Friday, June 21, 2013

Ex-Gay Ministry, Exodus International, Apologizes and Will Shut Down

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Exodus International is a large Christian ministry which claimed that they could "cure" homosexuality, now, they're planning to shut down. Known as the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, the Board of Directors said they reached this decision "after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture."


Tony Moore, a board member of Exodus says, “We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard.” This was part of a press release posted on their website recently in which Exodus International's board of directors announced the decision to close after over three decades.

A day earlier, Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus had apologized to all LGBT people, and it is for the reasons in the apology that the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry.

As part of his apology Alan Chambers wrote the following;

Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.

And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.

Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them.  I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.

You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.

Moving forward, we will serve in our pluralistic culture by hosting thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality, while partnering with others to reduce fear, inspire hope, and cultivate human flourishing.

It is worth noting also that John Paulk, former chairman of Exodus has also recanted his belief in curing homosexuality and accepts responsibility for his role in trying to foster the belief that there is. He said,

“For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what’s known as the “ex-gay movement,” where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.

So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the “ex-gay movement.” I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself “ex-gay” and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.

I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.

From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.

Today, I see LGBT people for who they are–beloved, cherished children of God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or thrown away by God or the church."




6 comments:

  1. Tony Moore, a board member of Exodus says, “We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard.”.....REALLY?

    So I ask, would they rather that the truth about God's word remain unspoken? So now homosexuality should be accepted because the world's government is embracing it?

    Truly, these are the end times but God's word will prevail. He that has an ear, let him hear.

    M'

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  2. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart.

    That statement is rather sad. If you beleive in something why 'excuse your belief because it hurts others'? Indeed the end is here.

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  3. I hope these two people who have commented above understand that they are not God?

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  4. In case this people have forgotten part of the problem with sodom was that they practised homosexuality that's why the city was destroyed.

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  5. I am sorry but I find this pathetic, why apologize for your belief...yes the world is changing but does your own belief/stand of faith have to change along with it.

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  6. What is irrefutable is that there absolutely seems to be a ""gay agenda." If you accept my premise, you might want to know what that agenda is? It would appear to be general acceptance and the patina of normalcy. For years the American Psychological Association had classified homosexuality as an illness.

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