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BREAKING: Exodus International is Shutting Down

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2013

Announced moments ago:

Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced tonight that it’s closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry. The Board of Directors reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture.

“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, Board member of Exodus. The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing (www.exodusinternational.org/apology) to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

Chambers continued: “From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”

For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”

Comments

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Neil
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Exodus combined anachronistic psychotherapy with faith healing, suggesting a lack of confidence in the former and doubt in the latter.

They were always on a hiding to nothing. And here they are, non-existent.

Marcus
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Ditto Raybob. I checked to see whether it was an April Fool’s post gone astray. Wow.

Hunter
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

The upside is that Exodus is closing down, and that Chambers has the balls to apologize for the damage he and the organization have done.

On the other hand, I’m going to reserve judgment until I see the shape of this “new ministry.”

Stephen
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Me too, Hunter. Speaking only for myself I am not some prodigal, not mired in sin, and don’t suffer from SSAs, I am a reasonably happy, reasonably fulfilled gay man in a very long and enduring marriage who would be happier if he had to listen to less yap from self-appointed prophets and for-profit arbiters of other people’s morals.

bill johnson
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

In many ways this is the logical conclusion of the path of change they have been going down but it’s still more then I was expecting. This is a big milestone for everyone who has worked to shed light on the harms caused by SOCE, so congratulations and a big thanks to everyone who helped make this change a reality.

Richard Rush
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Quick – get a front row seat. The specious spin from the shrinking pool of hardcore holy homophobes will be something to behold.

JohnAGJ
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Wow. I’m just stunned. It’s a logical step given their recent history, but still.

Will
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

I agree with Hunter. I’m a bit nervous about any sort of restart. But shutting down was just the right thing to do. Ex-gay anything is a farce, and reparative drive theory, IMO, is embarrassing and harmful.

Ben C
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.

That simple statement in his “apology” makes me think that Chambers still has not come to terms with the pain and suffering the organization that he led has caused so many people.

Until Chambers realizes and states straight out that the organization he led has done absolutely nothing that could be even remotely considered “good” his self proclaimed apology rings very hollow when I read it.

Ben C.

revchicoucc
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Chambers gave an interview to The Atlantic Monthly website that is worth reading.

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/06/lets-do-something-different-the-end-of-the-worlds-leading-ex-gay-ministry/277039/

iDavid
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

@ revchicoucc: Very good interview. It seems the “brain fry” Alan eludes to is a positive. It means he is recalibrating.

Alan is only half way out of the closet of denial, and the other 50% will be tossed out when he relegates his issues with gay sex to the dustbin of other antiquated deadly rules no longer adhered to in the form of Biblical religious violence.

His clobbering of gay people’s natural sexual expression is only a mirror reflection of how he clobbers himself daily for being gay with natural desires for gay sex. He is still a very scared little boy still seeking redemption for a thing never needing redeeming.

This if ever, will be his next step to resolve. Then and only then we will finally see the truly honest Alan Chambers.

revchicoucc
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

@iDavid. Whether or not he remains married to his wife and presents himself as a heterosexual, at least as far as his behavior is concerned, is entirely up to him. In the interview, he emphasizes the decision to close Exodus Int is driven not by his personal life, but by a change in his understanding of how Evangelical Christians should relate to homosexual persons.

One of the changes I see is that he no longer thinks all persons must do as he has done. Evangelical Christians tend to insist that all persons must have the same experience with God as they have. Thus, in order to be a “true Christian,” a person must also be heterosexual. Mr. Chambers is going against that tendency and rejecting that theology.

KZ
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

I keep wondering how successful Restore Hope Network will be with the likes of Andrew Comiskey, Robert Gagnon, Anne Paulk and Joe Dallas. All that venom and hate wrapped in the ‘love of Christ.’ RHN may be cheering the closing of Exodus, but I think this is just a foreshadowing of what’s to come.

JohnAGJ
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

I watched the video wherein he apologized and talked about closing Exodus. It seemed genuine and heartfelt to me. I’m still angry over the years of abuse by them against gays but this is a good first step. I don’t need his approval, just that he actually live the Gospel with real love and not the crap he was dishing out for years. I think it was StraightGrandma who said this somewhere (I forget where I’ve been surfing around) but I like her suggestion that he join the Gay Christian Network, Side B if he likes. I fail to see what this new Reduce Fear group can do that will be effective. Chambers has a long road to go but I applaud him for this and wish him well on that journey. We shall see how he fares.

JohnAGJ
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

@BenC – I understand the anger, believe me I do, but I can’t agree with you here. None of us knows everything that Exodus has done, for good or ill over the years. We know a lot of the harm they caused but not all of it, nor do we know what good acts they did – even if its something we don’t agree entirely with. I don’t view Side B Christians as my enemy but I did Exodus. They seem to realize the harm they did, to some extent, and are apparently becoming more like Side B’ers. I’m ok with that even though I don’t agree with their beliefs on the matter.

Joseph
June 25th, 2013 | LINK

Exodus International was terrific for me…I am not a man that experienced transformation into a heterosexual life, but I loved the time I spent at my local meetings. It is sad that many had such a negative experience. I look at Exodus International differently than most. Exodus was for those that were Christian, had same sex desires, saw that as sin for their life and wanted Christian support as they found their way in life. I have 5-6 friends that just never wanted a gay life and are now happily married to the opposite gender and some even have kids. Some Christian’s just can’t see themselves living gay. Exodus helped many of those people. =)

Cass
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph: “…and are now happily married to the opposite gender and some even have kids”

Happily married like John Paulk, right?

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Cass….years ago I met the Paulks…really nice people for sure and the pressure for them to “make it” in marriage was overwhelming. Getting back to my friends that are married….they are not the Paulk’s at all. Nobody knows who they are, no pressure at all on them. They were just Christian people that were attracted to the same sex that just could not see living their life in a gay relationship. Our Exodus meeting was super supportive and loving and over time they chose to stay away from gay sex and work towards a traditional marriage. I have 5-10 friends who did make it and they are really happy. Some have completely lost gay attractions and others acknowledge they think about it from time to time. Most of these marriages happen in the 35-45 age range. I think that as gay people that we believe in diversity, and I think we have to acknowledge that there are occurrences where the ex gay ministry/therapy has been helpful :-)

Cass
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph

Because of “nice people” like the Paulks, other people(like your friends) “just could not see living their life in a gay relationship.” It is nothing more than sexual stigma. But I know, that people always think, that it is their free will not pressure from society. In Iran some gay men become transsexual women and they think that it is great, because homosexuality is sick and disgusting, but being a woman is not. Sorry, by your logic, sex reassignment operation is solution, good solution, because gay men WANT operation. I think, question is: WHY american gay men want to live in heterosexual relationship/change orientation and WHY gay men in Iran seek sex reassignment operation? And why prevent Iranian gay men to become pseudo-transsexual women? They claim that they are more happy as health pseudo-transsexual women than sick depraved gay men. So why?

P.S.
Transsexual women are real women, “pseudo” applies only to gay men(man between legs, man between ears).

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Well…..I think that my sharing on this subject was to share my experience and to say that I have very happy ex-gay friends that are married with children and living their dream. I guess that you will just have to take my word that what I am saying is true. I have admitted that my Exodus Experience did not transform me sexually. I have been gay as far back as I can remember.

Your “sexual stigma” comment of course is valid, but in my eyes does not supersede what my married ex-gay friends really wanted in life. If the stigma highly affected them, then it did, all I know is that traditional marriage is what they really wanted. They spoke about it from the first day that I met them.

Sexual reassignment is another subject, and I really do not have an opinion on why people decide to change genders and if it is good or bad. It seems like a very drastic step to make a change like that, yet a high percentage of people that make that change seem to be so relieved and happy. I really think that you have to leave that decision in the hands of those that want to make that kind of change and not look at the influence of others like the Paulks.

I live life with the mantra that people need to be responsible for themselves and their actions. With that responsibility comes the liberty to live as you want to live. I know it is simple, but it is what I believe.

Its a big day for gay people and the Supreme Court….a lot of the community will be dancing in the streets. We should all celebrate…maybe you will be dancing in the streets too…. =)

Priya Lynn
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph said “Well…..I think that my sharing on this subject was to share my experience and to say that I have very happy ex-gay friends that are married with children and living their dream. I guess that you will just have to take my word that what I am saying is true.”.

Why would we take your word for it that what you’re saying is true when one “exgay” after another has been exposed as a liar?

Joseph said “I live life with the mantra that people need to be responsible for themselves and their actions. With that responsibility comes the liberty to live as you want to live.”.

If these “exgays” had the liberty to live as they wanted to live no one would have ever told them they’d burn in hell for having a gay relationship, that a god disapproves of that, or that they are in any way wrong, immoral, or lesser for living in a romantic same sex relationship.

These “exgays” you refer to were never given the liberty to live as they want to, they were coerced into thinking they should live as heterosexuals. These “exgays” you refer to live in bondage, not liberty.

Timothy Kincaid
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph,

Your testimony is your own. You cannot force others to believe you nor should you much worry about it.

After having followed this phenomenon for many years, I suspect that some of those who have “completely lost gay attractions” are likely lying to themselves and will someday admit that this is not the case.

But, as you said, we each are entitled to find our own sense of happiness and peace, even if others think that our choices do not fit with their worldview or that we really truly don’t want what we pursue. The decision to strive for a heterosexual relationship is theirs to make based on their own values, beliefs and goals. I wouldn’t make that choice, but it’s not mine to make for them.

Richard Rush
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph, I wonder what portion of the “happiness” claimed by your op-gender-married “ex”-gay friends is derived from their actual marriages/children, vs. derived from living in conformity with the mores of their families, friends, and community. Lots of people don’t have the courage to be non-conformists – until the culture becomes more accepting and/or they reach the breaking point later in life. One of the biggest surprises of my life has been the number of guys I’ve seen walk away from op-gender marriages much later in life to finally allow themselves to be gay. And then there are those who remain in their marriages while secretly having homo-sex on the side.

Do all of your friends’ spouses know the true sexual orientation of their mates? If not, that is shameful. It is a fact that homosexuals have been deceiving potential spouses into marriage for eons in order to survive in a hostile world. One of the best reasons that full acceptance/equality of gays is good for all people is that this practice will end.

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Priya….your comments are well founded. The people that I know grew up in the Christian church that many of us do not like at all. And you are right that there was negative influences like burning in hell, being in sin, etc. Your argument to me seems to be with the Christian Church and I totally see your point. But…my friends were influenced by the church for sure and they like it. Maybe if they were not churched at a young age, they would be different, but they were raised in the church and they are who they are in life. For them….their marriage to an opposite gender person is the best for them. When I speak to them today, they are very happy….so I say good for them.

Timothy….thanks for your perspective and I pretty much agree with your thoughts. I will be interested in seeing how my friends do as time goes on….I have a buddy Richard and he is in his 14th year of marriage and when we last spoke he was doing great. I asked him directly about his attractions to men, and for him it was something that has gone away completely many years ago. He has no reason to lie to me. For sure it is not the same story with other friends that are married as some still have some gay thoughts, but they all seem to be very happy and recommend that I marry a woman too…..of course I laugh at them.

Richard…..all of my friend’s spouses know that they have or had same sex attractions. In our group we pretty much said that if you were going to marry an opposite sex partner that you pretty much had to tell them about your same sex attractions. It was the fair an equitable thing to do. I too have seen a lot of straight marriages end when the man finally accepts his gay self or vice versa. I personally have met numerous married guys that want something on the side with me. I do not think that is not good and I tell them that I do not agree with their choices. I think your observations are accurate and maybe in the future this practice of people with same sex attractions getting married to the opposite sex will end.

Again…..my intent was to inform you of my experience. Not one person has to like or agree with what I am reporting, but in a community that is as varied/diverse and inclusive as our community, I think that we can at least be open to the fact that there are many that are happy with their life as a result of Exodus. It is obvious that many were devastated by Exodus as well, but every Exodus referral group was its own group under the Exodus umbrella. Some gatherings were horrible I am sure. I was part of a very loving one. The group could be as small as 6-7 members or as big as 40. It was affirming, very Christian, and a successful place to fellowship and feel a part of a supportive group. There are those that have left the group and are living in a gay relationship now, but they speak well of the group where they attended. I just think that we have to be open to other people’s happiness. I am personally not into gay bondage and role play, but I have other gay friends that are really happy in that lifestyle and so while it is not good for me, it is good for them and I support their choices. Let’s tell the truth about the horrors of Exodus….but be informed that many individuals that were happy too.

Priya Lynn
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph said “Maybe if they were not churched at a young age, they would be different, but they were raised in the church and they are who they are in life. For them….their marriage to an opposite gender person is the best for them.”.

That’s highly unlikely. The American Psychiatric Association says research shows gays and lesbians who positively accept their sexual orientation are happier and better adjusted than those who do not. “Reparative” “Therapy” teaches gay people from the outset to lie and say they were never gay, that there is no such thing as being gay and part of “succeeding” is denying the reality of ones sexual orientation so there is no credibility in the claims of your friends.

Joseph said “I think that we can at least be open to the fact that there are many that are happy with their life as a result of Exodus.”.

Its not a fact, its a lie. Participants in these sexual orientation change efforts have it drilled into them that there is no such thing as a gay sexual orientation and that part of becoming “exgay” is to deny that one is, or ever was, same sex oriented. Further many, if not most or all of these participants are deeply religious and many feel it is a sin to allow people to believe they can’t change their orientation in order to come to Jesus.

The point is that there is great incentive for people like your friends to lie about having changed and being happy, but there is no incentive for them to tell the truth that they haven’t changed and live a life of high stress trying to suppress that which comes naturally to them.

Priya Lynn
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Once again, these “exgays” you refer to were never given the liberty to live as they want to, they were coerced into thinking they should live as heterosexuals. These “exgays” you refer to live in bondage, not liberty.

Timothy Kincaid
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Priya,

Is it possible that people who disagree with you do so out of their own reasoning and experience? Or is it only possible that they were coerced into thinking other than how you think?

Priya Lynn
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy, it is not possible that such people’s “reasoning” and experience did not include threats of eternal torture, shaming, oppression, and promises of rewards in both this and the after life for suppressing their sexual orientation and trying to be heterosexual.

I am certain that it would be extremely, extremely, extremely rare, virtually unheard of for a gay or lesbian to “choose” to try to be a heterosexual absent any societal disaproval of gayness.

The only way it could be true that anyone freely chose this path would be if there was absolutely no disaproval of gayness, if gayness and heterosexality were ALWAYS portrayed as equally valued and desirable outcomes.

So, no, for all practical intents and purposes it is absolutely impossible anyone “chooses” to be exgay without coercion, of their own free will.

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

WOW…..I had no idea that my Exodus comments would cause such strong feelings. Sorry that it causes so much of a stir…I just wanted to let you know of my life and that Exodus was a great personal experience for me. I was not transformed into a heterosexual, but my time there was very positive and I still have friends from that era of my life.

Just for the record…we never spoke of hell, damnation, eternal torture, or rewards in the afterlife. The Christian church speaks about those issues but our meetings were set up as only an emotional support group for Christian people looking for change versus living gay. They simply wanted support in their own personal journey. I think that was why we were successful. We only offered information, support, prayer and accountability if they wanted it. If they did not want to attend, they simply moved on to something else. I am not sure what your reference point is but from your words it sounds like you either had a horrible personal experience, or had someone close to you have a horrible experience. That simply was not the case for me.

Regarding reparative therapy….only 3 people I knew from the group chose to pursue this avenue of help. We did not offer that at the ministry. All three people were men that had severe childhood hurts that they had to figure out that were not related to being gay. Over time they were able to learn what they needed to learn, and were able to move forward as adults. It just so happens that all 3 are now married and happy. I know of others from other ministries that did reparative therapy, and they are happily gay today. I think we are all different and what is good for one person does not necessarily work for another. I am for what works !! =)

Priya Lynn
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph, I don’t trust that anything you say is the truth.

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

WOW…..I do not know what to say….it is my story and was a big part of my life.

I am not here to convince you….thanks for your words and thoughts.

Priya Lynn
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph, you need to accept that when you have offensive beliefs and goals you can’t con everyone into being your friend.

Timothy Kincaid
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph,

Please forgive us if you get the impression that we are inhospitable.

Just as you are welcome to your views and your experiences, so too are those whose opinions differ.

I think much of what you have to say is a bit unlikely – especially the absurd claim that the three people you know who entered reparative therapy are all now happily married. That simply is not true. I’ve read the studies in detail, including those which seek to defend that practice, and your claim is statistically impossible.

I’ll not call you a liar. But perhaps you are either recalling things incorrectly or you have been astonishingly gullible.

Nevertheless, you may state your claim.

And Priya Lynn, please tone down the accusations. You can make your point without that sort of language.

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Sorry…its just commenting on an article and I was just sharing my experience. I am not trying to be offensive to anyone and not trying to make friends…just conversing. I am open to what anyone has to share even if it is not favorable towards me.

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks for your words Timothy….

What I have shared with you is true because I lived it. With all respect, I did not read stats in a book…I lived it. The last wedding that I attended was in February…a Taiwan guy. I have no idea about the future, but for now the married ex-gay guys are very happy. I think that you and I know that could end tomorrow for them. It is very possible and if it does I will be there for them.

I think that it is important to keep in mind that many of the people that I speak of are very serious about their Christianity. I am more relaxed about Christianity, but I think that their very strong Christian perspective is a difference maker for them. I have never read about anyone that was successful in reparative therapy without a Christian perspective. I agree with you that R/P nearly always fails, but sometimes it does not….only time will tell when it comes to my friends.

Cass
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

Joseph, you repeated words “happy, very happy, happy married ex-gays, marry, hapilly married and support” like twenty times in five comments. You act like motivational speaker brainwashing people or something like that.

Joseph
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

I really did not want to cause a stir…..so if everyone is comfortable with ending the discussion, I can be too…

Richard Rush
June 26th, 2013 | LINK

I think a lot of this conversation from Joseph’s side hinges on what the definition of “happily married” is. Is it happiness due to being truly in love with a wife, and having a sexually fulfilling relationship? Is it happiness due to finding a woman willing to marry a homosexual so that he can present the illusion of heterosexuality to family, friends, and the community? Or is it happiness due to having it all – that is, a wife to create the illusion, plus homo-sex on the side?

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