_ex-gay_question

  • Michael Bussee

    In the article above, Alan Chambers speaks of Exodus’ current views on sexual orientation change:

    “We now believe that’s an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation that can cause of lot of damage.”

    I had to stop and read that again. I think this is the first time I recall Alan Chambers admiting that false expectations of “change” are “unrealistic”, “unhealthy” and can do “a lot of damage”.

    And from my conversations with him, he seems to be accepting that Exodus bears considerable responsibility for creating this false expectation by sending mixed messages and making inflated claims of “change”. That’s real progress, I think. Now, how to undo the damage?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Exodus’s claims in years past of changing and the subsequent actions that followed .. did not IMHO reflect their claims. However .. their present actions do match their claims. I am cautiously optimistic. We still don’t know where they are going to land yet .. nor how tightly they are going to filter their associated ministries. It will take some time for them to establish their new image and convince people of it.

    Dave

  • Ann

    Dave,

    To what extent, if any, do you think an individual share some responsiblilty for what they chose to believe about the claims Exodus made?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Can you reword your question? I am not sure what you mean..

    Dave

  • Lynn David

    To Ann: Depends. In the past much of the responsibility lay with Exodus and its member ministries and psychologists quite a bit. With those ministries who have broken away from Exodus this year, the responsibility will remain with them. They will be perpetuating the falsehood that all can change.

  • Ann

    Can you reword your question? I am not sure what you mean..

    Dave,

    Sure – To what extent, if any, should an individual be responsbile for what they chose to believe about the claim Exodus made to them?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Thanks Ann ..

    I think you are asking a rather complex question. There are people that deceive and there are people who are easily (or not so easily) deceived. Then there are people who .. having been deceived .. deceive others without knowing it. But the bible warns us not to be deceived … This implies some personal responsibility. And Jesus pronounces woes on those who make others stumble (Matthew 18:6).

    Clear as mud??

    I think its really hard to blame someone (or ourselves) for being deceived when they (or we) heard a message that they (perhaps desperately) wanted to hear and believe. And its also hard to totally blame people who put out a bad message when they themselves were deceived. I have conversed with people over on GCN who used to lead exgay support groups themselves until they realized they were deceived. Then they had to deal with the sad reality of having mislead others.

    The redeemptive path (IMHO) is .. when a person realizes they have been deceived .. to eventually take responsibility for one’s own life. Otherwise the person may be caught in an unhealthy cycle of forever blaming someone else for what happened to them. So IMHO .. eventually the person has to pull out of that. There may be a process of mourning that deception .. and regrets over how they may have mislead others in that deception. And there may be public confession to those who they believe they mislead. This is all part of the process of working through this.

    I haven’t personally been mislead by exgay ministries since I am straight .. However .. I did, for a time, believe their rheotric. It took a while for me to realize that their solution was ineffective (to say the least) and theologically problematic. Thankfully I did not point anyone to the exgay route during that time.

    There have been things in the Christian life over the years that did deceive me.. Coming out of those deceptions typically led me into a significant faith crisis.. or more specifically: a nose diving tail spin.. Eventually I had to come out of the spin and try to reassemble my faith again.. this took time. We are all trying to find our way in life and there are definitely things out there that may cause us to stumble. While we can mourn that stumbling, be angry at those who caused us to stumble, and perhaps kick ourselves in the butt for stumbling .. we eventually need to move forward .. this is a process.

    Hope that answers your question..

    God bless,

    Dave

  • ken

    Ann says:

    July 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    “To what extent, if any, should an individual be responsbile for what they chose to believe about the claim Exodus made to them?”

    None. Any more than a victim of a con man is to blame for being a victim. For you to insinuate that somehow they are to blame is insensitive at best.