Several ministries have reportedly broken ties with Exodus International, a prominent ‘ex-gay’ group, after its leader has repeatedly said that in the vast majority of cases a “cure” simply isn’t possible.
In a phone interview Thursday from Orlando, Fla., where Exodus has its headquarters, Mr. [Alan] Chambers amplified on the views that have stirred so much controversy. He said that virtually every “ex-gay” he has ever met still harbors homosexual cravings, himself included. Mr. Chambers, who left the gay life to marry and have two children, said that gay Christians like himself faced a lifelong spiritual struggle to avoid sin and should not be afraid to admit it.
He said Exodus could no longer condone reparative therapy, which blames homosexuality on emotional scars in childhood and claims to reshape the psyche. And in a theological departure that has caused the sharpest reaction from conservative pastors, Mr. Chambers said he believed that those who persist in homosexual behavior could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven.
Only a few years ago, Mr. Chambers was featured in advertisements along with his wife, Leslie, saying, “Change is possible.” But now, he said in the interview, “Exodus needs to move beyond that slogan.”
Chambers goes on to say that any sex outside of marriage is “sinful,” but adds that Exodus has been asking people with “same-sex attractions,” not by the way an actual pathology but a term that is standard among change-effort groups, to adhere to a standard it hasn’t asked of others, and that isn’t fair. In so doing he compares being gay to “heterosexual lust, pornography, pride or gluttony,” but stays clear of some of the more offensive comparisons that other ex-gay group leaders have used.
Chambers has said that he believes celibacy may be appropriate for many gay people wanting to leave homosexuality behind, saying not everyone will be as successful as he has been at renouncing his “gay life.” He has in the past called ex-gay therapy potentially harmful and ineffective.
What exactly prompted this change from Chambers is unknown, but it is rumored that as many as 11 ministries have broken ties with Exodus, while many in the ex-gay industry have fiercely criticized Chambers for his vocal opposition to the “gay cure” meme.
This comes after reparative therapy enthusiasts suffered a severe blow earlier this year when researcher Doctor Robert Spitzer renounced his 2001 study, the only known mainstream work that ex-gay groups cited in support of their arguments that change was possible. While once Spitzer had defended the study, he made it clear this year that the study was inherently flawed because it relied on participants to self-report their attractions, and that it did little to track if the subjects could maintain their reported change of sexual orientation.