[Content Note: Brief mentions of Sexual Orientation Change Effort and those who have promoted such efforts, both past and present]
Exodus International has announced that it is closing its doors. In their announcement, Alan Chambers indicated that they have realized that the organization has become “imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.” Chambers continues thus:
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.
That’s a pretty stark, honest, and self-incriminating statement for Chambers to make, who has often been (justifiably) accused of equivocation in the past. His apology, which he offered the same day as this announcement (and which I hope to cover in a future blog post), was equally candid and vulnerable.
Of course, Alan and the other Exodus board members don’t intend to merely disappear. They hope to build a new organization:
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 (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
It will be interesting to see how this new organization shapes up and how they plan to live out their goals. I’m curious to know what fear they hope to reduce? Are they hoping to reduce the fear that many LGBT people justifiably have of many conservative Christian individuals, churches, and organizations? Are they prepared to consider what they really may have to do to truly undo that damage and transform their churches into places that some LGBT people might again find welcoming?
Or will those involved fall into those same old patterns that are so familiar to them? Will they fail to see some of the subtler attitudes and behaviors that will continue to leave many LGBT people feeling wary of them?
And as always, will they give up their own sense of safety in order to meet LGBT people where we are and where we already feel safe, or will they remain in their “more welcoming” cloisters and wonder why still so few seek them out?
One thing is for certain, while this is the end of Exodus, it is not the end of Exodus’s legacy or the ex-gay movement among Christian movements. There will still be other organizations — such as the relatively new Restored Hope Network — to carry that torch for years to come. All the same, I’m glad to see the Exodus board pulling the plug and refusing to carry that torch any further themselves.