The conservative-Christian New Man Magazine interviewed Exodus International president Alan Chambers on March 20.
The interview consisted of carefully worded questions that appeared to have been written by (or for) Exodus to bypass any serious analysis of ex-gay politics and pseudoscience.
Chambers’ answers were boilerplate ex-gay rhetoric; the questions were more telling in terms of bias and evasion of facts by Exodus and those who uncritically provide Exodus with a soapbox.
The Truth Wins Out blog analyzed the first half of the interview here; read on for part two.
New Man question: You wrote an amazing letter that we published in our eMagazine about prodigals and the potential that you see them as having. Can you talk about the potential that you see in many homosexuals for the kingdom?
Translation: New Man fails to link to the letter, and declines to indicate what is amazing about it. Here’s the backstory:
On March 6, Alan Chambers wrote a condescending article which said that gay people are “hijacked heroes in need of our grace and patience.” Chambers does not consider sexually honest Christians to have “surrendered to Christ” unless they adopt Chambers’ own U.S. rightist evangelical ideology. Until they become as politically correct as Chambers — until they abandon their defense of religious freedom, individual rights, the U.S. Constitution, sexual honesty, nonviolence, and family values — Chambers classifies same-sex-attracted persons and their supportive families as pawns of the devil:
I have long believed that the devil purposely goes after those that he knew were destined to be strategic public influencers: musicians, actors, educators and even preachers. The people who draw the biggest audiences are at the greatest risk. The enemy was very crafty by stealing those who have the loudest voices.
In that earlier article, themed after the parable of the prodigal son, Chambers may have been right about one thing:
We in the church so often resemble the older brother: bitter, angry, unwelcoming, pious, prideful and arrogant. We are proud of the fact that we are the ones that have gotten it right, served the Father, and been the steady sons.
Unfortunately, Chambers seems to have learned little from that self-assessment. Instead of stepping back from his role as the smug, angry brother, he fully exploits that status. Chambers talks down to those who reject his religion of conformity and treats those who reject his ideology as if they were slaves due to their failure to conform: “I am praying for a mass exodus from slavery and from the wilderness.”
In the more recent interview, Chambers says:
I believe we’re missing these people and we’ve got to reach out to people who are missing. They are people who we want to be part of the body. I believe that’ the way God sees it. Not everybody’ going to choose Him. But I think we could do a whole lot better as a church helping to bring people into the kingdom if we saw them the way Christ sees them‚Äînot just as lost‚Äîbut as missing.
By dismissing spiritual neighbors and fellow church members as “missing,” Chambers purposely strives to ostracize and disfellowship them. Then he has the chutzpah to claim to welcome these people back to gutted churches that have been remade to the liking of smug religious extremists. Finally, in a statement that borders on blasphemy, Chambers baldly asserts that God sees these other people in the same patronizing way that he does.
New Man: Let’ talk about the attention recently that’ been given to men that “live on the down-low,” men who are married and seem to be heterosexual, but fall occasionally into the sin of homosexuality. Is your approach any different when working with a man like that?
Translation: New Man misdefines “down low” and Chambers misses an opportunity to accurately define it.
“Down low” is a term frequently applied to African-American males, though the accuracy and fairness of this racial connection is debatable. Many (but not all) “down low” men live in denial of their bisexual or homosexual orientation and, somewhat like ex-gays, adopt alternate “heterosexual” labeling to disguise their attractions and conceal their behavior. Other “down low” men are open about their same-sex attractions and activity but eschew what they perceive to be whiteness or effeminacy implicit in the word “gay.” The term “down low” commony refers, in particular, to a desire for secrecy among many same-sex-attracted men who identify with cultural backgrounds in which sexual honesty and openness are taboo.
In his response to New Man’s question, Chambers misses an opportunity to educate readers and instead equates “down low,” homosexual orientation, and bisexual orientation with “sexual addiction.” As if to explain, Chambers then remarks:
A full 40 percent of the men that come through Exodus are married. Those men have a real incentive to change because they have kids and they have a wife that they love. Now if the person is part of the whole down-low culture and not willing to own the fact that they have an issue with homosexuality, they might not identify with the gay community, but there is something broken there. Something is causing them to be involved sexually with members of the same sex, so they’ve got to be willing to admit that and own it and want to work on it.
Chambers acknowledges men’s sincere love for their families, but then steers those men toward religiously correct dishonesty and denial that have proven devastating to the survivors of Exodus’ programs and their families. Chambers demands that men who have never experienced significant sexual attraction to women — not even their wives — falsely confess to sexual addiction, join ex-gay ideology groups, and strive to either purge sexual thought from their minds or superimpose feigned opposite-gender sexual interest. The goal: Preserve ill-conceived marriages through myth rather than fact, and protect children from sexual honesty. Instead of helping married partners navigate the incongruency of their sexual orientations, Chambers blames the gay partner, issues a false diagnosis, sells a fake remedy, and condemns the couple and its children to ongoing miscommunication and misunderstanding.
New Man: What’ the general program there? Is it discipleship? Counseling? Both?
Translation: New Man fails to seek the advice of mainstream, professional marriage counselors and instead asks Chambers — a political ideologue — to dictate solutions. Chambers responds by listing extremes that are supposedly forbidden among Exodus-affiliated ministries: Touch therapy, aversion therapy, nude warrior camps. But what Chambers promotes instead — Exodus’ own amateur affiliates — misapply 12-step philosophies (which offer guiding principles for recovery from addictive, compulsive, or other behavioral problems) to the suppression of responsible sexuality, individual freedom, and equal opportunity among persons who are, and likely always will be, predominantly same-sex attracted.
New Man: Do you ever get people saying I want to be free from homosexuality but I’m not really interested in the Christian thing?
Translation: New Man offers Chambers an opportunity to help non-Christians address an unwanted sexual orientation without becoming Christian — and Chambers politely declines. He says “freedom [from sexuality] is available for anyone who wants it,” but Chambers fails to offer any specific tips or referrals that might offer such “freedom” without conversion to his own ideology. In other words, ideological conformity, not sexuality, seems to be Chambers’ central concern.
New Man: There is a lot of debate about homosexuality in terms of orientation. Scripture seems to talk about it in terms of behavior while the culture talks about orientation. Do you think the terminology has muddied the waters of this debate?
Translation: New Man grossly distorts expert theological debate over the Bible’s observations (both positive and negative) regarding sexual orientation. New Man dismisses orientation — the essence of one’s sexual attractions — as mere cultural myth.
Chambers responds that “nobody has really defined [orientation] well enough” when in fact Exodus has refused to acknowledge well-established definitions, has refused to discuss the reality of sexual orientation, and has battled politically to prevent legislative recognition of the reality of sexual orientation.
Instead, Chambers parrots an antigay industry myth — started, apparently, by Exodus’ prime benefactor, Focus on the Family — that the United Nations has identified more than 20 sexual orientations. (Focus deliberately misled the public by falsely equating orientation with various sexual philias and disorders and then attributing this misinformation to its own hired liaison to the United Nations.)
New Man: How big of a problem do you think secret homosexuality in the church is?
Translation: Both New Man and Chambers feign surprise (or expose their own ignorance) at the homosexuality of evangelist Ted Haggard. Chambers is understandably opposed to pastors’ practice of double lives. But instead of encouraging pastors to reconcile their faith and sexual truth — what he darkly calls “compromise” — Chambers resorts to scare tactics:
I think it is a problem that could rip apart the church, and I think the reason that we see the church caving in on Scripture, and why the gay movement rising, and the culture really turning toward hell is that we as Christians have compromised and failed to look differently.
The belief that U.S. culture is going to hell because it rejects the religious right’s distortions of faith, its contempt for freedom, or its denial of equal opportunity to gay and gender-variant Americans, is hardly a “startling statement,” as New Man calls it. It is merely a worn-out, selfish, mean-spirited, and desperate appeal to the twin gods of the religious right: egocentrism and fear.
Having condemned much of the country to hell for incorrectness and sexual honesty, Chambers champions himself and his ideological allies as “the conscience of the state” a la Martin Luther King Jr.
Rarely have false piety and egomania been so succinctly self-expressed.