Exodus International President Alan Chambers is happy to affirm LGBT Christians as his brothers and sisters in Christ, at least according to his opening gambit at the GCN conference last week:
I honestly trust [GCN leader Justin Lee], and I honestly like him, and I honestly believe that he loves Jesus and that we are brothers in Christ and that we will spend eternity together … and because of that, the thing that brought me here first and foremost is: We’re Christians, all of us. We may have diverging viewpoints … but the thing that brings us together, the thing that causes us to even want to have this dialogue, or need to have this dialogue, is the fact that we all love Jesus. We all serve him. We serve the very same God and believe very different things.
He received applause for the comments. Yet in an interview with Christian radio host Janet Mefferd only the day before, Chambers failed to challenge a series of remarks that characterized gays and lesbians as people in darkness, who don’t know God and belong to a community at emnity with the community of God.
First, Mefferd said:
One of the things the LGBT world does not understand, simply because they don’t know the Lord, is, as you said, we all struggle with sin, we all struggle with temptations to varying degrees, but when you know Christ, and when you are a new creation in Christ, what changes in you is the “want to.” All of a sudden you go from loving sin, embracing sin of all kinds, to not loving it. … This is, I think, a hard thing to communicate to the people who are just still in darkness. [Emphasis mine]
While a little over 24 hours later Chambers told the GCN conference he believed they did know the Lord, he allowed Mefferd’s offensive statements to go unchallenged. She later said:
You’ve been on both sides. You’ve been a part of the homosexual community, and then you’ve been delivered over to the kingdom of God as a Christian and now have left that lifestyle behind.
Again, Chambers failed to challenge the assumption that “gays” and “Christians” are two opposed, mutually exclusive communities and that you must be “delivered” from one to join the other. On the contrary, he played into the assumption by recounting how, six years after he “left the homosexual lifestyle,” he looked at a group of gay men and realized, “I’m not one of them any more.”
Playing to both sides on this issue of gay Christians is not new for Exodus International. In March last year, Chambers enthusiastically affirmed the existence of gay Christians in an interview with the Oprah network’s Lisa Ling, only to water down his statements when challenged by his conservative evangelical constituents. What is new is that some gay Christians are now taking him at his word.
The audio clips above contain Mefferd’s remarks with Chambers’s responses, to give some context, but you can listen to the entire interview here (starting at about 20 minutes in).