In contrast to the dogmatic clarity expressed by its lovers and haters, our story casts Exodus International as neither deliverer nor devil. As participants, former leaders, and observers of Exodus, we have a complex response to the organization's demise, founded in 1976 to support those who wanted freedom from unwanted same sex attraction due to their spiritual convictions.
Its expiration feels like the sudden death of a loved one with whom we've had a complicated history. Is there relief? Yes… but also consternation and wistfulness. Along with our mixed feelings, we suspect that Alan Chambers is now taking the rap for what the Christian church has been avoiding for decades.
From our vantage point, Exodus' failure starts with mistakes in leadership development and supervision, a point missing from Chambers's thorough apology. I (Christopher) witnessed first hand how leaders were often released too soon to become poster-boys and girls for something they hadn't fully experienced.
I helped to found an Exodus ministry in the mid-1980s when both the culture and the church largely neglected the gay community. I resigned only two years later when I realized I hadn't yet experienced the relational wholeness that I both longed for and promised to others. A co-leader simultaneously initiated a sexual relationship with one who had come to us for help. It was textbook bad leadership.
The promotion of immature, earnest leaders—who weren't held accountable for failing to embody what they preached—left a wake of destruction. Exodus didn't invent such duplicity; it simply followed the model of what happens every day in the church, in the boardroom, and in the hallways of power. ...1