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.
Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog
In 2009 I spent ten days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Prior to going, I spent time researching the country, its people, and the state religion of Malaysia—Islam. Months before my trip I called one of my Malaysian friends and asked her a number of questions about how the Christian Church is treated in her country. Her answer both surprised and comforted me. She said, “We are guests of Islam and Islam is a gracious host. We are guaranteed freedom of religion, worship and practice as long as we do not proselytize (seek to convert others).”
Once I was in Malaysia, I saw a thriving Christian Church and population, one that wasn’t fighting its host country or culture, but rather co-existing quite nicely and peacefully. I found the Christians there incredibly servant-hearted and patriotic, loving a country, culture, government, and people of whom they were the minority by far. In my own hotel room there was a Koran, an arrow on the ceiling pointing to the east, a mat for me to kneel on, and instructions on how to pray. I also learned that all citizens of Malaysia, regardless of the religion they are allowed to profess and follow, are considered Muslim.
Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog.
Have you ever wondered what people think of you? As my husband is Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, I have. At present, he is somewhat of a conundrum for a lot of people. There seems to be some confusion about who he is, what he is saying and what he stands for. Here it is in a nutshell: while he has repeatedly stated his biblically orthodox view of sexuality, he has also stated his belief that one particular sin is not some how more offensive to God than another. As his wife, I have stayed out of most of the chaos but there are a few things that I cannot be silent about any longer. So here it goes…
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I am thrilled to be a part of the Body of Christ. Though imperfect, I see a tremendous groundswell of truth, compassion, grace, and service, which accurately reflects the heart of Jesus Christ.
Contrast that to 1991, the year I sought support for my struggles with sexuality outside of the four walls and community of my local congregation. I was afraid of being cast out because my story was different. I had no confidence in the church’s ability to treat me kindly or extend grace. I will never know whether my perceptions of them were right or wrong. I simply couldn’t risk what I believed would be my reality if I “came out” to them. So I sought help from Exodus International.
We’ve all broken dishes at one time or another. Leslie and I are avid collectors of family artifacts and have inherited hundreds of pieces of china and other breakable mementos. Because we display these rare treasures rather than store them, some have been broken. Because of their sentimental worth we try to fix these pieces. In some cases we simply put them in a box with other broken wears in hopes that we can do a mosaic with them later.
You see, even broken heirlooms are of high value to me. Yet, until today I hadn’t considered the deep value of the actual fracture. I have long preferred fixing these items in such a way that their brokenness is masked, which is how so many of us treat our own personal struggles, weaknesses and failures. We go to counseling or support groups to “fix” ourselves and then try to pretend nothing ever happened. Like that’s even possible.
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.
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.
Exodus Week-End Review #3 – October 5th, 2012
(Please “Like” and “Share” the video to help spread the word. Thank you!)
In today’s Exodus Week-End Review video we cover:
- Ministry Highlight: Living Hope Ministries, Arlington Texas
- Resource Highlight: Leaving Homosexuality by Alan Chambers
- Question of the Week: Does Exodus Value Singleness as Equally as Marriage?
- An Opportunity to Partner with Exodus: Monthly Giving
Websites of Organizations Mentioned in this post:
Love Won Out: www.lovewonout.com
Exodus International: www.exodusinternational.org
Living Hope Ministries: www.livehope.org
Exodus Around the web:
Main Website: www.exodusinternational.org
Freedom Conference Website: www.exodusfreedom.org
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.