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Alan Chambers Describes What Happened To Exodus

Jim Burroway

August 27th, 2013

Alan Chambers sat down with RELEVANT Magazine’s Eddie Kaufholz to talk about where Exodus went wrong. I think there are some very important nuggets here, particularly where he describes Exodus’s embrace of the “change is possible” message as being the only one that was acceptable to the church:

But it was the thing we found the most support in from the church. We’re a group of people who were ostracized and marginalized, mostly people from the church, who were looking for who were looking for support and affirmation and encouragement. And the support and the affirmation and the encouragement and the promotion that we got from the church was, “Change is possible. You run with that message and we’ll support you.”

It’s neat and it’s tidy so we ran with it. That’s not to say it wasn’t true in our lives. But the reason it didn’t work is because they promoted my story as the story. We promoted marriage and heterosexuality and “wholeness” and “change,” ambiguously, as the message of Exodus and the message of Jesus for gay people.

Here’s the full transcript:

Kaufholz: So what is Exodus now?

Chambers: Well, Exodus is no more.

Kaufholz: But what was it, because this was pretty transformative. It was no more as of recent… I mean, you’re not a completely different man than you were two or three years ago. It takes a while for this worldview to take shape. What was Exodus doing in this whole part of the equation?

Chambers: Well, you know I think Exodus… The difficulty with Exodus is Exodus is thirty-seven year old… was thirty-seven years old. There are thousands and thousands of people who claim to be a part of the ministry of Exodus. We have hundreds of ministries all across the globe, hundreds and thousands of leaders who are a part of these ministries all saying similar things when it comes to the changes that have occurred in our life and the pursuit that we’re on in relationship to sexual purity and holiness in regard to our sexual lives. And yet, what we believe about God and what we believe about salvation and all of these things are very, very different, being expressed very differently.

And I don’t know how it survived for thirty-seven years without the controversy that we find ourselves in today, other than to say I’m not an easy-going leader. I’m not one who shrinks back from a controversy. I’m not one who just kind of pretends I believe something or can be diplomatic long enough to keep the peace in that regard. And there were little fires — that we put out, trying to keep the peace, trying to keep Exodus together. And yet it just became something within the last eighteen months that we could no longer keep together. And I was unwilling to keep together. … I couldn’t pretend I believe what I don’t believe.

And I felt like if I was going to die preaching a message, it was going to be the message of grace, not the message of “change is possible.” Not the message of “look at my life and how wonderful it is.” Because I’m looking around going not everybody’s life looks like mine.

And yet, they have an opportunity to know Jesus. And I’m not going to risk people running without Jesus away from the church, never to return. And I’m not going to risk people running from Jesus, even if they have Jesus, to leave their faith or be miserable or kill themselves for the message that we were sharing that they were confused about.

Kaufholz: It strike me how that message worked for you. I mean it feels like God was moving you towards Leslie before you guys were even close to knowing each other, like there was this movement toward each other. But for some people, as you said, it was incredibly damaging. The conversion therapy, the… and I know that Exodus is a private entity in different areas and there was a spectrum of intensity to how people would engage with Exodus. But generally the message was, you can change, you are not right as you are. For you, that seemed to work. Why did it work for you and why does it not work for other people?

Chambers: I wouldn’t say Exodus worked for me in that regard. I think Exodus helped me, and I think Exodus was a community and a place the church should have been, for me. But I think it didn’t work for a lot of people because the message we ran with was really not the main message of the Gospel, the main message of who God is and what he wants for all of us. The main message of Exodus was one that really was, by default, taken on because the church wasn’t doing what the church was called to do. It became really a counterfeit message, really, of the church, or a detour from the main message to what I think the church is.

But it was the thing we found the most support in from the church. We’re a group of people who were ostracized and marginalized, mostly people from the church, who were looking for who were looking for support and affirmation and encouragement. And the support and the affirmation and the encouragement and the promotion that we got from the church was, “Change is possible. You run with that message and we’ll support you.”

It’s neat and it’s tidy so we ran with it. That’s not to say it wasn’t true in our lives. But the reason it didn’t work is because they promoted my story as the story. We promoted marriage and heterosexuality and “wholeness” and “change,” ambiguously, as the message of Exodus and the message of Jesus for gay people.

And I think the reason it didn’t work is because that’s not the message of Jesus for gay people. The message of Jesus for gay people is the same as the message for straight people and anyone else, and that is I can have a relationship with anyone. Jesus died for all of us or he died for none of us.

And you don’t give your heart to Jesus thinking that it’s going to be all better. “Those who are in Christ are a new creation” — That doesn’t mean you’re never going to have a struggle again. It doesn’t mean life isn’t going to be hell on earth for you. John 16:33 says it so well: “In this world, you will have trouble.” Why don’t we lead with that verse? Man, this is going to be pure crap at times on planet earth. And yet “in me you can have peace.” In me you can find life. In the midst of your very messy, very difficult, very confusing, painful situation, I am still God, I am still with you, you can have peace and we’ll get through this. I didn’t promise you perfection. In fact, the reason I came is because I knew you couldn’t’ do this on your own.

That’s not the message we led with. We’ve led, in the church and, by default, Exodus, we’ve led with the message of “you can make this look neat and tidy.” Se me? Our life is neat and tidy. All smiles, beautiful marriage, two kids, amazing, incredible world-wide ministry. And all of those things about us are true. And yet, here’s the reality of my story as well: I do have same-sex attractions. It’s not neat and tidy. It’s not troublesome to me. But then, here’s the story of someone else who’s in leadership at Exodus, who says, my story is not as neat and tidy as your story is. My story is a complete mess. And yet, I get up and I serve Jesus.

And there are other people who are outside of Exodus who feel they have to be outside of the church, who say, my story is even messier, and yet I know Jesus. And I say to them, of course you do.

Kaufholz: To someone who is openly gay, in a relationship, assuming it’s a good relationship, just a good, like, they’re in a great relationship with a same-sex partner and they’re a follower of Jesus. What would you hold up them now as the message of hope? What would you say to them? Would you say, keep on keeping on, following Jesus? Would you say, there’s a different path, there’s a different…

Chambers: I don’t think there are different truths for different people. I think there’s one truth. But here’s the thing I know about myself. I don’t know Jesus perfectly. I don’t know the Word perfectly. I don’t follow him perfectly. I don’t speak about him perfectly. My Christian life won’t ever be lived perfectly. It just is what it is. I am doing the very best I can with the truth that I live by. And that is these things are not negotiable for me. This is how I live my life.

The one thing I know is completely non-negotiable, and the thing that we have in common is Jesus is who he says he is. We can all know him, and he will stay in a relationship with us no matter what.

So for the gay Christian who lives contrary to the life that I’ve lived in a way that I find so uncomfortable, and yet they say to me, “I have a relationship with Jesus Christ.” And I say, the thing that is the most important we have in common. Therefore, my encouragement to you is the same as your encouragement to me: continue to follow him.

Comments

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Paul in Canada
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

Has this man ever met a gay Christian? Ugh………

etseq
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

Notice how the interviewer still believes prayer will “heal” homosexuality. These people are barbarians – living in in the middle ages and believing in magic spirits. It makes me sad that will still face this bigotry fueled by ignorance…

As for Alan, he is still talking out of both sides of his mouth. It’s always about him – even in the context of an apology there is a media blitz where he is the focus of attention. He is basically a narcissist and that would be the same if he were straight or gay…

TampaZeke
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

I think all the signs and portents are pointing to the End-Times of Alan’s sexual self-denial followed closely by the Second-Coming…out.

Ben in Oakland
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

Paul, according to certain discredited teens of psychiatry, homosexuality is a narcissistic personality disorder.

Alan chambers is homosexual.

Therefore…….

Steve
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

The moment it went wrong is when they set it up as a “ministry” instead of a normal organization. Their entire motivation and pressure came solely from religious nutbaggery.

Preston
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

” they promoted my story as the story.” Translated means, “So don’t blame me. I am innocent because I was then and am still a spineless worm.” Why is he still talking?

Jols
August 28th, 2013 | LINK

The sadness of religion and brainwashing… All that talk about “Jesus” reeks of despair.

Fucking depressing.

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