A Brief Note on Exodus

AlanChambers

 

 

I was sitting at Starbucks, looking through my twitter feed when I saw that Alan Chambers announced that Exodus International was closing its doors. I held myself together as tightly as I could and then, slipped out into the night, tears and exhales and everything.

 

I remembered my first meeting. It was raining and the counselor’s house dimly lit. We sat on opposing couches and he opened a booklet, set it on the ottoman between us and turned it toward me.

 

“I need you to read this,” he pointed his finger to the start of the paragraph. “Out loud. It’s a pledge.”

 

With a sudden shiver in my spine, I croaked out something similar to this.

 

“I reject the world’s claim that God made me Gay. God does not make people gay. I accept that my sexuality is a result of my fallenness. I will not accept my sexuality. I reclaim that I am not gay. I am a follower of Christ.”

 

I closed the book and looked up.

 

“How do you feel about that?” He said.

 

I lied.

 

“Good. Its all the truth.” I said.

 

I never returned.

 

If any of you remember this post going up on Rachel Held Evans blog- that was a result of Exodus International. That was when they told my dad that he made me gay.

 

I have had to go through a lot of therapy to overcome the spiritual abusive practices and materials of Exodus International. The confusion, the shame they instill in you can be so deep that it can take months to even begin parsing out fact from fiction.

 

And now they’re closing their doors. And I am happy. It is a clearing of the space for the kingdom to come flourishing forth.

 

But the hard part now, for all of us affected by Exodus, is learning to forgive.

 

When I read Chamber’s apology, prior to the announcement, I sort of smirked. I thought, are you being serious? Do you think a Press Release apology can make up for all the blood on your hands? For all those who spent years in your treatment and then, put a bullet in their head or jumped off a bridge or hung themselves? For those that never really recovered at all? For those entering marriages to try to make themselves straight?

 

I sit in this place of joy that its over and anger because it still feels like its not enough.

I’m working on it. We all need to work on it. I will take my time as I am sure you will take yours.

 

I am skipping and startled by happiness.

I am dragging my feet toward forgiveness.

I am getting there.

One slow nod after another.

 

RR

  • I’ve said once before that the end of ex-gay ministries would significantly mark the beginning of the social change that is going to happen — the acceptance of queer people. One key is part in this is how the queer population and their allies are now hold the knife in their hand. Exodus — or at least Alan Chambers and those who would say the same — have put their hearts on a pedestal; fully exposed and beating.

    We could choose to run them through with that knife. If we wanted, we could dig it in deep and twist it. It’s worth being aware we have that ability right now.

    “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

    We want to see Christ.

    You’ll get there, RR. God is faithful.

    • Hi Michael
      Gosh, I hope you’re right. Unfortunately, this is not the end of ex-gay ministries. NARTH and pals abandoned Exodus when Alan Chambers rejected reparative therapy and other SOCE. They have started a new group called the Restored Hope Network. I think the social climate is far less fertile for them, and I hope they will not grow to the same level of influence Exodus has had. But still my heart breaks for those Christians who are gay that will make that damaging journey only to find our that the gay doesn’t go away.
      Ford

    • I also meant to add the most important part, I wholeheartedly agree with you that our Christian responsibility is to help our LGBT tribe seek love and compassion and not revenge on conservative Christians. That’s already put me in significant conflict with others, but it’s important. I stand firmly beside you in that effort!
      Thanks for that awesome thought.
      Ford.

    • registeredrunaway

      You put that perfectly Michael, thank you. I’ve found myself in that place where I am bitter, but that feels unfair to say. Its weird, its like now that they’ve shut down, my power to rail against them has been taken from me. There is, still a lot of healing to go, and not just for me. For those that took their lives as a result.

      I read somewhere, an affirming priest, years before his time, cautioned the gay community to “not do unto those what has been done to you.” Its a difficult but powerful thought.

  • Nicely said, RR.
    That pledge, in and of itself, heaping shame on the vulnerable, is emotionally and spiritually abusive. I have really mixed emotions about Alan Chambers – but I think he’s sincerely trying to atone for the harm in whatever way he knows how.
    Best
    Ford.

    • registeredrunaway

      I agree, without knowing him its complicated to forgive. But I can try, even if its through gritted teeth, to give him the benefit of the doubt with how large this announcement was. I don’t have Oprah’s TV channel (LOL), but it will be interesting to see how that conversation goes.

  • Beautiful. Thanks for the honesty and authenticity. Love the idea of “dragging my feet toward forgiveness.” Yes. Is there any other way to get there?

    • registeredrunaway

      It’s the work of a lifetime. And it sounds cliche… but if Jesus did it for me, for PAUL (who would stone to Christians to death) than I think I can, eventually, do it for Chambers and the rest of Exodus. Reconciliation is the most beautiful thread of our faith.

  • “They are closing their doors and I am happy.”

    Me too, friend!

    Last summer, after studying the subject of reparative drive therapy (RDT) — and having read Justin Lee’s excellent book “Torn” — I approached my parents and apologized profusely for insinuating that they were instrumental causes to me being gay. When the words came out of my mouth I was so humiliated. I told them that I reject RDT, that I think it’s a bunch of bunk that has caused God knows how many people emotional, psychological and spiritual damage (to say nothing of those who took their own lives), and that the majority of those who claim sexual orientation change are either living a lie and/or living with “wishful thinking.” I stopped talking to hear their reply.

    My dad started first. He acknowledged that I was not to blame, that I had no idea what I was talking about, that I had brought home these ideas (RDT) from my therapist, and I didn’t know any better. He admitted that he was very hurt by the theory, because he and mom had always raised me and my heterosexual brother with the same immense love, care, and concern. He also noted that, while he and I didn’t share a lot of things in common while I was growing up, neither did he and my heterosexual brother. Why wasn’t my brother gay? RDT is a farce.

    My mom was ticked off — not at me, but at my therapist!!! hahaha I pray the Lord will, by His Spirit, apply much healing to all who have been and are still being abused by these gratuitous methods. (Yet we can do nothing for those who took their own lives as a result. Utterly tragic.)

    • registeredrunaway

      Isn’t that the hardest part William? What they did to our parents? After we read through the deficient-dad theory I had yet to see such pain and heartbreak in someone I love. It was tragic and terrible, and I am still a long way from forgiving them for that. That will be the hardest part for me.

      • And if you knew my dad — knew how difficult of a life he has had, with his “distant” and unemotional father, and a mother who gave him over to his grandmother, and how difficult it is for my dad to express his emotions — you’d better understand just how deep was the cut that the reparative crap caused. I get angry when I think of it. I’ll let it go. If I’m to walk down the path to forgiveness — “dragging my feet toward forgiveness,” as you stated — then I had best not keep rehearsing the pain.

        . . . forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us . . .

  • Those last few sentences just break my heart. In a good way. We are all dragging our feet toward forgiveness and He is meeting us there. Blessings to you.

    • registeredrunaway

      Thanks Bethany 🙂 forgiveness is a journey.

  • I never read your initial post about your Dad…that must have been before I started reading you. WOW. What an amazing story you have. So very grateful for your voice, friend. There are a whole spectrum of opinions out there today: accepting the apology at face value, calling him deceived & backslidden, saying the apology is a good start but not enough, saying that it is all a scheme to “repackage” their LGBTQ-shaming theology, and everything in between. Your honest record of your own personal journey brings a level of humanity to all these opinions and talking points which is SO DESPERATELY NEEDED. Thank you once again for your words and continued openness.

  • Wow… I love your writing, you always write with so much honesty and emotion and it puts a real face on these things which are just treated as “issues” too often.

  • Well put Michael. However, I’m afraid we are going to see many people do what you describe: that is, “run them through with that knife.” On the other hand, some people have been more damaged then others through this organization, and many need that time to express that anger and to be skeptical. It’s hard to sort that all out. I love how you ended with “be the change you want to see,” because really that’s all we can control–our own reaction and our own movement toward healing and forgiveness. Just like we can’t force others’ timeline with coming out, we can’t force others’ timeline with forgiveness either.

  • Oh blast. I commented in the wrong place…see my comment way below for a reply to Michael’s initial comment.

  • Pingback: Exodus: My Thoughts | Eleison()

  • KatR

    Are they really closing their doors, though? Chambers new organization sounds like a kinder, gentler type of gay bashing.