Should Exodus International Fire Alan Chambers?

Written by Exodus International board member John Warren and cross-posted from the Exodus website:

Should Exodus International Fire Alan Chambers? by John Warren

Robert Gagnon made the unfortunate decision to attack a key ministry leader for unfounded reasons on June 30, 2012, in his article, “Time for a Change of Leadership at Exodus.”   He claims to know Alan Chambers, but then he attacks him for espousing doctrinal positions that aren’t those of Mr. Chambers at all.  Dr. Gagnon knows full well the difference between speaking extemporaneously as Mr. Chambers is called upon to do, and writing a scholarly work that is researched, edited and very carefully written.   Alan Chambers is President of Exodus International.  Exodus is the leading global outreach ministry to churches, individuals and families offering a biblical message about same-sex attraction.   Dr. Gagnon also knows that Mr. Chambers’ role places him in a position of constant scrutiny from parties on multi-faceted sides of issues which are complex and have diverse implications.  Mr. Chambers would be the first to acknowledge, as he has done a number of times of late; that a “mulligan” or the opportunity to expound on a particular response or comment would have certainly been preferred in some of the cases cited in Dr. Gagnon’s article.  However, Mr. Chambers, as well thought out and prepared as he is for each of his public speaking opportunities on these complex and sensitive matters, does not enjoy the luxury of writing 35 page articles which are researched, edited, and strategically circulated in an effort to discredit the subject.  Mr. Chambers is a minister of the Gospel of our Lord, and he is in the trenches day after day and week after week serving a diverse and complex constituency to that end.   Surely Dr. Gagnon must be able to see the heart of this man and this ministry.

What Hasn’t Changed – Letter from Alan Chambers for August 2012

Cross-posted from the Exodus International Blog.

What Hasn’t Changed – Letter from Alan Chambers for August 2012

There is a lot of talk these days about Exodus International’s drastic changes.  Some former Exodus leaders have relinquished their membership in our organization and have formed a new one around a set of beliefs and ideals that ironically represent a real drastic change in approach and belief – namely that homosexuality is a “more egregious sin” than any other.  That unbiblical myth is something that we, at Exodus, have long tried to dispel and correct.

In truth, Exodus International remains much the same at the core of who we have always been and focused on the same goals that were set up when I became the president of Exodus in 2001.  In many respects we have returned to the simple roots of gospel-focused, relational discipleship that led to the organization’s founding in 1976.  We are a community for people with same-sex attractions, or those that love them, that offers refuge, discipleship and encouragement to move into the authentic and transparent community known as the local church.

Life Orientation: An Open Letter to Alan Chambers

From Jenell Paris over at Patheos:

Dear Alan,

I’m writing to express personal support for you as you extend yourself in the public sphere, defending Exodus’ change of position, and explaining your personal journey. I watched you on MSNBC and read The Atlantic interview, expecting ignorant inquiries delivered with a mocking tone. I was pleased to see secular journalists engaged you with intelligent preparation and a tone of respect, at times tinged with incredulity.

The onslaught is coming, instead, from your fellow Christians. ChristianityTodaypublished four articles, all of which slam your point of view. These critiques deserve to be heard, but they should have been balanced with words from an Exodus board member, describing why Exodus keeps you in leadership, or perhaps a story from a same-sex attracted Christian who has found hope and spiritual growth from your teachings. Thankfully, they’ve printed your response, which is a simple and lovely reminder of God’s abundant grace.

Sexual Healing: Evangelicals Update Their Message to Gays – The Atlantic

Many thanks to Jennie Rothenberg and The Atlantic for an incredibly fair shake with this article. Some quotes from the introduction (they provided the linking.)

Thirty years ago, Alan Chambers was a Christ-loving 10-year-old with a terrible secret. He knew he was attracted to other boys. He also knew that the Bible called homosexuality an “abomination.” After nearly a decade of hiding his feelings (and his love of shopping and decorating) from family and pastors, he discovered a ministry called Exodus International. Today, Chambers is the president of Exodus and the author of the book Leaving Homosexuality. He oversees more than 260 ministries, spearheads large annual conferences, and is married to a woman.

Christians who consider themselves “ex-gays” have become a source of ridicule in popular culture. Although the evangelical leader Ted Haggard isn’t affiliated with Exodus, it didn’t help the cause when he was outed by a male prostitute he’d been frequenting for years — and then deemed by his pastors, after just three weeks of therapy, to be “completely heterosexual.” For many, though, these stories represent something deadly serious. The American Psychological Association warns that homosexuality is not a disorder, and that trying to “cure” it can lead to “intimacy avoidance, sexual dysfunction, depression, and suicidality.”

More recently, Chambers publicly rejected reparative therapy — a school of counseling that aims to make gay people straight. At the Gay Christian Network Conference in January of this year, Chambers told the audience that “99.9 percent of [Exodus participants] have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Around the same time, he pulled all reparative therapy books from the Exodus bookstore. His actions irked a number of therapists, including one marriage counselor, improbably named David Pickup, who argued that Exodus had “failed to understand and effectively deal with the actual root causes of homosexuality.”

As mentioned, the above quotes are from the first part of the interview. The second part is a direct back and forth conversation I had with Jennie Rothenberg. We cover a wide range of topics including my testimony, Exodus’ goals, gay teens, the Bible, monogamy vs. promiscuity and even Carrie Underwood’s stand on marriage.

I enjoyed the interview and hope you find the resulting article informative.

Daily Beast Columnist Kirsten Powers Covers FRC Controversy

From The Daily Beast Kirsten Powers, also a FOX News Analyst, writes (more quotes including from yours truly after the jump):

A few weeks ago, at their annual Watchman on the Wall conference … the FRC gave a Baptist pastor named Ron Baity their highest “pro-family” award of the year. Yep, this is the person who gave a sermon to his church that compared being gay with being a murderer. He also said, “I can’t believe the perverseness of two men or two women wanting to slobber over each other … that’s worse than sick. I don’t even think maggots would do that.” He is on record longing for the days when “we had laws that would prosecute [the homosexual] lifestyle.” In a radio interview, he said accepting gay people would make society “more filthy” and said, “They cannot reproduce, so they recruit.”

Just like Jesus said. Oh, wait. Jesus actually said Christians should “love their enemies.” Baity and FRC have arrogantly overruled the Prince of Peace and attempted to pass off bigotry and hate speech about people with whom they disagree as the Lord’s work.

National Christian Leader Speaks Out Against Conservative Organization Supporting Contemptuous Pastor

Cross-posted from the press release on the Exodus International website.

Orlando, FL — Exodus International, the world’s largest Christian ministry helping individuals and families struggling with same sex attraction, denounced the Family Research Council’s choice of pastor Ron Baity to receive its highest pro-family honor, the 2012 Watchman Award.

Baity is on record saying, “gays act worse than maggots,” will make society “more filthy,” and God had an “urban renewal plan for Sodom and Gomorrah.” Baity also compares gay and lesbian people to murderers and says gay marriage is America’s “death warrant.” Baity is founding pastor of Winston-Salem’s Berean Baptist Church and head of the pro-marriage organization, Return America.

“It’s time conservative Christians who claim biblical principles such as loving their enemies and neighbors, and considering the welfare of others first, to speak swiftly and strongly against this type of action,” says Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International.

“For too long we’ve stayed silent and allowed our brothers and sisters to tip that hat toward angry and abusive rhetoric. It’s a terrible witness for Christ, and clear hypocrisy to a watching world.”

Exodus joins the Southern Baptist Convention in distancing itself from Baity along with pastors Sean Harris and Charles Worley from North Carolina. Chambers went to Tony Perkins first and expressed concern about this decision. Having received no response, Exodus felt compelled to release a statement.

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To arrange for an interview, please call the Exodus Press Office at (407) 599-6872 or (321) 279-8965 or email press.

Christian Group Transcends Political Debate to Help the Church Reach People with Same-Sex Attraction

Cross-posted from the press release on the Exodus International website.

Orlando, Fla. – The furor over same-sex marriage and homosexuality has not abated in recent days as commentators continue to speak about President Obama’s remarks, legislation to ban so called gay-to-straight therapy in California, and the fallout from North Carolina’s marriage vote.

Alan Chambers, president of the 36-year-old Exodus International said, “As usual, the spotlight is shining on the furthest extremes currently engaged in a public fight. I believe it’s time for all of us to focus on the people beyond the political debate.”

While a minority of people such as North Carolina pastor Charles Worley represent the outdated and homophobic fringe of Christianity and should not be taken seriously, excellent churches like National Community Church in Washington, D.C. are drawing approximately 200 people each week to Ebenezer’s Coffee House. These individuals gather to thoughtfully discuss how the church can better care for people with same-sex attractions (SSA), those inside and outside of the church.

NECK DEEP!

The Jordan River

One of the ways I get to participate in my kids schooling is that I do all of their Bible homework with them. I eagerly agreed to this when they started school last year because I knew it would force me to learn with them and through their young hearts. I love going over the old familiar stories that I learned as a child but more than that I have loved the new things God has begun teaching me through these old stories and scriptures that specifically relate to the journey I am on today.

For instance, we have been reading about the Israelites “Exodus” from Egypt. Most recently we arrived in the book of Joshua at the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River under Joshua’s leadership after the death of Moses. About the time we got to that portion of the story my pastor spoke on this historic event and added a wealth of information to the story that I had never heard or considered. It’s remarkable how often I am guilty of simply reading scripture rather than studying and meditating on it! So, I have been camped out in Joshua reading and rereading that particular story, researching it online and reading up on “the rest of the story”. It’s fascinating especially as I think about how specifically it applies to our modern day struggles to persevere in Christ in the midst of sin and suffering.

The Day After

I woke up this morning in a world that had changed
overnight.  But, that was going to be the
case anyway regardless of who won or lost in the election.  My wife and I went to bed hoping for a
political miracle, but expecting nothing of the sort.  We were restless, but able to fall asleep
because at the end of the day our ultimate hope, trust and faith is in only
One: The True Living God.  And, as was
the case when we went to bed, He and only He was still, always has been always
will be, on the Throne.

It was nice to have a Christian President over the last 8
years who shared my values, whom I believe wholeheartedly means it every-time he
says, “God Bless You and God Bless America”. 
Despite his unpopularity on issues related to the war and the economy, I
believe that President George W. Bush and his family restored honor to the
highest office in our land and to the White House.  He might not have been a perfect President,
but he was trustworthy and moral and like Ronald Reagan, the President of my
youth, he kept America safe.

I confess that this morning I do not feel as hopeful as I
have when it comes to the leadership of this country and the pending
administration.  I do not trust in the
promises that I have heard or the heart behind the promises. I am skeptical,
fighting against worry and planning for the worst economically and
socially.  I am angry that the American
people chose a President who does not seem to understand that life begins at
conception and doesn’t seem to want to understand it because it’s above his
pay-grade.  I am ashamed that the majority
voted economy and race over human life. 
But, it’s done and I am praying that God will use my anger for His purposes
and to bring about real change.

Despite my anger, disappointment, worry and uncertainty
about the future, I am resolute in my belief that God is God and that I am
not.  I am galvanized in my determination
to pray for the very best for President Elect Barack Obama, our other elected
officials and all of their families.  My
wife and kids and I started a new ritual this morning, praying for all of the
above and especially for the hearts of the Obama family to be submitted and
surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 
NOTHING will change the fate of the unborn or the immoral policy
positions except a man submitted and surrendered to Christ.  It may seem an impossible feat, but I know real change is possible.

As I watched the election coverage last night, into the wee
hours and again this morning I began thinking beyond the surface of what was
happening.  Take for instance the two
conservative Congressional incumbents in my area that I have supported and had
the opportunity to vote for once or twice respectively; both lost to their
rookie opponents.  The margins were
narrow, but I believe those conservatives, along with others elsewhere, were
voted out because they were connected to scandal and disappointment. One of
them was connected to the Jack Abramhoff lobbyist scandal and the other a man
who, as the attack ads pointed out, went to Washington to change Washington and
Washington ended up changing him.  When
this particular leader was elected he was a married family man and today he
isn’t.  There’s no judgment in that
statement, but the facts are the facts and people are tired of hypocrisy. 

Interestingly, our country voted overwhelmingly for a
liberal Democratic president and for some liberal congressional leaders—ousting
conservative Republicans in the process. 
But, in three key states, one of which is arguably one of the most, if
not the most
, liberal in our nation, the people voted in favor of keeping
marriage the union between one man and one woman.  That, to me, further underscores my belief
that we aren’t a liberal nation moving quickly towards liberalism more than we
are one trying to do the right thing.  I
think there is some misguidedness in there, but the fundamentals of the
American hearts are good.

Related to the wins for marriage as we know it, though, must
come the realization that 18,000 marriage licenses are this morning deemed
invalid in the state of California.  Translated: 36,000 hearts that have to be absolutely broken.  And, while I am thrilled with the vote in
support of keeping marriage the way God intends it, I am truly heavy in
heart for the men and women who saw same-sex marriage as an answer to their
struggle for acceptance
.  I
do not take any joy in seeing people’s dreams or hearts crushed even if I
disagree with them
.  I pray this
morning that the proponents of Arizona’s Prop 102, California’s Prop 8 and
Florida’s Amendment 2 celebrate with these broken hearts in mind and with a
desire to comfort those who need comfort in the wake of what has to be bitter
disappointment.  Truly this is
what Jesus would do
!

Finally, and again, I am choosing to see the outcome of this
election in a non-hopeless light and with the absolute belief that America is,
though possibly hanging by a thread, still a nation guided by Christian values
and moral goodness.  The silver lining in
all of this is that we elected a black president—skip our differences in
beliefs and policy for a moment and think about that with me.  Once one of the most prejudice countries on
earth, guilty of horrific crimes against black people, we are now a nation with
a black president elect. 

I watched two months ago when Michelle Obama spoke at the
Democratic National Convention and my heart lept thinking of her as a young
black school girl who probably never dreamed she would be the wife of a
presidential hopeful let alone the First Lady of the United States of
America.  I watched that same week as
Barack Obama accepted his parties nomination for President and was truly
thrilled to watch as our nation was ushered into a new day beyond the evil legacy
of racism that overshadowed us.  Then, I
watched last night as the Obama family waved to their supporters and hugged one
another—as Michelle Obama said to her newly elected husband, “I Love You.”  Politics aside, those are moments that melted
my heart and the moments I am choosing to hold onto today as I pray that God
changes their hearts on issues related
to the moral values of this nation. 

Maybe in God’s grand plan for this great nation, regardless
of the politics of it all, He destined the election of this man.  After all, it does say in the middle portion
of Daniel 2:21:  He removes kings and establishes kings. What if
this black President is God’s line drawn in the sand that says definitively
once and for all, “A Godly nation cannot be a racist nation.”?  What if President Barack Obama is just a step
towards an nation repenting for it’s past sins? 
I’m not God, but I have to believe He has a purpose in allowing this leader
to be elected and I am going to trust Him in it and pray that Barack Obama is
the most successful President we have ever known. 

What’s the alternative?