Two weeks ago, Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, announced that the Board of Directors had decided to close the organization that has acted as an umbrella for many “ex-gay” ministries for the past 37 years.
In his public statements, he offered an apology to homosexuals he believes have been hurt by the Exodus message over the years. That message, rooted in a psychotherapeutic view of homosexuality (i.e., reparative therapy), promised those experiencing same-sex desire that an integrated approach of therapy and Christianity could change those desires from homosexual to heterosexual. Chambers, finally admitting to the failure of that approach to deliver on what it promised, has now swung to the opposite extreme, claiming that those “who are living an active gay Christian life… will be in heaven” with him.
His capitulation offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of the quiet feud simmering between the two main factions at work inside the apostate church of the end times. This struggle for theological supremacy within the evangelical church is occurring in a variety of venues but none so “in-your-face” as the current debate raging about whether or not God’s grace covers a person involved in unrepentant homosexual sin.
The therapeutic approach Exodus embraced and promoted was a classic example of what has gone wrong inside the conservative church. The fact that conservatives even embraced the worldly, contradictory teachings of “Christian” psychotherapy over the past half century is indicative of how far they have veered off course. Generally speaking, they have attempted to maintain orthodoxy in doctrine while straying from what it really means to walk in the Spirit. In effect, they maintain an appearance of godliness, while denying its power. The resulting lifelessness in these churches is the primary cause of the widespread disillusionment among churched young people who see little more than religious rules with their parents’ Christianity.
Liberalism, on the other hand—especially the Emergent church—has rushed into this vacuum offering an easy-going form of Christianity that lacks the incongruity of the conservatism that such young people have rejected. Since it’s painfully obvious that conservative Christianity has become dead and religious, why not simply reinterpret the Bible to fit today’s culture?
The parable of the prodigal son provides an excellent example of these two competing views. If the liberal movement could be compared to the (pre-repentant) prodigal son and the self-willed rebellion that drove him into the “far country,” then the conservative movement could be identified with the stodgy, religious older brother whose outward life was right and whose inward life was completely wrong.
Both reflect the forms of pseudo-Christianity we see in the church today where the flesh-crucifying, self-denying aspects of the Cross are omitted. The therapeutic approach, integrated with just enough religious doctrine to lend it credibility, presents an option where the person can sidestep taking responsibility for his sinful behavior by blaming it on a laundry list of unmet needs and emotional scars during childhood. The liberal version also avoids the Cross by providing a haven for anyone claiming Christ—no matter how one actually lives his life. Both versions successfully avoid the painful process of biblical repentance—the only process, I might add, that offers true hope and salvation. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
It should be noted, God has not failed His people. Freedom from the hold of sin has been available for two thousand years. Even Exodus began with at least one member who understood the freedom that comes from true repentance. Frank Worthen, who began an outreach to homosexuals in the San Francisco area during the 70’s, was one of the founders of Exodus. In those early days he taught that repentance and faith were the means to victory over sin. Unfortunately, others came along who believed his answers were too simplistic. They were convinced that the real solutions to the homosexual dilemma were to be found in the realm of psychology. Their cause won the day and the rest is history.
Someone once rightly said that there is only one path to heaven and it goes through Calvary. The prodigal son did not find victory by embracing his rebellion any more than his older brother found it by his outward obedience. The prodigal did find his way back to his Father’s house, but it didn’t happen until he “came to his senses” in the pigpen, acknowledged himself to be an unworthy son and turned away from his self-willed life and rebellious ways.
Alan Chambers’ flip-flopping, and that of others in the “ex-gay” movement that preceded him, shouldn’t be viewed as a victory or a defeat for the true Church. Like many others, he simply exchanged one side of the apostasy for another. But the true Church remains firmly established—faithful to the Cross that purchased her redemption and provided her freedom from the power of sin. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Competing Forces in the Apostasy,Share