Exodus president Alan Chambers returned to the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Our America this week, a year after he first spoke to host Lisa Ling on the show.
By all accounts, the episode contained little new, simply re-screening most of the 2011 broadcast alongside new interview footage of Chambers. Nor did most of the new footage say much new; Chambers simply confirmed Exodus International’s new stance on reparative therapy.
In an extended interview available online, Chambers said:
The vast majority of people that I’ve met would say that there is some level of struggle, or temptation, or attraction, that’s resident there, whether it’s a little or a lot. And I don’t know whether someone can say that therapy changes that.
Note that Chambers does not deny “change.” His biggest problem with reparative therapy is that, he says, it promises complete change. He’s repeatedly said that’s what he meant when he told the Gay Christian Network that 99 percent of people he’d met had not changed.
Asked about his marriage, and whether he is now heterosexual, Chambers tells Ling:
I have to be honest and say, of course I have temptations, of course I have attractions related to the same sex. But for over 15 years, since I’ve been in a relationship with Leslie, my attraction has been towards her; my devotion has been towards her. … I’m not stuck in a marriage. I chose this marriage. She is the object of my desires. She is the object of my affection. I wouldn’t choose anything or anyone else but her. … So, am I heterosexual? I don’t know. I’m not gay. I have Lesley attractions. I have opposite-sex attractions towards my wife.
Describing Exodus’s new mission, he says:
How do I love my gay and lesbian neighbours in a way that’s not going to hurt them, that’s not going to offend them? … In the church, we’ve opted out of relationships and opted in to picket signs and criticisms on this issue, in ways that we haven’t done with other issues. And I think it’s time for that to stop.
The feel-good music kicks in at this point, as Chambers explains how Christian parents ought to respond to their gay children:
We have parents sitting in our congregations who have gay and lesbian kids, who say, I’ve been in this church for twenty or thirty years, and I’ve never told anybody I have a gay kid. I think that’s a tragedy. We want to help those parents have a relationship with their gay and lesbian kid that’s not focused around or centred around where they disagree, but the things that they do agree on, and that is being in a relationship with one another as parents and kids.
Curiously, the editors splice in stock footage of young people, apparently at some sort of LGBT youth camp, chanting and wearing the LGBT rainbow colours. But we know that this is one thing Exodus will be actively discouraging, because it means accepting the “gay identity” — and Exodus is terrified of the word “gay” and anything that identifies a person as or with “gay.”
Watch Lisa Ling’s extended interview with Alan Chambers here (US only).