The News: Alan Chambers issued a deeply personal apology to the Gay Community and then Exodus announced it is closing its doors after 37 years. Autonomous groups around the country will likely continue, but not part of Exodus. Alan and others will begin a new ministry focused on helping the church care better for LGBT+ individuals. This move will be misinterpreted as a theological shift by some, but that is not the case. It is, however, a major posture shift.
The Reaction: I experienced a radical posture shift a decade ago that led to the creation of Lead Them Home. At that time, the primary evangelical response to homosexuality was culture war and the theological hammer. Lead Them Home cultivated a more biblical reflection of Jesus to LGBT+ persons. See Posture Shift to learn more or contact us for a training proposal.
In regards to Exodus, it proved to be extremely difficult to reshape the image of an organization that operated for decades as a culture war tool. You can never quite escape the past. This is why Lead Them Home never affiliated with Exodus. The decision was strategic, not personal criticism. I know Alan Chambers and admire his character and humility.
When Lead Them Home began, the evangelical community was in desperate need of a fresh voice to invite LGBT+ folks to Jesus — rather than chop at their spiritual roots of faith. However, new voices were not always tolerated. One Exodus leader crashed one of my events in the south and demanded that Exodus be the only voice in town. This “bully” attitude is what many LGBT+ folks encountered over the years. This kind of posture does not reflect Jesus. As the church, it was unhealthy to have such a one-dimensional reliance upon Exodus. What do you do when you don’t understand gay people?
Yes, culture is shifting and this demands that we biblically re-contextualize the Gospel. Yet there is a much more personal issue at stake. In decades past, homosexuality was always “out there” or “over there.” We, the church, lost many of our own children and never knew it.
I recently spoke on a panel with Alan in Washington, D.C. We spoke about ministry, but we also bragged about our children. We are fathers, and we would never want our children (or yours) to engage the church that we engaged two or more decades ago. And yet many gay youth still encounter exclusion and judgment today. I believe Exodus’ move is an attempt at improvement — and I think this change is positive.
Alan’s biblical beliefs have not changed. To those, though, who see Exodus’ closure as further theological collapse, remember this: if repentance is so important (and it is), then let us — the majority sinners — repent of porn and divorce. We can no longer entertain ourselves by expecting the Gospel to change gay people, while we continue to turn ourselves over to sexual and relational sins.
Let the power of the Gospel first be alive in us; then, it will most certainly touch others. Amen.
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