Exodus International, a prominent Christian ministry that has served to counsel homosexuals for nearly four decades, is closing its doors following the issuance of a public apology from its president.
“Exodus International [has been] the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom,” President Alan Chambers, former pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, said in a news release announcing the closing. “God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”
“For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor Biblical,” he stated. “Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism.”
Chambers, a former homosexual who is now married, was scheduled to issue an apology on the Oprah Winfrey Network this week, but also released a statement on the organization’s website the day before. He said that while he still believes in Biblical marriage and that sex outside of marriage is sinful, he feels that the approach of his ministry has hurt homosexuals.
“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the church’s treatment of the LGBT community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” he wrote. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”
Chambers also shared his personal apology to those involved in the homosexual lifestyle.
“I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know,” he said. “I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart.”
In his statement, Chambers noted that his focus is on the grace of God, rather than the law of God.
“My wife Leslie and my beliefs center around grace, the finished work of Christ on the cross and his offer of eternal relationship to any and all that believe,” he outlined. “Our beliefs do not center on ‘sin’ because ‘sin’ isn’t at the center of our faith. Our journey hasn’t been about denying the power of Christ to do anything – obviously he is God and can do anything.”
Following the announcement, a number of Christian groups expressed their disappointment with Chambers’ decision and statement, which they found to be “confusing.”
“While Alan Chambers is right when he insists that our beliefs do not center on ‘sin’ because ‘sin’ isn’t at the center of our faith, he seems to have lost sight of the fact that Christ came to save us from our sin,” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press. “Thus, sin is inseparable from our story of salvation in Christ.”
He said that it is for the best that Exodus International closes its doors.
“[I]t is far better for the ministry to disband than to misrepresent the Christian community and the Gospel,” Mohler stated. “The greatest tragedy is that persons experiencing same-sex attractions or involved in same-sex sexuality will be further confused by the capitulation of Exodus International.”
Peter Sprigg of Family Research Council agreed.
“The closing of Exodus International is probably for the best, since it had already ceased to perform its original function of offering hope for changing one’s sexual orientation,” he wrote in a statement. “The ex-gay movement has nothing to apologize for. The message that ‘change is possible’ is a modest one. It does not mean that change is easy… But to apologize for saying ‘change is possible’ is to deny both human freedom and the transforming power of the Gospel of Christ.”
“Frankly, the demise of Exodus International comes as no surprise. Over the last few years, Exodus has embraced revisionist theology and cheap grace, effectively becoming a saboteur of its original Christian mission and the Christian ex-gay movement at large. As a result, many in the Christian pro-family movement view the group’s closure as an overall positive development,” said Alex Mason of HopeForHomosexuals.com. “With sad irony, Exodus International has chosen to reject its namesake and return to Egypt, where slavery and bondage to unrighteousness is thought to be better than the hard but redemptive work of repentance and faith.”
Chambers states that he will be launching a new effort, which will seek to “reduce fear, and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”