Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Conversion Precipitates Real Meaningful Change

Apparently Exodus International questioned itself and came to the conclusion it's existence was not Christian at all.  Good for them.

I had intended to write a piece on Pope Francis' first 100 days.  In it I was going to make the point that for me Francis is attempting something astonishing.  He is not overly concerned with changing how the Catholic Institution functions, but rather he is targeting the very spiritual matrix in which it lives.  In other words, Francis is not reforming the Catholic religion, so much as he trying to reform Catholic spirituality.  Reform the spirituality and the institution will follow;  the spiritual matrix creates it's institutional expression.   
It may be that this 'Francis Effect' is spreading beyond Catholicism.  This morning I was stunned to read the following apology from Alan Chambers, the Director of Exodus International.  For those who don't know, Exodus was a global proponent of reparative therapy for gays.  It used a combination of 'pray the gay away' coupled with coercive therapy and a big dose of parent bashing.  It was also involved in Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' bill.  Exodus was a virulent strain of Evangelical Christianity--a pox on it's spiritual soul.  Chamber's admission and apology is amazing in it's blunt honesty about the consequences of that toxic spiritual reality:
I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced.  I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. 
I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite — or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him, I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 
More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.

This is what conversion is all about.  Not conversion from gay to straight, but conversion from fear to love.  If you have the time I encourage you to read the live coverage of this announcement that Jim Burroway did at Box Turtle Bulletin.  I find myself agreeing with Jim's last sentences:  "But make no mistake about it. This is the end of an era, and major milestone in the history of the ex-gay movement. I imagine we’re going to hear a lot of reactions over the next several days to come, but tonight, Exodus has come to a quiet and — dare I say it — a very dignified end."

More coverage here:

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