The executive director of Exodus apparently means well.
Ex-gays are one of the most gifted groups of people in the areas of creativity and leadership, said Alan Chambers, executive director of Exodus International . Their talents, when used to glorify God, bring “something amazing” to the church. Many former homosexuals are actors, musicians and speakers, he said. The church is “missing a significant part when healed homosexuals are not there.”
Of course, the same positive stereotypes are much more frequently attributed to gay Christian laity. So what exactly is Chambers saying?
Is he saying…
- “Churches, if you are firing your homosexual choir directors, hire us instead”?
- “Churches, make the most of your congregants’ gifts. Put ex-gays in charge of the music, Jews in charge of the finances, and brown people in charge of diversity”?
Where are the ex-gay actors and musicians? I’m sure a few exist somewhere, but Chambers’ argument rings hollow without examples.
Member ministries in the Exodus network say they have helped tens of thousands of men and women in their struggle with homosexuality. Thirty percent of the people who come to Exodus are “radically changed,” experiencing a “significant shift in sex orientation,” Chambers said. Some marry and have families, while others remain single but consider themselves to be heterosexual.
Chambers is honest that many ex-gays opt for celibacy and that they consider themselves heterosexual. But he is evasive about ongoing same-sex attraction even among the married ex-gays.
And he is also a bit evasive about the tens of thousands who have passed through Exodus ministries. The truth is, Exodus ministries lack the resources, and sometimes the interest, to perform statistically sound surveys measuring outcomes among the continuous stream of strangers into (and often right back out of) the ministries.
A statistically sound survey would indicate how many people were surveyed, how they were selected, how often and for how long each individual participated in a ministry, whether they experienced any change in attraction, how long the change lasted.
When Chambers claims a 30 percent success rate, he:
- cites no specific studies,
- does not identify how many were surveyed, or how survey participants were selected,
- does not mention that Exodus redefines “sexual orientation” to mean behavior, not attraction, and
- does not indicate the longevity of the change.
A few days ago, Chambers expressed nostalgia for the racist, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, and sexist 1950s, in which only a narrow band of upper-middle-class conservative Protestants enjoyed unfettered freedom to express an intolerant faith.
Now Chambers promotes positive stereotypes about ex-gays.
Certainly I prefer positive stereotypes over negative ones. But I continue to believe that hard facts, and tolerance for faiths and orientations other than his own, would prove less embarrassing to Alan Chambers and his organization.