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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.
Nothing says love more than telling gay sinners how much we ‘luuuuuuv’ them and how much we HATE their sin. I think that is why there are so many Christians who have deep friendships with gay and lesbian people. Tolerance is a compelling gift to the gay and lesbian community so anxious for Christians to half-heartedly embrace them with the limp, lukewarm hug of Jesus.
Can you just feel the love?
Before I go too far with the pretense that I am an expert on this subject, please know this pep talk is for me as well. I am relatively new on the scene of wholeheartedly embracing all people, period. Even typing that sentence was full of deep conflict for me. I so badly want to qualify my own superiority in all of this by sharing the type of people I am embracing—compelled to make the comparison between my morality and theirs so that you will know how amazing it is that I, a good (a.k.a. morally superior) Christian, am embracing…well, them (a.k.a. poor things lost in sin).
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.
Alan & Leslie Chambers
Recently I appeared on an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The majority of what aired was from a past interview, but I was grateful that OWN released an unused portion of the interview online. In my opinion it was one of the best parts of my time with Lisa as it clearly portrayed my deep and unequaled love for my wife, Leslie.
Not everyone liked the interview, however. In it Lisa asks, “So are you heterosexual?” To that question I answer transparently, sharing that while I do experience same-sex attraction I am Leslie-sex attracted. I state that I am not gay, which I see as an identity based around same-sex attraction that absolutely fails to describe me or speak to the majority of my feelings, desires or sexuality. I stop short of calling myself heterosexual, though, too. That seemed to irritate some and confuse others.
I think Christians have confused heterosexuality with holy sexuality. As I have said for more than a decade now, the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality (or vice-versa) it’s holiness. I didn’t take the role I am in at Exodus to make people straight or to promote heterosexuality. I also didn’t take on the role to tell people with same-sex attraction how inferior that struggle is in comparison to others. I chose to serve at Exodus International to proclaim that God created us to live out biblical, sexual, holiness even amidst great trial and sacrifice. That is my story and it is my encouragement to fellow believers and others who might be seeking.
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.
Podcast: Play in new window
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.
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.
Cross-posted from the Exodus International website.
You Are Not Alone by Alan Chambers
The 37th Annual Exodus Freedom Conference, Made for More, was my 20thconference. As I sat backstage on opening night preparing to speak, I tried to remember what life was like for me as a 21 year-old college student 20 conferences prior. At that point, it had been nearly two years since I’d I walked through the doors of an Exodus ministry on September 12th, 1991 in Winter Park, Florida. I had grown up in the church, accepted Christ as my Savior, I knew all the scripture, and yet there was this issue that was before me every second of every day. My SSA was like one of those deafening tornado sirens going off, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There was no bigger deal. There was no greater fear, no greater question, no deeper struggle, nothing bigger than this issue. When I found out about the ministry of Exodus International and the local ministry almost literally in my back yard, it was an answer to prayer.
So, as I prepared to speak this year some questions came to mind that I felt I needed to ponder and answer for those in attendance. Those questions were: What was that first conference like for me? What did Exodus do for me? What did the local ministry provide me? What did that conference provide me? How did I find success? How did I find freedom? How did I get where I am today? I sometimes struggle to answer these questions, feeling like there needs to be some special answers that I should give – some special formula that would easily communicate the journey that I’ve been on. But, as I sat there in the wings waiting to take the stage, I realized there just isn’t a formula and I am thankful for that fact all these years later.
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.
A 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.
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.