Exodus International’s New Policy on Gay Marriage: We Don’t Have One.
Question of the Week — Gay Marriage?
Full transcript below, commentary after the fold.[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/59911448[/vimeo]
Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International:
Each week we get a number of important questions that come into our office. This week, the important question we decided to answer is, does Exodus International have a policy on gay marriage? And the answer is, no, we don’t.[Quite the policy position to no longer take.]
If you’ll remember, a number of years ago, we were involved in public policy. About five years ago, we decided that that was a major distraction for us, frankly, at Exodus international, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, we found the amount of energy and money being spent to fight against same-sex marriage was a poor comparison to the money and the time and the energy that was being spent serving people in need. Often times we’ve said that we have an angry and bitter gay rights movement because we in the church have created it.
At Exodus International we don’t want to be a part of a stigmatizing or divisive debate. We want to be about an ongoing conversation with our neighbors. Whether our neighbors agree with us or not isn’t important, the fact of the matter is, the relationship with people is. That’s what Jesus has called us to do at Exodus International — to be a part of a long conversation, not a raging debate.
I hope you as believers will follow that lead, realizing that it is more important for us to be in people’s lives. To live our faith and to share our lives with others. That’s what we’re about at Exodus International.
I sense some coded language in a few things he said there.
…does Exodus International have a policy on gay marriage? And the answer is, no, we don’t.
Sounds benign enough, until you take into consideration their past policy positions on the subject, in addition to the thoroughly dehumanizing contents contained in the link above.
Alan Chambers’ personal position on California’s Proposition 8:
I’m so grateful that back in 1990 and 1991 that [gay marriage] wasn’t something that stood in my way in coming to Christ in the way that he had me come to him. If that had been an option for me, I certainly would have chosen it…
As an organization (from the video):
At Exodus International we don’t want to be a part of a stigmatizing or divisive debate. We want to be about an ongoing conversation with our neighbors.
Whether our neighbors agree with us or not isn’t important, the fact of the matter is, the relationship with people is. That’s what Jesus has called us to do at Exodus International — to be a part of a long conversation, not a raging debate. [emphasis added]
I maybe extrapolating too much here, but an “ongoing” and “long” conversation with neighbors who may disagree with your religious beliefs on the matter of marriage equality sounds more like a manipulative end game to conversion. Leading, of course, to an opening to convince them of the sinfulness of homosexuality, and by extension, same-sex marriage.
The terms “ex-gay,” “post-gay,” “formerly homosexual,” etc., are in themselves an implication that one can choose to no longer have same-gender attractions, thereby upsiding the issue of same-sex marriage as being not a matter of equality, but one of irrelevance at best and a threat to the concept of fully and legally recognizing our love for our partners as being on par with that of heterosexual couples.
And lest we forget the true victims in all this…
Exodus may no longer publicly excoriate same-sex marriage in their rhetoric or on the current version of their website, but to me at least, it smacks of underhanded dog-whistle politics aimed at their members and supporters to continue spreading the word, just make sure to do it on the down-low.
And to cap it off, for an organization that bases it’s anti-gay beliefs on the Bible, the not having a position on the subject is patently unbiblical:
God, via Revelation 3:15-16
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Personally, I don’t think Alan Chambers is that dog-whistle devious or clever, but no matter, a proclaimed non-policy on the issue opens wide a potential sea of nefarious interpretation for those that are.
Exactly! This is what infuriates me about so called ‘ex-gays’. Their very existence and insistence on incursion into anything, can only BE tacit proof for the anti gay that homosexuality isn’t immutable.
There is no honesty about whatever deprivation, struggles, guilt, lack of scrutiny into the quality of op sex relationships these people have.
And this especially leaves gay kids vulnerable to parental coercion and threat.
Ex gays are about the most self deluded people I’ve ever spoken to, and they make to many other people pay for it. While being so cowardly as to hide behind piety to get away with it.
Or fence sitting.
And, as I always say. Straddling a fence, cuts off circulation to your balls.
I think this article is unfair. Exodus takes a step in the right direction and gets lambasted for it? How is that helpful.
Would I have preferred that they open support gay marriage? Ofcourse! But looking back on my own journey I went through a time of “neutrality” before I switched to fully supportive, and it is a far sight better than their old position of actively opposing gay rights.
Exodus has paid a pretty steep price for some of the changes they have made in the last years, and though they are not where I would like them to be, if every time they make a change they are met with derision and hostility there is little motivation to keep changing.
Ten years ago I was part of Exodus. I am where I am today largely because of this website, and the dialogue that happened here. It was because I found this to be a place that was fair and understanding, even as it challenged everything I had ever been taught. I find this article to be a shift from the tone I have come to expect here, and it is disappointing to me.
Well, Exodus’s no-policy stance is at least a step (or awkward stumble) in the right direction. However, they can’t just pretend they don’t have a political position on marriage equality. They already let the cat out of the bag.
The no-policy stance would have been more meaningful back in Exodus’s glory days when they were flush with support from anti-gay political groups like Focus On The Family and hanging out with the Bush Jr administration, which campaigned on outlawing gay marriage. Now that Exodus has lost much of its support and some of its most prominent long-time member ministries, its opportunistic and unprincipled to suddenly announce a no-policy position when marriage equality is gaining mainstream popularity.
Its also disingenuous to claim to want to engage in conversation, but claim a no-policy position. What would be the point of the conversation? Certainly, Exodus can’t claim to be a neutral party in the marriage political debate. Are they going to state, “We don’t politically oppose or support civil recognition of gay marriages — which are immoral, unhealthy, harmful to society, and inferior to God-designed straight marriages — but no, we no longer have a political position. So let’s talk about gay marriage.”?
You better articulated it Norm. Their damage is done, and now that their influence has waned as you say, now their position pretty much cuts off any other necessity for discussion.
For people that typically think they deserve to be respected for making their choice and that they should have it, they aren’t too restrained in keeping choices from gay people in any OTHER capacity.
It’s worse than disingenuous for anyone in the ex gay industry to try and deny they are any part of major IRREVERSIBLE damage to gay people.
The waning of ex gay influence isn’t because of undue coercion and pressure from gay activists, it’s because ex gays aren’t especially deep or ethical people and it’s showing through the cracks.
There are Christian anti gay people who are now claiming credit for the changes in social justice that have to do with the emancipation of slaves. The Civil Rights Act that destroyed Jim Crow for good, and the advancement of women.
They love to say that it was Christians at the forefront of those changes, because that’s how religious communities roll.
I truly would love to kick them for such lies.
The resistance we see regarding gay equality FROM Christian faith communities was EXACTLY the same resistance to the social justice that Jews, blacks women…dealt with in less than a generation before.
It was a MINORITY of people of faith who participated in such changes and further, it’s Jews who can be credited more than Christians for that matter.
Bigot bait, is bigot bait then and now. And no amount of revisionist posturing is going to change the past.
Too many of us are around and are eyewitnesses.
Norm!, I agree, on its face, it’s a slant in the right direction, but as Regan points out, it’s less than no where near enough:
Regan, you make a great point that hadn’t occurred to me. Their new found “on the fence” posturing completely glosses over their role in ruining so many lives.
For the sake of their credibility and integrity, full acknowledgment, apology and stated determination to atone for that is required in regard to their alleged past opposition to same-gender marriage, and every other anti-gay position they hold, beginning with their self labeling.
In order to be legitimate labels, “Ex-gay,” or “formerly homosexual,” etc, should be refined by adding wording such as “identified.” Ex gay-identified and/or formerly homosexually-identified would be much more accurate and do wonders to remove the “gay-to-straight” implication.
Btw, Regan, ‘LOVE the term “revisionist posturing.”
Brian, there is no reason in the world to be grateful, or compliment this tiny little, incremental point in Exodus’s policy.
There comes a time where falling on one’s knees for each crumb takes too much energy. Energy best reserved to give to young people still requiring support, and protection.
Exodus and their reps will get over it. And so should you.
Here in CA, there is still a fight over the ban on reparative therapy for minors. Exodus hasn’t gotten between NARTH or any of their reps on THAT.
Seriously, I could give a crap about hurting any feelings over at Exodus. They have dragged this out long enough and we seriously have MUCH better things to do.
Another thought crossed my mind: Is the ‘no marriage policy’ actually reflective of the entire Exodus organization or is it just Alan Chambers’ position as leader? I assume that many of Exodus’s member ministries have very strong opinions about gay marriage politics, so it’s hard to believe they all are going along with the no-opinion policy. Chambers’s prior announcements withdrawing support of Reparative therapy and sexual orientation change efforts proved to greatly differ from Exodus’s member ministries’ viewpoint and led to a schism.
I’ve never understood how Exodus operates or makes policy decisions. Other than organizing a conference and running a referral line, Chambers and Exodus don’t actually engage in ex-gay counseling. All of the ex-gay counseling is provided by its diverse assortment of member ex-gay ministries.
It’s not clear to me what authority he has to set member ministries’ policies. If he doesn’t have any authority, then wouldn’t it be misleading to say Exodus doesn’t have a policy if many of its members ministries do engage in anti-gay politics?
Those are thoughts that I considered before writing this post and speak to Brian’s complaint of it’s unfairness.
It seems unlikely that Chamber’s himself can make policy decisions without board approval, though it may have been his idea. Whatever the case, I see their so-called non-position on same-sex marriage (SSM) as a ruse designed to make them appear less anti-gay for the sake of appealing to a larger audience.
“We’re not against same-sex marriage,” they may say, “but feel free to peruse and shop from our library and/or contact one of our member ministries.” Most likely all of which and whom strictly condemn marriage equality – and I own several of their books.
So, as long as they promote books and refer to ministries that condemn SSM, their alleged non-policy position on the matter is no more than condemnation by proxy. Not unlike what may have been their motive to revamp their old website to make it seem less anti-gay.
There is video from the IL house of reps voting on marriage equality. Of those who are pro equality, there was a gay couple and two of their children present, two black ministers (one young, the other more senior), and a credentialed family psychiatrist and therapist who spoke regarding the competence of gay parents, and benefits to their children with married parents.
Of those representing the ‘traditional marriage’, were Jennifer Roback Morse, non credentialed in family, marriage or psychiatric professionally. A young woman who represented the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal protective group for and made up of Christians, and a senior pastor, non credentialed as far as seminary or anything like that is concerned. And lastly, a black woman named Linda Jernigan, who after 15 years in a relationship with a woman, came to Jesus and claims to no longer be gay.
Every prominent anti gay organization, will without reservation, claim that gay people can change their orientation.
And it’s extremely difficult to have a conversation without this being brought up in context to equality, even if they don’t especially have any hostility or religious reasoning to think so.
The damage is done. And gays and lesbians, are still expected to pay for this on condition of basic civil rights, equality and other protections.
And gay children especially pay for it with their well being.
Sometimes there are things that, because the damage and legacy of this religious expectation is so deep, will take more than Exodus and Chambers are willing to give or do. They might as well not bother.
There is a tiresome quality in them, that’s in denial about how useless they are to any reality or honesty necessary for the public at large to understand the needs of GAY people.
Not gay people who don’t want to be gay.
This isn’t about THEM anymore, if that’s the life THEY want to lead, being public and having an entire commercial enterprise about it, contradicts any other benign motive they claim.
I lose patience with that. It’s cowardly and weak.