Andrew Marin on Alan Chambers and the Closing of Exodus International

Andrew Marin on Alan Chambers and the Closing of Exodus International June 20, 2013


From: Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation, and author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation

For Interview Requests: (p) 773-572-5983 // (e)


It was the summer of 2000 when my three best friends came out to me in three consecutive months. Very quickly I learned there were two options for me:

Work to help make my best friends straight;


Disavow religion, help my best friends disavow religion, then hop onboard to my best friends new out existence.

Being in close relationship with my best friends and with God through my faith, I immediately realized neither of these options were good, healthy, productive or did one ounce of good for broader society. I saw first hand how these options began eroding any amount of unity that LGBTs and those straight person’s of faith, even conservatives, so desperately needed. And, at times needed each other.

So the next year I moved into Boystown, the LGBT neighborhood of Chicago, with two of my newly out best friends to start a journey of figuring out how to, as we put it back then, learn how to live and love in real time. A few years later The Marin Foundation was birthed, the first organization to ever work to build bridges between LGBTs and conservatives.

Our goal back then, as it is today, is to strategically partner with conservative and progressive religious entities and the LGBT community; as well as with churches, NGOs, higher educational institutions and government agencies to make a sustainable difference in today’s religious and secular cultures. Our focus is to individually, corporately and politically shift what is currently seen as the acceptable medium of cultural engagement—the polarizing back-and-forth, win-lose rhetoric—onto elevating the conversation. We do this through a worldview of engagement that all might experience dignity, love and reconciliation with faith and each other. By creating intentional spaces to live in the tension of what theologically, socially and politically divides us, we continually seek productive means that carve new paths forward.

The Marin Foundation came as a response to the initial options presented above; the former referencing the work of Exodus International–co-founded by Michael Bussee, whose initial work has been carried on by Alan Chambers. Over the past thirty-plus years Exodus had successfully permeated the Christian cultural consciousness that sexual orientation could be changed. This message has caused immeasurable harm to well intentioned LGBT Christians, as well as their parents, families and friends–all working under the illusion that with enough prayer, submission to the Lord’s will, reparative therapy or continual attendance to Exodus’ programs that same-sex attractions can be “fixed.” I also saw this harm first hand, how one of my best friends continued to try to force themselves to be straight; even at the urging of the rest of us telling them they are gay, and are loved by God regardless.

It was at this point, around 2005, that I began apologizing to my neighbors, neighborhood and the broader LGBT community on behalf of the church. A few years later this picture was taken unbeknown to me, and at last count, over 33 million shares and over 115 million views later from a variety of social media outlets, the words I’m Sorry became more than a sincere apology, but a new staring point for many conservatives to their LGBT brothers and sisters. Ten years later I feel The Marin Foundation has been able to permeate the cultural consciousness with a new paradigm of engagement in this hostile culture war, as well as set forth new language on how to move forward as reconciliatory agents that are committed to purse that which is culturally, politically and religiously disconnected.

I could not have been more happy to see Michael Bussee’s apology a few years ago, as well as this week, Alan’s apology, and then bold and courageous decision to announce last night that Exodus International will shut down.

I don’t know what is in store for Alan, his employees, or what they will be doing with their new endeavor, (website is not yet live). But if there is one thing, among many, I have learned over the years is: When I started apologizing I knew that was a good start, but means nothing without actions behind it.

That is why The Marin Foundation offers our ongoing work of Living in the Tension Gatherings, Culture War Curriculum, in-person Trainings and Lectures (Current and Past), Scientific Research, and soon to be announced Tension Series–a continuing education live interactive video lecture series.

Without a doubt this is a new day. And moving forward, I want to remind everyone of a few things I cannot repeat enough:

Disagreement does not mean dissent.

Everyone does not have to agree in order to love well.

Differences in cultural, political and theological belief systems does not equate enemies.


Engaging life, faith, orientation or any other topic is less about what you believe, and more about what you do with what you believe.

Much love.


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17 responses to “Andrew Marin on Alan Chambers and the Closing of Exodus International”

  1. Hi, let me start by saying that I love what you’re doing. I was thrilled to find your book, “Love is an Orientation”. I don’t want to get bogged down in the details but sexual orientation did change for me. I was a lesbian & no longer am. I saw myself as male and no longer do. The process did take years. I did not go through any program. It was me and God and a few trusted friends. I want to approach this with humility. I don’t even pretend to understand why orientation changes for some and not others. I’ve heard all the arguments & preconceived notions from both sides. A gay man once shared with me his story of horrendous abuse at the hands of his stepfather. I knew it would be nearly impossible for his orientation to change. However, I just can’t go all the way to the other end of the spectrum to the belief that orientation cannot ever be changed. It just seems to me that the word of God doesn’t support being trapped in the wrong body or being born with a homosexual orientation. At the same time, the Word of God does support a loving God who sees the bigger picture (as in the case of my gay friend who was terribly abused). I have to live in that tension to be true to His word.


    • Thank you for sharing your story Linda. The last thing I want to do is invalidate someone’s journey, story, or experience, which are indeed legitimate to them…yours included! This goes for others as well, who tried to “change” for years, if not decades, and never did. This is what I see as The Marin Foundation’s “ethic of inclusivity.” Agreement or disagreement to any topic, etc, is secondary to being able to take someone’s story and live in that truth with them, regardless of where they came from, their current space, or where they will be. Thanks for speaking up. Much love.

      • Andrew, thanks for your kind reply. I think we mostly agree. I always look for ways to build bridges and not walls which is why I so appreciate what you’re doing. I may not agree with someone’s point of view but I certainly don’t have to invalidate them in the process. I know there are those who have tried to change their sexual orientation & have not been able to do so. I also know there are “conservatives” who think they have the answers to why it didn’t change for them (ex., they weren’t sincere, a demon needs to be cast out, they didn’t try hard enough, etc) without truly seeking to understand, and, thereby, placing terrible burdens on the homosexual community. Sexual orientation is not some simplistic issue & the Creator of the Universe understands this more than we do. I believe His written word to be infallible.. both in it’s stance on sexuality and it’s promotion of a huge & loving God who sees a much bigger picture than I could ever see. I’m glad for this.

        Love to you & yours,

      • Nate, I would love that. I don’t want my email out there for all to see though. Are you on FB? I’m trying to figure out a way to reply to you privately but I don’t see one. Andrew?… any suggestions?

        • Hi to all. Thanks for conversation on this. Linda & Nate, sounds like I’ve been on a similar journey to you. Grateful to all who’ve lived in the tension with me over the years as I’ve got to know God. Good to know there are others with similar stories.

          • Twitter: smith_brooks . Nate Smith on Facebook is difficult, but I am under Asbury University network. Blog: Let’s chat!

    • Linda: I support your ex-gay journey, but reject your assertion that the word of God doesn’t support homosexual sexual orientation or those dealingbwirh gender identity issues. That might fit within your perception of how things should be, but God is bigger than that.

      • Jon, did you read my post in it’s entirety? Did I not basically say that? I talked about what I believed the word of God says and then that God was much bigger than all that. Exactly what I said brother. I’ve copied it so you can read it again: Sexual orientation is not some simplistic issue & the Creator of the
        Universe understands this more than we do. I believe His written word
        to be infallible.. both in it’s stance on sexuality and it’s promotion
        of a huge & loving God who sees a much bigger picture than I could
        ever see.

      • Jon, wanted to add that I’m still learning. I don’t want to shove my beliefs down anybody’s throat. I’m sorry if I came across that way.

  2. I believe we should expand this apology to include pedophiles. What say you? I have a childhood friend who is still spending time in prison for his action towards children. He has tried to change and he wants to change. But no amount of prayer, reading the Bible, books, sessions with psychiatrists seems to have helped.

    • Chris, I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or serious. I’ll assume the latter when answering. We are talking about sexual orientation here & building bridges. We’re not talking about criminal acts. Pedophilia involves harm done to children & a criminal act against them. We can certainly forgive them but I definitely would not want your friend roaming the streets to prey on innocent children. By his own admission nothing he has tried has helped. If he hopes to one day be released from prison & become a member of society again – and given his own admission that nothing has helped – I see no other option for him than castration to guarantee the safety of innocent children. I do not mean this cruelly but children must be protected.

    • Not even in the same league. In a homosexual relationship there are 2 consenting equally responsible adults, in pedophilia there is a perpetrator and a victim. A child does not have the capacity to consent.

  3. This isn’t a productive space to attempt to convert each other to a different point of view. (Especially with snarky snippets). Stay on topic with relationship to the article.

  4. I would talk about what hogwash Alan Chambers’ apology seems; I would talk about how arrogant and self-serving the whole media role-out of is, and how it seems like a marketing strategy to change the name and message in the face of cultural change so that Mr. Chambers can keep his livelihood. But, John Shore says it so much better….

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