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August 16, 2013
Column #1,668
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 leaders.

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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