Exodus International President Apologizes to the Gay Community (“We’re Sorry”)

Exodus International President Apologizes to the Gay Community (“We’re Sorry”) June 19, 2013

Exodus International is an organization that seeks to help people with same sex attraction. The organization believes, like many evangelicals, that homosexuality is a sin from which Jesus can deliver people — like all other sins.

However, Exodus International President (of 37 years) apologized to the LGBTQ community for it’s treatment of gays.

Here’s the statement:

Irvine, Calif. (June 19, 2013) — Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.

The apology dovetails with the ministry’s 38th annual conference in Irvine, Calif. – and the Thursday, June 20, airing of the television broadcast “God & Gays” on Our America with Lisa Ling. On Ling’s program, Exodus President, Alan Chambers, sits down with gay and lesbian people hurt by the Church with the goal of reconciliation.

“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” said Chambers. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”

Chambers also said:

“I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced.  I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt 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 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, I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry 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.

“You have never been my enemy.  I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show I am serious in both my regret and offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.”

Update: Exodus is shutting down to redirect their ministry.

Whether you believe that homosexuality is a sin or not, putting homosexual behavior above other kinds of sin (like slander, gossip, self-righteousness) is both wrong and unbiblical. This is often the root behind mistreating others — self-righteousness – “their sins are much worst than my own, so . . . ”

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Esther O’Reilly

    Also, I think the dietary analogy is weak because I don’t think Jews believe it’s wrong for Gentiles to eat pork, whereas Christians do believe that sexual immorality/deviancy is wrong for everyone across the board. Anyway, you’re right that legislating morality isn’t always expedient, but when it comes to redefining a foundational institution like marriage, with all the ripple and splash effects that carries with it, I think Christians do have a legal interest.

  • gimpi1

    Well, I think the diversity of response here pretty much illustrates what I meant with “as many variations on the theme Christian as there are individual Christians.”

    Frank and Wondering, thanks for the praise. Compliments will get you anywhere: )

    Ginny, again, I feel you have made my point for me. You seem to feel you are the arbitrator of who is a true Christian and who is a heretic. Why do you feel you have that authority? That knowledge? Again, I feel you come off as believing you speak for God. I assure you, one thing I can say in my doubt-befuddled cloud, you don’t,

    This is a secular state. We pass laws based on controlling those behaviors that are harmful, not those that make others uncomfortable for religious or other reasons. And I guess that would be my answer to both Ginny and Esther.

    Esther, I know many people believe that the Bible firmly condemns homosexuality. I understand that those people don’t want their churches changing their interpretation of what they believe is a cornerstone belief. What I don’t understand is what that has to do with secular law. Your church doesn’t have to perform gay marriages, any more than the Catholic church has to perform a second marriage after a secular divorce. However, second marriages are recognized in law. Why not gay marriages?

    I’m uncomfortable anytime someone invokes belief alone to regulate someone else’s behavior. See my earlier examples about playing cards and make-up. I think, for instance you would rightly put up a fuss about an Islamic or Jewish group trying to outlaw pork products, for example. These people feel dietary issues are moral issues, just as you feel sexuality is a moral issue. Why do you believe your sensibilities trump theirs?

  • Wondering

    gimpi1, I also want to say thanks for your comment. It would serve the evangelical community well to have more people like yourself speak honestly and openly about the way many Christians use their religion as a weapon against others. It should not be this way. I was raised in a Christian home and up until recently have known very little life outside of the church. However, the legalism, fundamentalism, and downright rudeness of many of my fellow Christians has certainly been a cause for much disillusionment. Thankfully the loud and angry voices that you often hear in the news do not represent the whole of Christianity. I highly doubt Jesus would approve of that kind of thing “in his name”…

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    No matter how messy the messenger, the Message, which is the Gospel of the Good News, is always Truth! God is the same yesterday, today and forever! Both the person of Jesus, God made flesh, and God’s Holy written Word, the Bible speak for God. You do realize that not all who refer to themselves as Christian truly are? Actions speak louder. If one is not living in obedience to God’s Word, one is definitely not a Christian. Period. Contrary to what many heretics are proclaiming these days, you cannot have Jesus’ Love without illuminating His Love with His Truth. God is holy and cannot wink at sin, including that of homosexuality. Of course, anyone can be forgiven of any sin, but they must first confess it, remorsefully repent of it, ask God’s forgiveness for it, and walk away from it, with the full intention of never going back into that bondage again. God’s law is higher than that of the secular state, no matter how far we have strayed from that truth, due to the diabolical schemes of Epicurus, Machiavelli, Hobbs, Spinoza, Rousseau, Darwin and the rest of their ilk. Of course, all of them were just doing satan’s bidding.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    This isn’t an inerrancy issue. I don’t think one needs to be a hard-core inerrantist to believe that the Bible is clear on homosexuality.

  • Thx. for this sober and gracious comment.

  • gimpi1

    Ginny, thanks for your response. I don’t mean to be mean, but your tone is pretty much what I was talking about.

    You do realize that there’s no consensus on that view, right? Some Christians believe as you do, some Christians believe in differing interpretations of the Bible, and some Christians don’t believe in biblical inerrancy at all. There are likely as many variations on the theme “Christian” as there are individual Christians, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Christians talk about God and Christ being central, but the actions of many don’t live up to that. Do you really feel the need to sit in judgement of others, and to have your judgement rendered in secular law? Why?

    You don’t Speak for God. Mr. Viola doesn’t speak for God. I don’t speak for God. Mr Chambers doesn’t speak for God. To my knowledge, no one can make that claim, yet you are seem to believe that you do. And, as an outsider, to use an insider phrase, I think it may damage your witness.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    True believers do embrace everyone with Jesus’ love. In Matthew 9:11-13, Jesus’ disciples were asked, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In essence, Jesus was saying that everybody is living in sin if they have not surrendered all to Him, and everyone is in need of His healing and His salvation if they want to have eternal life. He didn’t tell the tax collectors and sinners that they were fine the way they were. He didn’t join them in their sin in an attempt to relate. He wasn’t down with how they were living. He boldly declared that they needed His healing and His salvation.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Homosexuals don’t march for the right to have sex, Susan. They already engage in it freely.
    True believers in Jesus do not hate on any sinners, and certainly do not treat the sin of homosexuality as if its in a category of its own. All sin is separation from God, and is addressed by Jesus’ disciples as such. However, some sins have more lasting and serious consequnces than do others. For example, abortion ends a person’s life! Our body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost and when one commits a sexual sin such as homosexuality on a regular basis, that is besetting sin. There is a difference between sin one practices habitually compared to a sin that one commits one day and repents of, turning away from it, and asking God’s forgiveness for it. God completes the cleansing and healing for the person who is truly remorseful and determined to walk away from whatever sin they committed, including homosexuality.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    The Bible is our standard by which all else is measured. It’s not significant what we the people think about homosexuality. It’s only significant what God declares in His Holy Word about homosexuality, or any sin for that matter.

  • Jerry Lynch

    Thirty-eight years with a trail of tears and ruin and suicide. Such an abomination in the name of the Lord as what this man perpetrated, believing in his own righteousness and ignoring all the incredible hurt and cruelty at his hands, is up there with Hitler. His apology was at best wishy-washy. Had he said, “I was wrong, terribly wrong. I seriously harmed hundreds, was perhaps the impetus for suicide in a good number, and did it all believing in my own uderstanding, my efforts. I was a Charlatn. There is no excuse for my behavior”

    I am very quick to forgive, having been a very big bastard for decades, Had he not tried to salvage some face by saying his organization did some good or we’re being simply being true to his faith, I would embrace him without a qualm. But he did not. However, a confession of this enormity–a life’s work trashed–is truly heroic. The grief of this needs a good deal of leeway. I cannot possibly imagine what this apparently decent and loving man is going through. Prayer, industrial strength, is needed.

  • pagansister

    “Exodus International President Apologizes To The Gay Community”—–as he should have. It’s been a long time coming. I wonder how many members of that community have been mentally harmed by this organization?

  • Susan Gerard

    So true, Bart. Thank you for a clear, rational response to not only the Exodus apology, but your complicity as well. I am humbled.

  • Susan Gerard

    Gina, if you really want to understand homosexuals, open your eyes to heterosexuals and sex. Granted, we don’t march openly (and distastefully at times, not always) for the right to have sex because we already have that right. But do you, for one second, think heterosexuals aren’t loose, don’t practice bondage, S&M, cross dressing and sodomy? Some do, of course. But when I see pictures of gay couples marrying, they look like normal people, happy and in love. If we are hating on homosexuals in a way that is different than other sins, then it is not “enough said.”

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Sorry, I’m confused. I made a comment, you answered it, then I replied to you. I did reply to your Superman comment… but I liked it!

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Whoops, sorry. I couldn’t find my first comment so I posted double. My fault.

  • gimpi1

    I’m an outsider, here and don’t really have a dog in this race. I’m neither Christian or Gay. However, my two cents worth:

    If Evangelical Christians are serious about the “evangelical” part, they should consider this good news. I, personally, have tended to dismiss your message, because so many of you come off so judgmental and frankly hateful concerning gay people (and democrats, atheists, feminists, liberals, whatever). I know how sincere your beliefs are, but that sincerity is no excuse for cruelty or rudeness.

    Also, the idea that things you consider sinful must be outlawed is, to those of us on the outside, scary. I have known Christians who consider dancing, cards, make-up, dating, and a ton of other common activities sinful. If you can outlaw gay marriage based on your beliefs about sin, are you coming for the lipstick and and playing cards next? You may think that sounds silly, but I really don’t see how it’s different. If you believe you should outlaw one harmless activity based on your view of sin, why not others?

    Anyway, I find his apology welcome. He has learned that he caused harm. He took that information onboard, and has revised his thinking a bit, and is trying to make amends for the hurt he generated. That might make me a bit more likely to listen to him, or someone else of his faith. Does that make sense to to anyone?

    Worth about the 2 cents, right?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Hi Frank. My feelings about the apology come from Chambers’ own wording when he apologizes directly to gay couples seeking to adopt. This seems to indicate a dramatic shift in his view of gay unions and gay adoption, and that’s what concerns me. Since he chose to include this in his apology, I think it’s relevant to the discussion of how we should react to it.

  • Susan Gerard

    According to the blogger, “the question I’m asking is: how do you feel about this apology?” You are trolling. It’s not godly.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I have some issues with the apology, and it seems like the issue of unions/adoption is relevant to it, because Chambers said that he was sorry for arguing that same-sex couples shouldn’t be parents.

  • Dan Mc

    Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality, you have to respect the courage to admit that you were wrong, and humbly ask for the forgiveness of those you hurt. Doing so in a public forum is even more humbling. — Personally, I belong to a church that has chosen to become open and affirming. Meaning that they accept all people, wherever they may be on life’s journey. There are gay and lesbian members of the congregation, and they Christian, as am I. To me there are no more or less Christians, just Christians. We are taught that a Christian’s love is without exception and without end. None of us have any right to judge a person on who they are, whether it’s by design or by choice. Each and every one of us is a sinner, and our sins are between us and our Father. We are not charged with a duty to judge, but a duty to love. They will know us by our love … Shalom.

  • Susan Gerard

    I have often considered this very thing, and will read your post on sin metrics. If Jesus could embrace with love the tax gatherer, the prostitute, the adulteress, the repentant pharisee (Nicodemus), the unclean of every variety, why do we think ourselves as more righteous than Jesus? I might hazard these guesses: worship of Scripture above God/Jesus, and worship of interpreters of Scripture.

  • Susan Gerard

    I think your comments are trolling for a fight. As the mod stated, “I’d like to stay focused on that specific question (ie, the apology)” And I thought you were going to stop following me around on threads. Starrs for you.

  • It’s long overdue. A sincere apology only focuses upon what we have done wrong and how we have mistreated others. As soon as elements of other’s sin are brought in it ceases to be an apology and becomes a rationalization.

    I’ve personally apologized to members of the LGBT community for my complicity in treating them as second class people whom I’ve preached against and voted against as a statement of my own worth compared to them.

    Sadly this is a repetition of history in evangelicalism in North Americ a. Issues like slavery, mixed race marriage and desegregation, just to name a few have been embraced long after they have been addressed societally. We nod our heads in assent as an afterthought when it no longer matters.

    Jesus showed us how to embrace fellow sinners without being caught in sin and we still haven’t learned. Until Christians like me start loving people like God loves us, we’re the empty gongs of I Corinthians 13 and the Pharisees of John 8 except they were wise enough to walk away where we cast stones.

    To any from the LGBT community reading this, I’m sorry too.

  • If I may throw in here, the question I’m asking is: how do you feel about this apology? Note that we can go off into dozens of rabbit trails on the subject, but I’d like to stay focused on that specific question in light of putting some sins above others. Again, see my Sin Metrics post. It’s one of the most important I’ve ever written. Thanks.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Then do you think the questions are irrelevant?

  • Susan Gerard

    As Yancey once put it, “Some Christians get very angry at those who sin differently than they do.” On a thread about repentance and a godly apology, why are you trolling for a fight?

  • Margaret Ann Schaaf

    Quite simply, I think that this is something that has been a long time coming and is long overdue. In essence, I believe that this is what happens when those who are committed to following Christ truly begin to do so, and begin to reject religion to live the love that Jesus has for every human being. This is what happens when we truly choose to become vessels of God’s grace and let Him pour that grace out through us to a world that is thirsting for it. It is the beautiful breaking that occurs in our hearts when we begin to choose to do as the One that we follow does and look past people’s choices to their hearts. What Alan Chambers has done is a truly brave and beautiful thing. It is my hope that those who have been shunned and wounded by “Christians” because of their sexuality will begin to find healing and reconciliation in simple acts like these and that this begins conversations that will help the Body of Christ learn to actually be truly Christlike to those with different convictions than themselves. Sexual orientation may not be a choice, but love is… and being a vessel that love and grace flow through is.

  • Steve Kitzman

    I have the extreme honor of going to the same church as Alan Chambers and have had the opportunity to hear him speak many times. I can tell you it is absolutely a very deep and heart felt apology. Alan has endured so much recently because of his stand for the Grace of God – sadly, most of it by professing Christians. His own personal story is amazing and I pray for a revelation of that Grace in the hearts and minds of mainstream evangelicals in this country. As former foster parents who adopted 3 children from foster care, we know first hand of the thousands of children right now who desperately need the love of a parent. Yet gay and lesbian individuals are not permitted to adopt in the state of Florida. I have witnessed that most, just as heterosexuals, would make outstanding parents. It’s the massive pressure continually exerted on government by the Legalistic Christian community that says it is better for a child to remain without any sort of family for life than to place them with a loving and capable gay individual or couple. These children many times continue to be a ward of the state in some form after aging out at 18 due to no one showing them the love of a parent and offering wisdom and guidance. Then those same individuals who speak out publicly against gays and lesbians, also speak out against the millions who rely on the government for some form of assistance. Yet the job of the Church is to care for the “least of these”. My intention is not to go down a rabbit trail or rant, but Religion is toxic and and it destroys. So much damage has been done. I pray for Alan and for Exodus and the amazing work they are doing and I pray that many come to see the loving and merciful God that IS and not believe in the lies of an angry and hostile god. His anger was already poured out, once and for all. Let’s all believe that!!

  • Esther O’Reilly

    What is your position on homosexual unions and adoption? Do you think distinctions should be made between homosexuality and “other sins” when it comes to institutions explicitly founded on sexual relations?

  • mhelbert

    I think it’s a good place to start. Apologizing and shutting Exodus down in order to start something new to try and undo some of the hurt. However, having been a bully and abuser for so long is, necessarily, going to take some time to bring some kind of restitution. It may never be enough for some.

  • The root behind this kind of mistreatment is always self-righteousness. As Yancey once put it, “Some Christians get very angry at those who sin differently than they do.” This is typical in the evangelical community. See my post on Sin Metrics that’s linked in the post. Gossip, slander, jealousy are ignored or justified; homosexuality, premarital sex, adultery, etc. are regarded as the most serious of sins. Yet the NT puts all them on the same level. Interestingly, Jesus has compassion on sins that many evangelicals are horrified by while his anger boiled against the self-righteous purists. Something to consider.

  • Typical. It’s why so many people don’t like Christians. See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/warning/

  • I was simply astounded by the judgemental comments, from both sides, that Alan Chambers’ apology received on the Christianity Today post announcing this news. A man writes a sincere apology whilst reaffirming some biblically-informed convictions, and he is lambasted. There is much soul searching to do here.

  • Susan Gerard

    I don’t think he is putting homosexual sin above other kinds of sin; he is sorry for the hurt he has caused them. Apologies are often called for resulting from how we treat the sinner. I want, for instance, that all abusers should apologize to their victims and ask forgiveness/make restitution, and that any organization which protected said abusers also apologize. If divorced people were treated to shame, public humiliation, etc., without love, I would call for the same apology.

    Because we do not treat all sins as equal does not mean we should not repent of ungodly behavior and strive to do better.