Exodus International, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and change of gay people has announced that it will be closing its doors permanently. This decision was led by the president of the organization, Alan Chambers and the board of directors. The announcement was made on June 19th 2013 just before Chambers along with former Exodus International member and founder, Michael Bussey, appeared on Lisa Ling’s show “Our America” to discuss the issue publicly. In fact, Alan Chambers issued a public apology that stated:
“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 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.”
This apology was spoken in the presence of some deeply offended homosexual people in a round circle in the basement of a Lutheran church in Los Angeles California. Lisa Ling was present and aired the conversation along with segmented interviews with different people who were present in the meeting. It was emotional, confrontational, and sad to hear the different stories of broken homes, broken hearts, broken dreams, and a broken ministry.
As I sat and listened to the people complain openly to Chambers and then watched as Chambers issued his apology, I had mixed emotions. In one sense, I felt that he was compromising. On a different level, I actually feel that he owed these people an apology. Rather than pointing people to hope and deliverance from homosexual sin through the gospel of Jesus Christ, he was leading a ministry organization that focused on reparative therapy under the name of Jesus. Psychological exercises and theories of human behavior techniques were employed in order to change people under the banner – “Change Is Possible.” I was mostly discouraged when Chambers articulated his new course in life of “acceptance” and showing love to all people. I’m not against loving all people, but accepting sin is a completely anti-love way of life. Chambers also hinted of starting a church where “all people” will be welcome. That attitude, although prevalent in our culture, is anti-gospel and anti-Christ.
The fact is, this issue is not just about homosexuality. It’s about the root issue of sin and the natural man. Where Exodus International failed was in rooting out the real issue of sin in the human heart. The natural man will not discern the things of God because they are spiritually understood (1 Corinthians 2:14). Trying to rehab a homosexual person through psychological schemes will do nothing but harm people and leave them feeling trapped. The real cure is to lead people to ultimate surrender to Jesus Christ who delivers from all sin. Jesus Christ saves homosexuals from same sex relationships, wives from the perpetual sin of adultery, men from the bondage of pornography, and the drug addict from the slums of methamphetamine (John 8:32; 36). Change is possible – in Christ. John Piper once said, “The deepest problem of our lives, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is the terrible exchange of the glory of God for images (Romans 1:23). The exchange of the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25). The disapproval of having God in our knowledge (Romans 1:28). Failed worship is our worst disorder. This is beneath all the maladies of the world. Repairing this, not first our disorderedsexuality, is our main business in life.“1
One of the most dramatic conversions that I have personally witnessed was that of a homosexual man. He attended a few worship services where I was preaching through a series titled, “The True Gospel of Jesus Christ.” This man had walked away from the church over 20 years earlier and had been living in the homosexual world during all of those years. It was during one of those sermons as the gospel was being preached that he was radically changed by God. He went home and called my office to set up a time to talk. He had no desire to go back to his apartment where he was living with another gay man. He desired immediate change. He moved out. This man had immediate desires for a wife and children. Several months later he was engaged. Not long after marriage, he and his wife had their first baby. What caused such a radical change? It was not reparative therapy. It was not psychological schemes and techniques. It was the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This man was born again – and had new desires (John 3; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
I’m not one to believe that all conversions out of homosexuality leave people without any battles over their former sins. Just like all sin, we all have our weak points and are often tempted in those areas. In churches with homosexual support groups, great discernment and caution needs to be taken by those who attend those groups unless they find themselves going back into their former sins – like Michael Bussey – one of the founders of Exodus International.
As the church continues to reach out to the homosexual community with the love of Christ – we must not ignore the reality that homosexuality is a sin against God. To love our neighbor as ourself is to be honest about sin. One of the most damaging things to do to people is to accept them under the false premise of love by refusing to be honest about their sin. That pattern will lead to eternal damnation which far outweighs the scars obtained through Exodus International. Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said, “The normalization of homosexuality contradicts the Bible’s consistent condemnation of all same-sex sexuality as sin. The rejection of the hope for change for homosexuals (as for all sinners) indicates a tragic loss of confidence in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”2
As the church moves forward in our complex culture of confused sexuality in America (and around the world), we must be clear about what the Bible says about sin. That remains true for all types of sin. The sin of adultery, pornography, drunkenness, child molestation, polygamy, and the worship of all false gods. The church cannot compromise her position on the sacred Scriptures inspired by God. Although Alan Chambers has altered his positions to fit into our sexually sinful culture, we must be abundantly clear that God will never change His positions and He will never apologize (Romans 1:18-32). Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “The Christian church has always maintained that sexual expression is directed only toward the one-flesh union of male and female in marriage.”3
Jesus Christ was crushed under the wrath of His Father on the cross (Isaiah 53). He died for drug users, thieves, alcoholics, morally upright citizens, murderers, homosexuals and all types of self righteous sinners. He did not die a bloody death on the cross to communicate the message that God accepts us just the way we are. He died a horrible ignominious death on the Roman cross to communicate that God loves and saves sinners – from the way we are to the way He desires us to be (1 Peter 2:9). In fact – whosoever comes to Christ will be saved – including homosexuals.
Dr. Albert Mohler has written, “A rejection of the Bible’s authority on an issue such as homosexuality is a theological problem – not merely a moral controversy. No church can remain divided on this question, and no faithful believer should remain in a church that refuses to be bound to God’s Word.”4
It is my prayer that gay people who feel trapped under the false promise of change through ministries like Exodus International will find their true hope of deliverance in Jesus Christ.
For God’s glory,
Pastor Josh Buice
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- The Other Dark Exchange: Homosexuality, Part 1, October 11, 1998, www.DesiringGod.org,
- Exodus Int’l closes after Chambers’ apology – Baptist Press
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? September 2009, Tabletalk, p. 21.
*For more on this conversation, you can search #GodandGays on Twitter.