Exodus International (My Continuing Thoughts, Continued)

Homosexuality seems to be one of the main issues dominating the church and culture today. I have written before about some of my continuing thoughts regarding homosexuality, yet the culture seems to continue to shift, so taking a stance is easy for a day, but then there’s another facet that needs to be dealt with. So many times it feels like we’re shooting at a moving target. In this same moving target, Exodus International, an organization aimed at fixing people with same sex attraction by converting them to straight attractions, has just announced that they will be shutting down their organization. Alan Chambers, the founder of Exodus, just published a blog titled ‘I Am Sorry.‘ Through what I’ve read about the “redemptive therapy” the results were slightly less than what people I think had hoped. I don’t necessarily think it is the best way to deal with same sex attraction.

Shortly after Alan announced that Exodus would be closing their doors, he did an interview that appeared in The Atlantic. In this interview he said a few things that were troubling to me.

Have you changed your theological position on homosexuality?

My belief about sexual expression remains the same. But that really matters little to anyone except for me. It only serves to govern my own life. This isn’t something I’m going to make an issue or a barrier of in my relationship with anyone else.

The bold was the question asked, the regular font was Alan’s response. I’m glad to see that his beliefs about sexual expression remain the same, but it isn’t enough to say that is only governs his own life. The church has a responsibility to protect and preserve what God has commanded in regard to sexuality. And far too many people forget what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:12 in talking about sexual immorality, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

Tied in to this is Alan’s response to the question, “Are you in favor of gay marriage?”

I don’t really know what to think, honestly, when it comes to gay marriage. But I also don’t think anybody needs me to have a position. People have a right to live their lives as they see fit. If a friend or family member who is gay or lesbian invites me to be a part of their special day, I’m going to go and be a part of that because I love them. It doesn’t matter if I endorse or condone something–that’s not my right. I have plenty of friends who are gay and lesbian, loved ones in my family who are gay and lesbian. Their family will be my family, their friends will be my friends, and that’s all that matters.

Again, tied in to my above hesitation with this-if someone is a true believer, I don’t think that this is an appropriate response. If someone is in Christ, yet experiences same sex attraction, it does not make them worse than me as the sinner I am, but that does not mean they are then able to act on their desires. Just as me, as a single heterosexual male cannot act on the desires I have in the lust I have in my heart toward women I see. And this gets harder as it gets warmer out! I so long for the day that I will no longer have any lust in my heart, but until that day I will fight hard against my fleshly impulses.

So many people in this discussion point to Christ and his lack of mention about anything in regard to homosexuality. While Jesus may not have mentioned anything about this, he did talk about sexuality in general. In Matthew 19, Jesus is questioned about divorce.

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They (the Pharisees) said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Jesus whole idea of sexuality is rooted in the creation order. Looking back at Genesis, the way God created the world was with a male and a female, who together were the pinnacle of his creation. Yes, because of sin there were and are perversions of sexuality throughout the Bible and today. Many of the patriarchs had multiple wives, and we can read through the Bible to see the problems that occurred because of those multiple wives! God’s intent for mankind has always been for a man and women to become one flesh. Tied in to this, simply because Jesus didn’t address this issue head on, doesn’t mean it’s not an important issue. Far too many people neglect that Jesus was a real person who lived in first century Israel and was raised in a conservative Jewish home. There were many issues that Jesus didn’t address that were assumed. Homosexuality was considered to be a sin in conservative Jewish homes, and as seen above, Jesus had a very high view of sexuality that is rooted in the creation order. Does this mean that Christians need to be hate mongers who continually bash those with same sex attraction? Not at all! We should come alongside our brothers and sisters who do experience these attractions and love them as they live in the same fallen world we do, struggling with their sin and issues, just as we do. Let’s not encourage the pursuit of sin, but the pursuit of holiness in all areas of life-including sexuality.

I hope that Alan Chambers does not throw out Scripture in his attempt to reach those with same sex attraction, but continues to hold to it as he seeks God’s will for his life now as he works to help reconcile the relationships between those who experience same sex attraction and those in the church who are opposed to it. May the church be a place of grace and the Spirit convicting those of the sin in their lives as we continue to conform more into the image of Jesus Christ.

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