(RNS) After almost 40 years, Exodus International is closing its doors. It was the oldest Christian services group of its kind and a market leader in reparative/ex-gay/sexual orientation change therapy.

It harmed countless people, not just those in the programs but also their families, friends and communities. Exodus took a heavy toll emotionally, spiritually and physically. Too many end their lives feeling hopeless and alone because of homophobia and rejection.

Throughout its tenure, Exodus claimed its professionals and programs could “heal” people of homosexuality. They were successful in enrolling eager clients.

Unfortunately, they misled the people they claimed to want to “help.” Last year, Exodus President Alan Chambers reported that 99.9 percent of people who engaged in reparative therapy did not change their orientation.

Earlier this week, Chambers issued a public apology for trying to fix people who weren’t broken. He enlisted “Our America with Lisa Ling” to broadcast a meeting Thursday (June 20) in which he apologized to those who felt deceived and defrauded by Exodus’ practices.

Simultaneously the Exodus board announced the launch of a new ministry with the goal of reducing fear (reducefear.org) and working alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.

Unfortunately, human lives can’t be “recalled” to the factory for in-warranty repair like cars. While Chambers and Exodus have taken the first and very critical steps in restorative justice, it is not clear how they can make reparations.

I pray that Chambers is truly remorseful about the damaged lives and lost lives as a result of Exodus interventions, but I will never stop being vigilant about his work.

Chambers has not publicly changed his position on biblical prohibition of same-sex relationships. As long as he believes a lie, people are vulnerable to his gift for manipulation. 

We know that Chambers is a very savvy market analyst. He read the tea leaves. His product/service didn’t work. America is tired of gay bashing and bullying. Perhaps Chambers was worried about the challenges coming for the charitable status of groups such as Exodus Global Alliance in Canada and the fact that New Zealand denied this former affiliate of Exodus International nonprofit status.

Chambers needed a new, fresh, reframed approach. He will land on his feet. He’s a smart guy. He planned all of the announcements this week during the biggest conversation about gay marriage in our history. He scrubbed the Exodus website of blatantly anti-gay rhetoric. He published public policy statements that denounced the criminalization of homosexuality and exorcisms intended to heal people of homosexuality.

He invited people who had been harmed to speak at the final conference of Exodus.

cindi love

The Rev. Cindi Love is the executive director of Soulforce, a member of the Faith & Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign and the United Nations Compass Coalition for LGBT Human Rights. Photo courtesy Rev. Cindi Love


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

A good start. And, not nearly enough. I hope Chambers will find it in his heart to use his gifts to confront any ministry in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are targeted for “fixing,” “inclusion,”  “affirmation” or “reconciliation.”

God already included us, affirmed us and reconciled us. We don’t need fixing.

(The Rev. Cindi Love is the executive director of Soulforce, a member of the Faith & Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign and the United Nations Compass Coalition for LGBT Human Rights.)

 

15 Comments

  1. I would hate for people to assume that they cannot be healed by Jesus just because this one organization has shut down. Gay is not anyone’s identity. You might not be able to pray the gay away but you can certainly be healed and have your SSA transformed. Homosexual behavior is sinful in every from and Jesus can indeed rescue people from succumbing to it and to live a richer more Godly life.

    • David Thompson

      Jesus is a joke fabricated by 2nd century religious marketeers. You only need to look at other animal species to see that gay is a natural occurrence. Take that puerile book and put it on the shelf next to all your other books of fiction,

    • Oh, Frank, your assumptions are so hetero-superior. This is evident by your claim that healing is apparently needed. To need to be healed has an implicit assumption of something being broken. Guess what? I don’t need healing for being gay. And despite your assumption (you really think you’re an expert, don’t you, you conceited SOB?) – gay is part of who I am. And if I can’t get rid of this part of myself through prayer, what other method would you suggest for being “healed” of my non-affliction?

      It’s your last sentence, “Homosexual behavior is sinful in every from [sic], … live a richer more Godly life….” that gets me. Your conceit, your ignorant assumptions, are astounding. It floors me when people spout off about what their “god” thinks about something, as if they have some sort of secret back channel communication line to their deity. It doesn’t shock you that your deity has the same identical views as you in this matter? It doesn’t make you wonder, “hey, maybe I’m making this stuff up (claiming god’s support) because it’s what I personally believe?”.

      • Homosexuality is one facet of the brokenness of humanity.

        I am sorry you have rejected this truth but you can be healed if you choose to be. Your SSA is not your identity.

    • Christopher Blackwell

      David,

      Continuing the lie will not make it true I have always found lying in the name of Jesus to be one of the things I will never understand about some Christians, yourself included. Nowhere in the bible does it say that gays can be turned straight, so there is no excuse for what you claim.

      As to people switching back and forth, there are such people, they are known as bi-sexual. but neither gay people or straight people can change to the other.

  2. Rev. Love,

    You write, “As long as he believes a lie, people are vulnerable to his gift for manipulation…God already included us, affirmed us and reconciled us. We don’t need fixing.”

    It seems clear that you will never be ok with Mr. Chambers until he stops believing in a biblical prohibition of same-sex relationships, and that he also comes to terms with the position that God himself is quite approving of it. As you well know however, a huge chuck of the church around the world disagrees with your assessment of the issue and has done so for quite a long time.

    So the disagreement exists. Fair enough. Let each side make their case to the world and do so passionately. But let each side respect each others differences as well, even when it hurts…especially when it hurts. This is what a Spirit-led people do. And when it comes to forgiveness, may both sides remember that Jesus himself took on our wrongs in spite of our proven brokenness and rebellion; he loved his enemies, and we should do the same to those who we perceive as our enemies; those undeserving of our forgiveness. It’s the way of Jesus, and it should be the way of those who call upon his name.

    God’s peace to you.

    • You do realize that there are many, many theologians who argue that their deity does not condemn homosexuality, right? Have you ever read any of these views that dissent from the “huge chuck of the church around the world [that] disagrees with your assessment of the issue and has done so for quite a long time….” ?

      One of my two biggest complaints about your religion is typified by your statement: “Jesus himself took on our wrongs in spite of our proven brokenness and rebellion;…”. This whole doctrine or belief or whatever you want to call it, that says that all humans are evil, sinning, broken, rebellious beings is sick. It’s a twisted, perverted take on being human that has unfortunately governed western thought for millennia. [My second biggest problem with your religion is that it requires a blood sacrifice to make thinks right - how Aztec of you!]

      It got its hooks in me when I was a young teenager attending a Billy Graham crusade. The formula is that the first thing you have to do is convince your audience that they are irredeemably evil and sinful. Otherwise, what’s the point? The point is, if you cannot convince someone that they are intrinsically evil and sinful (whatever that means), then the rest of your message is worthless. That’s right – the whole redemption thing, Christ being crucified being the blood sacrifice that finally satisfies your deity – these are sick concepts. Our world would be much better off without this pervasive sickness.

  3. A very tragic day. Certainly the willingness to sincerely apologize for past wrongs is necessary, but it’s clear that Alan Chambers has gone far beyond apologizing, effectively abandoning 1 Cor. 6:9-11 and 1 Cor. 10:13 (and other key Scriptures) in the process.

    And Cindi Love’s bitter essay proves that such unfortunate compromises aren’t going to placate the gay activists anyway. They want capitulation, not compromise. Biblical Christianity is not part of the gay agenda.

    I would simply urge Christians to let go of Exodus (or whatever Alan Chambers chooses to label that organization in the future). Just let it go, and instead check out and hook up with the Restored Hope Network instead. It’s an excellent alternative, and that’s what is needed at this critical time.

  4. Peter Hong Kong

    Facts are facts. Even if they are bitter, and especially if they are bitter. Bullying is bullying. Even, and especially, when some or most people seek “justification from Scripture.”

  5. The practice of mutual masturbation, oral, and anal sex is referred to in the bible in Greek as “Porniea” (where the word pornography comes from). So whether you are homosexual or heterosexual, these behaviors are considered gross sins and ruin your relationship with God.

    People are born predisposed to many behaviors that are negative, but it doesn’t mean they have to give in and embrace those things.

    In the end, if you wish to have a relationship with God and be a Christian, you have fight hard to live by his standards to be acceptable to him. Homosexuality is clearly forbidden by the bible, just as gambling, drunkenness, and sex before marriage. Man up and deal with it.

    The apostle Paul warned Timothy about some members who desired “to be teachers of law.” Timothy was to command these disturbers of the faith “not to teach different doctrine.” Next, he warned Timothy of “persons lawless and unruly, ungodly and sinners,” and then he specifically identified “men who lie with males” as being “in opposition to the healthful teaching.” (1 Timothy 1:3-11) Surely, one who leads a congregation in worship must not hinder the beneficial teachings of the Bible either in word or in life-style.—Compare Romans 2:21.

    The force of this admonition is also seen in what Paul wrote to Titus in Crete. In setting requirements to “ordain elders” (King James Version), he stipulated their being “free from accusation,” “righteous,” “self-controlled,” “holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching.” (Titus 1:5-9)

    Included in that “faithful word” was Paul’s earlier letter to Christians living in Corinth, which stated that “men who lie with men” would not inherit God’s Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Holding to “the faithful word” would enable a minister “to reprove those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9) How can a homosexual minister reprove others when his own life-style contradicts “the faithful word”? On the contrary, the apostle Peter said of “false teachers” that “many will follow their acts of loose conduct.”—2 Peter 2:1, 2.

  6. good news: exodus shuts down. bad news: it’s just rebranding. good news: HeartStrong and exgay.com remain intact as always. When you start with the truth it remains the truth. Rebranding it never required.

  7. “God already included us, affirmed us and reconciled us. We don’t need fixing.” ~ Cindi Love”
    LOVE that quote!
    I completely disagree with “apologies are too late when the damage is done.” Really? So… let me see… you apologize before the damage is done?
    Hmmm.

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