TOPIC: The Demise of Exodus International: What does it mean?
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LGBT community is focusing on Alan Chambers of Exodus International,
and the decision on June 19, 2013 of that organization to shut down
after 37 years. Many are viewing and looking into what is happening
with Alan's apology to the world and the end of the organization.
The organization stated on its web site, via Chambers, “From a
Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all
prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s
older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make
judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the
Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”
For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close
Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new
season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are
to reduce fear and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming,
and mutually transforming communities.” Local affiliated ministries,
which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the
name or umbrella of Exodus.
So what does this mean? My take is that it means that Exodus was
telling Paul for 37 years that yes, God WOULD remove that thorn from
his flesh. He just needed to have more faith, to pray harder, to work
more at it. I struggled with this message for many years of my life
with my own thorn and my homosexuality, and at times I felt like giving
up, and actually attempted to do so along the way.
As you may recall, in 2 Corinthians, Paul laments that God allowed for
a thorn to be in his flesh. In 2 Corintians 12:8-10 Paul says, “Three
times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to
me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in
weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my
weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for
Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in
persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I never chose to be gay. But I did choose to serve and worship the
Creator of the universe, and His Son, Jesus Christ, who paid the price
for my sins so that I can have eternal life in His presence forever.
For years many in the spiritual community told us gays that just “being
gay” is a sin, as if we can do something about that by “flipping a
switch somewhere” as I covered in other areas on this web site. In this
black-and-white messages from mainstream churches, there was no hint of
grace, of love, of forgiveness that Jesus often preached to all
sinners, even the worst of the worst in His day.
For 100 years churches thought they could “scare the gay away” and
thereby save a whole generation of homosexuals, mainly men who were
gay, from losing their immortal souls. After all, they were convinced
that “being gay” was a severe enough sin that if one died gay, that he
would certainly perish from God's sight never to be seen again. And
they made no apology that such was their philosophy, and also claimed
that it was Christ's.
I believe that Exodus was a normal outcropping of that philosophy, but
with a twist: “We, with God's help, can FIX you from your homosexual
attractions and sins!” Thus began the fad of “repairative therapy” in
the last half of the twentieth century. “You are broken, and we can fix
you,” was more or less their battle cry. And many heard that, like me,
and thought, “I WANT to be fixed, so maybe they can help me get there.”
Then a funny thing happened later on in the ministry. Some started to
question if gay guys can really be “fixed” or even if they are “broken”
in the first place! That really rocked the organization to its
foundations. Some of the leaders left, and Exodus grappled with trying
to find its way in the last 15 years or so.
In my life I have passed up on Exodus, feeling that its message was
really too good to be true, and instead took the attitude that I would
glorify God with everything that I had, and all that I was, regardless
of my sexual orientation or “thorn status” (referencing back to Paul's
dilemma). If God wanted to “fix me” I would glorify Him in that. If
God, like in Paul's case with his thorn (which we must assume was
lifelong since he never mentioned it again) decided to let me deal with
my homosexuality throughout my life so that I could still glorify Him,
then praise the Lord for that as well.
And when I heard that “all homosexuals go to hell” I just said to
myself, “it is God who will judge me, not man, and for that I am very
What is sad to me is the body count of young gay guys who ended their
lives tragically because they thought that because they could not be
“fixed” that it was not worth the continuation of their existence. I
would often think, “if 'they' (most of the churches in the 1980s and
1990s) are right, and I'm going to go to hell for not fixing myself, or
worse yet, just BEING gay, then maybe I should just end things now and
end the pain.” I hated those thoughts of self-destruction for deep down
I know that killing myself could not possibly be God's holy will for my
life. But I was confused by the messages I was getting from many
sources in those days.
So what does this mean? It means that maybe churches should look at
themselves as the Father of the prodigal son, rather than the older
Brother of the prodigal son, which they have been for many years. Maybe
churches should realize that being homosexual is often not a freely
chosen option, which is true in my case. So what is the church to do
about this? I don't know all the answers, but God does, and I strongly
suggest that they pray a LOT that God would allow them to use the
Father of the prodigal son as their model, rather than the older "I'm
better than you" brother of the prodigal son. I think that churches
that actually do that may really have a chance to enhance the Kingdom
of God for His glory, and increase the number of men who come to a
saving relationship with Jesus because of their Christlike love.
Exodus International has come and gone. At this time there does not
seem to be anything that has risen from the ashes after quite some
time, so it is difficult to say if there ever will be. With attitudes
changing toward the whole subject of homosexuality by the general
public, especially the kids of the Millennial Generation, will there be
anything to take its place? Should there be? If something does step in
its place in the future, will Christlike love rule
the day, or Pharisaical legalism? Time will tell. I hope and pray it
will be the Father of the prodigal son who will rise from the ashes. We
should all pray for no less than that.
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