Exodus Int’l President to the Gay Community: “We’re Sorry”

Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog:

Exodus Int’l President to the Gay Community: “We’re Sorry”

Leader of 37-year old ministry admits grave errors

Irvine, Calif. (June 19, 2013) — Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.

The apology (http://exodusinternational.org/apology) dovetails with the ministry’s 38th annual conference in Irvine, Calif. – and the Thursday, June 20, airing of the television broadcast “God & Gays” on Our America with Lisa Ling. On Ling’s program, Exodus President, Alan Chambers, sits down with gay and lesbian people hurt by the Church with the goal of reconciliation.

“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” said Chambers. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”

Chambers also said:

“I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced.  I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.

“I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him, I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

“More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.

“You have never been my enemy.  I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show I am serious in both my regret and offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.”

Portions of the Exodus Freedom conference, June 19-23 at Concordia College, are open to the media. Live streaming is available for the main sessions. The event draws men, women parents, teens, pastors and ministry leaders for four days of teaching and support. Many attendees are attracted to the same sex, and desire to live in congruence with their faith. Others attend looking for help in coming alongside those with same-sex attraction.

Exodus President, Alan Chambers, is available for interviews. For press credentials or to set up an interview, contact Amy Tracy at 407/808-9831 or 719/355-9075. For additional information and a schedule of activities, please go to http://www.exodusfreedom.org.

A preview of “Our America with Lisa Ling” can be seen here (http://exodusinternational.org/2013/06/sneak-peak-lisa-ling-special-report-god-gays-with-alan-chambers-video/).

 

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Alan Chambers is the Chief Visionary and a Founding Partner of Speak. Love. He served as the final President of Exodus International, North America. Alan travels the globe promoting peace, reconciliation and understanding on issues surrounding the Church and the LGBT community. Alan and Leslie Chambers live in Winter Park, Florida with their kids, Isaac and Molly.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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47 thoughts on “Exodus Int’l President to the Gay Community: “We’re Sorry”

  1. Your apology contradicts itself repeatedly. Nice try though. You’re a big mess between those ears, aren’t ya? How you can live under such shame an self delusion is awe inspiring.

    Here’s an idea: take a dose of your own medicine. Then amp up the dose and speak with a doctor to increase effectiveness.

  2. Alan, you are indeed a brave man. I fortunately came to terms with my sexuality and my Christian faith a long time ago and live in a wonderfully respectful monogamous relationship with my husband. You do realise that the bigots will see you and your organisation as turncoats? But there are many Christians out there I am sure that will respect you for this conviction and apology. Just to let you know that I really respect you for what you have done.

  3. I initially posted this over at Fred Clark’s Patheos post on this, but thought I would post it here as well:

    I interviewed Alan Chambers last year. I do not consider him an LGBT ally or an authority qualified to lend helpful information to discussions about sexuality. I also note that he says his new project will be “welcoming,” but not “affirming.” Given his continued opposition to gay marriage and the fact that he has not relinquished the claim that LGBT sexuality is sinful, I do not think he can possibly create any space that is “safe” for LGBT people.

    I don’t see much that is new in his recent statement other than the decision to close the organization. I’m relieved this is happening, though I see it merely as the only possible good faith first step.

    I have not been personally harmed by the ex-gay movement. It was never something I felt drawn to, thank God, but I have many friends who have been harmed and abused within the movement. That said, I will say that I have not experienced Alan Chambers as a monster. Once he reached out to me at a difficult time — about something entirely unrelated to sexuality — and I have not forgotten it. He was the only Christian who bothered.

    More than anything, I think he should step out of the public eye and refrain from starting any new projects until he has finished “evolving” on LGBT issues. And I hope he will move to a place of full affirmation in which he can lend a helpful perspective — and do no more harm.

    Edit: I would really hate to see him drift into post-evangelical territory — and start trying to placate both conservative evangelicals and LGBT people simply by becoming cagier about what he really believes. I actually find it much easier to talk to people who don’t try to deceive me into thinking they’re affirming when, in reality, they refuse to take a public stand and may privately remain as anti-gay as ever. I don’t think there is any integrity in attempting to straddle any kind of line on these issues to “build bridges.” We don’t need bridges or endless dialogue in which we’re expected to “respect” bigoted points of view. We need meaningful amends. I do believe he is a person who wants to have integrity, and so I hope he will do better than post-evangelicals have on this.

    —————————

    I also want to add this: Alan, you are the only Christian who has ever offered to pray for me in a way that felt like an expression of genuine concern rather than a weapon or judgement. You did it in a humble way, without any pressure for me to share your evangelical worldview — and that was genuinely touching to me. That doesn’t undo the gravity of the harm I think you have done, but the gesture did — and still does — mean something to me.

  4. As someone who lost her girlfriend to Exodus International’s interference and policies, I forgive him from the bottom of my heart. And I accept his apology.

  5. How sad that you have abandoned one of the few places of
    hope for the confused and misguided. God loves the sinner and not the sin that has never and will never change. The bible clearly says that in the end days manay of the so called followers will fall away. again sorry to hear of your terrible decision and will pray for you and your family as well as for all those people speacially kids that will now chose to follow a life of sin do to your organizations decision.

    • Oh please. It’s a few lines in a book written thousands of years ago. What makes you think that some present day interpretation of it should determine how people treat each other?

      • It pains my heart adb1771 that you have let yourself be deceived by the one who came to steal, kill, and destroy. I invite you to read the book of revelation. Are you brave enough? There is irrefutable evidence that the bible is true, even from secular sources. All I know is that I wouldn’t want to live an eternity separated from God.

      • And is is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. We just think we know more. We are only a couple of decades into this gay experiment that will surely fail.

    • I am with you gene. It is heart breaking because there are people seeking advice, everyone does at some critical point in life. My question is; is this just the start? Will it soon be ok to be practicing in bestiality and, God-forbid, child molestation? I think that we are reaching the end times because there are more scoffers against God and that what was right is wrong and what is wrong is right. It shows that we are not to have faith in humanity but in Christ alone.

  6. Dear Mr. Chambers,

    Thank you for the gracious apology. Focusing on peace and common good sounds like an excellent plan.

    I find it difficult to understand how this can be accomplished through a religious institution that believes it has a uniquely correct understanding of the nature of the universe and its supposed creator/ruler. Further examination may reveal to you, regardless of whatever belief you may hold about this creator/ruler, that it is common for those who claim to speak on its behalf to simply project their own beliefs and desires onto a voice they believe cannot be properly challenged. It’s a shame.

    I hope you will keep in mind how wrong you have been in the past, and how much damage you have caused. I hope you do not continue making the same mistakes, and wish you all the best.

  7. Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, but I thank God HE freed me from the homosexual lifestyle after YEARS of feeling trapped. There is an alternative, through the POWER of the Holy Spirit! When we believe in Jesus we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can then walk by the spirit (Galations 5:16), and are no longer slaves to the flesh. God would not require something of us and not provide the tools to achieve it. To be a follower of Jesus Christ means to deny OURSELVES and pick up our cross DAILY (Luke 9:23). We are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Of course the potential to drift back into that life is always there, but I made the decision to live for Jesus. When we accept Jesus into our lives we become a new creation, the old things have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’ve learned not to meditate on fleshly desires (which are not of God), but to meditate on the word of God. The bible says to be not conformed to this world. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace (Rom 8:6) – Don’t believe the hype! Choose Life

  8. Thank you. This means so much to me as a gay Christian. Blessings to you and your future endeavors! I hope the Christian community can continue to join together in our efforts to share the truth with our churches, friends, neighbors, and strangers.

  9. Thank you so very much. I cannot put into words how amazed and moved I am. You are a courageous man, and I wish you all the best in your life and hope you continue to show through actions as well as words that you are changing. Thank you.

  10. Sorry bud, but finally realizing what decent people have always known gets you no high marks. Like many religious people, your spiritual journey is actually completely selfish and inward. You use hatred, ignorance and finally redemption as narcissistic tools in your arsenal. Now, praise god, you have seen the light? How about asking yourself what brought you to that loathsome place originally? You haven’t change at all, and this is another in a series of transparent bids for attention and admiration someone like you has surely had made many of. Stop and look in the mirror. Your ‘journey’ is pointless. You are not a real man. You are a coward and I hope you really are guilty. But I highly doubt it.

  11. Congratulations on your closing. I haven’t read anything recently that brought such joy to me in a while.

    Wonder what you are going to do to restore all of the lives you screwed up with your truly “non Christian” beliefs over the last few decades?

    You really have some nerve coming forth and expecting the same basic openess and acceptance that the people you perscuted for so many years begged for and deserved. And were denied by you and thousands more like you. I’m glad you feel free now……maybe the people that you tormented will now have some peace and freedom as well…

    Exodus runied so many lives…..coming out in the late 80s….I was forced to have to talk to your people and when I refused to go to the program, I was harassed constantly and berated…. the stories of your mind torture are endless……that is on your soul………..

    The human and bitter part of me would love to have you suffer the same injustices that you inflicted on everyone you tried to brainwash, but the reality of being really Christ like, is that as much as I want to hate and judge you-that is not what Jesus or any of the great teachers would do or have me do.

    I believe, that is where grace of a higher calling comes in….that is the gift that we are given when we do not have it in ourselves to forgive….and I don’t have it in me to forgive you and others like you that have used their “Christian beliefs” to persecute others…but the God that I know and the historical Jesus, I know…would open his heart to you with forgivness….so as difficult as it is, I will pray to do my best to do the same, otherwise, my behavior would equal that of yours for the last thirty plus years.

    I thank my God, that your “company” has folded and that as a successful father, professional, community leader and Christian…I did not allow Exodus to ruin my faith and my life like you did to so many others……

    May you come to really know Christ and what his message of “love and acceptance” really means….

    Tim
    Durham, NC

  12. Well done, faithful servant of God. By reflecting Jesus’ love for “whosoever”, you are honoring His ministry and His sacrifice for all humankind. God bless you in your further adventures.

  13. So, I would really like to know more about how this decision was reached. As I understood it from interviewing you, the board makes decisions. So, I am assuming you didn’t make this decision unilaterally. If you had, you could simply have been asked to resign. So, there must have been some conversation with the board about this, and I’m guessing it’s been happening for some time now. So I’m curious how it’s possible that so many people are so shocked by this decision. I don’t know that Exodus is an organization that promotes transparency as a value, but I am personally interested in the process that led to this.

  14. Alan, I know that Exodus has hurt people, but I also appreciate how much courage it took for you to take this stance in the Christian community and to shut down the work of Exodus. I hope that you find great blessings resulting from your courage, and personally, I think that you have balls of steel. I wish you the best.

  15. When I came out to my parents as a teenager they turned to exodus and affiliated ministries to try to change me. It didn’t work but with that background in mind I want to thank you for leading Exodus through these recent changes and for this apology. It means a lot to me, and I want you to know that because I know that you will take a lot of heat and criticism for this move. So thanks for your courage, thanks for doing the right thing, and thanks again for this statement. As you go forward keep the positive voices in mind, we are supportive and grateful.

  16. With all do respect Alan, you NEED to clarify your position! Because right now, the gay activists are celebrating. People’s salvation is at stake and you’re in a position of influence. Your diatribe of an apology is not clear, and this is not the time for ambiguity!!
    Whose side are you on??

  17. Alan, this is Evan from Truth Wins Out. Wayne is asleep and so I couldn’t go to him for your e-mail address. I wrote the Truth Wins Out press releases that I’m sure you have seen by now, and the quotes commending you in the press were from both me and Wayne. I’d love to chat with you. I know that you probably still view us as an adversary, but in a way, that’s how it’s supposed to be. (Good cop/bad cop, etc.) Just the same, I was highly impressed with the dignity and humility of your message and would love to chat with you. Drop me a line any time you have a chance at evan@truthwinsout.org.

    Thanks. Hope your day finds you lovely.

    Evan

  18. I am so sad to hear how much anger is being lobbed at you, Alan, from both law-mongering Christians who are appalled to homosexuals who feel that your apology was invalid or insincere. I think you are so bold to first of all be willing to change a stance you in your organization have held for so many years, and then to publicly announce you were wrong and apologize. Amazing what grabbing hold of God’s grace, rather than clinging to the ministry of death (the law), will do in a life. God is good.

  19. Re the announcements of the week – Wow! I am so excited for you and for the fresh new season on ministry ahead of you all. I am so excited and can already see the strongholds of unholy fear coming crashing down with the new reduce fear thrust. The view from the mountain top will be great and the manifestation of heaven above you will create a new sound and be spacious and beyond your wildest dreams, (at least with the glimpses you’ll see) I can see even sin bowing down and serving you as you work with the Spirit of God to see freedom from the power of evil in high places and mans heart. The fruit will be even greater going forward where you’ll see souls will come that do not even want to be free but will still get saved and gloriously delivered, such will be the power of the grace on this work. Enjoy the journey in His grip. Yeeha!

  20. Alan, I was up all night reading the Bible, and early this morning as well praying for you. I heard you speak 2 yrs ago,so you can imagine how different this message you are delivering is resonating. In Christ, we are a new creation, we are called to live a Holier life. To love Christ, is to live in obedience to Him. Love does not trump obedience, nor erase certain passages of the scriptures. I come to you as a sister in Christ, asking you to please consider the ramifcations which will ensue if you continue down this path. I have scoured the web, and the gay community is triumphing over Exodus shutting its’ doors. It breaks my heart. Today, you face the gay community, issuing apology after apology, bowing to demands, extending love and false assurance of salvation. Yes, we are called to love all, however, I feel so saddend but what sounds like a great compromise of beliefs for the name of cultural popularity. One day, you will stand before our Creator and give an account for this, as we all will. Praying for wisdom, guidance and a sound mind.

  21. I am so discouraged by these actions. As a Christian, I love the souls of all and want as many to be saved as possible, but God’s word is clear on the matter of homosexuality. It is God’s word and commandments that we must abide by if we are to have a home in heaven. It seems that Christians are giving up and giving in to the “gay lifestyle” as for that, many will be lost in the end. This once again proves that the devil is working hard and at times seems to be winning but in the end, all will be lost.
    As a God fearing Christian, I will never accept the “gay lifestyle” or any other sinful situation which God has condemned. As Christians, we must continue the fight and take a stand for what is right in God’s eyes and not man. My prayer is that all would come to repentance.
    Matthew 7:21
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    • My Bible does not say that I have to abide by any commandments to have a home in heaven. I am saved by Grace through faith…not of works so noone can boast. I abide as a result of that faith.

      Since you missed the main point of the Gospel, everything else you say is suspect.

      • 1 Peter 4:17-19

        New King James Version (NKJV)

        17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now

        “If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
        Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

  22. Hi Alan,
    I came here to look for an E-Mail address to write you, but I couldn’t find one so I thought I drop you a comment.
    First of all, I’m only watching the whole thing. I am German, living in Germany, rather what you call liberal Christian (I wouldn’t call myself liberal but I don’t consider homosexual sex a sin. Nor homosexuality…). I’ve heard about this “healing gays” thing you do in the states (and I heard that there are groups doing this here in Germany, but never had any contact to them), so, the whole thing has hardly anything to do with me. Ah, and I’m straight, so really no connection.
    But reading your apology caused me to feel a deep respect for you. People who say that all they did had been wrong and that they would stop doing it, that’s seldom (I can only remember one case here in Germany, where a bishop was caught driving drunk and afterwards stepped back from all offices, leaving behind all security once had).
    I think what you did is similar: You will be attacked by conservatives for changing frontlines and by liberals for not always having been on their side. I guess your reputation is gone now, and still you want to start something completely new. As far as I unerstand it, you want to bring conservatives and liberals together to talk with one another again and not talk about one another. I think Christianity means community. We all think we are right with what we think right now, but if we let that be our highest principle we’ll end up alone-individuals. Wee need the effort to rather bring people together, to talk together, to sing together, to pray together, to worship together. We all claim to be Christians, then community with all shouldn’t be a problem, whatever you think of homosexuality, whether you believe in young earth, old earth or evolution, whether you believe in premilleniarism or postmilleniarism and what else we have to seperate from one another. We are called to be one in Christ. So let’s be! I wish you all the best with that new organisation you want to start and I hope that you will be successful bringing people together.

    God bless
    De Benny

  23. I replied to your Valentine’s day blog entry of this year on how Love – no matter who that Love is directed towards is good. God has created all of us – gay or straight – for a reason and it is Jesus’ message to not judge anyone’s love – whether it is same-sex or opposite-sex – but rather love them, accept them and celebrate the beautiful diversity that God created.
    I am proud that you have found it within your heart and faith to have the courage to publicly offer your apology and admit your past views and acts have been wrong. We cannot change the mistakes of our past, but this is the first step in healing – yourself and healing for those that have been hurt. God bless all of you.

  24. Alan, thank you for being a light to those who need to know that Papa God loves them. There is forgiveness of sins through Jesus and when we are weak He is strong.

  25. I’m neither religious (in the sense of adhering to anti-gay dogma) nor gay, but I have gay relatives who were either pushed into, or at, conversion programs like the ones Exodus appears to be leaving behind. It was painful and awful and at least one of them is still struggling with it, although he has removed himself from general family contact so we’re not sure if he has recovered from it or not That does not qualify me as someone with a “dog in this race”, and I understand the anger expressed by so many toward Chambers from the side of those who have been hurt by anti-gay ideology. But I need to say that I found this sea change with Exodus’ disbanding (or whatever it is) very encouraging and Chambers’ letter an indication of a very rapid personal evolution *that is still happening*. I believe his apology is sincere, even if he is still trying to get his own balance after realizing the falseness of so much he has believed stringently in over the years. He was not the personal architect of the conversion movement nor even the architect of Exodus International. To burn this man in effigy after he has taken an enormously brave step in saying that this dogma *which is still very passionately adhered to by many* is worse than the offenses he may have committed personally by trying–in what he believed wrongly to be in the best interest of all–is fueling the very toxic argument that exists because of–as Chambers himself mentions–the extremists on either side.

    One of the relatives I mentioned is perpetually and understandably angry with her father for his constant efforts to reform her (quite understandably), but she also talks about simply wanting a closer relationship with him, and although he made some real progress toward showing her more love and respect despite his continued personal and religious objections to her orientation, she is never glad or even acknowledging of this progress and seems that she will never be satisfied until he is willing to actually applaud the very thing he works so hard–with admittedly limited success–to set aside for the sake of relating to his now middle-aged child. Because of this dynamic she tests and pushes him constantly and thus chases him back into to the very unavailability that frustrates her. It is a heartbreaking cycle to watch for all concerned.

    We don’t all have to love or approve of each other, or what goes on in each other’s heads. We have to coexist, preferably without harming each other. The whole reason laws were made to punish homosexuality is that people could not simply live and let live, and attempted to force each other into adhering to their own way of belief and behavior. Excoriating this man for trying to change, and moreso putting himself at extraordinary risk to bridge a gap he acknowledges having perpetuated, all while still trying to integrate the flood of realizations he is and has been coming to, is not aiding anything. You cannot extract your damages from him for participating, and quite possibly in a much more humane fashion (this I do not know) than his predecessors, something that was much bigger than him alone, and the act of reaching out his hand and *admitting* to having caused damage is an extraordinary shift. If you want the world to evolve to the point where they no longer believe alternative sexual orientation is a profound and punishable defect, then learn to recognize evolution when you see it and stop pushing back at it with so much anger.

    I’m not even saying that those who are angry with him for what they feel is at best a lukewarm apology. Regardless of how sincere you believe him to be, the *actions* he has taken are a very positive thing and there is nothing I can see that he stands to gain by it other than the reasons he has given. Be glad, as I am glad that another chunk of antiquity seems to be disintegrating before our eyes. Appreciate the personal risk he has put himself to for not just leaving an institution he could no longer adhere to but stating that it was wrong and trying to change it.

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