Can Another ‘Gay-Friendly’ Faith Group Help Steer the Conversation for Christians on Homosexuality?

Christian Post
January 27th, 2014

Alan is quoted in this article which is centered around a new project called Imago Dei. From the article:

The Imago Dei campaign is the latest among a handful of emerging faith-friendly initiatives attempting to defuse heated conversations among Christians on certain polarizing issues, specifically homosexuality. Although this latest evangelical-led movement holds the view that homosexuality is a sin, its supporters affirm that both “straight and gay” people bear the “image of God” — not exactly a newsflash for some Christians, but definitely a necessary acknowledgment as far as those who lead similar organizations are concerned.

NALT and The Reformation Project obviously differ in their messages from the Imago Dei campaign, but the fact that the latter affirms the humanity of all people is enough for celebration, according to Alan Chambers, founder of the now-defunct Exodus International.

The ex-gay organization was known for trumpeting reparative therapy as a “cure” for Christians with unwanted same-sex attractions. Last year, Chambers disavowed his organization’s methods, apologized to the gay community for causing any members “trauma” and dismantled the nonprofit he had been leading for 12 years — to the delight of critics, and to the dismay of some longtime supporters. He now leads an organization called Speak. Love., whose mission is to “serve in our pluralistic culture by hosting thoughtful and safe conversations about faith, gender, and sexuality; and partnering with others to establish trust, reduce fear, and inspire hope.”

Chambers, still getting familiar with the evangelical-led Imago Dei campaign, said on Friday that he finds its inclusive statement “great” and thinks it is “hitting the nail on the head.”

“That’s a wonderful thing to point out, and it’s something I’ve been trying to highlight in the last few months as well, that everyone does reflect the image of God,” Chambers told CP. “You can find the image of God everywhere you look if you just look hard enough.” Even in “monogamous, long-term faithful marriages” among people of the same sex, he added, commenting on some of his gay and lesbian friends.

“What I find in many of those relationships is that they’re bearing the image of God in the area of faithfulness, commitment and love, trust and fidelity and all of those things,” Chambers explained. “Nowhere in that do I even have to make a judgment on the morality of homosexuality or anything like that.”

Although Chambers believes the Bible shows that God’s creative intent and expression for human sexuality is “one man and one woman for one lifetime” (as he told Relevant magazine last year), he says he refuses to live forever entrenched in a debate about the issue.

“I think that’s a pit that we Christians have dug ourselves into, thinking that we constantly have to live in a split-screen debate mentality, like we’re on Fox News or CNN, constantly debating the cultural issues when we can simply say, ‘These people bear the image of God. They’re reflecting God’s image in this way,'” said Chambers.

“Let that stand alone. Whether someone is a Christian or not, they’re bearing the image of God, in my opinion, in some way, and I think to reflect on that positive is a wonderful thing and something that is desperately needed in the church today.”

Click the link highlighted above or here to read the full article.

Alan Chambers Featured In September/October 2013 Issue of RELEVANT Magazine

Photo/Graphic Credit: RELEVANT Magazine. Click image to read the article featuring Alan's testimony and recent decisions concerning Exodus.

Photo/Graphic Credit: RELEVANT Magazine. Click image to read the article featuring Alan’s testimony and recent decisions concerning Exodus.

This article by Eddie Kaufholz is from RELEVEANT Magazine Issue 65: SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 as well as their podcast. Here is the intro:

“Change is possible!”

That was Exodus International’s slogan, an unapologetic answer to the dicey “are people born gay?” question. Often described as the largest “ex-gay” ministry in the U.S., Exodus worked with Christians who dealt with same-sex attraction for 37 years. That all changed in June, when Exodus International’s president Alan Chambers stunned the world by apologizing for his ministry and shutting its doors for good.

Chambers sat down with RELEVANT Podcast castmember Eddie Kaufholz (who happens to also be a pastor) to discuss that apology, tell his stories and give his vision for the future.

“It’s a Leap Of Faith”: Alan & Leslie Featured in Excellent Buzzfeed Article

Photo Credit: Edward Linsmier for Buzzfeed. Click image to read the full article.

Photo Credit: Edward Linsmier for Buzzfeed. Click image to read the full article.

From the article “The Man Behind The Historic Implosion Of The Ex-Gay Movement” by David Peisner:

…  Chambers not only closed Exodus in sudden and dramatic fashion, but acknowledged the ineffectiveness of gay-to-straight reparative therapy and offered a remarkable mea culpa that apologized for his organization’s many missteps. He’s now founding a new organization focused on bringing Christians and homosexuals together, called Speak. Love. Many in the LGBT community hailed Exodus’ demise as a victory in the culture wars but were disappointed Chambers hadn’t gone further in his support of gay rights or his renouncement of the religious underpinnings of the ex-gay theology. To many evangelicals, the man who had not only been a leader of the ex-gay movement but also a living example of its successes was now a lost sheep, or worse, a heretic.

“There are times when I feel like I don’t have a country,” Chambers says, not far from a wall of photos that include shots of him with his wife, with his kids, and with Mike Huckabee. “There are people who have been invested in this fight for years on both sides. It’s the vocal minority on either side that gets the microphone. What I believe is there are far more people in the middle.”

It’s this middle group that he’s hoping to represent and talk to. The question is, will he have the chance? At the moment, he’s working on defining specific plans for the new organization and raising money to keep the lights on. But in order to succeed, he’ll need to convince people that his divisive past has indeed passed, and that his own personal struggle won’t get in the way of his public mission.

This article is worth the read. Please check it out. If inclined, come and let us know what you think after reading the article.

An Overview of Alan Chambers’ Summer Media Appearances

Click Image to see the three part video interview with Anderson Cooper 360

Click the above image to see the three part video interview with Anderson Cooper 360

This has been a busy summer for Alan in many ways, including media. Here is a list of some of the highlights over the past few months:

Special Report: God & Gays – Lisa Ling, Our America

‘Ex-gay’ group Exodus International shuts downBBC World News

Exclusive: ‘Gay cure’ advocate apologizes – Anderson Cooper 360 (Three part video interview available online at link)

Some Christians shift on gays: Column – by Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today

Exodus International: Let the Recycling Begin! – by Brandan Robertson, Revangelical Blog

Homosexuality & The Question of Christian Unity – by Brandan Robertson, Revangelical Blog

Why I’ll Accept Your Imperfect Apology – by Laura Ortberg Turner, Christianity Today

Exodus international: bending history’s arc – by Christian Piatt, Red Letter Christians

My Response to the Closing of Exodus International – by Tony Campolo, Red Letter Christians

Can Christianity Learn to Say, “I’m Sorry”? – by Stephen Mattson, Red Letter Christians

Watermark interviews former Exodus figurehead Alan Chambers – by Susan Clary, Watermark

Alan Chambers, Exodus International’s Former President, On Sexual Labels, ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy – by Michelangelo Signorile (Includes audio of Alan’s interview on Signorile’s Sirius OutQ Radio program The Gist.)

Exodus to Speak Love – article by Erik Guzman and audio is included of Alan’s interview on Steve Brown Etc.

This is definitely not a comprehensive list and two more important interviews are coming soon to Buzzfeed and Relevant Magazine. Stay tuned!

Judge Less, Pray More – Letter from Alan Chambers for November 2012

Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog.

Everyone is clamoring for the No. 1 spot in the great gay Christian debate. For some, it isn’t enough that people hold to a traditional, conservative, and biblical sexual ethic; they also want to emphasize that homosexual sexual expression is more egregious than other sexual sins and deserves greater judgment and eternal consequence. Others insist that there are no scriptural mandates limiting homosexual sexual expression for believers. While most of us would never even question heterosexual sexual ethics, some seem fine with making special exceptions for the gay or lesbian person.

The arguments are never-ending, one-dimensional, and secondary, at best, in the grand scheme of things. None of this is rocket science. I am not a Bible scholar (though I greatly appreciate them and their role in my life and in this discussion), but I am a believer in the one true Christ and nothing gets more attention or time in my life than He does. While “theologian” isn’t in my title, I do take studying God’s Word seriously and read it more than anything else. So, as others identify as Wesleyan Arminian Christians, Calvinist Christians, Anabaptist Christians, gay or ex-gay Christians, I have to admit I am just, simply, irrevocably, a Christian.

Making Room: A Shift Toward Compassion

Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog. Excellent article!

Making Room: A Shift Toward Compassion

by Julie Rodgers

As a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve spent the past decade of my life trying to change my homosexual orientation.  When I attended my first Exodus conference ten years ago, I heard story after story of people who had experienced substantial shifts in their sexual attractions.  Countless men and women, who had previously been involved in intimate homosexual relationships, were sharing compelling testimonies about their transformation from homosexual to heterosexual.

Thrilled with the prospect that I too would experience a similar transformation in my attractions, I committed myself whole-heartedly to the process.  About seven years into that season—the non-stop support groups, ongoing counseling, healthy friendships with heterosexual women, abstaining from homosexual behavior, and praying with all my heart for the Lord to change my desires—I realized I was as passionately attracted to women as I had ever been.  I felt more alive, with a more vibrant relationship with Christ and His people, but I was still almost exclusively attracted to other women.  When I watched a romantic comedy, I dreamed of snuggling with a girl rather than a man holding me tight.

Entering The Promised Land – Letter from Alan Chambers for September 2012

Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog

Twenty-one years ago this month I walked into a local Exodus Member Ministry for help.   I was 19 years old and a church kid—a believer in the one, true Christ.  I was also 8 or 9 years into my struggle with same-sex attraction. SSA was, at that time, all consuming; likely because I was 19 and my young body raged with hormones I constantly gave into my sexual thoughts.  In my teenage years, I gave into a few sexual relationships with guys my age.  My daily life was full of fearing God, praying for relief and giving in to overwhelming temptations that I thought I had no power over.

So, when I found out about Exodus I knew I had to check it out.  I’ll never forget that fall-like day on September 12, 1991.  I remember what I was wearing as I walked through the parking lot of that ministry–a building I’d driven by numerous times in my life with no clue that inside was an answer to a nearly decade old prayer.

The big and burly director of the ministry eventually came out into the lobby and greeted me.   A good ole boy of sorts.  Corduroy pants, flannel type shirt, suspenders.  Certainly no connection to “the issue”, I concluded.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Sitting in his office a few minutes later, I was scared. However, that day was pivotal for me.  I began a real healing journey that wasn’t at all what I’d hoped for or considered.

Thoughts From a Simple-Minded Jesus Lover

Brilliantly simple Op-Ed in Christianity Today by Alan. Here is a quote from the introduction of the two page article:

Everyone is clamoring for the No. 1 spot in the great gay Christian debate. For some, it isn’t enough that people hold to a traditional, conservative, and biblical sexual ethic; they also want to emphasize that homosexual sexual expression is more egregious than other sexual sins and deserves greater judgment and eternal consequence.

Others demand that there are no scriptural mandates limiting homosexual sexual expression for believers. While most of us would never even question heterosexual sexual ethics, some seem fine with making special exceptions for the gay or lesbian person.

I find the arguments above exhausting. They are never-ending, one-dimensional, and somewhat pointless in the grand scheme of things. In the words of my 7-year-old, “That argument is so last year.” Out of the mouths of babes.

Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology

From Christianity Today‘s article, Exodus International’s Alan Chambers Accused of Antinomian Theology

Exodus International president Alan Chambers has, in the past week, explained the Orlando-based ministry’s recent U-turn on reparative therapy to everyone from The New York Times to NPR to MSNBC’s Hardball.

And while the organization’s stance remains acceptable to most evangelicals, some scholars fear that Chambers’s theological convictions—sprinkled throughout those interviews—have not.

“It’s not that he is simply not saying the warnings [against homosexual activity] in Scripture. I could live with that,” Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professor Robert Gagnon said of Chambers’s recent comments. “It’s that he is saying the exact opposite of what Scripture clearly teaches … . He’s preaching an anti-gospel.”

The theological heresy in question is antinomianism. The term was coined by Martin Luther to refer to those who believe that since faith is sufficient for salvation, Christians are not obligated to keep God’s moral law.

Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice and a plenary speaker at Exodus’s 2009 Freedom Conference, said that a June interview in The Atlantic shows that Chambers’s views have veered. “Some of us choose very different lives than others,” Chambers said of gay Christians in same-sex marriages. “But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God.”

When asked to clarify whether or not that meant “a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,” he replied, “My personal belief is … while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.” In the course of the interview, Chambers made it clear that he believes that homosexual acts are sinful.

35-page response written by Gagnon called into question not only Chambers’s soteriology, but also his ability to continue his 11-plus years of leading Exodus, which boasts some 260 affiliates domestically and internationally.

Defending his public remarks, Chambers told Christianity Today, “If someone tells me that they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—in the way I understand it and have experienced it—they still know Jesus regardless of what types of behavior they’ve chosen to be involved in.”

“I don’t know how anyone could call grace cheap when it cost Jesus everything,” said Chambers. “I find it disheartening that we [evangelicals] are so inconsistent and over-focused on one group of people over another. We aren’t talking about this in any other subculture of people except this one [the LGBTQ community].”

Click here to read the full article. More to come I am sure.

New York Times Reports on “Rift” Over a Gay Cure

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Please note that if it doesn’t have “quotation marks” around it then Alan didn’t actually say it the way they report he did. His actual quotes are the ones with “quotation marks” around them. Please also listen to Alan’s opening session at this year’s Exodus Freedom “Made for More” conference. His message that night is the most accurate context of his beliefs.

From The New York Times (linkage theirs):

For more than three decades, Exodus International has been the leading force in the so-called ex-gay movement, which holds that homosexuals can be “cured” through Christian prayer and psychotherapy.

Exodus leaders claimed its network of ministries had helped tens of thousands rid themselves of unwanted homosexual urges. The notion that homosexuality is not inborn but a choice was seized on by conservative Christian groups who oppose legal protections for gay men and lesbians and same-sex marriage.

But the ex-gay movement has been convulsed as the leader of Exodus, in a series of public statements and a speech to the group’s annual meeting last week, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs. Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network.