Four Qualms with Alan Chambers’ Apology from the Exodus International Platform

If you have not heard about Exodus International and the recent apology by its president, Alan Chambers, you can read his apology here. Just Google it and you will get all the background you need. 

By Scott Fowler

The recent apology by Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, is quite the hot topic this week. There may be any number of issues we could discuss, but he said four things in his apology that I would like to address in this article.

Item One:

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.

This is a loaded statement that leads me asking, Which church? In what way is the Bible-believing, evangelical church angry with Exodus International? I can’t say that I am aware of the feedback Exodus International has gotten over the years. Apparently there have been gross indiscretions in its operations at times. If this is what Chambers means, OK. But I kind of think he must be trying to say that somehow the church is angry at his stance towards homosexuality, same-sex marriage, reparative processes, etc. If this is what he means, then he is talking about a certain part of the “church,” an inclusive part that is no way to be characterized by what used to be known as evangelicalism. So my complaint here is that it seems as though he is reflecting a change in the believing Church’s stance on homosexuality and that is not the case. My words here are not in defense of any abusive behavior towards the LGBT community which no right-headed genuine believer would advocate anyway.

Item Two:

But if the Church is a body, with many members being connected to the whole, then I believe that what one of us does right we all do right,and what one of us does wrong we all do wrong. 

This is nice fireside, “kum bah yah” language, but it doesn’t wash. First of all, there are too many instances where this statement on its face is disproved over and over and over. Second, I sort of resent Chamber’s appointing himself to speak for the church and to drag the church into what he is saying. I am tired of people beating up on the church. How easy it is to cherry pick all the things that the church has done wrong over the years and blame everyone for it. How easy to dismiss righteous claims because some individual skewed off-center and did something shameful. So, on one hand Chambers is facing “an angry church” and on the other he is saying the church did wrong with him. Well, the jury is still out on the reasons for Chambers’ apology, but in the mean time he isn’t speaking for the believing Church.

Item Three:

 And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there.

The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

I am truly not trying to be unkind or even judgmental, but this sounds like Chambers is “coming out.” It also sounds like he is trying to say that he was “born this way.” He also seems to be suggesting that God accepts homosexuality, or at least its desires, as normal and OK. And it all seems to be firmly based in Chambers’ subjective experience and perspective. Finally, his message would seem to be, “Don’t be ashamed of your homosexual desires. They are normal and God accepts them.” Again, Chambers does not speak for the believing Church if indeed this is what he is saying.

Item Four:

You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good. Moving forward, we will serve in our pluralistic culture by hosting thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality, while partnering with others to reduce fear, inspire hope, and cultivate human flourishing.

I wonder what the changes are going to be in Chambers’ own life? I also want to know what kind of “resolution” Chambers is hoping to bring about? Who has shown displeasure to Chambers with such ferocity that he has arrived at this moment of what many will call capitulation? But here is the part I am most concerned about with this quote. His future focus on “peace,” “common good,” and “human flourishing.” My problem is not that those things aren’t good, but they can be disastrous when the foundation they are built on is compromise or fear of man.

Conclusion

I must reiterate that I am no expert on Exodus International, nor do I have any insight into the spiritual or theological veracity of Alan Chambers. It is not my desire to castigate him or his walk with God. But even though I have stated here that he is not an official spokesman for the believing church, when a leader like Chambers speaks out the culture invariably groups the church in with his words.

9 thoughts on “Four Qualms with Alan Chambers’ Apology from the Exodus International Platform

  1. Clare Flourish

    I disagree with you about homosexuality, but what I want to bring out is where you say that Chambers does not speak for the “believing Church” when he says that we are indeed born that way, which is only the self-evident truth.

    I am part of the believing church, I assure you, and I know that God has created gay people, and abominates us no more than left-handed people, and indeed joins us together in such a way that straight people should not attempt to put us apart.

    What concerns me is that, whatever your view of the nature of the Crucifixion or Resurrection or Communion, or the authority of the Bible, you make a touchstone of “believing church” condemnation of gay sex. You inflate an issue which may or may not be your temptation into the sibboleth dividing you from me and many other Christians. I find this disturbing.

    • cscottfowler

      Well, Clare, the problem with your assessment of things is that it is subjective and based on your personal sentiment, but you do not have the backing of Scripture. I know you think you do, but your ‘hermeneutic’ relies on imagined historical contextual evidence or on arguments from silence. You are right though about one thing: this does divide us. I refer to the “believing Church” as way of referring to those Christians who approach Scripture from the stance of inerrancy. If you have studied Christian history at all (which it seems maybe you have) you know that your view of things is far from orthodox.

  2. Lisa Cobb

    “I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.”
    I don’t think Mr. Chambers is clear on his view of what the ministry is and its’ goals. He seems to be questioning the ministry’s approach. I found his apology a little confused and vague.

    • cscottfowler

      Yeah, once you choose people over God it all gets messed up! He has no desire to “fight” gay people on their beliefs or the rights they seek. What is that? It all hinges on one’s definition of love. It sounds spiritual to opt for love instead of contention over doctrines until you remember that genuine love speaks the truth! Thanks for weighing in Lisa!

  3. Stephen Zarlengo

    I believe that we need to begin to redefine what “love” really is – and I am saying this in reaction to what society has deemed their definition of “love.” Love is much more than merely acceptance and what they would define as “tolerance.” In actuality the most shallow and unsatisfying “love” is one that never communicates truth. In the whole discussion on homosexuality one must identify that agreement and fear of offending does not equal “love.” If in fact this is the definition our society desires to use as “true love” then they are creating a plastic world where love is merely momentary reassurance without any depth of “belief.” I know that this discussion goes deeper than merely “acceptance” – what we are talking about is not simply a disagreement but it is a stand for what we believe is biblical and foundational Truth. If the church does not begin redefining what “True Love” is – as represented through the lens of Holy Scripture, then we should be prepared to step away from Biblical passages that speak towards moral and ethical issues.

    • cscottfowler

      Great way to put it Stephen! And this is what it appears is happening: a stepping away from Biblical passages because not to do so would require too much pain and separation from a co-opting culture.

  4. L Sammy

    I would like to comment on item 3:
    The idea that we have to accept our human nature or the fact that we are born this way is not justifiable reasoning. We can all agree, based upon God’s Word, that we are all born sinners and to say that we should just simple acept our human…lets just call it what it is, our sinful nature, is okay. The Word of God is given to us to bring about a healthy “shame” if you will, not one of comdenation but of conviction, that we may see and understand our unhealthy ” human” desires. So what should we say then ? Do we look for the aproval of society in which to cover our shame with the hope that God will do the same ? Or should we desire the need for our savior and the reality that our spirit man must be made alive in & threw him that we may put to dealth the things of flesh in which sin is alive and againts us !

    Eph 2: 1-5
    Rom 7: 4-6

    • cscottfowler

      Thanks for responding LS. I agree with you. When you remove the standard that convicts of sin you wind up with justification for any and every evil.

      The wicked freely strut about
      when what is vile is honored among men. Psalm 12:8, NIV

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