The Restored Hope Network released its official doctrinal statement Tuesday. The first tenet of belief is a fairly direct response to Exodus International’s recent claims that being gay does not exclude a person from heaven:
1. Sexual purity is a life-and-death matter. Sexual holiness for Christians matters to such an extent that a sexually immoral life can get even self-professed Christians excluded from the kingdom of God (Matt 5:29-30; John 8:11 with 5:14; 1 Thess 4:3-8; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 5; 6:9-10, 13-20; 2 Cor 12:21; Rom 1:23-32; Col 3:5-7; Eph 4:19; 5:3-6; 1 Tim 1:9-11).
The third point seems to address Exodus President Alan Chambers’s statement that homosexuality is no greater or worse a sin than any other, a claim that riled critic Robert J Gagnon, a founding member of the Restored Hope Network:
3. Consistent with Jesus’ view of a male-female requirement for sexual relations is Scripture’s depiction of homosexual practice as a severe violation of God’s standards for sexual purity.
Most of the doctrinal statement is standard conservative Christian teaching on marriage, heterosexuality and homosexuality. In light of Exodus International’s “ban” on reparative therapy within its organization, point seven is the most pertinent:
7. Jesus Christ provides hope for transformation to broken sexual sinners. Jesus coupled a heightened ethical demand with a loving outreach to violators to lead them to repentance (Luke 7:36-50; John 4:4-30; 8:1-12). The grace of God offered in Jesus Christ is not merely a pardon for one’s sins but also an empowerment by the Spirit of Christ to a new life lived for God (Rom 6:14; 7:5-6; 8:12-14; Gal 2:19-20; 5:18; 2 Pet 1:2-4). For some, this transformation may take shape as a significant reduction of unwanted sexual desires. For others, it may mean the grace to live in obedience in spite of ongoing urges to do what God forbids. Either way, Paul gives believers assurance that those who “walk in the Spirit will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16-17, 24-25). “These things some of you were” (1 Cor 6:11).
Although we know that many of the founders, including Robert J Gagnon, Andy Comiskey and David Kyle Foster, explicitly champion sexual orientation change therapy, this statement doesn’t specifically address any one method of treatment, therapy or ministry. It does, however, affirm that “transformation may take shape as a significant reduction of unwanted desires.”
While Exodus has disavowed the reparative therapy approach of Dr Joseph Nicolosi and NARTH, it has yet to make a clear statement on all sexual orientation change efforts. So far, as in the case of Joe Dallas, membership of the Restored Hope Network is no barrier to Exodus affiliation.