Exodus International, the ministry which claimed that homosexuality can be "cured" through prayer, has been the subject of ridicule for decades. The ridicule probably started when two of the organization’s cofounders ran off with each other in the ’70s and got gay married. That should have been a clue to the organization that the very premise on which it is based, was… uh… flawed.
Well, the penny dropped, it seemed. At the annual meeting in Minnesota this week, Exodus International President Alan Chambers signalled a change for the organization. As he told the Associated Press:
"I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included," said Chambers, who is married to a woman and has children, but speaks openly about his own sexual attraction to men. "For someone to put out a shingle and say, 'I can cure homosexuality' — that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth."
So what will the group be doing?
Chambers said the ministry's emphasis should be simply helping Christians who want to reconcile their own particular religious beliefs with sexual feelings they consider an affront to scripture. For some that might mean celibacy; for others, like Chambers, it meant finding an understanding opposite-sex partner.
This is just me here, but I can think of a third way: accepting same-sex partners as being consistent with scripture.
The "new" Exodus has other critics:
"We appreciate any step toward open, transparent honesty that will do less harm to people," said Wayne Besen, a Vermont-based activist who has worked to discredit ex-gay therapy. "But the underlying belief is still that homosexuals are sexually broken, that something underlying is broken and needs to be fixed. That's incredibly harmful, it scars people."
Besen may be right, but any step in the right direction is a good one.