In the middle of an article on November 12th in the Denver Post about Christian response to revelations about Ted Haggard is a sign of a revolutionary change in the language of ex-gay ministries.
Alan Chambers, president of Orlando-based Exodus International, which advocates “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ,” describes more accepting attitudes in his movement toward the role genetics may play.
Exodus’ stance is that homosexuality is “multicausal,” Chambers said. One side of the debate is guilty of saying it’s only genetics, and the other side is guilty of saying homosexuality can “go away” with prayer and reading the Bible, he said. Chambers said biological and developmental factors play a role.
“Whatever the root cause, people make a choice,” Chambers said. “Not about their feelings, but about what they do with those feelings based on convictions and not on science.”
Historically ex-gay ministries have been very hostile to the notion that biology plays any part in the determination of sexual orientation. Claims such as “No one is born gay!” (Greg Quinlan) and “Those who want to insist on genetic determination are perpetuating a tragic myth” (Exodus) and “people are not born gay and there’s never been a test that has found a gay gene” (PFOX) are typical of anti-gay activists and ex-gay propaganda.
However, as we first noticed back in September, Alan Chambers may be recognizing that faith-based claims that are in conflict with the overwhelming abundance of scientific research can hurt your cause rather than bolster it. He also seems to be recognizing that prayer and religious immersion may not result in a change in same-sex attractions.
We welcome this new attitude of Alan and hope that he continues to be open to changing his message, at least to the public, when evidence shows him to be wrong.
We also think that a new focus on sexual behavior, rather than reorientation, at least has a basis in traditional evangelical interpretation of Scripture. While this message is not as useful as an anti-gay politically tool, it may be more useful for those to whom he targets his ministry.
We would encourage Chambers to continue in the process of rethinking Exodus’ public image. We could suggest that he discard the unbiblical notion of sinful “identities” and give up the baseless claim that those who disagree with Exodus’ definitions of a holy life are by definition not Christians.