Friday, June 21, 2013

Exodus International Closes, Thank God

Exodus International Closes, Thank God
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International has apologized for the misguided and devastating teachings of his now erstwhile organization. Exodus International was an evangelical "ministry" that told same-gender loving people that their innate sexual orientation was disordered and could be "cured" by prayer and "reparative therapy."

The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973 and since 1998 has said that reparative therapy is dangerous and harmful; but Exodus International didn’t embrace solid science. They also had little regard for progressive theology and contemporary biblical scholarship. Instead, they confused heterosexism and homophobia with faith and spirituality, and many lives were badly hurt by Exodus International's teachings.

Gay people being taught to hate themselves and that God would reject them eternally simply for their sexual orientation often compounded their pain by lying about their sexuality, and all too often, when hopelessness and despair overwhelmed, some of them attempted suicide, and those attempts often succeeded.

The pain, the damage, and the lies perpetuated by Exodus International can't be undone. Hopefully, for many people, the pain can be healed, but the lost years, and in many cases, the lost lives, can't be restored.

Some will not accept Alan Chambers' apology. They will say that it is too little, too late, or possibly even insincere. But I think we have no choice but to accept it. Was it too little, too late? Obviously. Was it more than any of us ever expected? Absolutely. Did it undermine the pseudo-science and oppressive theology that have tormented LBTG people for years? Probably. Hopefully.

In any case, acknowledging that Exodus International was mistaken and then apologizing for the harm Exodus did is all Alan Chambers could do at this point. For doing what he could, I am grateful. He has to live with the knowledge that some are not alive because they couldn't live with the self-loathing imposed on them by Chambers' organization, and that is a heavy burden to bear. But it is his karma. What he didn't have to do, but responding to the better angels of his nature finally chose to do, is admit his error and apologize for it. Having done all that he can at this point, we must now summon the courage to respond with grace.  And, even as we accept this much needed apology, let’s continue to work to build a world where people can learn to love themselves for who they are, and where the sacred value of all people is affirmed!

Dr. Watkins is the senior minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Ft Lauderdale.



1 comment:

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