My Thoughts on Exodus International Shutting Down
By Shawn Harrison, director of Six:11 Ministries, Saint Mary’s, OH.
Yesterday, Alan Chambers released a sincere apology to the LGBTQ community for the wrong doings of Exodus International. For sure, this sent waves across the web. Many people, gay & straight, sighed a relief of ‘It’s about time.‘
Then, last night, during his opening talk, Alan Chambers announced that Exodus International will be shutting down. The net was aflame, conservative and liberal sites alike, almost resounding the same expression, ‘WHAT?!‘
Before Alan was done speaking, I began receiving the same question, “What do you think about this?” Well, here are some thoughts about Exodus closing, the challenge given to Christians, and the Sovereignty of God.
The closing of Exodus doesn’t mean that “their side” won and “our side” lost. The closing of Exodus doesn’t mean that beliefs in traditional views of scripture are negated. And the closing of Exodus doesn’t mean that the countless testimonies from those who are ex-gay / post-gay are now considered fables.
Neither side wins, because we are all in this together – whether we like it or not. All of the words of Christ are still authoritative – even the verses we don’t like to acknowledge. All stories are deemed true stories, as we cannot dictate some one else’s journey.
I’ve spoken with Alan, Randy, and other Exodus leaders about this, and I understand their heart behind closing. And after processing things awhile for myself, I agree with them.
The name Exodus International carried with it a lot of heavy baggage. Many people were given false hopes by Exodus, and ministries under Exodus. I was given false hope when I first began my journey. Many people were held to unlivable expectations to live within. I was given such expectations. Many people were harmed – mentally, emotionally, physically – by the works of Exodus and the ministries under them. (I’m not ready to publicly share things yet in this aspect.)
In order for Exodus to continue educating the Church, and reaching in compassion those within the gay community, something drastic had to change. Otherwise, the message of Exodus, and the ministries associated with them, would continue to go unheard by those who need to hear.
As Alan shared last night, Exodus started because their was a void of such a ministry within the church – locally and globally. A lot of things have changed since their founding in 1976. The once felt void in the church isn’t completely void anymore, as churches are awakening to the realization that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people attend their services and even work in their denominations – known and unknown.
Because of this, last night, Exodus International passed the torch back into the hands of the Church. While their race may be over, the move of Christ continues.
Christians are challenged
What will we do now? Where will we send people? What happens to our ministries? All fair questions being asked by ministry leaders and people who use the services of Exodus. Ministries surrounding this issue continue being ambassadors of Christ and reconciliation, and they continue to be salt and light in a world that needs hope. We continue to send people to such ministries, joining their cause ourselves and loving the gay community as Jesus loves the gay community. And in this pursuit our ministries, our relationships, and our lives, continue glorifying the risen Christ, who gives hope and salvation freely to every person!
I love how Alan put things: Exodus is closing so the church CAN be the church. It’s time for the church to step up, face this challenge head on, and unify as a Body, shining forth an image of Christ that is truly the image of Christ.
There are some excellent ministries and resources out there striving to proclaim such hope to the church and world. Six:11 Ministries will continue to stand firm within the Body,equipping people to effectively and authentically LOVE the LGBTQ community; and we will continue to proclaim the identity and wholeness of God to everyone we encounter – gay and straight.
So, while Exodus may be closing, the church is still quite open. And God continues to sit upon His Throne.
Having same-sex attractions doesn’t discount somebody from Heaven, or from the love of Jesus. Nor should it discount someone from the love, support, and acceptance of the church. God didn’t clean you up before He wooed you with His love and grace; so we shouldn’t expect Him to do that for those we disagree with and fear because we don’t understand them.
Having same-sex attractions doesn’t make one less of a man or woman. They are made in the image of God, just like you and I are made in the image of God. What right do we have to tell the Creator He did wrong and messed up?
People with same-sex attractions have as much to offer the Body of Christ as any opposite-sex attracted person does. God has created us all with unique gifts, talents, and callings. We need each other, as we were created for community and unity.
The church is not the keeper of Heave – God is. The church doesn’t get to play God or make rules on His behalf – God does. If we are faithful to do what God asks of us, and go where He leads, God is faithful to make everything turn out according to His sovereign plan. William Barclay said, “love gives everything it has and never counts the cost.” This is what our Father has done for us, and this is how our Father calls each of us to live. Anything less is compromise.
Shawn Harrison is the director of Six:11 Ministries, Saint Mary’s, OH.