New York Times on the Changes at Exodus

Friday night at the evangelical fights.

After the NPR segment comes this New York Times article which covers much the same ground.

It cannot be any clearer; Alan Chambers is leading Exodus from the wilderness of reparative therapy to the promised land of Grace and soul liberty.

What a ride.

Conservatives in the church and elsewhere should welcome this. There is no necessary conservative attachment to reparative therapy. In fact, given the psychoanalytic roots of the model, it has surprised me that conservative Christians have bought into it for as long they have.


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  • Michael Bussee

    Warren said: “It has surprised me that conservative Christians have bought into it for as long they have.”

    I think it’s because many of them really want to believe in miracle cures — even if it means embracing some elements of “secular” psychology. And perhaps money and poltics had something to do with it.

  • Michael Bussee

    In her essay, Lynne Gerber explains:

    “In a time of increased opposition to gay rights by conservative Christian organizations and increased resistance to their anti-gay campaigning, Exodus ministries and their members became attractive partners to Christian right institutions.

    Supporting people “struggling with same sex attraction” became useful cultural evidence that these seeming haters had a compassionate side. And as these organizations became Exodus’s partners and supporters, the stakes on the change question were decisively raised.”

  • Warren, you are SO right on with your mention of the “wilderness” and “promise land” metaphor. Truth be told, the Promise Land is one of peace and rest in the finished work of Christ and the wilderness is a place of desperate wandering, full of rules and anything but peaceful and restful. Never going back. Full speed ahead.

  • Teresa

    Thank you, Warren, for stating the following:

    In fact, given the psychoanalytic roots of the model, it has surprised me that conservative Christians have bought into it for as long they have.

    This has been a sore point for me for some time. The roots of psychotherapy are deeply atheistic; and, quite contrary to any Christian belief circa mid-1800’s. In fact, there was quite a battle surrounding all the ‘modern’ mid-1800’s innovations: Darwinism, Freud and psychoanalysis; and, last, but not least: Marxism.

    The Christian beliefs, particularly Catholicism, saw these as encroachments and violations of the the dignity of the personhood; and, quite contrary to the right order of God and man. It is specifically reductionist science intruding upon God’s world.

    I continue to marvel at how ignorant all of us are in regards to a history less than 200 years ago. Barton, NARTH have absolutely no idea what underlies their non-Christian history. “First do no harm” seems not to have entered their lexicon.

    Thanks again, Warren, for pointing out this elephant in the room concerning the roots of psychoanalysis.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think we need to keep in mind that Exodus hasn’t completely renounced the idea (or hope) of sexual orientation change. They have only said that “99.9%” don’t lose ALL of their “SSA”. They still have it.

    But the REAL question people are asking is: “What percentage of Exodus members become heterosexual in orientation instead?”

    The fact is, “less SSA” is still “SSA”. A drop in desire is not orientation change. And having attractions to both sexes (as Randy and Alan admit they do) is not heterosexuality.

  • Jim

    Until the day comes when the unhappy people at Exodus International and their evangelical/fundamentalist enablers and co-dependents finally concede that gay people are fine the way they are and that homosexuality is normal for homosexual people and that God made some of his children gay because he darn well wanted to–until that day comes Exodus International will continue to wander aimlessly in the wilderness peddling one form of delusional mumbo-jumbo or another to a dwindling number of people foolish enough to fall for it. The simple truth is that there is no reason for Exodus International to exist in the first place. Mangling the minds, bodies, and souls of gay people is not the work of the Lord. You’ll know that reason and love have finally won the day at Exodus when it disbands.

  • Certainly in the past, much of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in particular had a very poor evidential basis. A lot still does – it’s taught because it’s common practice, not because there’s much evidence to support it.. Much of the evidence is pure anecdote, almost none double-blind studies that would be the minimal standard in other contexts.

    Gradually we’re sifting through it, to sort out what are actually “old wives tales” from genuinely useful therapies. The latter proportion is significant, but distressingly small. I think it fair to say that most of the many contradictory psychiatric “theories”, largely dependant on meta-physical concepts (“collective subconscious” etc) are faith-based conjectures, nothing more.

  • Michael Bussee

    Randy Thomas (former Exodus VP) chimes in on the changes at Exodus — and Robert Gagon’s call for Chambers to step down:

    “Gagnon’s public ridicule of leaders I know and love is as important to me as a fly fart in a hurricane. It is safe for me to assume that Alan and Clark have given the biblical issues of God’s grace and human sexuality as much consideration as Dr. Gagnon. Quite simply, Gagnon is wrong concerning grace and those who have SSA (same sex attractions) as well as Alan and Clark’s leadership.

    Ok, the whole fly fart in a hurricane thing was immature but … completely accurate.

    Gagnon’s rebuke literally has no relevant impact on my views and I would recommend others not get distracted by trying to respond to it. No one is saying don’t read it … by all means, if that’s something of interest, go for it … but not everyone has to write mini-epistles “prayerfully” picking it all apart.” ~ Randy Thomas

  • Lynn David
  • It cannot be any clearer; Alan Chambers is leading Exodus from the wilderness of reparative therapy to the promised land of Grace and soul liberty.

    Before you break into a chorus of Hallelujah, let’s find out if what we are hearing is actually what Alan is saying.  I’m having some difficulty getting clear, definitive responses on whether he means only reparative therapy, or all SOCE, and whether or not groups practicing either will be allowed to remain in Exodus.  If they are, then Alan’s statement is hypocritical. The point Bussee makes above is also important.

    Things are happening here but we can’t possibly know where it will end up at this stage.  The absolute worst thing we could do is let our emotional desire to “see the bad guys get religion” cloud reality.  I am positive even Alan himself would not expect that and we owe it to a lot of people out there to maintain a critical view of what exactly is going on.

  • Carol A Ranney

    @Michael Bussee, I believe that conservative Christians have bought into “the miracle cure” and “change is possible” because to believe otherwise means they would have to welcome and embrace LGBT people, repent of their persecution of them, welcome them into the church, and look at biblical passages in a different way (much as the “flat earth” and “earth-centered universe” were eventually accepterd as common knowledge and biblical understanding modified, after much persecution and a few burnings at the stake). At this point the fundfamentalists are still voting against anti-bullying laws just in case they might inadvertently offer support to an LGBT youth.

  • @Carol A Romney – you nailed it.

  • Michael Bussee

    In light of the changes at Exodus, some are suggesting new marketing slogans:

    “OK, You’ll always be gay, but you’ll go to Heaven anyway” and “Celibacy is Possible”.

  • Michael Bussee

    From Christianity Today: “Exodus International’s Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology”

    “Exodus International president Alan Chambers has, in the past week, explained the Orlando-based ministry’s recent U-turn on reparative therapy to everyone from The New York Times to NPR to MSNBC’s Hardball.

    And while the organization’s stance remains acceptable to most evangelicals, some scholars fear that Chambers’s theological convictions—sprinkled throughout those interviews—have not.

    “It’s not that he is simply not saying the warnings [against homosexual activity] in Scripture. I could live with that,” Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Robert Gagnon said of Chambers’s recent comments. “It’s that he is saying the exact opposite of what Scripture clearly teaches … . He’s preaching an anti-gospel.”

  • Michael Bussee

    I find it fascinating that people are only now coming out of the woodwork to condemn Alan’s “saved by Garce/eternal security” beliefs. He has always believed that. And there have always been people within Exodus who held different views about grace, works, etc.

    The “heresy” accusations didn’t happen until Alan admitted that gays don’t become straight through Exodus programs. It seems to me that doctrinal differences about Grace and salvation were tolerated — until Alan threw NARTH and reparative therapy under the bus. That’s what really caused the mutiny.

  • Michael Bussee

    “Make no mistake about it — changes undoubtably do occur in the “ex-gay” movement. But in my extensive study of “ex-gay” phenomena over more than a decade convinces me that the changes are turnover in testimonies, personnel, promises, definitions, expectations and claims, not changes in sexual orientation and behavior. ~ Ralph Blair, 1986

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  • Michael Bussee

    Over 25 years later, and it’s still true.

  • Hmmm,

    Apparently one thing not changing at Exodus is their attitude toward identifying as gay .. at least per this recent blog article by Jeff Buchanan who is listed as Executive Vice president of Exodus ..