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This week, the “ex-gay” organization Exodus International posted a cruel and misleading video on its blog where the group’s president, Alan Chambers, made the outrageous claim that, “Homosexuality will disappoint you.”
In reality, it is Exodus that will disappoint, with its remarkable failure rate and potential for real psychological harm. (There is a good reason Exodus does not keep statistics) The only way, it seems, clients “change” their sexual orientation is to join the Exodus staff and get paid to say they have converted.
Chambers’ claim is patently absurd. Neither homosexuality, nor heterosexuality, can disappoint. Both orientations represent sexual arousal and love — both wonderful feelings of joy and satisfaction. I suppose what Chambers is inartfully alluding too, is that if a person comes out, they will be let down by some who they want to share a sexual and romantic relationship.
Of course, this is true. When you come out, I can guarantee that there will be sexual and emotional interests that will not reciprocate. This will, no doubt, be disappointing.
Surely, Chambers can’t be suggesting that such disappointments are exclusive to LGBT people. How then does he explain the high divorce rate in America? How does he rationalize the jukeboxes filled with songs for the love sick and broken hearted? How does he justify the existence of online dating sites and personal ads if heterosexual happiness is so magically easy? If heterosexual marriage is so perfect, who is frequenting the prostitutes walking the street or selling their wares on the Internet?
Obviously, both sexual orientations can bring bliss or brokenness; ecstasy or despair. For Chambers to suggest that gay people have a monopoly on loneliness and relationship troubles is disingenuous. What he is really trying to do is scare LGBT teenagers into believing that if they come out they will be miserable. This is simply untrue and such lies are why it is difficult to trust or respect Alan Chambers.
If the first lie was not bad enough, Chambers resorts to biblical blackmail and spiritual abuse when he says:
“In God’s word, it says, ‘this is not what I created you for. I didn’t create you for this. This is a counterfeit of my best.’”
If Chambers’ sexuality is so real, why was he impotent for the first six months of his marriage? It seems he was trying to be someone that he was not meant to be. Indeed, Box Turtle Bulletin’s Jim Burroway recorded Chambers at a 2007 Love Won Out conference in Phoenix saying that each morning he wakes up and prays, “Dear Lord, I can’t make it today without you. I choose to deny what comes naturally to me.’”
And he calls the love of LGBT people counterfeit?
Next, Chambers offers this bit of advice:
“Don’t defer hope by getting involved in homosexuality. Or continuing in homosexuality. It is deferring hope and it will make your heart sick….homosexuality is a poor substitute.”
Deferring hope of what? The Exodus activist told the Los Angeles Times on June 18, 2007, “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete.”
Is he seriously peddling sexual repression as “hope”? And, with endless examples of happy LGBT couples, how exactly will one’s heart get sick? Again, Chambers is trying to spook young people into signing up for his useless “pray away the gay” seminars, which fund his salary.
Alan then goes on to say:
“Many of you people would not be here if your hearts weren’t sick.”
I would agree with his assessment. When one denies reality and subjugates his or her real sexual orientation — the result can be sickness. Lying to oneself about something so fundamental can do serious emotional and psychological damage. The fact that the audience paid to listen to this charlatan, does increase the chance that they are internally ripping themselves to shreds. Unfortunately, Chambers false and destructive message is not the panacea, but the root of the pain. Exodus is the problem. not the solution.
The “ex-gay” activist then cunningly offers a disclaimer that absolves himself and his failed organization from the eventual, dare I say, “disappointment”:
“God is here. He will meet your need if you trust him. If you ask him to do something in your life, he’ll do it. It may not be exactly the way you wanted it to be done. It may not be exactly what you, um, think he was going to do. Or in the time that he, you expected him to do it. But he’ll do something in your life.”
If you read between the lines, Chambers is covering his ass by essentially saying, “You will be a paying customer in my racket for a real long time and don’t expect to see any tangible signs of heterosexuality.”
Of course, the silly claim that “God is doing something” is deceptive and unverifiable. It could be claimed that God made the sun shine today, thus he did “something” in your life. But, the truth is, the vast majority of people who attend Exodus retreats are desperately trying to go from gay-to-straight. If they were simply trying to find Jesus, they could have just as easily have done so by staying home and saving money by praying at the local church. But, no, they fly off to the Exodus event not simply to have God do “something”. They usually want God to do something very specific, which is change their sexual orientation.
Interestingly, Chambers continues his speech by basically saying that his organization has no real product and it is all in the Lord’s hands.
“If your heart is sick, you can find healing here. Not because this is Exodus International and we cure people, because we don’t. We simply stand up here as facilitators in a process and point to the only one that can help you, the only one that can save you. the only one who can heal you.”
How convenient. When the paying customers don’t get what they came for, it’s not Exodus’ fault. It’s the customer’s fault for not pleasing the man upstairs. Is this not the perfect scheme?
Chambers reiterates — even though he is the one who cashes the checks — that God is the only one who gives the green light to leaving the gay behind.
“You are not going to get cured this week. We can’t cure you. I can’t cure you. But the truth is, God can.”
So, the questions often asked by Exodus’ distraught and disillusioned religious clients are: “How come God chose not to cure me? Does God not love me? What did I do wrong?”
Clearly, it is not a leap to see how Exodus’ message can lead to suicide, depression and self-destructive behavior. It’s even sadder that Chambers runs a program called Exodus Youth, in which he peddles his guilt-inducing lies to impressionable teenagers who are told by family members that they are bad people and going to hell if they are gay.
Exodus is an organization that thrives on slick marketing campaigns, selling half-truths, fudging facts, and playing semantic games. It takes advantage of vulnerable and desperate people and exacerbates their trauma. This video is Exhibit A in showing how Exodus is a destructive organization that should close its doors before more innocent people are harmed.