Guess who’s coming to dinner?

The organizers of the Ex-gay Survivors Conference have invited Exodus conference participants to a dinner on June 29, 2007 in Irvine, CA. The invitation does not say who is coming or who will speak. I would want to know this in advance if it were me. The invitation provides an email address for RSVP which I suppose could be used to ask questions. It seems to me just sitting down together would be an accomplishment, without the speeches. Having both sides offer comments might be something worth considering as opposed to one side having the program.

I won’t be in Irvine but I will post an open forum next week for those who are there to offer observations.

OneNewsNow reports on conflict over descriptions of change

Jim Brown of OneNewNow reports an interview with Alan Chambers regarding the LA Times article on Monday and Stephen Bennett’s critical reaction.

Chambers tells OneNewsNow he has never met someone who had a “sudden or complete change when it came to homosexuality.” He says he believes that God gives people the ability to overcome on a daily basis, rather than “a complete transformation in an instant.”

Stephen Bennett declares “public divide” with Exodus

Stephen Bennett weighs in on the recent LA Times article and CNN appearance of Alan Chambers.

Stephen takes issue with suggestions from Al Mohler and others that biological factors may be involved in homosexuality:

There is ZERO biological, scientific “evidence” for homosexuality to this date. The biblical evidence for homosexuality is very clear: it’s sin.

Ominously, he declares:

“What we see here is the public divide of the pro-family movement.”

Well, since he brought it up…

I think there have been some significant tensions among social conservatives that may be a part of the broader development of evangelicalism. Of late, divides have occured over environmental policy and abortion. I think we are seeing tensions now over sexuality.

Alan Chambers on CNN’s The Situation Room

What a difference a day (seems to) makes.

First, the LA Times article and then this afternoon, Alan Chambers appeared on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Apparently stimulated by the LA Times article, CNN’s Mary Snow interviewed Alan about the term ex-gay and what is meant by change. Jack Drescher was on briefly to indicate his surprise at the shift (which regular readers of this blog will know has been developing over time). Matt Barber of Concerned Women for America was on to suggest there was no evidence for innateness of sexual orientation. Clearly Alan was cast as breaking with the tide.

See the video here…

LA Times article features ex-gay debate and sexual identity therapy

NOTE: This article is archived here now… 

This morning’s LA Times pulls together a host of factors to suggest that there is “New ground in debate on ‘curing’ gays.” Written by Stephanie Simon, the article cites or quotes numerous sources as evidence that changes are happening in the dialogue regarding sexual orientation, ministry and therapy.

The article begins with a bang:

Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation’s largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group’s Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won’t celebrate successful “ex-gays.”

Truth is, he’s not sure he’s ever met one.

With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he’s a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he’s come to resent the term “ex-gay”: It’s too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete,” Chambers said.

His personal denunciation of the term “ex-gay” — his organization has yet to follow suit — is just one example of shifting ground in the polarizing debate on homosexuality.

While I am not sure Alan would categorize his process as “years of therapy,” this section reprises many discussions on this blog about ex-gay as a term and the changing focus at Exodus.

Speaking of blog discussions, Michael Bussee adds his perspective:

“Something’s happening. And I think it’s very positive,” agreed Michael Bussee, who founded Exodus in 1976, only to fall in love with another man — a fellow ex-gay counselor.

Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee regularly speaks out against ex-gay therapies and is scheduled to address the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference at UC Irvine at the end of the month.

But Bussee put aside his protest agenda recently to endorse new guidelines to sexual identity therapy, co-written by two professors at conservative Christian colleges.

Lee Beckstead gives a fine description of sexual identity therapy:

“It’s about helping clients accept that they have these same-sex attractions and then allowing them the space, free from bias, to choose how they want to act,” said Lee Beckstead, a gay psychologist in Salt Lake City who uses this approach.

Speaking of the sexual identity therapy framework, I think this might the first public mention of their endorsement by Robert Spitzer.

The guidelines for this type of therapy — written by Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College and Mark Yarhouse of Regent University — have been endorsed by representatives on both the left and right. The list includes the provost of a conservative evangelical college and the psychiatrist whose gay-rights advocacy in the 1970s got homosexuality removed from the official medical list of mental disorders.

“What appeals to me is that it moves away from the total polarization” common in the field, said Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist.

While not in this article, his complete statement to me about the framework is:

I have reviewed the sexual identity framework written by Warren Throckmorton and Mark Yarhouse. This framework provides a very necessary outline to help therapists address the important concerns of clients who are in conflict over their homosexual attractions. The work of Drs. Throckmorton and Yarhouse transcend polarized debates about whether gays can change their sexual orientation. Rather, this framework helps therapists work with clients to craft solutions tailored to their individual situations and personal beliefs and values. I support this framework and hope it is widely implemented.

You heard it here first

UPDATE: The article has been reprinted by Newsday and the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the San Mateo County Times, the Chicago Tribune Redeye edition, AM New York and the Advocate.

Exodus Position Statement on Bullying and Violence

Alan Chambers sent the following in an email this afternoon.

“Exodus Position Statement on Bullying and Violence

Exodus International affirms that gay-identified individuals and those who struggle with same-sex attraction are persons for whom Jesus Christ died and loves equally. Therefore, we strongly oppose bullying, name calling and acts of aggression against any individual or group of individuals for any reason. These actions have no place in our society and we must, instead, affirm behavior that validates the personal worth and dignity God bestows upon every human being.

“In addition, every individual deserves equal protection and every offender should receive equal punishment. We call upon other organizations concerned with preserving the essential equality of all individuals to exhibit impartiality in their policies, rather than singling out some for special treatment.”

Amen.

UPDATE – 6/12/07 – See Alan Chamber’s blog entry today for some context for today’s statement. I, for one, am very glad to see this statement.

Exodus statement about “sudden, radical and complete” change

There have been a few mentions in comments on this blog and elsewhere about an Exodus radio spot suggesting “sudden, radical and complete change” of some kind.

I received the following statement in an email from David Fountain, Director of Conference Services, earlier today:

Here is an email blast that went out to everyone on our conference list on Friday:

Wow, the 2007 Exodus Freedom Conference is less than 18 days away! The Exodus staff is very excited about seeing you and what God has in store for all of us at this year’s Freedom Conference.

We are expecting Him to do nothing less than move in revolutionary ways in and through our lives. In the midst of all the noise and confusing messages from the world today, we are choosing to pursue God. We are making a decision to follow and surrender everything to Him, even our struggle with homosexuality. Our President Alan Chambers recently said, “A life of freedom doesn’t equal a life absent of struggle. As long as we live on this earth, we will continue to struggle with our own humanity. A life of freedom is actually found in the midst of the struggle, when we choose to fight. Especially, when it is difficult to do so.”

The rewards and benefits of living a revolutionary life for the ultimate revolutionary, Jesus, is worth it! In John 10:6b He says, “Anyone who goes through me will be cared for-will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” We will settle for nothing less than the life of freedom Jesus offers all of

us!

Exodus is also calling for a revolution within the church: a sudden, radical, complete change where the body of Christ begins ministering grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality. We will continue to advocate for those struggling with unwanted homosexuality, for those who are gay identified, and for those who love them.

Join us for this life-changing eye-opening week of learning and healing!

We will also be placing this statement by the promo on the website:

A Word from Our President About REVOLUTION

“Exodus International exists to mobilize the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality. As such, we are calling upon the evangelical church to undergo a sudden, radical and complete change in the way it has dealt with the issue of homosexuality in the past. “As former homosexuals, we know that the process of transformation is often a long, difficult journey towards healing and holiness. If the body of Christ will embrace and demonstrate the compassionate truth and grace of Jesus Christ-then we will witness a true revolution in our generation.”

-Alan Chambers, President, Exodus International

UPDATE – June 12, 2007: I received the following note today from Alan Chambers:

A month or so ago I took note of a comment by Timothy Kinkaid that was posted on either XGW or Warren Throckmorton’s blog regarding terminology.

Having grown up in church I understand and fluently speak Christianese. The culture at large doesn’t always understand the way we speak. This is something that we are aware of at Exodus and are making a more concerted effort to change. I struggle to find words that explain “healing” and “change” and “transformation”. Those are applicable to my life and story. However, I do recognize that they can and do unintentionally mislead people.

Our public service announcement highlighting our annual conference is being played on one Christian radio station in California. This PSA references our conference theme, Revolution, and its definition: sudden, complete and radical. We want to emphasize that we are calling for such change within the evangelical church and the way it has typically dealt with the issue of homosexuality. By no means is it our belief that change from the complexity of issues surrounding homosexuality is often sudden or complete.

In an effort to clarify our message, we have produced a statement that appears on our website and has been sent to the station running the ads.

Messaging is important as is honesty. Our intention with this ad was simply to call the church to sudden, radical and complete change regarding how we have traditionally dealt with the issue of homosexuality.

I am truly sorry for any confusion this caused.

Alan Chambers

President, Exodus International

I thank Alan for this note and clarification.

Alan Chambers on the International Day Against Homophobia

I liked Alan Chambers’ post today commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia. I encourage you to go read the entire post. Highlights are:

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia. And, you might be surprised to learn that I support this effort. Homophobia does exist. Irrational fear of those who are gay or lesbian is a real problem in our culture. While I believe we have come a long way, I still see true homophobia at work each and every day.

and

It has long been my goal to so impact the Church with the message of truth and grace that Exodus would be able to go out of business.

So, when it comes to the evils of homophobia, bullying, name calling, hatred and violence where those affected by homosexuality are concerned, I stand with all decent human beings who are fighting and praying for an end to the ignorance and ungodliness that cause them.

Join me, won’t you?

I wonder what Paul Cameron got me for my IDAHO present?