Growing up, I lived a couple of houses down from a red headed boy named Bradley. In the picture my memory conjures of him, his face is sprinkled with a handful of freckles and his ear-to-ear smile is missing some of its Chiclet-like teeth. He was older than me, but I was bigger and stronger. I was the boss of him. Once, in an effort to bolster my superior position I bit Bradley – hard. My mom, who was ironing nearby, contemplated stepping in but instead waited and pretended not to see. She knew I needed to respect his humanity and he deserved the chance to earn that respect. And boy did he. He drew back his flaming red head and bit me with such force that the power struggle came to an abrupt and mutually respectful end. We played very nicely together after that and she was able to finish her ironing.
My kids are getting older and as much as I try to control their outward behavior, it is becoming utterly clear that I cannot control their inward motivations. As such, they occasionally fight over whether they should watch Pokémon or American Ninja Warriors and other such uber-important issues. Words like, “I promise that if you both treat each other kindly and in a way that earns the other persons trust, you will not be disappointed and I won’t have to lecture you anymore and the only consequences you will face will be positive ones,” are often floating around in our house. Kindness and trust are foundational elements. I long for my children to understand that if our choices are “trust builders” rather than “trust destroyers” and if those choices exhibit kindness, there’s a pretty good chance we will make wise choices.
Stepping back from stories like these, comparing them with how I treat those I’m in relationship with today, I marvel at God’s brilliant design. The very best of his creation was humankind. He ordered our lives. He set us up in families and then called himself Father. He gave us brothers and sisters with whom we had to share a room or sit next to in the backseat of the car on a ten-hour road trip to visit Aunt Betty. Then he called those of us who believe in him brothers and sisters in Christ.
Last week I had the privilege of writing an opinion piece for the The Washington Post in light of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. Here are the ending paragraphs from the article:
My prayers going forward will be for those who fear the results of the decision that was made today. Those who feel like they have lost their country and like evil is prevailing. As one who once felt that way I believe I can pray for them with great understanding and empathy. My prayer won’t be for them to change their mind on anything gay. My prayer will be for them to repent of fear.
Perfect love casts out all fear. Love never fails. I hope the 60 percent of Americans who won today will remember the 40 percent who feel as though they lost. This is truly an opportunity for the majority to do unto others better than they were once done unto. I believe this can happen because what I have found as a former conservative religious leader amongst the people I once opposed is love, acceptance, affirmation and friendship.
It’s time to end the war. It’s time for peace and rest. For Christians, I believe the Gospel demands it. There’s never been a better day for it than today.
Click here to read the full article. I look forward to your comments.
Today Religion News Service asked me to weigh in on Reparative Therapy for minors. It is titled, “Alan Chambers: President Obama is right to try to end ex-gay therapy (COMMENTARY).” From the article:
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.
And that’s why I stand with President Obama in calling for a ban on this practice for minors and for greater measures to protect adults seeking this niche therapeutic intervention.
Click here to read the full article which shares about my journey and explains more of my reasoning behind my agreement with President Obama.
“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:
www.twitter.com/AlanMChambers or www.twitter.com/LeslieMChambers
For those who want to give towards the work of reconciliation we are doing, you may do so by clicking the donate button near the bottom of the sidebar.
I am excited and honored to participate in this event. From the All Nations Gathering: Pastor’s Day “Reconciliation Talks” event page:
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.