Consider This Perspective: Alan Chambers (Part 1)

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Welcome to this week’s installment of “Consider This Perspective.”  This series is off to a good start, introducing us to perspectives from folks all across the board on faith and sexuality.

Previous interviews have been from more progressive Christian thinkers so far, so this week, in an effort to provide some perspective from the more Conservative Christians in our mix, we want to share with you a phone interview with Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International.  Exodus International is a global umbrella organization for over 260 churches, ministries, and counselors offering support and help to those experiencing same-sex attraction.  Alan Chambers has served as President of Exodus International since 2001.

Exodus International has been hotly criticized by many in the LGBT community for their championing of reparative therapy and other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE’s), which Alan here clarifies is not what they embrace or promote any longer and he apologizes for the harm they’ve done.  The anger felt towards Exodus International and Alan Chambers from many in the LGBT community is significant, and rightly so, as he himself admits here.

I want to remind everyone that this series is a forum for all perspectives and that LOVEboldly does not support, endorse, or affirm any one perspective. Instead, we want to provide opportunities for you to hear from perspectives that perhaps you have never considered before.  This is a “food for thought” forum, and we welcome you to share your perspective and comments below in a healthy dialogue through the comments.

Additionally, we are aware that posting a voice which has been representative of so much pain and betrayal in the LGBT community may cause many of you to ask serious questions about where LOVEboldly stands on the issue of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE’s).  We want our readers and members of our community to know that we do not promote SOCE’s because we do not believe they are necessary or usually helpful (see more on that here). Further, we are very concerned and disturbed by the results we most often see from SOCE’s in our friends and fellow believers.  We do, however, support a person’s right to choose to reconcile faith and sexual orientation in the way that seems best to them, while considering carefully all of the possible physical, emotional, and spiritual risks and benefits.  This includes affirming the right of a person to pursue SOCE’s if one chooses to do so.  We encourage folks to make careful and thoughtful decisions about how to honor God, themselves, and others as they navigate tough decisions in their spiritual and sexual lives.  As an organization, LOVEboldly endeavors to be a friend, supporter, and encourager to each person, no matter where they may be in their journey or how they have chosen to reconcile religious beliefs and sexuality.  Many folks have been shamed and harmed through organizations which identify as members and affiliates of Exodus International.  We are sorry that this has been the over-arching witness of the church to the LGBT community.  We have failed.  We want to do better.

All of that being said, I am pleased to introduce you to Alan Chambers.  I hope you enjoy the interview, which I will post in 3 parts over the next 3 days.

In part 1, I asked Alan to share his personal story of reconciling his faith and same-sex attractions, as well as to answer for what he’d like to say to folks who have been violated or betrayed by Exodus’ messages and techniques for attempting/promising to “heal”, “cure”, or “change” sexual orientation.

Keep the comments kind, productive, and helpful – but also feel free to express raw emotion in response to what you hear here.

LOVEboldly.

Comments Policy:

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms. 

Click Here to Listen: Chambers Interview – Part 1

22 thoughts on “Consider This Perspective: Alan Chambers (Part 1)

  1. I am very confused by your rational for promoting this “therapy” by providing this forum for Mr. Chambers. You say that all should consider the emotional and spiritual cost, that you know of negative results of this harmful “therapy”, and yet you think it should be discussed as a viable option. That makes absolutely no sense. It is like interviewing someone who thinks shock therapy is a viable option because it did work for some people. Of course, it only made them so fearful of ever having to do it again that they radically changed who they were. You even say that you are sorry for the pain “reparative therapy” has caused and yet you are promoting it. Please reconsider and remove all information about Exodus, Mr. Chambers, and similar groups from your site.

  2. Lucinda, I am not sure if you listened to either part of the interview that have so far been posted, but Mr. Chambers said quite clearly that he and Exodus have backed away from ‘reparative therapy’ and he even apologized for their previous promotion of it. I suggest that you listen to the interview then comment.

    • A rose by any other name….So they are no longer called it “reparative therapy”, they are still teaching that homosexuality is wrong and that loving someone of the same gender should be avoided like the plague. It is the same ideology packaged a little differently.

      I stand by my earlier comments. Loveboldly claims to be a group that wants to create a safe space for religious LGBT individuals. Interviewing this representative of a group making megabucks providing “therapy” for something that is not an illness and needs no “cure” is reprehensible. Many LGBT Christians are vulnerable due to messages of shame and “hellfire” preached to them for years. They have internalized those messages, they fear they will lose their families, they are seeking help. Exodus and other groups like it, are preying on their vulnerabilities. Loveboldly should protect these vulnerable ones instead of allowing Exodus a forum to, in effect, advertise their damaging
      wares for free.

  3. I am always happy to see dialogue. However the apologies that are appearing in your interview are NOT appearing on the Exodus page. There is no mention that Exodus decieved or misled people for years .. instead in the about section of their webpage they act like this alleged new way of doing business is how they have always done business. No apologies .. no repentence .. and as such .. hardly a model of Christian behavior.

    If Alan feels he has mislead or wronged people in the past then that should yield a very public apology along with the tools and resources to help those that have been harmed by the earlier practices of Exodus. The absence of this is a bright red flag IMHO. For the record such apologies should be appearing on the Exodus website as well as perhaps with interviews or guest posts in well traveled circles such as Beyond Exgay and Exgay watch.

    Perhaps it gets better in the next two interviews (I can’t listen to them now as I am at work).. but, even if it does, the concerns I have expressed in this post still stand.

    God bless,

    Dave

  4. I have a question. Loveboldly claims it wants to provide a forum to present all sides. Are there plans to interview a psychologist who opposes Exodus’ techniques and ideology, or perhaps Michael Bussee who helped create Exodus and now speaks against it?

  5. Thank you Alan! Before listening to interview you put a bad taste in my mouth. I went to a Exodus conference I believe in 2005. I know tons of the leaders and have a lot of respect for them. While I may not agree any longer that “change” is technically possible I do believe your “services” are warranted bc some people are seeking alternatives to the gay lifestyle and you can help provide support for struggling LGBT who wish to search out their faith themselves. I personally have chosen to have a relationship with a wonderful woman. I tend to lend more to nature vs. nurture and honestly see a lot of people who fit that scenario. What is your opinion on this?

  6. You can be sure… survivors of reparative are going to have their voices heard but in no way is Alan Chambers going to be the bridge-builder if he maintains the lie that the LGBTQ community must suppress their natural desires. This smoke screen is just another way of using the power of the LGBTQ community to increase funds and try to take this cult into the next level of deception. The LGBTQ community will not take crumbs from your table, Alan. You can count on this.

    • Gail,
      I think there are many who share your sentiments. Thanks for listening and commenting on something you feel so passionately about. I do want to keep our comments productive, however, so I’m wondering if you would be willing to share what, if anything, you think would be required to right the wrongs. Is it possible for there to be any level of apology which would ring true with you and/or those you love?

  7. In 2013, the issue of sexual orientation shouldn’t even be an issue. I have chosen to no longer associate myself with individuals and/or groups who do not accept me as the person I was created by God to be. Of course, this means I am no longer welcome in any house of Worship, am a target for the vitriolic hate spewed by these same organizations and am viewed as a “militant homosexual” destined for hell.

    The damage done by Mr. Chambers and his kind is beyond repair, and almost beyond forgiveness. Is this reaching out a genuine mea culpa to the LGBT community? Or is Mr. Chambers paving the way for his eventual acceptance of his true self and looking for sympathetic support upon his closet exit?

    • Thanks for joining the conversation John. I think only Alan could answer that, so hopefully he will entertain your questions. I am not certain based on your comment whether you continue to identify with any particular faith, but am curious as to what your thoughts are on forgiveness in general, and whether or not your spiritual beliefs inform that (for instance, if they would point you towards what should or shouldn’t be forgiven, what forgiveness really is, and when/how forgiveness should be extended). Your comment that Alan’s actions is ‘almost’ beyond forgiveness piqued my interest.

      • Thanks for your comment and allowing my post to be placed on the website.

        To answer your question, I still struggle with faith due to the toxic teachings of most churches and most organizations such as Exodus. I have reached the conclusion that I was created in the image of the Divine, therefore I was created as I was intended to be. However, being continually barraged about my “sinful nature” and the fact that my 16 year partnership is considered by most to be my entrance pass to hell, I find that my tolerance level for any level of organized religion to be non existent.

        As for my take on forgiveness: Forgiveness is to be offered when a genuine apology is made and actions taken to ensure that the offense will not occur again.

        The damage done by Exodus International, Alan Chambers and his spiritual brethren is hard to be undone. How do you resurrect the countless people who ended their pain and suffering due to these false teachings? How do you fill the void in the lives of those who lost loved ones? How do you financially compensate those who have spent tens of thousands of dollars in therapy to restore their souls?

        Alan is not alone in this. You have those such as Janet Boynes and DL Foster who continue to perpetuate this myth. When I watched “Pray Away the Gay” on Lisa Ling’s American, I wept for this young man named Christian who is under Janet’s spell. I watched as she stripped him of every trace of his soul and spirit. I wept for Julian, who was told by his church he could no longer participate in summer camp because too many parents thought he was gay.

        Spiritual Abuse has GOT TO STOP! Only then, can the subject of forgiveness be addressed.

  8. In answer to your question Heidi. Yes I have now heard of this even on the Oprah network. I also know the current Exodus Conference includes the lady we talked about on facebook a while back who tried to claim that the terminology confusion we not Exodus’ fault on an Exouds blog post. She also seems to come from an orientation change ministry background.

    IMHO Exodus continuously sends mixed messages. I saw the preview of the Ophra special .. I agree with Michael Bussee .. don’t tweak it just shut it down. I appreciate the personal journey Alan is taking here and I hope it is genuine .. but a continous cloud of doublespeak and fog surrounds Exodus .. I don’t think they will be able to clear all the negative things attached to their organization.

    Dave

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