Christian Ministry Exodus International Backs Away from Ex-Gay Therapy
By Grace Oshiro - Crossmap On June 28, 2012
A prominent Christian ministry dedicated to helping homosexual Christians through prayer is backing away from ex-gay therapy, and the whole idea that homosexuality can be "cured."
Exodus International, one of the largest ministries to address the issue of homosexuality, prides a history of 36 years. It has spread out to 260 ministries in the U.S. and across the world.
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The organization has dedicated itself to guiding Christians suffered from undesired inclinations of same-sex attractions through counseling and prayer.
The ministry's annual conference would highlight the efforts of its president, Alan Chambers, to dissociate the group from the controversial practice usually called ex-gay, reparative or conversion therapy, Chambers told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
At the conference held this week, around 600 ministers and followers of the group are gathering in a Minneapolis suburb.
"I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included," said Chambers.
"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."
Chambers has openly revealed his attractions on same-sex even though he is married to a woman and has children. He addresses that the ministry should limit its effort when it comes to helping homosexual Christians - only up to reconciliation between their religious beliefs and sexual inclinations.
"I consider myself fortunate to be in the best marriage I know," Chambers said.
"It's an amazing thing, yet I do have same-sex attractions. Those things don't overwhelm me or my marriage; they are something that informs me like any other struggle I might bring to the table."
Exodus has been persistent with the reparative therapy, which was devalued by mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists.
Wayne Besen, a Vermont-based activist who has endeavored to stop ex-gay therapy, said, "We appreciate any step toward open, transparent honesty that will do less harm to people."
"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's group, Truth Wins Out, is working on a campaign to pressure lawmakers in all 50 states to ban reparative therapy.
The bill was passed in California last month, and at least three other states are likely to follow similar steps.
Chambers confesses that "99.9 percent" of people he has met in twenty years in Exodus were not completely cured from homosexual inclinations. He argues that the organization should be honest with
the reality so that people who come might be aware of the fact.
"For those that don't hold to the same Biblical ethic that I do, I think there's room for further discussion without a culture war that has really served no one," Chambers said. "I think it's time for us in
the church to move on from that fight."