20 June 2013

A True Man's Apology

This apology is a really big deal.

Thank you, Mr. Chambers, for having the integrity to _not_ play the oppressive, manipulative "we've always believed this way" card popular among accountability-avoidant PR departments. Thank you for making efforts over the last year to shed or distance yourself from the disingenuous and serpentine wordcrafting popular among certain of your peers.

I don't have any illusion that Chambers is moving towards embracing same-sex relationships as a spiritually ideal, Biblically approved option, and I still disagree with some fundamentals of his views, but I very much respect his persistent efforts to build his organization's integrity despite some very harsh criticism from those who have been his associates and fellows.

I heard him speak at a conference in Salt Lake almost 7 years ago now, and his rhetoric and tone seem to have shifted towards greater authenticity and frankness since then. He recently had the courage to admit, after years of evasive wording about "change", that few if any people actually change their orientation, at least not to the point of eradicating same-sex attractions. I believe many stick with the "change" angle with the intent to offer possibly life-saving hope for another way a few seeking souls may not have considered, downplaying or omitting the phenomenon of persisting same-sex attraction as irrelevant to their success in living according to their religious paths. But it's not irrelevant when heroes and careers are made or broken by a standard that was more slick marketing than human reality, or when an intensely conflicted young gay man can't understand why he hasn't had enough faith or put in enough effort to achieve what so many supposedly have, and he feels like a failure or loses all hope for happiness as he perceives it. Chambers' admission was not a hair-splitting, nit-picking quibble that cowed to some "gay agenda": it's a paradigm-shifting, potentially life-saving truth. He also announced Exodus would be dropping sexual orientation change efforts as a focus of their ministry, either de facto or explicit.

He isn't changing his personal, religious beliefs, as far as I can tell, and he may well intend for all of this to better position him and others to coach those desiring paths they believe to be Biblically congruent.  Nonetheless, he offers many vulnerable apologies to a wounded and potentially unforgiving audience, such as the following: 

"I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt 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 that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly 'on my side' who called you names like sodomite—or worse...

"I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine...

"And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions..."

Those, I believe, are the words of someone who knows what it means to be a true man.

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