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.
Leslie and I were in church yesterday morning for the first time in 3 weeks. The last two Sundays we played hooky. The first week we celebrated a birthday. Last week, Leslie’s mom kept the kids for the whole weekend and, well, we savored every moment of our much-needed time off by doing very little.
But, because our church is such an amazing place we simply cannot stand to stay away for long. We love it. Every part. We love our pastor and his wife. We love the other pastors, staff, and their families. We love our Life Group. We love the people—the ones we know well and the ones we don’t. We love the music. We love the teaching. We love Grace Church. It’s home. It’s family.
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…
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.
Last Sunday Alan gave a powerful and practical sermon at Grace Church Orlando titled Evangelism Overhaul: Practical Grace. You can listen to the sermon through the player instance at the end of this page. Here are the notes for his sermon if you would like to follow along.
Evangelism Overhaul – Practical Grace by Alan Chambers
A. Repent of our own immorality and recommit to holiness.
B. Repent of Hostility and Recommit to Bold Love
2. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35)
John 13:35 (NASB) – 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
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.