August 16, 2013
An End to Ex-Gay Ministry?
By Mike McManus
Last spring Exodus International closed its doors after 37 years as a
national umbrella for dozens of local ex-gay ministries. Its president for 12
years, Alan Chambers, has been married for 16 years, but no longer calls himself
an “ex-gay,” straight, bisexual or gay.
“While my life has changed dramatically, my same-sex attraction hasn’t,” he said
and apologized for the “damage” he admits his group did to many people.
Gay and lesbian groups rejoiced at the demise of Exodus.
That leaves important questions to be answered. Is it possible for a homosexual
to become an “ex-gay,” a person whose life is heterosexual? What happened to
Exodus? Will local ex-gay ministries continue?
Most important, personal change is possible. Contrary to what the gay lobby
asserts, people are not born homosexual or lesbian. Masters and Johnson, in
their landmark book, Human Sexuality, write: “The genetic theory of
homosexuality has been generally disregarded today.”
Also, Scripture condemns any sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:9-11:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be
deceived: Neither the sexually immoral (“fornicators” in the King James
translation) nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual
offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed, you were sanctified.”
And in II Corinthians 5:17-19, we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he
is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
Therefore, it is possible for many gays and lesbians to leave their old life and
become new creatures in Christ. And there are dozens of ex-gay ministries to
help men and women to build a new life, such as such as Regeneration in
Baltimore/Washington and Desert Stream Ministries in Kansas City, MO. (See
desertstream.org for a list of ex-gay ministries by state.)
Twenty of these ministries have created a new umbrella group, Restored Hope
Network, which recently held its second annual convention.
What lies behind the failure of Exodus?
Andrew Comiskey, founder of Desert Stream and a former Chairman of Exodus, says
that Exodus President Alan Chambers was gifted as a communicator but had never
directed a local ex-gay ministry. More important, he concluded ex-gay ministries
were not successful and even asserted that there’s no need to confess one’s
sins,” said Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries in Oklahoma City. He also
endorsed same-sex marriage, an anathema to orthodox Christians and ex-gay
Therefore, the major ex-gay ministries began withdrawing from Exodus 18 months
ago and asked Comiskey to chair a new umbrella group, “Restored Hope Network.”
“We are resuming with fresh wisdom to our original mission of equipping the
church to be agents of transformation with an emphasis on the same-sex
attraction,” said Comiskey.
What percentage of those with “unwanted same-sex attractions” can become
celibate or even heterosexuals who marry?
“Anyone who submits to Christ can succeed. There is 100% hope for every person
to find a fulfilled life in Christ,” asserts Josh Glazer of Regeneration.
Black, of First Stone, is more realistic: “In working with 150-200 people a
year, a high 70% become celibate or have found freedom” from same-sex
temptations enough to marry. “About 45% are married after two years.”
Relapse does occur in a substantial percentage of cases. The most recent notable
case is John Paulk, author of “Not Afraid to Change,” and the husband of Anne
Paulk, who now directs the Restored Hope Network. It has led to their divorce
this spring. As she put it, “He was unfaithful to me,” and to his stated
commitment to Christ.
Interestingly, however, most ex-gay ministries are simultaneously helping those
with heterosexual misconduct, such as addiction to pornography or adultery.
“We are here to help men and women get closer to Jesus and grow so that they
bear the image of Christ in their lives and relationships,” said Josh Glazer of
Regeneration. “All of us deal with sexual brokenness and sexual sin. We are in
this together. Homosexuals and heterosexuals addicted to pornography are all in
need of redemption with Christ in our lives.”
Exodus has died, but ministry to those with same-sex attraction or pornography
addiction will continue and largely be successful.
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