An exodus from bigotry

Another beautiful morning out on the Med! Why does my coffee taste like shit??

Speaking of excrement, it appears that our christian gay-curing friends over at Exodus International have had a revelation (get it?). EL President Alan Chambers, a gay man (no, there is no such thing as ex-gay), has apparently come to realize that, for years, he has been actively working in the service of those who hate him.

Well, almost…

You see, he’s halfway there. He has thrown out what he sees as the bathwater, but is still clinging to what he sees as the baby.

He realizes that he has caused a great deal of harm to many people. He has perpetuated the cycle of condemnation and guilt, the unscientific dogma, and the culture of prejudice and bigotry that causes people to loathe themselves, sometimes to the point of suicide.

The good news? He has come to understand the harm that he’s been inflicting upon others. He has issued a full apology, and to demonstrate how serious he is, he has shut Exodus International down completely.

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.

The bad news? He realizes that the doctrine he’s been preaching is wrong, but he is not ready to condemn the source of this doctrine. He’s not ready to accept that an evil ideology comes from a religion and a clergy he views as inherently moral.

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.

This is a phenomenon known as “cognitive dissonance” – the discomfort that accompanies the psychological clash between what you have accepted as true and a new discovery which contradicts it.

I personally believe that it is only a matter of time before he relinquishes his religion as a whole. This is the way things work. I remember when I gave AMWAY a shot, back in the early 90’s. When it didn’t work out, and I just wound up parting with a whole lot of money, I figured it was my fault and that the business itself was fine. It took me a while to accept that it is a high level scam organization that preys on people’s enthusiasm and ambition. But after a while I was able to accept it. It just took time.

A similar scene played out with Nate Phelps, son of the notorious Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church. He ran away from the church on his 18th birthday, knowing it was evil, but not knowing exactly why, or what was “good”. For years he held onto the idea that his family was merely mistaken, and that if they would only rethink the message of the bible, they would see that it’s a message of love.

It took some time, but after a while he was able to accept that his family’s interpretation of the bible was legitimate, and that it was his premise – that the bible is a moral book – which was in need of revision, not his family’s interpretation of it. His story has a very happy ending.

For this reason, I accept Mr. Chambers’ apology as genuine and I will watch his progress with interest. I honestly believe that while he thinks he has arrived at a new place, he is actually on a journey, one which will carry him away from the deep-seated guilt and self-loathing he has no doubt felt for years, away from the unscientific claims of the clergy that claims homosexuality is a sort of disease in need of a cure, away from the dogmatic position that homosexuality is some sort of abomination that merits eternal torture, and toward a life of self-acceptance and self-esteem.

It cannot be easy for him and his organization to do what they’ve done. For a dogmatist to say “I’ve hurt many with my dogma and I apologize” is damn tough for anyone. Kudos to him and to all who follow his example.


2 responses to “An exodus from bigotry

  1. “He has thrown out what he sees as the bathwater, but is still clinging to what he sees as the baby.” Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, technically? I mean, it’s not like you want to KEEP the bathwater… lol

  2. That’s what I qualified it with “What he sees as”.

    You’re right… I’m just saying, he needs to realize that bad doctrine flows from bad places, not from good places. FAITH is the source of the bigotry and hatred that has dominated his life, not a mere innocent doctrinal misinterpretation.

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