Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Religious Right Reacts to Exodus International's Closure

June has been an explosive month for the so-called "ex-gay" movement. A recent apology by Exodus International president Alan Chambers, followed by an announcement that Exodus International would close, has sent shock waves through the ex-gay community. The Religious Right has reacted with disappointment and disdain, clinging to the dubious belief that homosexuality is sinful and that LGBTQ people can somehow change their sexual orientation.

On June 21st, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly issued a statement regarding Exodus International's apology and closure. Framing homosexuality as a form of sexual sin, Daly insisted that people can still find "true happiness in stewarding their sexuality according to God's plan".
"We understand God’s original intent was for marriage to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman, with children as a natural result. But we also realize that all of us sin in many ways.

“We believe there is hope for those who struggle sexually. Be it a struggle with lust, adultery, pornography addiction, pre-marital sex, same-sex attractions or issues related to identity – there is hope. The hope of a Christian is that our behavior becomes more in line with God and God’s will. He wants us to drink from His full cup of grace and truth – because it’s through Him we can overcome lifelong struggles with sin.”

“God’s help usually doesn’t come as a ‘fast fix.’ It’s often a long process. Many times it takes counseling, Bible study, prayer and community support – but it can be done. Here at Focus we’ve seen marriages reconciled. We’ve seen people who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction change. We’ve seen people experience real transformation in their thoughts, behaviors, attractions and identity. We’ve seen people find true happiness in stewarding their sexuality according to God’s plan, even when that means sacrifice."
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an anti-LGBTQ organization, released a statement on Exodus International on June 20th. NARTH acknowledged ex-gay ministries that plan to continue their work after Exodus International's closure.
"As we understand it, Exodus was a public relations voice and referral clearing house for hundreds of individual, primarily evangelical ministries who serve church members who are experiencing unwanted homosexual feelings. These hundreds of individual evangelical Protestant ministries along with the outreach ministries in the Catholic, Jewish and Latter-day Saint faith communities still exist and we imagine that they will always exist as long as we have individuals who find homosexual sex incongruent with their personal or religious values."
In a commentary piece at Charisma Magazine, Michael Brown listed six lessons that Christians can learn from Exodus International's closure. Brown defended the dubious idea of sexual orientation change and claimed that Alan Chambers does not speak for the "thousands" of ex-gays and ex-gay ministries.
"When a ministry or church or organization departs from its calling and purpose, it will no longer be backed by God ... Right now, the world is mocking the idea that homosexuals can change, either by the gospel or by professional counseling or both, while many in the church are even questioning whether change is possible.

But Exodus is not closing because God no longer transforms homosexual men and women. It is closing because it has lost sight of its original mission and vision.

Alan Chambers, the current leader of Exodus, has stated publicly that he does not believe change in sexual orientation is possible, also claiming that practicing, unrepentant homosexuals who profess faith in Jesus are heaven-bound and saved. This means that Exodus stopped offering hope to struggling homosexuals and even stopped effectively calling them to holiness.

In that light, while the announcement of the closing of Exodus is bad news because of the reproach it brings to the gospel and the discouragement it brings to gay strugglers, it is good news because Exodus was no longer serving its God-ordained purposes."
Brown claimed that "a massive spiritual attack on those who stand on the front lines of ministry to homosexual men and women" is taking place, as the "world" seeks to discredit the ex-gay movement. He framed homosexuality as incompatible with Christian faith, branding it a sin alongside "rampant no-fault divorce, pornography and immorality in the church".
"There is no way to appease gay activists without departing from the truth of the Word. When I am asked by church leaders what we can do to minister more effectively to the LGBT community, I state that we must first repent of our own sins—including rampant no-fault divorce, pornography and immorality in the church—and then we must ask God to break our hearts with His love for homosexual men and women.

At the same time, I fully realize that unless we celebrate homosexuality, embracing it as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality, and unless we tell “gay Christians” that they can follow Jesus and practice homosexuality at the same time, we have not gone far enough in their eyes.

The written apology issued by Alan Chambers leans in the dangerous direction of complete moral capitulation and should serve as a strong warning for the rest of us who want to stand for compassion without compromise."
Finally, in a June 22nd column at Renew America, Mark H. Creech scoffed at the idea of innate sexual orientation, claiming that it is "a broad term developed in modern times to provide credence for the growing number of sexual perversions." He criticized Exodus International for allegedly weakening its message with non-Christian contaminants.
"To water down this message with outside worldly, unbiblical influences, is to risk the loss of Christian identity and collapse, which is exactly what happened to Exodus International.

Indeed this is a landmark event. And every Christian denomination, church, church school or university, organization and ministry, should take note with fear and trembling. Exodus International took flight from its own promised land of deliverance and exists no more."
For all the damage it has done, Exodus International is at least willing to admit its mistakes. Its former allies among the Religious Right, however, still cling to the myths that Exodus International once embraced. I can think of nothing more ridiculous than clinging to a false ideology that has harmed so many people.

1 comment:

  1. and to the right let there be ashes to ashes and dust to dust. they are crumbling and they know it. gone the road of the pro-slavery league, or the opponents of the suffragette movement. dinosaurs, fossils. true evidence of evolution, while attempting to oppose it. evolution does not need them to believe in it, it ALWAYS prevails...


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