News of Exodus International shutting down has shocked Christians and has brought many different reactions. When the ministry announced last year that it would no longer support reparative or conversion therapy, many people rejoiced including Christians who consider gay sex a sin. One problem with the therapy is that it comes from the incorrect belief in sexuality as identity or a state of being. The Bible has never defined people by their sexual desires. Reparative or conversion therapy lacks a scriptural foundation.
When I learned that Exodus was cancelling the therapy, I had hoped that the ministry would become more inclusive. By that, I mean counseling both gay and straight people and training them to avoid sexual sin. When I learned that Exodus was shutting down, I was disappointed and worried. Now, I hear that a new ministry will emerge from the old, and my hope remains. I love to be optimistic about the future.
Although some Christians consider this cancellation and closing an abandonment of biblical values, many other Christians see these people as returning to a stronger and fuller scriptural foundation. With the upcoming new ministry, we can have hope. The Christian Post cited:
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told the Baptist Press that the closing of Exodus International "doesn't mean the folding of an evangelical sexual ethic, though it does mean a move away from a therapeutic model of sexual sanctification."
Moore said, "Evangelical Christianity increasingly addresses sexual issues more in line with the older Christian tradition of sin and temptation and triumph than with the language of therapy. We can't have a utopian view of overcoming temptation of any sort."
Pastor and teacher Christopher Yuan said:
"Although God does not bless homosexual sex or same-sex romantic relations, heterosexuality should not be the goal,"
"Holiness is our standard and we all are called to be holy whether we have heterosexual or homosexual feelings. Holiness with reference to our sexuality means one of two things. If you are married, complete faithfulness to your spouse of the opposite sex. Or if you are single, complete faithfulness through abstinence."
Nowhere in scripture does it state that people must be heterosexual or homosexual. The word "catamite" or "effeminate" translated as homosexual in the New King James would be most correctly translated as transgender. Augustine has a rant against effeminates in his book City of God, and they sound transgender to me. Gays simply do not commit what the saint has ranted against; only transgender individuals do that. Nowhere in scripture does it state that people must be heterosexual or homosexual, but there are repeated calls for people to be holy.
"HOLINESS TO THE LORD" (Exodus 39:30)
"You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)
"Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 20:7)
"...and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God." (Numbers 15:40)
"Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven in perfect." (Mathew 5:48)
Scripture demands that we be held accountable for our sins. we cannot earn forgiveness - only faith in Jesus can do that - but we can be held accountable and responsible for our own actions. Jesus will never accept any excuses for sin. Confession and repentance are two ways we take accountability and responsibility for our actions.
A biblical view of sexuality is never one that defines people by the flesh. If Christians keep thinking, "oh, let's make them heterosexual!" then the focus still remains on the flesh and not on the spirit. If we lose our focus on spiritual matters and if we focus instead on fleshy matters, then we lose our view of God and are distracted away from holiness. Sin creeps in and engulfs. Suppose a person does become hetero through the old therapy; now, that person has a whole new list of sins to avoid.
"walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16)
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:5-6)
The biblical view of sexuality declares that sex should only occur within the context of marriage between man and woman (Genesis 2:24; Mathew 19:5) but these verses do not mention heterosexuality or homosexuality. A gay person and a straight person can marry and start a family together. This is because the concepts of heterosexuality and homosexuality as identities or a state of being are social constructs. Social constructs have no basis in reality.
Defining people by the flesh in this way has seriously injured a Christian's ability to minister to gays and lesbians. Defining people by their fleshly desires means that for gay sex to be a sin, then gays and lesbians would be the personification of sin - "the gay agenda." This concept is one of the worst things to happen within Christianity because it has damaged the Christian's ability to lead them to repentance.
Gay sex is a sin for the exact same reason that any sex outside of the husband-wife union is a sin. This is what all Christians must realize. Then, once we fully understand why any and all sex outside the husband-wife union is wrong, then we can focus on healthy behavior without condemning any specific group. When you take a look at our culture as a whole, this culture is incredibly broken. Sexual sin and carnality run rampant. Marriage is a broken institution, and our culture is damaged and broken sexually. Just take a look at pop culture.
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, has never regretted having a biblical view of morality. Any claims that Exodus is caving into the contemporary culture appear to be false. Chambers has stated clearly his determination to remain on a biblical foundation. After he apologized for the harm done to gays and lesbians, he has declared the things that he cannot apologize for.
"I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them," Chambers said in his apology. "I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage."
In an interview with the Christian Post, he emphasized:
My beliefs about sex and sexuality and sexual expression are that God created, His original created intent was sexual expression between one man and one woman for one lifetime in the bonds of marriage, and that is the truth I live by. That is the truth of my story. So I can't apologize for that. I realize that's not everyone's belief, and in fact it feels more and more like the majority of the world, that isn't their belief. So those things won't change, and I can't apologize for that.
But I do believe so many of us who hold to those scriptural beliefs ... have wielded them as a sword so often. We've been involved in a culture war that really, literally, has claimed untold lives, and we've got to be more careful. God didn't bring us to planet Earth to wage a war. When he sent Jesus, Jesus didn't come to condemn the world. And so I think we have to really step back and realize we have waged war. We have wielded swords. We have not brought the Gospel of peace. And so often – in fact, most often – the church is known for what we're against, the political things that we are signing on to or signing up to be against. And it's time that the world knows what we're for.
Too often Christians have focused on targeting sin and sickness without attempting to bring health. Figure out and understand what is healthy and unhealthy. Then, teach people what is healthy and keep that your focus. When you focus on teaching people what is healthy and proper, then they will automatically do the healthy and proper thing.
And the best way we can make our culture healthy is to focus on love. There is no love in sexual sin because it dehumanizes people. There is no love in violence or vengeance. When we are full of love for people, then we treat people right and we teach people what the right actions are. When we love people, then we teach people what sin is and how not to sin. When we focus on love, then we teach people about holiness and righteousness because then we become true representatives of Jesus.
The new hope I have for a new ministry is for the new ministry to tackle all forms of carnality and sexual sin. The new hope I have is for the new ministry emerging from this to help all people, not just one group. This culture has strayed far from holiness. I hope that this new ministry will work to break down the false concept of sexual identity. I hope that this new ministry will counsel all people to avoid temptation according to a biblical model. I hope that this new ministry will encourage and educate churches to be the outreach communities that God wants them to be. I hope that this will protest pop culture and will promote healthy entertainment for children. There are many things to hope for.