I got married in 1998, and for more than 17 years have found it easy to be faithful to my wife. I am more in love with her today than ever before and enjoy every part of our amazing marriage. But it took me 20 years, 12 of which I served as the president of Exodus International — the world’s largest so-called ex-gay ministry — to realize my story is just that: my story.
While I am thankful for the ministry I went to for support — there was no other place for gay Christians to go in 1991 to admit the truth — I am sorry that they and I prescribed a one-size-fits-all story for every gay and lesbian person. I’m sorry we preached an incomplete gospel and wrongly told LGBTQ people they could and should do more to be acceptable to God. Doing so was deeply hurtful and damaging to many who never experienced the kind of change we thought possible.
For too long, same-sex attraction has been categorized as sinful and in need of repairing. Such stigma has caused LGBTQ people crippling shame and fear. As a child I experienced and as an adult I perpetuated that stigma. I profoundly regret my support for and promotion of reparative therapy.
“Level Ground board member and Fast Company editor-at-large Jeff Chu’s exclusive interview with Alan Chambers.
From 2001 to 2013, Alan led Exodus International. Then, he oversaw the closure of the ministry. He and his wife Leslie are now focused on building relationships with the LGBT community and encouraging the global church to do the same.
Jeff and Alan discuss Alan’s journey, his time with Exodus, and what he believes it means and requires to establish trust with LGBT individuals.
Please support the ongoing work of Level Ground programming by making a donation at onlevelground.org/donate. Thank you!”
Today we are consolidating Speak. Love. into AlanChambers.org. In June 2013 when we closed Exodus International and embarked on this new season we decided to continue doing what we knew well, which was run an organization. However, about a month into the process someone asked me rather pointedly, “So, Alan, what’s your hiring policy going to be for Speak. Love.?” It was then I realized I didn’t want another organization, policies, procedures, or anything similar to what we had just left behind. Leslie and I wanted to be free to work and partner with whomever we chose regardless of sexual orientation, label, religion or lack there of.
Speak. Love. has been a great platform for discussions and bridge building. The many good goals, clear message, and original intent are being best expressed through Leslie’s and my speaking, consulting, and writing. It just makes sense from a stewardship angle to consolidate these online resources. Will the future hold a separate non-profit? Maybe. I haven’t yet perfected fortune telling. What I do know is the God given mission and vision of Speak. Love. is being lived out every day in Leslie and me as a team and will find a great online home here at AlanChambers.Org.
Please stay engaged as we ramp up our posts. The last year has been tremendously relaxing and purposeful for Leslie and me. One of our greatest accomplishments was writing our first book together. In July after many months of talking with publishers and deliberation we signed with Zondervan a division of Harper Collins. Our book, My Exodus: Leaving the Slavery of Religion, Loving the Image of God in Everyone is due out August 25, 2015.
Please stay in touch with us here at AlanChambers.org or via these social media platforms:
You are cordially invited to the Pastor’s Day “Reconciliation Talks” hosted by Sandra Turnbull, David VanCronkhite, Keith Page, and Ed Salas. The seminar is designed to provide opportunities to build relationships with other Pastors and Church Leaders, and provide a platform for sharing on issues regarding faith and sexuality.
This year we are delighted to have special speakers, Danny Cortez, Alan Chambers, and Rev. Dr. Ken Fong. Come hear inspiring stories and meet new friends who have a heart for reconciliation.
The “Reconciliation Talks” seminar will take place from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. There will be a dinner break following the seminar for everyone to enjoy dinner across the street at “Fronk’s” before reconvening for the 7:00 pm Communion Service with special speaker, Pastor Danny Cortez.
The “Pastor’s Day” is a Pre-Conference Event that precedes the All Nations Gathering 2014 Conference the weekend of October 9th – 12th. You are also cordially invited to attend the All Nations Gathering 2014 Conference and can register for this event by clicking here.
Let me ask a necessary question; why is it we are so ready to fight for our orthodox Christian views on morality and neglect our orthodox Christian view on how to love our neighbor? We must learn to live unhindered, welcoming all as we share the Gospel of Grace, which is one of peace and rest. As we reduce fear and establish trust we will be able to inspire the hope that is within. A hope in Christ and His finished work! Please watch the message I shared this past Sunday at Grace Church Orlando, and then let me know what you think.
I was recently asked, “Where do you get your understanding of God?” Because I desire everything in my life: my worldview, my relationships, my actions and reactions, even what I think about myself to be based on who I understand God to be, this is an important question. While both my own study of the Bible and sound teaching from others have shaped my awareness of God, my immediate answer was, “from my father.” I am by nature a picture person and things come to life when I see them. My dad was a picture of a good father. I see God as a Good Father and everything I read and hear about Him verifies that picture.
Before and especially since my dad passed away on August 2, 2013 my thoughts have lingered on this question and my answer. My earthly father gave me the gift of understanding what it’s like to be in relationship with my Heavenly Father. Because of who my dad was and how he treated me, I rest in the unconditional and gracious love of God. I know that’s not the case for everyone. There are some fathers who have abused and/or abandoned their children causing them to feel ashamed, unworthy, and insecure. For you dear ones, I am sorry and I long to help. Hopefully, sharing a bit about my dad will help paint a better picture of a good father and more importantly the Good Father.
The world is fraught with bad news. It has been since the beginning and will be until the end. Ironically, after however many thousands or millions of years (depending on your theology, or lack thereof) humans are still surprised wars continue to happen, that people die, and senselessly bad things happen to really good people. We don’t expect this reality. Maybe because God didn’t create the world or its inhabitants to experience the decay that has been unstoppable since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Our expectations match what was to be our original perfect reality and not what became our actual reality post fall.
Andy Crouch, prolific author, speaker, and Executive Editor of Christianity Today, says it like this,
“We live in a bad news to bad news reality in the church. We start in Genesis 3 (the fall) and end with Revelations 20 (the lake of fire).”
Andy’s point is that even the Church, the entity Pastor Bill Hybels calls the hope of the world, has succumbed to this grim, joyless, and visionless existence. As Believers we live like the rest of humanity, in shame and defeat, with a poor image of God the Father, Redeemer, Creator, Author, and Finisher. And, we become a poor reflection of Him.
One year ago this week Leslie and I walked into the dark, unremarkable basement of Hollywood Presbyterian Church and sat down in a circle made up of people whom some in the mainstream Church would rather forget. There was a time when I believed they should be forgotten or at least ignored. I was the leader of Exodus International, the largest Christian organization in the world offering hope for change to anyone impacted by homosexuality. That change had come to mean ridding oneself of homosexuality. These folks all came from Christian backgrounds and had damaging stories about Exodus and the Church. They were no longer interested in the change Exodus represented. Though I hadn’t been connected to or even met most of them, the organization I was leading bore responsibility for some of the anger and hurt they carried into the ominous basement that Sunday afternoon. As the leader of Exodus International, I was their enemy.
I had been intentionally listening to stories like theirs for months. I knew something had to be done. The hurt was extensive and I believed it was my duty to make things right. I needed to repent and apologize to this group. The apology had to be unequivocal, unconditional. I asked Lisa Ling and her crew to capture the apology on camera so others could also hear and receive. The entire 3 hour and 25 minute ordeal was filmed and portions of it ended up being featured in an episode of her hit TV series Our America on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). It only seemed fitting to partner with Lisa as she had facilitated a coming out journey of sorts for me when she pursued me for an interview that aired in March 2011.
Leslie and I were in church yesterday morning for the first time in 3 weeks. The last two Sundays we played hooky. The first week we celebrated a birthday. Last week, Leslie’s mom kept the kids for the whole weekend and, well, we savored every moment of our much-needed time off by doing very little.
But, because our church is such an amazing place we simply cannot stand to stay away for long. We love it. Every part. We love our pastor and his wife. We love the other pastors, staff, and their families. We love our Life Group. We love the people—the ones we know well and the ones we don’t. We love the music. We love the teaching. We love Grace Church. It’s home. It’s family.
One day, only a few short weeks ago, I had the strangest thing happen. I found myself with nothing pressing to do. The kids were at school and wouldn’t be home for hours. The house was clean enough. There was left over lasagna for dinner. The dog was bathed. My family was healthy. I was planning on a bike ride with the kids later so I didn’t need to exercise. I’d been to the grocery store and Target the day before. I’d finished my laundry before the sun rose. I had even given my hair a color tweak so the bothersome greys were history! What to do, what to do….
With the question of how to spend the day before me, it only took a few seconds to feel the weight of what I should do. The schoolroom and office closet was a mess. I should clean it out. The front door needed a coat of paint. I should paint it. The garage had several stacks of things to be sorted. I should sort them. I should work in the yard, pull weeds, and re-pot plants. I should call a friend I haven’t talked to in ages. On and on and on… I started “shoulding” on myself. I couldn’t handle the burden so I decided instead to clean out a drawer. This I could handle. One small drawer. In about an hour a drawer that began the day so full it could neither be opened nor closed became orderly and functional. The best part however, was finding long forgotten trinkets and treasures I gave to my kids when they got home. It was like Christmas! Those other things I should have done, the truly important ones, were still there the next day.