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Exodus reverses their beliefs and abandons reparative therapy!

Part 2: President Chambers interviewed by media.
Announces Exodus' 2nd major change: LGB salvation.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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In this website, "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays and bisexuals

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2012-JUN-29: Alan Chambers is interviewed by the Christian Post:

During the 2012 Freedom Conference, he was interviewed by the Christian Post. He said that reparative therapy sets clients up for failure by giving LGBs unrealistic expectations:

"As the president of Exodus International and, even more than that, as a Christian leader who is out in front of [LGB] people all the time, it is my responsibility to lead honestly and transparently and to share with people that, just because you become a Christian, ... your struggles don't always go away. You don't get to a place where you're never going to be tempted again." 1

Some of his friends who believe in the efficacy of reparative therapy have told him that they can heal him of his same-sex attractions completely. He rejects this saying:

"I don't think it's a biblical message, and that's why we've shied away from it. ... Christians in the body of Christ, we have overemphasized complete resolution and complete change for this issue but not for others...and I don't think we're telling anybody else with any other type of struggle that they have to. ... never be tempted in that area again in order to be a good Christian." 1

He noted that Christians with other sins such as heterosexual lust, pornography addiction, pride, or gluttony, do not generally receive the same blanket condemnations as do persons who are sexually active with members of the same sex.

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2012-JUL-06: Chambers is interviewed by the New York Times about reparative therapy and salvation for LGBs.

He said:

  • Exodus International will no longer condone reparative therapy.

  • He believes that it is possible for both homosexuals and bisexuals who are in sexually active relationships with members of the same sex to be saved and go to Heaven.

That, of course, is extreme heresy in the eyes of many fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians. They interpret some of the six "clobber passages" in the Bible which touch on same-gender sexual behavior as implying that such behavior automatically routes people to the torture chambers of Hell after death. Chambers said:

"I believe that any sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the Bible. But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else." 2

These revelations caused some ministries to leave Exodus, including Desert Stream Ministries which departed in 2012-MAY. Its founder and director, Andrew Comiskey, considered that:

"For the last 37 years, Exodus has been a bright light, arguably the brightest one for those with same-sex attraction seeking an authentically Christian hope."

He wrote that the decision of his group to leave was:

"... due to leader Alan Chambers’ appeasement of practicing homosexuals who claim to be Christian ...[as well as his questioning of the reality of] sexual orientation change."

An alternative explanation of Chambers' decision is that after in excess of three decades of leading a movement to convert gays into straignts they have realized that sexual orientation cannot be changed. They have been promoting an untruth. The only "changes" that they have been able to help lesbians, gays, and bisexuals achieve is to:

  • Help lesbians and gays accept that their sexual orientation is fixed, and that God wants them to become celibate. This is a very tough sell.

  • Help bisexuals accept that their sexual orientation is fixed, and that they should restrict relationships to members of the opposite sex -- a much easier sell.

Exodus International's slogan has been: "Change is possible," implying that their groups' therapy and prayer techniques can change a person's sexual orientation. Chambers told the New York Times that: "Exodus needs to move beyond that slogan." Presumably this means that Exodus International and its affiliated groups will now be more open and honest about exactly what their therapies can be expected to accomplish in the life of their lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.

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2012-JUL-09: Chambers' appearance on MSNBC's program Hardball:

Unfortunately, the transcript posted on the MSNBC web site is derived from closed captioning and is somewhat scrambled. We did our best to guess at what was actually said: 3

MSNBC host Chris Matthews challenged Chambers by referring to his last appearance on Hardball. It was three years previously, shortly after the American Psychological Association (APA) had repudiated reparative therapy. The APA had concluded that persons with a homosexual orientation cannot become "straight." At that time, Chambers had said:

"i'm denying the power those things had over me. People say once you're gay, you're always gay, you can't break free from that. That's not true."

Matthews commented:

"... but now, he's saying there's no cure and that therapy doesn't wipe out desires. He is still president of Exodus and husband and father of two kids and is joining me now. What happened? What accounts for the change in position?

Chambers responded:

"i want to be clear. The fact is, my life is still as it was when i was on your radio program three years ago. I still hold to a biblical sexual ethic, but what i think what's changed for me is really the overemphasis on this issue in ways that we don't emphasize other issues in the church. Specifically, with regards to reparative therapy, so much of that type of technique and therapy is focused on changing attraction or changing temptation when i don't there is a biblical reality that says people will necessarily change their temptations or change their struggles. So i want to be very, very clear about that. ... i think that praying away the gay has been a lazy stereotype. that's not what i did. As far as reparative therapy, for years, we endorsed that and had people within our movement who did therapy. But so much of the focus is [now] changing. They're talking about 100% cures ... and even introducing things like heterosexual pornography to help instigate [opposite-sex] attraction. i don't find that healthy at all. ..." 1

Matthews asked:

"What would you say to a young person who perhaps three years ago -- at the time we first met -- listened to Alan Chambers and took to heart your message as it then existed ... hoping they could turn away from these innate feelings. Do you apologize? [Do you] Say I got it wrong and come back to this fold? What's the message?

Chambers replied:

"Well, I think if someone heard my message and [concluded] that those feelings are going to go away and [that] their life is .... going to be anything like my life, I am sorry for that. That has never been my intention. My intention is to simply help people of faith, who are in conflict, whether to celebrate life or pursue a life congruent with their faith." 3

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More about salvation prospects for LGBs:

Conservative Christian faith groups teach diverse beliefs about salvation. In particular, they have taught a range of beliefs about:

  • Whether a person is saved solely through accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, or only by works, or only by church rituals, or by some combination of these three.

  • Whether a person's behavior can cause them to lose their salvation and be relegated to Hell after death.

Fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians, their churches, para-church organizations. and therapists form the main support for Exodus International and other groups and therapists to provide services to lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Most evangelicals take the existence of Hell very seriously. Paul Gross, in a book review, discussed the fear that religious conservatives feel about themselves or some of their family members not gaining -- or achieving and then losing -- their salvation. He writes:

"For nonliteralists and non-believers, such terror for the fate of self and loved ones is almost impossible to imagine. But for true believers it is all too genuine. The fear and pain are just as urgent as those ecstatic feelings of release and righteousness that come with the conviction ... that one is among the saved." 1

This fear of a family member spending eternity in Hell drives much of the anxiety and other negative emotions when a child comes out of the "closet" and reveals that they are gay or bisexual. This same fear of Hell supplies much of the motivation for individual LGBs to seek a change to their sexual orientation.

There are a number of biblical passages that list one or more behaviors that cause a person to spend eternity in Hell. Two often cited lists are by Paul at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and by an author whose identity is disputed at 1 Timothy 1:9-10. The New International Version translates 1 Corinthians from the original Greek as saying that: "those who do wrong; those who indulge in sexual sin, idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, abusers, swindlers" will not attain Heaven. The word translated here as "homosexuals" is a rarely used Greek word "arsenokoitai" which appears to have been coined by Paul himself. Its precise meaning is unknown.

Many evangelicals believe that homosexual behavior trumps salvation. That is, a saved person can "do wrong," commit adultery, steal, abuse, swindle, etc., and yet still retain their salvation and attain Heaven. But they also believe that same-gender sexual activity is a uniquely evil behavior in a class by itself that will terminate or prevent a person's salvation.

Mr Chambers has shocked much of the evangelical movement by saying that persons who persist in same-gender sexual behavior can still be saved by Christ and go to Heaven. He said:

"I believe that any sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the Bible. But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else." 4

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jeff Schapiro, "Exodus International Rejects Reparative Therapy for Gays," The Christian Post, 2012-JUN-29, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  2. Erik Eckholm, "Rift Forms in Movement as Belief in Gay ‘Cure’ Is Renounced," New York Times, 2012-JUL-06, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  3. " 'Pray away the gay' leader changes belief that homosexuality can be cured," Hardball, MSNBC, 2012-JUL-09, at: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/
  4. Paul Gross, " Lying for God: The Dover Debacle," Skeptic Magazine, Vol. 14, #3, 2008, Page 73.

Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2012-OCT-08

Latest update: 2012-PCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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