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Exodus chooses their own change

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2012

Henry Ford once quipped that “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” And behind that bit of snark is an important idea: life always gives you choices, but sometimes the choice is limited to how you choose to respond to inevitable circumstances. You can always change things, but sometimes the change is limited to changing your own perspective.

And after many years of prayer, effort, and contemplation, Exodus International, the umbrella organization for ex-gay ministries seems to have reached that realization. When in January at a panel presentation to the Gay Christian Network it’s president, Alan Chambers, said that 99.9% of ex-gays don’t change their orientation, it was to the first half or that reality that he was speaking.

But there is always room for change. And when it came time for each of us to recognize our orientation, we all went through change. And for young Christian youth growing up in a conservative family and church, change is necessary for survival. Without reconciling your sexuality and your faith, you will never be at peace.

Most of those reading chose to question the things we had been taught. We found a path that allows for relationships and sexual expression without seeing such as eternally damning. But the change one chooses is individual and there is no “correct” response. Some choose to apply to themselves and their lives the same conservative sexual code that they would apply to single heterosexuals. And that is their right.

And within that context, “change” becomes simply that: movement from one state of being to another. The effort to achieve goals and objectives measured not by how gay or straight one is, but by whether one lives according to their chosen life plan.

In February, Alan wrote a commentary in which he discusses change and what it means to him. At that time we were going through an almost daily shift in marriage law expectations across the states and our coverage of those stories would have drowned out this issue. And as we have for many years challenged Exodus to explain “change”, I want to give Alan’s explanation an opportunity to be heard.

I have SSA but that reality is only relevant to me personally and those with whom I am in deep relationship. I choose to be faithful to my relationship with Christ and the truth that my Heavenly Father’s creative intent for human sexual expression was for one man and one woman in the bonds of heterosexual marriage. For me, anything else falls short and is to be resisted. Because I experience some level of SSA I monitor what stimuli I receive. The same is true of my relationship with other things that have consumed me in the past from food to materialism.

When it comes to orientation, attractions, desires, feelings or whatever word you choose to use, I think very little about them. They are what they are. I know them. I understand them. I know how to live with them. I also know a lot of the things that cause them to manifest. SSA isn’t a greater struggle or more concerning to me than other things in my life. Again, they just are. I guess that is why I have no problem talking about them, admitting them and feeling really great about myself even though I have them. They do not define me.

Leslie isn’t threatened by my SSA, either. She knows how I feel about my relationship with Christ first and how I feel about her followed by our kids and so on. She isn’t a surrogate for sexual acting out. She is my treasure and the object of my deepest human longings.

Have I experienced change in my life? To be sure. And to be clear, the change is primarily a matter of seeking to live out what I value most. It is centered on who I am in Christ and flows outward in a way that is specific to me and doesn’t contradict what the Bible teaches. The same was true for me as a single, celibate Christian man.

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justme
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

So he’s still nuts and still hates gays? And more than any other gay, he hates himself — a gay man — most of all? And he has a wife who is every bit the lunatic that he is?

And this is “change”?

When Alan Chambers can bring himself to use the word “gay” — hell, it would be something just for him to admit that people have sexual orientations and that homosexuality exists! — and then leaves the anti-gay “ex-gay” industry behind and gets a real job, that would be change. This, however — and as always with this money-grubbing, life-destroying wretch — is just pathetic.

Bad enough he’s dedicated his life to destroying the lives of strangers, but, oh, those poor kids he and his crazy wife have brought into this world.

Sandhorse
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

This reminds me of an article by Dr. Ralph Blair. In it he references St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, specifically verses in and around Romans 14. He discusses the ‘weak in faith’ v. the ‘strong in faith’ in regards to homosexuality. It’s titled “The Bond that Breaks the Boundaries“

He comments:
“… So Paul concludes by advising that each Christian should be fully convinced in his or her own mind when it comes to the rightness of one’s own lifestyle. Each individual is responsible for his or her own conscience before the Lord. Paul affirms that he himself is convinced in the Lord that nothing, as such, is out-of-bounds. Nothing is unclean or every-day common. Nothing! No thing! What part of “no thing” don’t fundamentalists understand? Why are they so resistant to Paul’s teaching that it’s the word of the Lord that it’s the individual Christian’s relationship with and reliance on the Lord that really counts, however differently he or she behaves. “They can disagree, and both be right (that is, accepted by God). It was not necessary for one to be wrong for the other to be right.” [Dunn] So if the Lord makes them all right, how can that not be all right with all of them?

Rosalind Rinker, the well-known missionary to China and inspired teacher of “conversational prayer,” was an EC keynoter at two of our earliest summer conferences. In her book, Within the Circle, she wrote on Christian unity: “God does not say ‘agree with one another in order that you may love one another.’ But He clearly commands: ‘Love one another, just as I love you.’ ” She noted that, among Christians of differing opinions, “there is a failure to realize that God is on both sides and that His purpose is to unite all things in Christ (Col 1:20) [rather than] in verbal agreement, legalism, or doctrine.” She said it in another way as well: “God does not take sides. He is Truth.”

Paul does warn that a thing is out-of-bounds for the person who believes it’s out-of-bounds. He cautions Christians not to do anything that might contribute to a guilty conscience, for it is spiritually and psychologically unhealthy for a person to violate conscience. In fact, Paul warns that the preaching of the weak can drive others who are weak into such distress that they might even abandon their Christian faith. That is certainly what has happened to many gay men and lesbians who were reared in fundamentalist and evangelical churches. But by the clearer preaching of God’s grace, Christians should assist in lovingly relieving the guilt feelings of a misinformed and unbiblical conscience. And they should refrain from promoting or prolonging the guilt feelings of a misinformed and unbiblical conscience. By the clearer preaching of God’s grace – the strongest gospel – such offended brothers and sisters can be welcomed back.”

It is an excellent read and was a major influence for me in reconciling my faith and orientation.

Snowman
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Personally, I think the greater crime was committed by those who persuaded this guy to act against his own nature, and that this was somehow considered right living. I feel bad not only for him but for his family, because this will all come crashing down someday when he can’t stop being who he is any more…and those who have been persuaded to join him in fooling himself will be hurt just as bad.

Andrew M.
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Chambers’ statement just leaves me at a loss. As an atheist scientist, I don’t even know where to begin. How can one argue against such intrenched irrationality? His base conclusions about the world are just entirely fiction.

I feel rejecting illogical thought (organized religion) is a far more efficient “change” than creating new mental backflips trying to reconcile being gay with one’s christian faith. The arguments for and against SSA rooted in a faith are equally absurd.

Furthermore, denying truth based on religion is a far better strategy to win IMO. Its aggressive. We are usually on the defense, having to justify why being gay isn’t evil. The better response is why do we give religious argument any weight at all?

Hunter
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

@ Andrew M.

Why does one need to argue against Chambers’ “entrenched irrationality”? He’s made his decision about who he wants to be, and apparently is quite comfortable with it. While I have no patience for those who insist that their personal decisions must apply to everyone, it seems Chambers has made great strides in regaining his sanity. he’s only talking about himself here. That’s fine.

And I might point out that “entrenched rationality” is just a dangerous and just as faulty as anything else. It’s irrationality — call it intuition — that has given us art, music, literature, and scientific breakthroughs.

David C.
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

@ Sandhorse: Probably the best and most pertinent remark ever made on this blog relating to what should be the Christian perspective on homosexuality. The clarity of these ideas is unmistakable, and makes far more sense than any argument advanced thus far about how Christians should approach sexuality.

TampaZeke
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

I completely support Alan and any other person who chooses to suppress their natural sexual expression for the sake of remaining true to their faith. What I don’t support, and in fact STRONGLY condemn, is his spreading lies about what it means to be gay. He lies about the health, the happiness and the spiritual seriousness of people who are out and proudly gay. He promotes the idea that all gay people need to change in order to be Holy, all at the same time denying that he promotes change for all gays. He tells despicable lies that he KNOWS are lies and does so under the veil of “Christian truth”.

He’s only tampering down his rhetoric because his organization, which used to revel and fill their coffers demeaning and slandering gays, is now trying to survive in a new world where such rhetoric has lost its appeal in polite society.

Alan Chambers is a scumbag IN SPITE OF his alleged Christian faith not because of it. He’s a scumbag for the very same reasons that he’s a piss poor excuse for a Christian. The lies, the hatefulness, the active participation in and promotion of harm, the silence in the face of harm, the failing to love his neighbor as himself; THESE are the reasons he has no right to call himself Christian and the reason why I still think he’s a self-righteous, scheming, conniving, chameleon of a Charlatan; otherwise known as a scumbag!

Priya Lynn
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

TampaZeke said “I completely support Alan and any other person who chooses to suppress their natural sexual expression for the sake of remaining true to their faith.”

I don’t support Alan “choosing” to suppress his sexual orientation anymore than I support a black person’s being made to feel he or she should be white. Neither have chosen the path they’ve taken, they’ve had it chosen for them and its a tragedy that anyone is made to feel that way. People feeling like Alan does is a tragic injustice.

Emily
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

I respect Alan’s sentiments in this quote. I can see wisdom in them, and can even relate to a certain extent, because of an experience I’ve been dealing with lately of finding myself attracted to a married man. Granted, there is an intrinsic difference between the situations, in that he is dealing with attraction to a whole class of people (men) and for me it’s just one person. And I do still disagree with his contention that this is a restriction he ever needed to place on himself, but since he has taken on the responsibility of marriage and a family, even if his views on the appropriateness of gay relationships did change, his responsibilities wouldn’t, and that is where I find I relate to Alan here. In the end, attraction is only attraction. Neither good nor bad, it just is. And if in a certain situation, we believe that acting on that attraction is inappropriate, then we have a responsibility to live according to that belief, even if it is difficult.

So I can respect this as a personal account of how he deals with attraction, but there is still a problem: Alan is still the president of an organization that is under a lot of pressure to promote an unrealistic view of “change”, and even if Alan’s personal viewpoint is more nuanced, with all of that pressure and the size of the ship he’s steering (to use his own metaphor from the GCN conversation), I’m still skeptical about Exodus as an organization undergoing any real “change” itself.

Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Zeke,

Do you have any recent sources to support that Alan does any of those things you accuse him of? I can agree that some of what you claim was once true, but is it still?

In other words, is your revulsion towards Chambers based on his behavior and beliefs, or on your own?

Ben In Oakland
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

“Again, they just are. I guess that is why I have no problem talking about them, admitting them and feeling really great about myself even though I have them. They do not define me.”

Says AC about himself.

But the whole anti-ex-gay industry still continues to define US by this one thing.
So though I am seeing greater honestly in AC’s statements, they STILL seem to me to be kinda weaselly.

Priya Lynn
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “Zeke,Do you have any recent sources to support that Alan does any of those things you accuse him of? I can agree that some of what you claim was once true, but is it still?”

You’ll have to scroll up for some of these to get to the beginning:

http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2012/02/21908/
http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/02/22297/#comments
http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/02/22472/#comments
http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/02/22512/#comments

Andrew M.
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

@Hunter

Poppycock I say.

I could give a crap whether or not he’s just talking about himself. The PRESIDENT of exodus international is publicly opening his mouthchops and saying that his christian beliefs require him to sleep with a woman because Jesus isn’t cool with SSA. I feel that deserves a LOUD response from those who believe differently, so that some young confused gay kid knows that there are other options for Christians than lying in bed every night with a woman that you aren’t attracted to. Whether that be reconciling faith and SSA, or reconciling reality with SSA. Calling out his nonsense as nonsense shouldn’t be avoided.

Also double poppycock to irrationality giving us art and music. That makes less than 0 sense. Connections of disparate ideas give rise to novel creations, and none of that has to do with illogical thought.

Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

No, Priya Lynn, I meant sources from Alan about what Alan believes. Not sources from Wayne about what Wayne believes that Alan believes.

Neon Genesis
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

“Without reconciling your sexuality and your faith, you will never be at peace. ”

There are plenty of people who never reconcile their sexuality with their faith and decide to leave their faith behind and they’re just at peace as any religious believer.

Priya Lynn
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, even if the change you say Alan has made is true its inconsequential. He still runs an evil organization with the goal of damaging people. Only when he closes the doors of Exodus will he have made a change that counts.

Wayne listed plenty of things that show Alan hasn’t made any real changes, that you don’t want to believe it doesn’t change it. Alan’s religiosity may make you feel okay about him but the entire venture he’s involved in is immoral and unacceptable.

TampaZeke
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Thanks Priya but don’t waste your time or energy challenging Timothy in his personal vendetta against me. I’ve learned to ignore him for the same reason so many others do.

TwirlyGirly
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Quoted from Alan Chambers:

“Because I experience some level of SSA I monitor what stimuli I receive. The same is true of my relationship with other things that have consumed me in the past from food to materialism.”

This doesn’t sound like Alan has changed his view about SSA – he still believes it’s a behavior. Both eating and buying things in the hope they’ll make us happy are behaviors. However, Alan’s analogy fails because both eating and buying ourselves nice things are perfectly okay when done in moderation. So, it would be more accurate for Alan to talk about sexual promiscuity (whether by those who are same-sex or opposite-sex attracted) as comparable to the other behaviors he named that truly can consume – and often destroy – people’s lives.

I want to believe Alan is growing and changing – I really do. But to me it seems like he spouting the same old rhetoric, just couched in warmer and fuzzier language.

Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Neon Genesis…

Yes, that is one possible resolution that can result from the process of questioning one’s presumptions about both their faith and their sexuality.

Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

Zeke,

I have no vendetta against you. Actually I kinda enjoy you and your comments.

It’s true that I do tend to respond to you more than most people. That’s because I find your comments more interesting than many.

Where I might roll my eyes at some particularly inane comment from someone responding in knee-jerk fashion, with yours I’ll challenge you to provide a source. Sometimes you do, and I learn some fact I wasn’t aware of, and sometimes you don’t have a source and I hope you reconsider.

But if you prefer, I can ignore you.

Timothy Kincaid
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

“He still runs an evil organization with the goal of damaging people.”

Someone is channeling Linda Harvey

pax58
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

For me the proof is in the pudding. If 15 years from now he still has the same view, his children aren’t basket cases, and his wife is mentally stable, then I will agreed that his repression is alright.
As a man who came out relatively late in life, in part due to religious beliefs I get that coming out is a process not a moment. I wouldn’t undue by straight marriage for one big reason: the four children who came from it are great human beings who will leave this world a better place because of thier presense. The pushes against alot of the pain and verbal abuse that took years of counseling to resolve. I know that not everyone’s experiences are the same, but still have to wonder. When society has greater acceptance of GLBT persons there will be less need for folks to put themselves in the kind of marriage this man (and I at one time) lives.
I actually feel sorry for him and his wifle.

Bill of C
March 19th, 2012 | LINK

I second the “poppycock” on the matter of the supposed benefits of irrationality.

Chambers has the right to self-hypnotize and self-medicate with his beliefs in imaginary saviors and such. It’s not OK, though, if he encourages a single other person to take the same route; or if he inspires or emboldens straight homophobes — which he does — who can say, “Oh, look, all you gay people can and should be just like Alan Chambers!”

mark miner
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Having thought about his a lot and done two full year post-gay programs, I’m glad to see people coming to terms with the “adopted” nature of heterosexuality for those “born gay.” Few people would have the gall throw it the face of adoptive parents that “That’s not your REAL child!” Most people respect a couple’s decision to adopt as a CHOICE to love. “Adopted kids are special!” etc. I would hope that someday we could get to the point of being willing to give those who have “adopted heterosexuality” the benefit of the doubt, and not hoot at them about “that’s not your REAL sexuality!” Love is ultimately a choice to will the other’s good above your own, even when you don’t feel like doing so. Those who adopt heterosexuality by choice, when it isn’t necessarily their preference, have more opportunity to make the most of the HUMAN choice to love, to build a relationship out of something more than hormonal passion.
Thanks, Timothy, for making room on your blog to honor Alan’s choices.
—mark miner

Palmer
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

mark miner, thanks for the slap in the face. Hormonal passions? Again, thanks for denigrating our lives, comparing our loves to nothing more than sex. Your language shows a VERY hetero-sexist bias. The problem with people such as Chambers isn’t their “chosen” sexuality, it’s their insistence that the rest of us make that same “choice.” And then you come along and tell us how we can never know “love” the way Chambers does. What utter nonsense. I’ve been with my husband over 32 years, believe me, hormonal surges are the least of our concerns. We take care of each other, we support each other, we do all the things that every heterosexual couple does after so many years together. And SEX doesn’t even make the top ten anymore, but you try to break us apart and I’ll take out your throat faster than Sarah Palin can make a stupid statement! You oh-so-concerned trolls just don’t get how your condescension does nothing more than tell us you haven’t got a clue as to what our lives are really like. And one day Chambers, as so many before him, will wake up and realized just what he threw away to gain the sniffing tolerance of people like you!

David Roberts
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, I’m sure you understand that your view of Alan’s alleged change is highly optimistic and requires a degree of faith which many do not find rational at this point. My own experience over four years of private correspondence with the man forces me to see him in a much less positive light.

Hypothetically, if we do accept that he has reached some sort of enlightenment on this subject, then it makes his current actions, or lack thereof, even more heinous. He admits to the lack of change (in a way which I still think gives him a lot of wiggle room) but he has presided over a decade of what must be seen as intense lies about the degree and success of those who seek change with Exodus — not to mention the lies about the lives of those who do not.

He has constantly been unwilling to own up to this beyond very vague, quite self-serving statements. The degree of deception over the years demands, particularly if one claims a Christian faith, a full and dedicated effort to reverse that message — to use the same intensity to undo the damage as was done to inflict it.

If Alan Chambers the man has come to some understanding which resembles reality, I’m very happy for him. If he has managed to create a life which allows him to live happily under the demands of his particular beliefs, bully for him. But honestly, it has never been about that. It’s about what he and the organization he leads have done to others — and still are through some very powerful member ministries.

If we are to believe that any real change is going on at Exodus, beyond that which we wrote to expect back in November, then we have not yet seen the beginning of the beginning. And I think we owe it to what certainly must be thousands of individuals with painful life stories to not prematurely praise them for that which does not yet exist.

I’m curious and would appreciate your comments — do you reject our reporting on the meetings from November? Otherwise, you should understand that all of this was to be expected fully and for reasons less sincere than have been noted.

StraightGrandmother
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

As for me, I’ll believe it when I see it. I find it abhorrent that he exploits his wife the way he does in his professional work. Remember the Daniel Award article? Published just a few months ago.
http://www.worldmag.com/articles/18908

“Chambers takes homemade cards from his children and wife when he travels for work and displays them on the dresser in his hotel room. But he doesn’t offer the cards or pictures as proof that he’s not gay anymore. “My wife isn’t my diploma,” he says. Instead, he says he pursued marriage and children after his homosexual desires changed. ”

“At a Friday night regional conference, Chambers told the same thing to more than 100 people packed into a chapel at a church outside of Orlando. He had forgotten his notes for the evening, but he hadn’t forgotten his message: “Is change possible? If you know Jesus, anything is possible.”

“ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”, direct quote in the last sentence of the article.

Ben in Oakland
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Indeed, SGM, in a world where carpenters can be resurrected, ANYTHING is possible.

Jim Hlavac
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

So, the man admits his entire job of “ex-gay” leader is a lie. He admits his relationship with his wife is a lie, and she is complicit in the lie. He admits that no one, not even himself, ever became “ex-anything” — and yet he lives this lie, and makes his living off of pushing the lie. Well, I dare say, gay men for centuries lived this lie — they got married, and pretended to be hetero, as their cover. We are no longer willing to do so.

Oh, I don’t care if a man is self-deluding, it is his right, or plight. But he should go sell widgets to people who wish to buy them — rather than to sell a fraudulent service to non-existent customers while relying on contributions on people crazier than he is to fund his life. That would be the decent and honest thing to do.

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Mark said “Those who adopt heterosexuality by choice, when it isn’t necessarily their preference, have more opportunity to make the most of the HUMAN choice to love, to build a relationship out of something more than hormonal passion.”.

That was an idiotic statement. When one places a gender one is not attracted to as a more important partner criterion than compatibility one is going to be less successful at having the best possible relationship. The idea (which I’m sure you don’t believe yourself) that physical attraction means one cannot have other important aspects to a relationship is absurd.

A statement by the American Pschitric Association says that those who positively accept their orientation are happier and better adjusted than those who do not. Everything Alan does is designed to diminish people’s happiness and mental health. Timothy can pretend that’s not the case but its not my oppionion, its a fact, the organization Alan runs is destructive and immoral. Only when he shuts it down will he have done something praiseworthy.

Reed
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

“Connections of disparate ideas give rise to novel creations, and none of that has to do with illogical thought.”

Say WHAT? I can and will think with whatever amount of logic, ill or not, may please me. None of your “none of that,” please – because “all or nothing” propositions are rhetorical fallacies.

Some disparate ideas MAY connect, but the ability of believe six impossible things before breakfast eases the ability for such creative mash-ups.

Jaime
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Alan Chambers treats others exactly as he treats himself, with self-denial and loathing. The fact that he is advocating that others only manifest the same for themselves based on “Christian beliefs” is a pathetic support and interpretation of his supposed foundation – “God is love.” His actions are immoral, precisely because they cause others harm.

Andrew M.
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

@Reed

I think we are having miscommunication issues, as I really don’t know what you are talking about. Logic isn’t some euphemism for straight lines, conformity, and dullness. It is simply A implies B.

There is no problem with imagining anything.. such as say… the idea that 10 foot long spacebugs with bright purple antenna live on Pluto.

But actually believing that 10 foot long spacebugs with bright purple antenna live on Pluto is illogical. There is no data to support such a conclusion.

And to veer this discussion to be more on topic, the christian view of reality being correct seems much less plausible to me than an army of giant space cockroaches with beautiful lavender feelers having a party on Pluto.

Jay Jonson
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Why do you give space to crackpots like Alan Chambers to spout his nonsense?

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

David Roberts,

You and I differ on the degree to which we believe in Alan’s sincerity. That’s fine, we have over the years disagreed on a number of issues and that’s what friends do.

And unlike most who have “informed” us about Alan in this thread, you actually know what you’re talking about so I do listen to your opinion. Yet I see the same evidence as you and come to a different conclusion.

I do not argue whether Exodus has had decades of less-than-fully-honest declarations about “change”. You and I have both demanded clarity and transparency.

But in this latest discussion of change, I believe that I see clarity. I understand what he’s saying. And while it isn’t expressed in terms I would use, I respect his right to use the language of his faith – so long as it is not deceptive.

However – and please consider what I’m saying here, it isn’t an attack – I think that you have shifted the goalpost. It seems to me that having demanded and now received clarity about “change” from Alan, that is no longer the issue. Now you insist that member ministries must be different before any of Alan’s difference is acknowledged.

And if they come round, will we next judge Alan by those on the far right who refer to Exodus? And then to those say “gays can change” without referring to Exodus?

Some who commented here would have no problem making that linkage. I do.

For me it’s a matter of personal integrity. If I tell someone that I object to them because XYZ, then I have a moral obligation to respond when they change XYZ.

Even if I now object to ABC, I have no claim on integrity if I ignore their change on XYZ.

I have criticized Alan in the past for using language that is, frankly, unsupportable in terms of reality. I owe recognition when that is given up.

It comes down to this – and I address this to all the commenters –

Do we simply object to Alan and look for reasons to justify hating him? Or are our objections based on his actual beliefs and behaviors?

Because if we are responding – and not just hating – then our perspective must change based on his change.

justme
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

“Do we simply object to Alan and look for reasons to justify hating him?”

Exactly how hard do you think anyone has to look? The man is nuts and an idiot, he hates himself, projects that hate on others like himself, and, infinitely worse, makes money off of the misery and deaths of others — misery and deaths that his work creates and perpetuates, so that he makes even more money. Yeah, he’s a peach and we’re so wrong and awful.

“Or are our objections based on his actual beliefs and behaviors?”

Please see above.

“Because if we are responding – and not just hating – then our perspective must change based on his change.”

What change??? Has he stopped hating himself, projecting that hate on others, and making his living off of their misery and deaths? No.

What in the world are you going on about? Why are you supporting a crackpot who hates you and your community and whose life’s work directly contributes to and profits from killing children?

This isn’t an “intellectual” exercise where the masses need to be educated on how wonderful our insane, moronic and mercenary enemies are, it’s a question of how anyone could not feel deep and abiding shame for supporting a vicious, hateful enemy who lines his own pockets as a professional lunatic whose lies makes sure children who are like us end up dead.

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “Do we simply object to Alan and look for reasons to justify hating him? Or are our objections based on his actual beliefs and behaviors?”.

No, I do not object to Alan for no reason, I object to him because he continues to run an organization that causes harm. The American Psychiatric Association says those who positively accept their sexuality are happier and better adjusted than those who do not. Alan and his organization discourage people from positively accepting their gay sexual orientation, encourage them to suppress it and thus to experience less happiness and more mental illness. I object to Alan because he harms people, what he believes is irrelevant. That he thinks a god wants him to do this does not in anyway justify the harm he’s causing any more than parents who deny their child medical assistance because they believe illness should only be treated with prayer are justified in their actions.

You say you don’t have a problem with a person “choosing” to suppress their sexuality or change from white to black but you’re ignoring the huge injustice that is the societal encouragement to reject harmless aspects of who people are. That is unacceptable whether the pressure is due to religion or racism.

While society should never attempt to prevent people from suppressing their sexuality or changing their race it must never accept the bigotry that motivates people to want to do so. And Alan Chamber’s and Exodus’s bigotry are responsible for people wanting to make such changes. Only when there is no Exodus, zero social pressure for people to stop wanting to be gay or black will it be in anyway acceptable for a person to attempt to do so.

StraightGrandmother
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy = “Do we simply object to Alan and look for reasons to justify hating him? Or are our objections based on his actual beliefs and behaviors?”

StraightGrandmother = I object based on Alan’s behavior. Wayne Beeson went to a Truth Wins Out conference POST the Gay Christian Network comments of Alan Chambers, and Wayn’s first hand report shows that Alan is still peddling the same crap. Witness what they were selling to the attendees which Wayne points out.

I will repeat what I said previously, I will believe it when I see it. Show me.

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

You say you don’t have a problem with a person “choosing” to suppress their sexuality…

source please?

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

SG,

I like and respect Wayne. We are friends and allies.

But I know Wayne. And it would be fair to say that he tends a bit more towards absolutes than I do and has less room for nuance.

And Wayne also is simply not fluent in churchspeak. I know the language intimately and so I know that there are times when Wayne hears one thing and I hear another and, if the others in the room are also part of the conservative Christian subculture, they are more likely to hear what I hear.

So I respect Wayne’s views and Wayne’s reports, but they don’t outweigh my own personal observations. (And it helps that I can actually talk with Alan about what he believes or does).

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “source please?”.

I find it hard to imagine you’re really going to deny that. I suspect you said something more along the lines of “I don’t have a problem with people choosing to align their sexuality with their religious beliefs.” Which is the same as saying you don’t have a problem with people choosing to suppress their sexuality.

I could spend an hour or so digging up the exact quote but I suspect then you’d just play the word game where you say “I didn’t use those exact words so I deny your paraphrasing of what I did say”

If you really do have a problem with people choosing to suppress their sexuality then why are you not condemning the ongoing efforts by Alan and Exodus to get people to do just that?

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “So I respect Wayne’s views and Wayne’s reports, but they don’t outweigh my own personal observations. (And it helps that I can actually talk with Alan about what he believes or does).”.

Wayne’s views and reports do outweigh your own personal observations. Because you value Alan’s religiosity and in some ways see yourselves as being on the same team you’re willing to overlook a lot of things the vast majority of LGBTs are not.

Charles
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Let me see Alan Chambers admits that he has same sex attraction and it can not be changed………….. but he chooses to live with his wife and children…and, he is happy. In my opinion he is doing no wrong. He is not deceiving his wife into believing that he is straight. He is not claiming that people can or must be “cured” of their homosexuality. And, from what I am reading, he is not “demanding” that everyone follow the path that he has chosen. He is just an example for those who have is deep religious beliefs.

Charles
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Am edited version of my previous post:

Let me see, Alan Chambers admits that he has same sex attraction and it can not be changed………….. but he chooses to live with his wife and children…and, he is happy. In my opinion he is doing no wrong.

He is not deceiving his wife into believing that he is straight.
He is not claiming that people can or must be “cured” of their homosexuality. And, from what I am reading, he is not “demanding” that everyone follow the path that he has chosen. He is just an example for those who have his deep religious beliefs.

Am I wrong in my assessment?

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Priya Lynn, thank you for clarifying that your assertion about what I “say” is a false accusation.

I reject your absurd notion that choosing to apply a code of ethical or moral behavior to one’s sexuality – even a code that I don’t choose – is the same as “suppressing your sexuality”.

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Charles said “He is just an example for those who have his deep religious beliefs. Am I wrong in my assessment?”.

Yes, your assessment is wrong. Those who positively accept their sexuality are happier and better adjusted then those who do not. Anyone who wants LGBTs to thrive and be happy would never suggest Alan is an example for those who have deep religious beliefs. The beliefs are in error, not the sexuality.

You say he is not claiming that others can or must be cured and therefore he is doing no wrong, that is incorrect. He is encouraging people to follow his example and telling them they will be eternally tortured for not doing so. That may not be forcing others to follow his example, but it certainly is coercing them to take a path that will harm them and that most certainly is wrong.

Timothy said “Without reconciling your sexuality and your faith, you will never be at peace…But the change one chooses is individual and there is no “correct” response.”.

Why would you say that if you deny that you ever said you have no problem with people “choosing” to suppress their sexuality? In fact there is a correct response and only one. The faith is an erroneous belief and putting it first will result in one being less happy and well adjusted than if one positively accepts their sexuality. The correct answer is always to positively accept ones sexual orientation and never to attempt to suppress it. If faith and sexuality conflict it is the faith that needs to be changed.

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “I reject your absurd notion that choosing to apply a code of ethical or moral behavior to one’s sexuality – even a code that I don’t choose – is the same as “suppressing your sexuality”.”.

You can reject it all you want, but that won’t stop it from being true. The idea that “aligning one’s sexuality with one’s religious beliefs” is not suppressing one’s sexuality is the notion that is absurd. I knew you’d play these dishonest word games.

Jaime
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

@TK

It would seem that your very reply is supporting the assertion made of you.

“One’s sexuality” – implies/suggests/indicates an innate characteristic.

“Choosing to apply a code” is voluntary and thus a conscious manifestation of denial i.e suppression.

Thus PL’s assertion is hardly false per your own reply.

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

There is obviously no point in me attempting to debate Timothy further on this thread – I’m out of here.

David Roberts
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yet I see the same evidence as you and come to a different conclusion.

Do we see the same evidence?  That’s why I asked your disposition on our report in November .  You know me well enough to realize that I would not post something that was not true.  In those meetings, Alan was clear that the situation was dire, that Exodus needed to rebrand, and that everything was on the table to save it.  Right around that time he asked Justin Lee if he could appear at GCN’s conference, where six weeks later he lets out this new “change.”  I’m concerned because I’ve not yet heard you remark on this and how it informs us on Alan’s (in)sincerity.

I think that you have shifted the goalpost. It seems to me that having demanded and now received clarity about “change” from Alan, that is no longer the issue.

Not at all.  While I’ve always remarked on Alan’s lack of clarity — and honesty for that matter — I’ve been quite clear that this is not about him.  In fact, like Randy, if Alan were not running Exodus and therefore fully involved in exporting this nonsense to others, I couldn’t care less. 

But since you brought it up, let me reiterate what I said in my first comment — how can we take him seriously about the clarity you say you see, when he is not taking the opportunity to clarify Exodus’ horrible past?  Would not an honest man of God be racing to repair that harm, to own the wrongs and right them?  Included in that would be jettisoning ministries that continue to operate the same old way.  This is not a change in goals at all and I think my writing over the years will back that up.

Instead, I see exactly what the November meetings foretold.  He wants to save Exodus so he’s going to avoid strong criticism of their past or admitting to wrongs in a way that would really change their direction.  And he’s not going to tear it up by getting rid of member ministries (though I suspect some of them may leave Exodus on their own).  He has a board of friends he has carefully assembled, and — and please don’t take this wrong — he has former critics like you rooting for him. 

I would say the advice he received from Gabe Lyons, et al, was working beautifully. 

Do we simply object to Alan and look for reasons to justify hating him? Or are our objections based on his actual beliefs and behaviors?

With all due respect, I don’t think I deserve to even be asked that question.  Think long and hard about what’s actually going on here, Timothy.  For the record, I honestly think you are on the wrong track. And if you are corresponding with Alan, be very careful how much you trust him — been there, done that.

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

David,

I’ll respond a bit later. When i can give you the time you deserve. going into meeting

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

David,

Of course I don’t think that you printed something that wasn’t true. I hope you don’t think I’m suggesting otherwise.

And of course I will heed your call to caution. I always consider your advice credible.

However, I simply don’t agree that Alan’s change is necessarily insincere. Nor, really, is his sincerity as important to me as that there has been change.

For me, it’s simple:

Exodus once positioned itself as proof that homosexuals could become heterosexual. They used their existence as political fodder. They supported the notion that the only legitimate theological position was one in which the gay individual did not act on their sexuality and condemned gay Christians. They played games with words like “change” and played up their married members to give a distorted image.

We demanded that these things cease. And (with some room for improvement) they ceased. He has met many of my milestones and demands. It’s time to celebrate.

But what are your milestones? What is it that Alan is actually capable of doing that would satisfy?

andrew
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Holy crap… (sorry, kinda literally, actually…) There’s a lot of energy around this.

Here’s my take – this poor bastard doesn’t have a problem with his sexuality. He has a problem with his faith. If I take it as matter of personal failing that I can’t change colors or sprout wings and fly, then that’s something for me to work out.

What I get angry about is that he continues to pathologize gayness (oh, sorry, that would be “SSA”), treats it like a treatable condition, and holds himself out as an example.

Even if he’s not advocating as vociferously as before, he’s still making claims on my behalf, and I resent it. I would frankly prefer if he would either reframe his condition of suffering as his problems with his anti-gay beliefs being the problem, and quit holding himself up as some kind of example that “GCG”s (Good Christian Gays) should aspire to. It’s aggressive (okay, now passive aggressive), it’s personally damaging, and it’s fundamentally dishonest. His mindfk is not my problem. He just insists on making a career out of making it so.

trog
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Question for everyone: Does Alan Chambers, when he stands before the Christian crowds, acknowledge that some people who accept their “SSA” do manage to enjoy happy and healthy lives, often in committed relationships and families?

Does he acknowledge that some people embrace both Christian and gay identities and that some Christian denominations perform same-sex wedding and embrace their LGBT congregants?

Or does he tell people that if they accept a gay identity then they are doomed to unhappiness, loneliness, disease, promiscuity, etc.?

Last I saw–and yes, if I remember correctly, it was a video post from Truth Wins Out–Alan was onstage talking about how the homosexual lifestyle made him miserable and that the only way to escape the doom was to give it up.

He has a right to personally believe that Christ requires him to be celibate or whatever. But to teach these other dehumanizing tropes and lies to susceptible crowds?

We all know the damage this does.

For Timothy Kincaid to defend Alan Chambers in the name of “churchspeak” seriously calls into question his ability to think rationally on the topic of religion and gays–and his ability to offer help to LGBT people in religious communities.

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

trog,

I do not “offer help to LGBT people in religious communities.”

trog
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy,

At least there’s one thing we can agree on!

(I do admit my word choice “offer help to LGBT people in religious communities” is muddled. I mean broader terms such as fighting for LGBT equality, reaching out to those raised in conservative religious upbringings, supporting basic rational thought, exposing dehumanizing lies against LGBT people, etc.)

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Okie dokie.

You think that my “defending” Alan Chambers “in the name of churchspeak” seriously calls into question my ability to think rationally on the topic of religion and gays – and my ability to fight for LGBT equality, reach out to those raised in conservative religious upbringings, support basic rational thought, and expose dehumanizing lies against LGBT people.

Got it.

David Roberts
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Of course I don’t think that you printed something that wasn’t true. I hope you don’t think I’m suggesting otherwise.

Happy to hear it, but I’m still waiting for your comments on this.  It really is important if I am to understand your position.  To repeat:

“Do we see the same evidence?  That’s why I asked your disposition on our report in November .  You know me well enough to realize that I would not post something that was not true.  In those meetings, Alan was clear that the situation was dire, that Exodus needed to rebrand, and that everything was on the table to save it.  Right around that time he asked Justin Lee if he could appear at GCN’s conference, where six weeks later he lets out this new “change.”  I’m concerned because I’ve not yet heard you remark on this and how it informs us on Alan’s (in)sincerity.”

Charles
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

“For me, it’s simple:

Exodus once positioned itself as proof that homosexuals could become heterosexual. They used their existence as political fodder. They supported the notion that the only legitimate theological position was one in which the gay individual did not act on their sexuality and condemned gay Christians. They played games with words like “change” and played up their married members to give a distorted image.

We demanded that these things cease. And (with some room for improvement) they ceased. He has met many of my milestones and demands. It’s time to celebrate.” – Timothy Kincaid

Timothy, I am in total agreement with you. It appears to myself that Exodus has finally had an awakening. People can’t be cured of their homosexuality by praying he gay away and should not be made ashamed of their sexuality. This is a radical change and is something to be celebrated.

Richard Rush
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

If I remember correctly, in addition to Alan’s recent public statements revolving around “change,” he has taken steps to distance Exodus from NARTH. I wonder if there could be a very good self-serving reason for that.

NARTH positions itself (laughably) as primarily a science-based organization, and thus perhaps at some future time could be vulnerable to prosecution for fraud. Exodus, on the other hand, positions itself as primarily a religion-based organization, which conveniently allows them to take full advantage of the vast array of special rights and protections that are accorded to religious organizations in the US. So I wonder if Alan, by distancing Exodus from NARTH, is being very careful to make sure that Exodus, and his own job, are 100% under the umbrella of religion, and thus protected from being vulnerable to prosecution for fraud.

And regarding Alan’s redefinition of “change,” I think it’s a marketing necessity forced upon him by the growing awareness of the reality that change from homosexual to heterosexual simply does not happen.

The vital thing here is for Alan to feel secure in his unfettered ability to continue earning a nice living in a career devoted to damaging the lives of vulnerable gay people.

trog
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

I agree with Richard. Also, I fail to see the breaking news in Chambers’ recent commentary and redefinition of “change.”

He has been saying a version of this in the mainstream media since at least 2007. Here’s an interview in the L.A. Times:

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/18/nation/na-exgay18

For quite a while, it seems he has wanted certain audiences to know that Exodus does not believe immediate change of orientation or SSA through prayer is likely.

But then he negates such statements, especially when speaking to Christians, by adding the likes of “when you believe in Jesus, miracles can happen”–which gives people the precise hope that they or a loved one will be made heterosexual through their faith.

I want to give Alan and others like him the space and encouragement to evolve on their thinking. I just don’t see any evolution or change in this instance.

jerry
March 21st, 2012 | LINK

Chambers said 99.9% of people attempting to change their orientation did not succeed. The implication is that 0.1% did. That’s not even an opinion, it’s a rash statement without anything to support it.

I do not spend any time listening to the programs from Exodus or the preachers pushing this agenda. One thing I am aware of is that all of these religious people pushing for conversion are actively working to prevent local, state and the federal governments from giving access to civil rights to gay people. If Chambers is giving his support to these efforts at blocking access to civil rights, then David is totally correct in his assessment that it’s simply a change in tactics and Timothy is wrong in claiming that David is moving any goalposts.

I don’t know if there is any reliable data on the number of people who have attempted to change their orientation, but I would be willing to bet that if there hadn’t been draconian laws in place, very few would have tried it. I might be able to find some understanding of the opposition to marriage for same sex couples as just a cultural thing that will eventually dissipate, but there are still active campaigns to prevent laws from being passed to protect children from bullying, to prevent gays from housing and public accommodation and worse.

Is there evidence that Chambers himself or in conjunction with Exodus has signed on to fight legislation to eliminate official prejudice against gays? If there is then the ex-gay movement is still out to suppress us.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the gay community as a whole has no interest in passing laws to prohibit religious organizations or anyone else from peddling ex-gay nonsense.
while many of us have personally said at one time or another that these people should be shut up, I don’t know of anyone who has passed around a petition to put a measure on any ballot to silence these people. I know I have never seen such a petition and would never sign one if it did come around and hope that most of us would see the harm in it.

Timothy Kincaid
March 22nd, 2012 | LINK

David

“Do we see the same evidence? That’s why I asked your disposition on our report in November . You know me well enough to realize that I would not post something that was not true. In those meetings, Alan was clear that the situation was dire, that Exodus needed to rebrand, and that everything was on the table to save it. Right around that time he asked Justin Lee if he could appear at GCN’s conference, where six weeks later he lets out this new “change.” I’m concerned because I’ve not yet heard you remark on this and how it informs us on Alan’s (in)sincerity.”

Yes, I believe that Exodus/Alan were propelled to a new position by the financial situation. However, I don’t think that is evidence of insincerity.

There are three other possible explanations:

1. In the Christian world, sometimes financial difficulty is viewed as “God isn’t blessing us, we must be off track”.

2. In business when finances force a change of strategy, those implementing the change are VERY VERY sincere.

3. I believe that the change has been in play for a while and was incremental in nature.

Now it may be none of these, I may be being too generous or gullible, and Alan may be entirely insincere. But if so, he’s insincerely no longer doing what they used to do, which makes me sincerely happy.

But if you insist that not only must they change but they must change sincerely and then withhold the possibility that they can ever be sincere, it means that they have no way at all of meeting your demands. You have placed an impossible burden.

[I'm reminded of the scene in Tootsie where Dustin Hoffman is trying to please a casting agent. He insists that whatever it is, he can change. Do you want someone taller, I can be taller? Or do you want someone shorter, I can be shorter? - as he pulls lifts out of his shoes. The response after a bit of this was "We want someone else]

Other than Alan being ‘someone else’, what expectations do you have that he can meet?

David Roberts
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

But if you insist that not only must they change but they must change sincerely and then withhold the possibility that they can ever be sincere, it means that they have no way at all of meeting your demands. You have placed an impossible burden.

Not at all, but you are saying that it doesn’t matter if they are sincere or not and I can’t accept that.  Of course it matters if they are sincere, because it means you can trust the alleged change to be more than an external PR move.  Since when does honesty and sincerity not factor heavily, particularly in an organization which proclaims to be a ministry?

Alan and Exodus are doing nothing, zero, nada, to take responsibility for their considerable past deceptions.  You can’t lie about something for decades and then simply make a couple of new statements which appear to counter the old ones, and not explain that further — not take responsibility in some fashion for everything up to that point. That, more than any alteration of rhetoric in the present, is where the real change exists. 

And if they are not sincere about this, then they will continue to allow member ministries to practice the same deception they always have and do it under the Exodus banner.  Not only is their sincerity important, it’s really all that matters here. 

You keep accusing me of moving the goal posts, of making it impossible for them to satisfy our burden.  I have to ask, why are you so eager to absolve them when they have done so very little?  You appear to be grasping at straws to explain this as anything but what the facts make it out to be — a stunt to change their fortunes. I really don’t think I am the one who has changed my expectations.

Timothy Kincaid
April 2nd, 2012 | LINK

David,

I think on this one we are stuck in disagreement. Let’s both be concerned that you might be right but both hopeful that I might be right.

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