Exodus Ministry Backs Away From Gay ‘Cure’
Every so often, we are treated to the rare event of someone taking a deep breath and jumping over their own shadow. Alan Chambers is president of Exodus International, a ministry well known for actively advocating “gay cures”. Now it would appear that Chmabers has decided to step back from advocating and supporting the notion of homosexuality as a disease. He is not accepting homosexuality as a valid expression of human sexuality, but he is heading into waters that only recently were entirely uncharted by Exodus and like organizations.
The president of the country’s best-known Christian ministry dedicated to helping people repress same-sex attraction through prayer is trying to distance the group from the idea that gay people’s sexual orientation can be permanently changed or “cured.”
Attempts at “curing” homosexuality were apparently a step in Chambers’ personal journey through the landscape of his own sexuality:
Chambers said the ministry’s emphasis should be simply helping Christians who want to reconcile their own particular religious beliefs with sexual feelings they consider an affront to scripture. For some that might mean celibacy; for others, like Chambers, it meant finding an understanding opposite-sex partner.
“I consider myself fortunate to be in the best marriage I know,” Chambers said. “It’s an amazing thing, yet I do have same-sex attractions. Those things don’t overwhelm me or my marriage; they are something that informs me like any other struggle I might bring to the table.”
Chambers’ public actions illuminate his private battles. And because he has been so public in pronouncing homosexuality a disease, and has tied this position so closely to his ministry, it is a very big step for him to realign Exodus so significantly. A public acknowledgement by a significant anti-gay organization that they have been wrong in their view of homosexuality is - perhaps, hopefully - indicative of developments in the hardline homophobic camp to which Exodus, until now, had belonged.
I agree with this statement by Wayne Besen of “Truth Wins Out”
“We appreciate any step toward open, transparent honesty that will do less harm to people,” said Wayne Besen, a Vermont-based activist who has worked to discredit ex-gay therapy. “But the underlying belief is still that homosexuals are sexually broken, that something underlying is broken and needs to be fixed. That’s incredibly harmful, it scars people.”
Exodus and its ilk still represent unacceptable notions of human sexuality and promote harmful self-loathing by Christian homosexuals. But in a world which seems increasingly polarized on issues of religion, sexuality and gender equality, any step in the right direction is noteworthy.