I posted this article a few weeks ago about Alan Chambers, the President of EXODUS INTERNATIONAL, who officially closed the doors of the ministry and offered a public apology to gay people who have been hurt over the last 37 years by it and its unfulfilled promise/hope of conversion and sexual orientation reassignment.
CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/exodus-international-closes-article-1.1378129
I have been extremely outspoken about EI over the years, and was even very opinionated about Alan, personally, after seeing him interviewed by Lisa Ling for the documentary, 'Pray the Gay Away' some time ago. My thought was that people like him (he is married to a woman and has two adopted children) just continue/reinforce the illusion that gay people can change their orientation, or that orientation is a choice. Without even knowing him, I judged him as being a liar, a coward, and a hypocrite because he just seemed to me like another gay man in denial, and I'm so far on the other side of coming out that I want to tell every gay person (including every gay Christian) who is married to the opposite sex to stop the delusion and the delaying of the inevitable, and just come out so that both they and their spouse can stop living a lie and get on with their authentic lives...
And in the last three years since coming out, I have received so many letters from gay people who have told me horror stories of being put through conversion therapies, shock treatments, exorcisms and what have you, and nearly every one of those letters included a reference to being a part of EI at one time or another...so my already negative opinion of it was greatly colored to be even more intolerant of it.
In a word, I rejoiced when I read that Mr. Chambers had ended the ministry.
But I was invited to a retreat last week of mostly ministers, and Alan Chambers was there and we spent some time together and talked very openly and candidly over a couple of meals during the week, and what I found from meeting him and talking to him was that I still have a lot to learn.
As it turns out, Alan is a good man, and from what I can tell, seems to be a good husband and a good father. In our initial conversation I was very free in expressing my ideas about what I thought about him and about people that I perceive to be like him, and I said several things that he could have easily been offended by or taken issue with, but he seemed fine with everything I said.
He listened very calmly and intently to me, and never took a defensive posture about his marriage and/or about what it represents, especially in the Christian church-world. He was very open minded about everything that we talked about, and even gave me a better understanding of what EXODUS actually was and was not.
And even though he is on somewhat of a different theological page, he never got argumentative over my interpretation of Scripture, and never passed judgment on me for my decision to come out and live as an openly gay man (and stay in the ministry...)
Most importantly for me, he never denied that he has SSA, and knows he always will.
I was so impressed with him, that by the end of the week I offered him an apology for all I had thought and said about EI and about him, and thanked him for educating me about several things that I needed to know.
Don't get me wrong, I still think the world would be a better place if all the gay people in it would just go ahead and come out and stop trying to be something that they are not and never will be. And I still do not believe in conversion therapy (although, according to Alan, EI never actually dealt in that, which was news to me)...I still believe that it is very dangerous.
But I met a man at that retreat who was and is in a different place in his life than I am, and I understood that he has to do what he feels is right for him, just like I had/have to do what was/is right for me. He loves his wife. He loves his kids. His children are still small, and he is very engaged in their lives, which I certainly understand (been there, done that), so his commitment to his home-life is the product of a very different paradigm from mine (one with grown kids)...
What I realized after talking to him is that every person's (including every gay person's) journey is completely different, and is, frankly, none of my business. If Alan Chambers chooses to stay married to his wife for the rest of his life, live in the heterosexual relationship model, and raise his children in a more traditional home setting, then more power to him...especially because he is telling the truth about his innate sexual orientation, and not pretending that it is something that it is not. And, even more especially, because he is not condemning of those of us who could no longer live that way.
It was good for me to meet him and talk to him.
I learned a lot.
And I'm still rejoicing that EXODUS INTERNATIONAL is no more (by the way, it was very brave of Alan to close it)...
And I'm happy that Alan Chambers is my brother...
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.
That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought."
(Matthew 5:5 - The Message)