A Momentous And Grace-Filled Turning Point In The Church

Today is a day that will be remembered in Christian history for decades.

Exodus International, the umbrella group for Christian “ex-gay” ministries, through its president Alan Chambers, has announced that it is disbanding.  That in itself is astonishing; the influence of the Religious Right in the national discussion about gay marriage has resulted in cruel, unscientific, oppressive, and terribly ill-informed name-calling and scapegoating.  It’s entirely possible, of course, to hold to a conservative view that insists that Scripture condemns all homosexual activity.  As I’ve said before, that in and of itself doesn’t make someone a homophobe with whom I’d be unable to enjoy fellowship.  But holding to the traditional position carries with it a particular burden; the conservative exegete has to embrace the entirety of Scripture, including the Gospel insistence that we treat the marginalized with compassion and not bear false witness against others.  That involves holding to their convictions while not participating in, and, indeed, actively condemning, the spewing hatred of the Right.

We see that here in Moscow, where the insufferably pompous Doug Wilson has called for acts of “sodomy” — eventually, he says, when white male Reformed patriarchs finally take over — to be punishable by law.  This is a man who hides behind his keyboard while calling homosexual men not just “sodomites,” which in itself is in error (Ezekiel 16:49), but also catamites and poofters — but is too cowardly to say so to a gay male debate partner onstage with him, even in front of hundreds of his toadie fans.  He defends, on Biblical grounds, jokes about gays, and he mocks those of us who embrace our LGBT friends.  His mockery of me is an indication that I’m on solid ground, spiritually and otherwise, but his vituperative vomit stains the witness of the Gospel on the Palouse — and is almost completely unchallenged.

But this persistent challenger dismisses Wilson, et al, as a crank and a posturer and prays that he repents of his bigotry.  And when I, the persistent challenger who waits for the brave, male, ordained and “terribly concerned” Evangelical pastors of Moscow to awaken from their slumber and straighten their feeble arms, read this, I wept with profound joy.  May God bless Chambers, his family, and all who have been harmed by ex-gay, reparative therapy.  Here is his apology.  Wilson would do well to consider what true Christian humility and wisdom looks like:

 I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. 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. 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. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

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