Defining Exodus: A Letter from Alan Chambers

Update: Here is an interview with Alan Chambers that appeared in The Atlantic.

Here is a letter from Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International. It is his attempt to define Exodus as a ministry in light of the public relations challenges they face as an organization in light of a rapidly-changing cultural context around LGB issues. Let me encourage you to read the letter in its entirety, but here are a few nuggets that stood out to me:

Exodus International is repeatedly accused of seeking to make gay people straight through conversion therapy and prayer. As the media and culture rage around us, drawing battle lines in the sand and seeking to fuel the debate about homosexuality, my team and I have been working diligently to clearly state the calling of this great ministry and focus solely on that work. We want to reiterate that our mission is, first and foremost, to serve, support and equip the Church in providing refuge to individuals or families impacted by same-sex attractions (SSA).  Quite simply, our goal is to make the Church famous for loving and serving people as Jesus would and pointing them to Him.

People seeking this encouragement and guidance do so because they have decided to pursue an identity or life based on their relationship with Christ over their same-sex attractions.

We believe that in Christ we have been given completely new hearts and the ability to have power over the sin that remains confined to our earthly flesh.  While believers absolutely can fall to temptation, the mark of a maturing believer is finding increased victory in areas that have, at times, overwhelmed us. …

We respect everyone’s right to pursue their own course as it relates to seeking resolution for struggles. No one is ever coerced, forced into therapy, nor do we seek to ‘pray away the gay’ as many have suggested.  In fact we are no longer an organization that associates with or promotes therapeutic practices that focus on changing one’s attraction.  I found the greatest amount of freedom when I stopped focusing on my sin and struggles and started focusing on the grace and peace found only in Christ and the man He created me to be.  This life isn’t most about sin management but about living daily as the sons and daughters of God.  In part, it is the peace and rest found in that identity alone that transforms us daily.

Exodus does not believe SSA is sinful.  However, sexual expression resulting from SSA is. Making such clear distinctions has been a failure of the Church that is slowly being realized and changed. …

We must all recognize that behavior resulting from SSA is not easily overcome. Many may struggle for the rest of their lives with some form of temptation or unwanted feelings. That is the nature of human experience on earth. However, we do believe God’s grace can give us the ability to live beyond the power of our temptations as we acknowledge and yield our weakness to Him.  Change is possible for every human being who has a destiny-altering encounter with Jesus Christ.  But, change isn’t the absence of struggle but rather the freedom in the midst of struggle to choose differently.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Exodus’ Official Position on Reparative or Conversion Therapy « Queer Church News

  2. Some Christians hold the view that both homosexual orientation and sexual acts are sinful, and that both can be changed . I hope that people of good will who believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality will soften their views to accept that only behavior not orientation can be changed. The view that people with same sex attractions can actually be “cured” or changed into people with only opposite sex attractions with reparative therapy that childhood damage causes homosexuality, and that it can be cured. The problem with that is that this is really just wishful thinking and not true.

    Orientation cannot be changed through prayer, religious conversion, reparative therapy, aversion therapy, or counseling, any more than a person can change their race, skin color, or genetic gender.

    All research is suggestive that people change behavior and their values. There is not much indication that basic desires change as the result of therapy or prayer.

    The very people that would be willing to forgo the prohibited behaviors often also would very much like to believe that they can actually “convert” not only the lifestyle but the actual attractions completely. They end up finding out years later after this approach that is not the case and are devastated. This results in some suicides and leaving the faith.

    Aside from all the mainstream psychiatric, psychological, social work, the World Health Organization
    ( “a serious threat to the health and well-being—even the lives—of affected people.”)
    and counselling groups even many experts among people that have been involved in “reparative therapy” mostly agree on this. It does not work in changing orientation.

    Dr. Abba Borowich, an Orthodox psychiatrist who practiced reparative therapy for Orthodox homosexuals for nearly 30 years concluded that this was an ineffective course of therapy which only increased suffering among his patients and their families .

    According to those who do believe in such conversions, the success rate is around 0.4%
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_exod1.htm

    Warren Throckmorton, a psychologist and professor at the evangelical Grove City College recently surveyed 239 men in “mixed-orientation marriages,” in which the husband is attracted to other men and the wife is heterosexual. About half the men had been through some conversion therapy.

    Over the course of their marriage, the men’s “attractions to the same sex … increased” and “the attractions to their spouse decreased,” according to Throckmorton.

    Another study by Mark Yarhouse, a researcher at Regent University — which was founded by Pat Robertson — came to the same conclusion.

    The leader of Exodus the largest public group of people (several hundreds) who changed from a gay to heterosexual lifestyle admits that this does not include an end of same sex attraction for 99.9% of the group.
    “There has been a change in our beliefs about orientation change focused therapy and we don’t believe it’s effective.”

    Dr. Spitzer
    “If people can recognize that being a homosexual is something that cannot be changed and that efforts to change are going to be disappointing and can be harmful, if that can be more widely known that would be very good. ”

    Orientation is not a sin.

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