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You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours
June 20, 2013 2:34 AM   Subscribe

“I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. 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 stigmatised parents.” The world’s oldest and largest ‘ex-gay’ organisation, Exodus International, is finally shutting down a year after deciding it was wrong. Previously. Previousier.
posted by Mezentian (113 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Earlier this year Chambers admitted that “99.9 percent” of Exodus patients experienced no change in their sexuality and apologised for an earlier slogan of the organisation, “Change Is Possible”.

Chambers seems to have changed his mistaken ideas, so change is possible, just not the kind of change he was claiming. I hope he gets to lead a happy life and resists the urge to meddle in other people's lives for the rest of it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:51 AM on June 20, 2013 [26 favorites]


They're just rebranding. Bank on it.
posted by spitbull at 2:57 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also in related not-news, the Westboro people hate 11-year-old girls, and Australia has voted, again, on marriage.
posted by Mezentian at 3:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're just rebranding.

That is totally the Internet Explorer logo.
posted by Mezentian at 3:14 AM on June 20, 2013


Founded in 1976, Exodus was a pioneer of the controversial ‘conversion therapy’

Too little, too late. Go die in a fire.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:14 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


LOL there is still a big "GIVE" donation link right next to the "apology."

Once a lying huckster, always a lying huckster. I guarantee they re-emerge with a new softer focus form of hateful bigotry. This one just got too controversial to be profitable.

Piss on their apology.
posted by spitbull at 3:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Too little, too late. Go die in a fire.

If they can't get a positive reaction for what good steps they do make, how will they ever be convinced?

I'm down with hating what they've done. I'm down with hating what they might do, if this is a mere rebranding exercise. This hate is not excised with what they are doing now; but nevertheless, I welcome gladly what they are doing now, and can contribute minor applause.'

We certainly shouldn't forget; but when Exodus has a track record of prominent people later publicly disavowing their former views I give this decent odds of being sincere. I hope he finds enough self-understanding to know what pain he's caused; on top of that, I feel I would not need to add anything.
posted by solarion at 3:23 AM on June 20, 2013 [77 favorites]


If they aren't back in bigoted business under a new name in be year, I'll change my opinion, and also, when they lose the donation link. Why does a ministry that is closing down need donations?

If the new ministry is specifically devoted to confronting bigotry in the evangelical movement, and only to that, I'll also change my view that this is a PR stunt.
posted by spitbull at 3:39 AM on June 20, 2013


Why does a ministry that is closing down need donations?

Someone's got to pay the movers.

Having known Christians who have come out as gay, I can absolutely believe that some in the organisation truly thought that with enough prayer they could be "healed". I've met some who were trying on their own, and those who have had even the most token support have come out better in the end. It's one thing to be one sinner in a room full of other sinners; it's something else altogether to think you're the only aberration.

So while I am happy they are closing, and I am happy they are apologising, I think characterising the operation as a bunch of liars and cheats is overly reductive.
posted by Jilder at 4:08 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Why does a ministry that is closing down need donations?

Why are you assuming it's something they just put up now, as opposed to something that's always been up and they've just forgotten to take it down?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm guessing that it's a year since they've recanted their position.
posted by Mezentian at 4:44 AM on June 20, 2013


Why are you assuming it's something they just put up now, as opposed to something that's always been up and they've just forgotten to take it down?

I think the point is that if they were genuinely sorry and therefore shutting up shop, they'd have been thoughtful enough to take down the link. It's a pretty darn big 'give' link that talks about the 'work ahead' in the same size font as the content of the page. It definitely undermines their credibility, even if it's purely a result of incompetence.
posted by hoyland at 4:45 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it's worth mentioning that he himself notes he has had same-sex attraction...so it's more like a self-hating gay/bi man who did something he now knows was wrong, but at the time, maybe wanted to get "better" himself. He may deserve our sympathy, not our hate.
posted by corb at 4:56 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


At the moment, they deserve neither sympathy nor antipathy, but do deserve well-earned suspicion as to what happens next.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:14 AM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the point is that if they were genuinely sorry and therefore shutting up shop, they'd have been thoughtful enough to take down the link. It's a pretty darn big 'give' link that talks about the 'work ahead' in the same size font as the content of the page. It definitely undermines their credibility, even if it's purely a result of incompetence.

How does it undermine their credibility if it's purely the result of incompetence? Are incompetent people less likely to be sincere? That statement makes no sense.

I don't get the need to keep on hating and distrusting this guy. Maybe he is just rebranding, maybe he's not sincere in his change, but there are no points for being the first person to "call it." You gain nothing by assuming the worst of him. Nothing about his statement tells me what he's doing next. It acknowledges past wrongs and apologies for them; it's really all you can ask from him at this point.

I'm not going to donate money to any new organization run by this guy (until I see what they do), but there's no need to go on hating him for sins you're assuming he'll commit in the future.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:33 AM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


In 1993 I caused a four-car pileup. In a hurry to get to a friend’s house, I was driving when a bee started buzzing around the inside of my windshield. I hit the bee and it fell on the dashboard. A minute later it started buzzing again with a fury. Trying to swat it again I completely missed the fact that a city bus had stopped three cars in front of me. I also missed that those three cars were stopping, as well. Going 40 miles an hour I slammed into the car in front of me causing a chain reaction. I was injured and so were several others. I never intended for the accident to happen. I would never have knowingly hurt anyone. But I did. And it was my fault. In my rush to get to my destination, fear of being stung by a silly bee, and selfish distraction, I injured others.

[...]

Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.
A lot of us have, at one point or another, struggled with the shocking notion that other people in the world have a different sexual identity than we do. I know I did. When I was a teenager, I had some stupid, blatantly wrong beliefs absorbed from the culture and my family that went unexamined until I was old enough to question them and had a reason to do so – namely, some of my friends turned out to be gay. So I corrected my beliefs by, among other things, choosing to abandon the inflexible conservative religious tradition I was raised in. Mind you, I was barely old enough to drive a car when I made this choice. A child, really.

Continuing to believe in backward, bigoted, morally insane politico-religious nonsense into one's adulthood is one thing. It is quite another thing to use that bigotry to launch a career and make a living off the suffering and confusion of thousands of individuals of your own faith who, in a desperate attempt to fit in with the dominant culture, are trying to correct their own immutable sexual identity, leading to psychological mutilation and worse. Stop and think about what this means for a moment. For years, Mr. Chambers woke up every morning with a strong conviction to exploit the guilt and shame that non-heteronormative people raised in conservative religious households are subject to in our sad, backwards excuse for a culture. It's even worse when you consider that he himself was a member of the group he was exploiting, as if the whole thing was a weird, projective attempt to cleanse himself of his homosexual tendencies. That's not something normal people do. That's something sociopathic moral monsters do.

And yet in this essay he tries to equate this act with a fender-bender on the highway. As if it was just a simple "accident" due to inattention that could have happened to anyone. Oops, I was looking at my iPhone and I accidentally ran an ex-gay organization. To fix the metaphor, it's more like Alan Chambers was driving down the highway at 120 MPH, swerving between cars to get home in time for Mad Men. He endangered the lives of many people for his own selfish purposes.

A teenager saying something stupid and ignorant is an accident – an accident of culture, or simply inexperience in the world. An adult launching a career that exploits both LGBTQ people and the religious community he claims to represent for his own gain is not an accident. It is a moral crime.

"I Am Sorry" doesn't even begin to cut it. Mr. Chambers is, to me, beyond forgiveness.
posted by deathpanels at 5:35 AM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oops, I was looking at my iPhone and I accidentally ran an ex-gay organization.

Same thing happened to me just last week!

I'll wait and see what he's doing a year from now. He caused a huge amount of damage over the years - again and again, that damn bee kept flying at him while he was driving! - and I really hope he doesn't expect everyone to be all "Oh, it's okay, thanks for the apology!" without a lot of deeds to put weight to his words.
posted by rtha at 5:50 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


If 99.9% don't change, why didn't they notice this before? Is that what they meant by "faith?"
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:54 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just because you're sorry does not entitle you to forgiveness. Your god may forgive you, but its not god you owe an apology to. I'll consider the apology genuine when he decides to commit the rest of his life to correcting his "accident."
posted by deathpanels at 5:54 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a straight atheist who was unaffected by his actions (other than viewing them with distaste) it's not for me to say whether he's sincere, or whether he deserves forgiveness or not.

But I gotta say, if a lot more Christians could get to a point where they can write a paragraph like this, the world would be a much better place:

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. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.
posted by ook at 5:58 AM on June 20, 2013 [45 favorites]


Fuck that. Forgiveness is the most important thing. If you're not willing to forgive, then as far as I'm concerned you want the old status quo back the way it was. A lack of forgiveness is the evil of good men doing nothing.

Have some empathy.
Learn to accept an apology at face value and try and move forward together.
posted by zoo at 5:59 AM on June 20, 2013 [25 favorites]


Fuck that. Forgiveness is the most important thing. If you're not willing to forgive, then as far as I'm concerned you want the old status quo back the way it was. A lack of forgiveness is the evil of good men doing nothing.

Have some empathy.
Learn to accept an apology at face value and try and move forward together.
Like I said, forgiveness is earned. If this guy does something beyond going on Oprah to apologize for the monstrous deeds he is responsible for, I will consider forgiving him, personally. Until then he can stuff his sorries in a sack. A blog post does not reverse years of exploitation.
posted by deathpanels at 6:03 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


People who aren't willing to demonstrate forgiveness are no different from people who aren't willing to demonstrate tolerance.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


People who are unwilling to forgive aren't really all that different from people who aren't willing to tolerate.

In fact, they're exactly the same.


sorry, no, this is incorrect

his intolerance resulted in a lot of abused kids and deaths, i'm not prepared to forgive him until he does something more than than say some words
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:09 AM on June 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


People who aren't willing to demonstrate forgiveness are no different from people who aren't willing to demonstrate tolerance.

This is why everyone hates Simon Wiesenthal, right?

And yes, I know.
posted by jaduncan at 6:13 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


People who aren't willing to demonstrate forgiveness are no different from people who aren't willing to demonstrate tolerance.
"I'm sorry" is not a magic spell that summons feelings of empathy and forgiveness in me. I forgive people in accordance to a) the severity of their offense, and b) the earnestness of their apology.
posted by deathpanels at 6:15 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is why everyone hates Simon Wiesenthal, right?

Forgiving someone doesn't mean that you also have to exempt them from being punished for crimes that they may have committed. You can work to have someone criminally prosecuted, if their actions warrant it, but still forgive them.

I learned that from Simon Wiesenthal, actually.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and "accepting someone's apology" isn't the same as "forgiving them", either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:17 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not sure how likely it is, but some of the people sharing this on other feeds note that apparently their conference is going on right now, making this a great time to hack in if anyone wanted to. Or it could be to announce to everyone what's going on, but some people watching the livestream say this does not seem to be what is happening.
posted by corb at 6:18 AM on June 20, 2013


Sorry: I was confused on date, their conference happened yesterday. But still weird.
posted by corb at 6:18 AM on June 20, 2013


Like I said, forgiveness is earned.

Forgiveness, by definition, is unearned and undeserved. That's what distinguishes it from a demand for repayment or for groveling.
posted by kewb at 6:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [29 favorites]


Forgiveness is not automatic upon the production of an apology. It's not like that's a law.

If that's what he expects - and I hope not - then I have even less respect for him.

I also hope that those of you here who demand that everyone instantly forgive him will consider that forgiving someone for the wrongs they have done also doesn't have to mean that you join hands and skip away together like nothing happened. An apology is not a reset button. And a wait-and-see attitude is not a rejection of the apology or a denial of forgiveness.
posted by rtha at 6:22 AM on June 20, 2013 [15 favorites]


As a straight atheist who was unaffected by his actions (other than viewing them with distaste)

Oh, but you were affected. We're all trapped in this elevator together.
posted by liketitanic at 6:25 AM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Fuck this noise (emphasis mine):
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change -- and they want to be heard,” Exodus board member Tony Moore said.
If these people can't just come out and say that they denounce the worst, most hurtful, pernicious lie about orientation (among other aspects of gender and sexuality) being a "choice," and fully repudiate the idea that wholly unscientific "reparative therapy" was ever a force for positive change, then this apology--if that's what it can be called--is meaningless.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:30 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've heard Exodus Int'l based their work on the words of some Jewish guy. Let's take the apology in the words of another:
"If you believe it is possible to make mistakes, then believe it is possible to fix them."
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
posted by Dreidl at 6:33 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck that. Forgiveness is the most important thing. If you're not willing to forgive, then as far as I'm concerned you want the old status quo back the way it was. A lack of forgiveness is the evil of good men doing nothing.

And you know what, fuck that. If his conviction that what he's done is wrong and he regrets it so deeply is so bound up in whether or not he gets InstaForgiveness, then *really* fuck him. The last time I hurt someone really, really, badly, I did not use their lack of InstaForgiveness as license to keep doing the shitty thing I'd done that hurt them. I still felt terrible. I still regretted what I'd done. I continued to not do it anymore. She eventually (years later) told me she'd forgiven me, and I'm grateful for that. It wasn't something she owed *me* - it was something she got to decide to do for *herself*, and I really hope that her decision was not at all based on whether or not I would continue being shitty if I didn't get the forgiveness (pretty sure not, she's a smart person).

In this case, I am not willing to forgive. Yet. I don't know when that will come, and I don't even know that it's my place - he didn't hurt me directly, though he fucked up people in my community but good, for years. Is it okay with you if I hold off and see if his actions match his words, or does that make me worse than him?
posted by rtha at 6:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'm glad Exodus is shutting down at long last, but the statement here really doesn't suggest a change in social or moral vision so much as an admission of practical failure. He seems most upset at stigmatizing the parents of gay people as a side effect of the way ex-gay theories try to repathologize homosexuality. He still thinks being gay is inherently morally wrong, and he still seems to see it as a set of behaviors and thoughts rather than one of the conditions of his being. He still refers to what Exodus did as "good work," which is utterly baffling if he new believes that the theories and therapies it promoted were harmful or useless.

But he does have my empathy, if not my agreement or my support. The guy is stuck with a kind of uncloaked cognitive dissonance, and i have no idea how he manages to fit his newfound understanding that homosexuality is not "curable" with his religious beliefs. From this statement, it seems to be a very uneasy "we were wrong, but our wrongness was the good kind!" sort of thing.
posted by kewb at 6:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I couldn't care less about his apology. I'm just glad the organization is folding.
posted by hippybear at 6:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I want to believe that they're sincere in this, because I want to believe that the times are changing and attitudes are changing, but their history and their leadership leads me to believe that I just can't believe right now. In time, maybe.
posted by xingcat at 6:37 AM on June 20, 2013


We're taking this guy seriously as if he weren't just completely insane. I don't think it's a question of forgive/don't forgive; I think it's a question of this guy's loved ones ensuring he gets proper psychological treatment for whatever personality disorder caused him to want to persecute queer teens.
posted by Mooseli at 6:39 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


In this case, I am not willing to forgive [...] does that make me worse than him?

Firstly, let's not with the "does that make me worse than him" hyperbole. That's uncharacteristically unfair, and a patent misinterpretation of what I said.

You're not willing, or you're not able to forgive? That's important, I think.

Here's how I parse this. We're broken, imperfect things. We make mistakes, we hurt each other and in all of this, we have to live with each other. If someone has said, paraphrasing. "look, I did wrong. This was wrong, please forgive me." we have a choice.

We can forgive. We can move on & we can try and make the world better.
We can not forgive. We can fix things in place with hatred & keep the world the same.

If Nelson Mandela can forgive, then I can forgive.
posted by zoo at 6:45 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I Am Sorry" doesn't even begin to cut it. Mr. Chambers is, to me, beyond forgiveness.

OK... then what?

If we assume that a sincere apology is not the beginning of forgiveness, we put ourselves in the position of (to paraphrase Queen Elizabeth I) "peering into peoples' souls." We also get into hair-splitting over "what bad deeds are too bad to forgive," which is pretty awkward (western philosophy has an entire area of study -- that vagueness problem or "the paradox of the heap" which has made only some headway in more than 2000 years on the issue).

My theory is to take Mr. Chambers at his word -- that he regrets the evil he has done and wants to do better -- and I am willing to grant him the credit that he deserves for that. However, I think the real test is to see what he wants to replace it with (as several people have speculated upthread). If it's just another "kinder and gentler gayz is bad," then, well, his apology was scarcely worth the electrons used to view it and the fight against him needs to begin again, not because he was beyond forgiveness but because he's done nothing substantive toward stopping his evil.

Beyond that, it's not my business to forgive people (especially people who I will likely never meet); it's my business to deal with how I feel about how I feel about people and to address their real world actions as much as I can. So I am OK with saying "thanks for the apology, as far as it goes, now let's see you do better" rather than focusing on a grudge that will harm me more than it ever harms Mr. Chambers (since I have to carry it, and he will never know.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:49 AM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


You're not willing, or you're not able to forgive? That's important, I think.

I am not willing yet. Is there a timeline I have to meet? Am I allowed to wait to see if his actions match his words?
posted by rtha at 6:51 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


My 2c: they realised they were about to be sued into oblivion by some ex-patients, so shutdown now and split whatever cash was leftover amongst themselves.
posted by PenDevil at 6:52 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


How does it undermine their credibility if it's purely the result of incompetence? Are incompetent people less likely to be sincere? That statement makes no sense.

How does it not make them look less sincere? Anyone with a modicum of sense would tell them it'd look better if they killed the donation link. It doesn't matter why they left the donation link with that wording so prominent on the page, it's still undermining their credibility. It's saying 'We are not invested in this apology to the degree that we thought much at all about how it would be presented.'
posted by hoyland at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2013


This doesn't look like an apology from a PR shop. There are way too many lines in that statement that could potentially open the organization up to a ton of liability.

Similarly, even in spite of their promises to start a new ministry, it sure does sound a lot like Chambers wants to burn Exodus to the ground before trying anything new. That's also something that you basically never hear in a press release.

I really do think that Chambers is completely horrified by what he's done (even though a few self-created justifications for his actions might still be bouncing around inside his head). I genuinely hope that he can live with himself, and begin to correct the wrongs that his organization has wrought on the world.

"Forgiveness" is a loaded word, but I'm going to give Alan Chambers the benefit of the doubt. He's arguably the best-positioned person to begin undoing and reconciling the sins of his organization. I really do hope that he seizes that opportunity to the fullest extent possible. Nothing that Chambers (or anybody else) does is going to in any way excuse the deeds of the past; the obituaries that will someday be printed about him will not be kind. However, we absolutely need to be able to believe that people can change and develop more enlightened beliefs over the course of their lives. Nothing good is going to come from holding grudges.

For now, Chambers and his cohorts have my faith and trust*. I sincerely hope that they won't betray it.

*Now, there's a sentence I never thought I'd write....
posted by schmod at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I am with hippybear. The apology doesn't mean much to me; "forgiveness" is a huge and complicated thing people will work through on their own, and ultimately intentions are between the sinner and god. I am just happy to hear they're closing up shop. That's the news that matters to me here.
posted by koeselitz at 7:04 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


How does it not make them look less sincere? Anyone with a modicum of sense would tell them it'd look better if they killed the donation link. It doesn't matter why they left the donation link with that wording so prominent on the page, it's still undermining their credibility. It's saying 'We are not invested in this apology to the degree that we thought much at all about how it would be presented.'

The hypothetical was that it "purely" because of incompetence. Incompetence and sincerity aren't related. It's entirely possible for a wholly sincere person to forget to remove that donation link. It's also entirely possible that the person who wrote the apology has no idea how to remove the donation link, it's even possible that he's never looked at it on the website and seen that the donation link was there. If they left it up to keep getting money, then sure they're probably not sincere, but if they left it up because they genuinely didn't notice it was there? That speaks not at all to their sincerity.

I'm not sure how anyone can think "if you're sincere, you won't make stupid mistakes" who has ever worked with another human being in their lives ever.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we may all be working with differing definitions of the word "forgiveness", actually.

There's a difference between "forgiveness" of the "d'awww, you little scamp, that's okay!" variety and "well, at least they've stopped doing what they're doing and have realized that what they did actually sucked; I'm still gonna get mad if they end up doing something else wrong again, but for now I'm at least giving them the benefit of the doubt that they at least understand they fucked up and at least WANT to improve."

I think the people who are advocating forgiveness are speaking more of the latter rather than the former. It's still hard for people to do, and I get that, but I still think that someone at least understanding "wow I fucked up" is a step in the right direction. There is at least the potential now for them to improve upon their past actions, where there wasn't before. If they don't exercise that potential and relapse, that's a new problem - but at least there is now the potential for them to not do this any more, because now they understand that "hey, wait, this was a bad thing." And that in and of itself is a good thing.

And I believe that someone coming to that realization should be supported (even if it's just grudgingly) rather than chastised for not having come to that realization sooner. Otherwise it just feels like when the slower kids in class finally get the hang of how to spell some tricky word, and then you scold them for not having figured it out sooner.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


PenDevil: Hopefully the people responsible can still be sued into oblivion regardless of whether the business still exists or not. Certainly they are personally liable, and appear to have just admitted to doing a lot of damage.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013


People who aren't willing to demonstrate forgiveness are no different from people who aren't willing to demonstrate tolerance.

This is why everyone hates Simon Wiesenthal, right?

When the Nazis in question sincerely apologize three times to the people they have murdered or whose lives they have destroyed, then we can talk about forgiveness in this context. In the Jewish tradition, the right (and obligation) of forgiveness belongs to the victim alone (as in, not even God can forgive you). If your victim is dead, you're sort of fucked.

Forgiveness is not automatic upon the production of an apology. It's not like that's a law.

That depends on whose law we're talking about.

Speaking, of course, as a secular outlaw.
posted by snottydick at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013


There was actually, if I understand the chain of events correctly, an actual lag between the long apology and the announcement that they were shuttering. I'm curious what happened in that timespan.
posted by jessamyn at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013


Mr. Chambers is, to me, beyond forgiveness.

I think the main thing that keeps drawing me back to Christianity, again and again, is the core teaching that forgiveness is something that everyone needs and that everyone should offer to others. Everyone gets another chance. "How many times do I have to forgive someone?" asks Peter, "Seven times?" "Ha," says Jesus, "Not even close. Seventy times seven. Just keep going with the forgiveness." Radical, ever-flowing forgiveness. (Elsewhere Jesus ups the stakes by teaching that your standard for forgiving others is the same standard God will use when judging you. Pretty nice incentive to choose quick and simple forgiveness for all.)

But Christian tradition also points to the need for acts of penance, the need to set something right when you've done wrong. I think it's good to hold both of these ideas together. Sure, yes, certainly, I forgive you, just as I would hope others would forgive me. I wish you well, I let go of my animosity. But to have a full relationship, we need to see some acts of contrition. If you want to be trusted again, you have to show it to us. Forgiveness doesn't mean nothing changes. And part of us loving you is wanting to help you develop as a person of character.

I am well aware that not a lot of MeFites, at least the active ones, have Christian commitments, but I highly recommend the whole "of course we forgive you, now let's talk about what you need to do next" as a general posture toward others. It has its benefits.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:07 AM on June 20, 2013 [25 favorites]


Coincidentally, Ken Mehlman is strutting his selfish about-face on gay marriage in the most craven way possible.

My instinct is to say that while Exodus directly immiserated the individuals they worked with, it's not destructive on the scale that leveraging divisiveness to change multiple state laws and skew a Presidential election was. Forgiveness aside, Chambers deserves pity; Mehlman deserves nothing less than continual reproach.
posted by psoas at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2013


I think we may all be working with differing definitions of the word "forgiveness", actually.

There's a difference between "forgiveness" of the "d'awww, you little scamp, that's okay!" variety and "well, at least they've stopped doing what they're doing and have realized that what they did actually sucked; I'm still gonna get mad if they end up doing something else wrong again, but for now I'm at least giving them the benefit of the doubt that they at least understand they fucked up and at least WANT to improve."


Again, forgiveness is pretty much defined as "freely given pardon," and has no bearing on the attitude, actions, or contrition of those forgiven. What most people mean when they use the word is not forgiveness at all, which is in fact very rare and for most people utterly impractical.
posted by kewb at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2013


Forgiveness isn't for the forgiven, but for the forgiver. It allows you to let things go.

Not a Christian here, but this is how I try to live my life.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:11 AM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Continuing to believe in backward, bigoted, morally insane politico-religious nonsense into one's adulthood is one thing. It is quite another thing to use that bigotry to launch a career and make a living off the suffering and confusion of thousands of individuals of your own faith who, in a desperate attempt to fit in with the dominant culture, are trying to correct their own immutable sexual identity, leading to psychological mutilation and worse.

Religion is not something you turn away from lightly. In fact, I think it's an easier change when you're younger. Changing religions, or turning away from it all together, means that your thoughts and actions that were previously driven by your religious beliefs were somewhere between without reason and completely wrong. And that is a really tough thing to swallow.

Alan Chambers has sexual feelings for men, and he has the same religious beliefs that he did before (that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that homosexuality is wrong), but he's making an effort to re-focus his efforts to focus on "God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself."

Maybe in the future, he'll really grasp the amount of harm he caused to people and their families. Until then, this is a great first step, especially for a group that still identifies as being "conservative Christian." I really wish he could accept his attractions towards men as part of who he is, and not see it as something to overcome, but until then, accepting people as they are is fantastic.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not willing yet. Is there a timeline I have to meet? Am I allowed to wait to see if his actions match his words?
posted by rtha at 6:51 AM on June 20 [+] [!]


OK - So again, did I even begin to mention a timeline? Am I saying you're Not allowed to do anything.

I would suggest that you don't need to see if his future actions match his words. Forgiveness isn't some kind of parental situation where you're grounded until you can prove you can behave. Forgiveness isn't also some thing that once given can never, ever be ungiven. Forgive and then unforgive later if it turns out he's a lying liar.
posted by zoo at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2013


Alan Chambers has sexual feelings for men, and he has the same religious beliefs that he did before (that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that homosexuality is wrong), but he's making an effort to re-focus his efforts to focus on "God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself."

I think any discussion of this has to involve some consideration of his own homosexual feelings. I strongly disagree with the person who said it makes it worse. He is, in some sense, a victim of the same backwards thinking that he perpetuated. It doesn't excuse it, but it does give me more sympathy for him; he's got a lot going on in his head that I don't have to deal with.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Further thoughts: in college, I was part of some Christian groups who were really focused on evangelical work, spreading the Word of God. There was a (for lack of better phrase) PR campaign that happened on a number of campuses through one of the major Christian groups, where people would wear bright orange t-shirts with the vague phrase "I'm With [Name]." On each campus, there was a different name on the shirts. The idea was that someone would come up and ask "who's [Name]"? And then you can open a conversation about how this person is someone who recently found God, how they came to see Christ as their personal Savior or whatnot, and that that person will be talking about their experiences in a few weeks.

Except at our campus, it backfired. The mystery was gone pretty quickly, and a lot of people were really annoyed with what they perceived as a trick to start conversations about religion. So there were big discussions within the campus ministry about how to go about converting people. The sticking point was this question: is it better to be polite and possibly miss a convert, or be aggressive and lose potential converts to "save" just one person? Some people felt very strongly that it was fine to turn people away, if you could just reach one person.

For some, Christianity is about changing people's minds, even if you offend others. You're "saving" them from an eternity of damnation or purgatory or whatever, and that's God's task for Christians. For an aggressive, offensive advocacy group to have a number of its leaders and head members publicly denounce their past actions and for the group to close (or reform into something "more welcoming") is huge. Especially among conservative Christians, as this might be a nudge for others to focus on the "love one another" aspect of Christianity, instead of pushing so hard to "save the sinner." Lead others to your faith by living as an example, instead of trying to pray the gay away is great.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:41 AM on June 20, 2013


Forgive and then unforgive later if it turns out he's a lying liar.

Or just wait and see and make up your mind in the future! Wow, it's almost like there are differing yet equally valid opinions about forgiveness!
posted by elizardbits at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Forgiveness, by definition, is unearned and undeserved. That's what distinguishes it from a demand for repayment or for groveling.
I don't want to get into a freshman year term paper citation here, but no, that is not the dictionary definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness has the word "give" in it for a reason. I do not "give" this man anything, and my forgiveness is mine to give.
posted by deathpanels at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Until this monster calls my parents, and heals the deep rift his "ministry" caused, fuck him. If my inability to forgive this monster for killing gay kids makes me just as monstrous in another person's eyes, fuck that person, too.

Don't even pretend to equate them. What's next? If a rape victim can't forgive, they're no better, either? Thousands of families have been destroyed by this subhuman piece of shit... And "I'm sorry," is not nearly enough.
posted by moshjosh at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't want to get into a freshman year term paper citation here, but no, that is not the dictionary definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness has the word "give" in it for a reason. I do not "give" this man anything, and my forgiveness is mine to give.

This is turning into a derail, perhaps, but saying that forgiveness is "given" and can be withheld doesn't actually contradict the given definition of "forgiveness." Forgiveness is simply the renunciation of claims to reparations, apology, or renunciation from the offending or wrongful party.

While you are right that personal moral absolution is yours to give and no one else's to demand, such absolution only counts as forgiveness if the act of giving is free and unconditional. In other words, you do not have to forgive, but if you do, you are pardoning someone else without conditions. It's ok not to do that or want to do that, and no one is demanding that you do so.
posted by kewb at 7:59 AM on June 20, 2013


Avoiding this weird rules-lawyering forgiveness derail, it is a good thing that this happened. It is good that Chambers apologized, and it is good that this organization is going to turn down the volume on its activities. It is better than if Chambers and Exodus had continued to do what they had been doing all along.
posted by prefpara at 8:03 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


How many times do I have to forgive someone?" asks Peter, "Seven times?" "Ha," says Jesus, "Not even close. Seventy times seven. Just keep going with the forgiveness."

okay, but after the 490th time, the guy can go to hell.
posted by horsewithnoname at 8:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


We can forgive. We can move on & we can try and make the world better.
We can not forgive. We can fix things in place with hatred & keep the world the same.


It's entirely possible to not forgive AND move on. I don't need Alan Chambers and his ilk to make the world a better place and am perfectly happy to cast them into the outer darkness forever so I can devote my energies to working with worthwhile people and causes.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am well aware that not a lot of MeFites, at least the active ones, have Christian commitments, but I highly recommend the whole "of course we forgive you, now let's talk about what you need to do next" as a general posture toward others. It has its benefits.

I'm an atheist Jew and likely arrived at my viewpoints through very different means, but we have a hell of a lot in common here regarding the whole concept of "do-overs".

That said, I want to third hippybear and koeselitz: I'm just glad these guys are (and I hope they really are) done causing damage. I hope it isn't much longer before the entire "ex-gay movement" is just a horrifying footnote in the history of our fight for equality. I hope not even one more life is ruined by this nonsense.
posted by jake at 8:10 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, I am seriously shocked at the negativity. I speak as a lesbian who has been directly harmed by people of Chambers's ilk. Whether he meets your criteria for forgiveness or not, his statement is going to give evangelicals and other haters something to think about. I expect others to follow him in his path. Less hate is a good thing, surely? Or shall we just keep the cycle going forever?
posted by Wordwoman at 8:11 AM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


As a non-gay person I am not owed any apology by this group, so forgiveness isn't mine to give. Whether a given gay person forgives this organization or individuals in it is up to them, and not something I really get to have an opinion on.

I may, like PenDevil, have some cynical thoughts about financial reasons for this about face, or like many others, some hope that it's genuine and will lead to better things in the Christian population at large, in terms of tolerance.

That's not really related to forgiveness, though.

In the meantime, one less active gay-hating group in the world, provided they stay gone, is a good thing. I can drink a beer to that.
posted by emjaybee at 8:17 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the main thing that keeps drawing me back to Christianity, again and again, is the core teaching that forgiveness is something that everyone needs and that everyone should offer to others.

Something that should concern Christians as Christians is Chamber's admission that his work has driven people away from the faith. So, basically, the "ex-gay ministries" are more like "ex-Christian-to-be ministries," which would seem to be rather counterproductive, from a Christian point of view.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


“I am profoundly sorry that ... some have chosen to end their lives.

THIS. They didn't 'choose' that. They were brainwashed. "Forgiveness?" ...fuck you.
Prosecution.
For kidnapping, brainwashing, and murder.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're not willing, or you're not able to forgive? That's important, I think.

It's interesting to me that when you quoted me, you elided one word that was pretty important. That word was "Yet."

So it implied to me that yes, you think there is a timeline, and that forgiveness should come immediately upon receipt of the apology.

Forgive and then unforgive later if it turns out he's a lying liar.

If this works for you, then it works for you and I'm glad (no snark!) that you've found a thing that works for you. Can you acknowledgment that it might not be the only way that people can forgive, and that people who do it some other way are not Doing It Rong?
posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Avoiding this weird rules-lawyering forgiveness derail, it is a good thing that this happened.

I think that's what many of the "derailers" are trying to say too, and the "forgiveness" derail has sprung from a discussion about that. I only introduced that nuance because those of us saying "look, this is at least a step in the right direction" were being accused of thinking that "gosh, they said they're sorry so that makes everything better."

The people who are accusing us of thinking "oh, they said they're sorry so that makes everything all better" seem to be under the impression that religion teaches a mindless and simplistic view of forgiveness, and I was simply stating that it's a much, much more nuanced thing. The "rules-lawyering" was more like "no, you're accusing theists of things that aren't true and of thinking things they don't think."

I understand the bitterness and rancor, and I understand COMPLETELY that there are people who are not ready to personally trust this guy, or the sincerity of his apology. But others are, and that is not because we are brainless simplistic twits. That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure, I spent the last 37 years preying on society's most vulnerable at the most vulnerable time in their lives, but **I'M SOWWY!**
posted by FeralHat at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


...Exhibit A for my previous comment above.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whether he meets your criteria for forgiveness or not, his statement is going to give evangelicals and other haters something to think about. I expect others to follow him in his path.

I wish I could share your optimism about the willingness of the evangelical community to embrace Chambers' personal revelations and learn from them, but I tend to think that he'll largely be dismissed as someone who has lost their way.
posted by elizardbits at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck that. Forgiveness is the most important thing. If you're not willing to forgive, then as far as I'm concerned you want the old status quo back the way it was. A lack of forgiveness is the evil of good men doing nothing.

Forgiveness? He's never directly harmed me or my friends. There's nothing to forgive.

All of his religious bullshit harmed us, at worst, indirectly. But it wasn't just him and his organization, it was all of it, the culture that they helped engender. Most of us, at this point, have just tuned it out. We have no need of him and his kind anymore; their idea of faith was, to us, a malignant tumor that we cut out, burned every last trace of, and tossed aside, never to look back. What was there to be hurt is no longer. What is there to heal, to forgive?

There are some things apologies can't fix. Like I said, there's nothing he's done to me. I have no need for his apology. His apologies, his begging for forgiveness and mercy for the road to hell he led his victims down (with good intentions), should be directed to those savaged and brutalized survivors--or the families for those who didn't make it.

I get that this was hard for him to do. I get that his erstwhile allies are now eviscerating him online. I get that he might very well be sincere. But apologies without action are just words; and most of us have moved way beyond words, having already moved way forward.

If he wants to follow, there's nothing stopping him. But he's got to catch up before we can move forward. Otherwise the rest of us are still just gonna keep going, progressing, with or without his kind.
posted by qcubed at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Folks, touchy thread, please make an effort to engage with and not just parody other commenters or this general topic? Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:39 AM on June 20, 2013


I tend to think that he'll largely be dismissed as someone who has lost their way.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I can probably predict the exact words that will be spoken by the conservative talk radio guys this afternoon when I rage-drive to work. They will turn on him like he's a traitor to the cause or what the fuck ever.

But I am happy to see (again, hopefully) one less bad thing happening in a sea of bad things. The ocean of lava in the nether seems infinite but enough buildcraft pumps, one by one, a-and oh god I HAVE BEEN PLAYING MINECRAFT FOR 18 HOURS
posted by jake at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


To everyone who wants this guy to burn in hell: what is your end game? I'm always surprised that a change of heart by a Republican or anti-gay group is treated with scathing anger.

It's not like every gay-rights opponent is going to die overnight. Nor will each of their offspring be granted the wisdom and kindness to tolerate or support gay marriage. So what do we do with these people? Prosecute them? Put them in quarantine camps? Or work with these voices who are respected amongst Christians to change minds and actions?

As a straight man, I've never been persecuted, so I don't understand the fear and anger of being on the "wrong" side of that hatred. But I do question the wisdom of holding on to bitterness.

"Hey, we need supporters for gay rights! But not you. You were wrong before."
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Turkey Glue:
I don't think most people want him to "burn in hell"; I think most, to be vulgar, are looking at this and miming the jerk-off motion.

This guy? This poor misguided guy? I'm sorry he's sorry. We're both sorry. I'm sorry for having the temerity to exist. He's sorry that he used to use that as an excuse for bigotry and to consider me some kind of cosmic mistake.

But you know? Just because you're sorry doesn't mean I'm going to welcome you into my home. Just because you apologize over and over again doesn't mean that all of a sudden we're best buddies again. Just because you feel bad about some of the things you've done, many of which have lasting repercussions, and you're sorry about it, it doesn't make it go away.

It boils down to this. We're already cleaning up the godforsaken messes he's created. He's looking at us, like an obnoxious acquaintance, asking, "Did I do that?" Yes, yes he did. But we're used to it now. So we just roll our eyes, and keep cleaning up the mess, and one day, if we've noticed he's done a damned good job helping fix everything, helping bring everything back to normal, maybe we can be friends.

Until then, I don't think most of us give a damn what he thinks or what he says. It's what he does we're watching.
posted by qcubed at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2013


Funny thing is my first thought was "too little, too late." I'm also struck by how he says, "My wife and family." As though he's still trying to convince himself of something.

I don't think this is genuine, but I'm glad as hell they folded and I'm glad that this yutz acknowledges that you can't change your sexual orientation any more than you can change your DNA. Thanks. But YOU knew and other in your organization knew, LONG before now, that this was true and you chose to do nothing and to continue on. WTF was THAT?

So yay! You're folding. I'll accept your apology when I feel that it's genuine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:05 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Folks seriously let's keep the "he deserves violence" talk out of this thread please?]
posted by jessamyn at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2013


So how sorry are you? Give me a number on a scale from one to 'parent of a gay kid who committed suicide because of your life's work.'
posted by FeralHat at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2013


I'd like to see more people doing what he did, thinking what he thought, to wake up and apologize for it, acknowledge they were wrong, and pledge to stop. I wish this sort of reversal of opinion due to life experience, due consideration, or whatever else, were much, much more common in most areas of life.

When I see something that I want to see more of, I try to give it positive attention. Positive reinforcement works with pets and kids, and I bet it works with fundamentalists, too.

There is a lot of negativity in this thread that seems counterproductive to me.

I'm not saying he needs to be forgiven, that the past is past, that he is above criticism, that his future actions require no scrutiny, or anything else along those lines. But I do assert that if you want to see more public avowals of having been wrong from fundamentalists who act out against the LGBTQ community, it might be worthwhile to emphasize the praiseworthiness of this public avowal of having been wrong.

Haven't been able to reach the site yet; maybe the apology is terrible and deserves scorn, but most of the excerpts I've read in thread make it seem as though he is acknowledging that he caused harm, which is the most important part of an apology IMHO.
posted by jsturgill at 9:15 AM on June 20, 2013


As someone who shares his professed faith, I can only pray that he comes to a deep and full understanding of the immense damage, pain, and cruelty his actions have caused, and that he willingly and prayerfully takes up the yoke of repairing that damage. May Jesus forgive him, because for me, it's gonna take a little time.
posted by KathrynT at 9:16 AM on June 20, 2013


I'm also struck by how he says, "My wife and family." As though he's still trying to convince himself of something.

In his letter he describes "my ongoing same-sex attractions." This doesn't leave out also being attracted to women nor wanting to remain in his marriage. It's not a binary.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:18 AM on June 20, 2013


I forgive people who hated themselves enough to participate in this guy's Christian agenda. I don't forgive him, though. I can live with myself, even if there is someone out there who thinks that makes me worse than a religious huckster who willfully destroyed lives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:18 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Friends of mine have endured years of pain and loss and estrangement directly as a result of Exodus International and the "pray away the gay" mindset. I think it is entirely fair to weigh decades of pain in the balance and declare this a good first step, but only the first step. Time will tell.

I'm thinking of Tim Hardaway, who caused a lot of pain, and later changed his thinking and apologized, and has pursued constructive ways to prevent further damage. But a pro basketball player who is casually homophobic is a much different case from someone who built their entire life's work around denying gay people their fundamental dignity.
posted by ambrosia at 9:18 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


At the heart of Chambers' Christianity is the inescapable idea that nothing is more important than the faith. Nothing. Not me, not you and not some poor kid who may struggling with their community's ideas about sexuality. Chambers would watch these people die before putting anything ahead of his faith.

I afford him the same level of consideration as he would afford others.
posted by fullerine at 9:19 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Ruthless Bunny, if that seemed like nit-picking, but Chambers has done enough damage that we know happened (and that he has admitted happening) that we don't need to also assume that his marriage is a sham. I'm not convinced it's necessary to hang the man, but, if it is, then we ought to use the rope that he actually made.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:21 AM on June 20, 2013


I went away and thought about this. I guess that I'll say that in the same way that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, extraordinary damage requires extraordinary efforts at repentance.

Stopping harming people through one ministry and an apologetic press release don't match up to directly causing the suicide of several people and ruining many, many family relationships.
posted by jaduncan at 9:24 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think, in situations such as these, that it is particularly helpful to expect people who have been personally injured by specific individuals or specific behaviors to all fall under one conformity of forgiveness when the injuring party expresses remorse. It is not very beneficial to anyone's personal recovery to suggest that they are somehow lacking as a human being to withhold forgiveness for a day, for a year, or for the rest of their lives. Such attitudes only serve to further injure the already injured and at the end of the day say more about those forcing forgiveness than those refusing it.
posted by elizardbits at 9:28 AM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


But you know? Just because you're sorry doesn't mean I'm going to welcome you into my home. Just because you apologize over and over again doesn't mean that all of a sudden we're best buddies again.

I understand your distaste for the man and your anger over what he's done in the past, but I don't recall anyone in this thread stating an expectation that you do any of this. Speaking personally, the most I wish of anyone in this thread would do in response to this apology is to simply say, "well, good, they've come to their senses and so that's one less idiot in the world, yay".

No one is asking you to be best buddies in the first place and I'm not sure where you or anyone else is getting that idea.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


A reason is not an excuse.
An excuse is not an apology.
An apology is not reparation.

At best, we've only gotten an apology. The man owes reparations to everyone he's treated: legally, for fraudulent services; morally, for the blatantly hate-based pain he caused.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


...Although, adding to my prior comment - I do indeed understand not wishing to even extend "good, one less idiot in the world" without getting rid of some pent-up anger. That is a fair point. Personally I've been in that state, but I did at least try to summon a sullen "I'll keep an eye on the bastard and believe it when I see it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on June 20, 2013


I'm so used to mealy mouth apologies, that I'm happy to see an actual apology out there.

The fact that it will not serve him in the community he is engaged with (evangelical Christians) makes me believe that is sincere (as well as the wording of it).

The idea that his turn-about may make people that previously respected and followed his work re-think their thoughts on the subject (not that it will, but that it may) makes me think that his apology may serve the greater good.

Does that undo the harm that his past work has done? No, of course not. Do I forgive him? It doesn't really matter (a path of penance would be required for an actual forgiveness to work).

I remember when Bob Barr started working with the ACLU. I had abhorred his politics and his influence on the world, but I was thrilled and joyous that he had started doing work that I considered good - not because it undid all the awful political work he had done in the past, but that a whole group of people that had dismissed the ACLU might suddenly listen to the words of someone they admired and respected.

This is where my hope lies, that this apology might make someone else rethink their stance and stop fighting against gay rights. And I hope that these words are followed up by some actions to try to start fighting for a good cause (ie: furthering gay rights).
posted by el io at 9:38 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


At best, we've only gotten an apology. The man owes reparations to everyone he's treated: legally, for fraudulent services; morally, for the blatantly hate-based pain he caused.

Well, OK. That's certainly a way to approach this, but: is it better that he has apologized openly and (apparently) shut down his "ministry" or that he continue with the evil? If it's the former, then he's done something positive (however small and late). If the only response is "too little, too late," then why would anyone ever apologize?

I would rather let go of the anger I hold at this particular person and get on with doing other things I need to do. I find anger corrosive, especially since it does nothing to hurt the person with whom I am angry, and it grinds away at me from a variety of directions. About the only good thing it does is spur me to action and what action can I take here -- the man is shutting down his operation and saying he was wrong -- surely that is a good outcome?

What I am concerned about is that this is not so much a surrender as a retrenchment -- swapping "gay people can be cured" with "OK, gay people can't be cured, and celibacy is their cross to bear for their wicked desire" will not be much of an improvement. So, while I suggest saying "OK, good for you, Mr. Chambers," I also recommend watching for future developments.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:53 AM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmprressCallipygos:
I don't think you could describe what I feel as anger, but distaste is dead-on. That comment was more in reaction to TurkeyGlue's question as to why about-faces like this aren't necessarily greeted with celebration and adoration.

I also tend to think that your wish is already the mood: "Well, good, they've come to their senses. There's one less idiot." That said, it's coupled with, "It's about fucking time. He's now trying to match the baseline definition of a decent human being. Yay, like that was ever hard to do," and in some cases, a dose of, "Big fucking whoop. Took him long enough. He can still go fuck himself."

It comes down to the notion of forgiveness. Just because you've apologized for something doesn't mean forgiveness should be expected, or even forthcoming, right away. Some seem to hold to the notion that, after a heartfelt apology, it should be all about lovingkindness and generosity and celebration. Others seem to be more cautious.

I find myself leaning more towards the latter camp. I'm sorry he's sorry. I'm glad that he's no longer being a douchebag. But his life's work has meant nothing to me for ages, and its repercussions (that he references, such as driving people away from his faith) are essentially solidified. But with all the bridges gone, with nothing connecting us other than maybe basic humanity, what is there really, to forgive? Why should I, or anybody else, happily welcome him into the modern era, instead of just breathing a slight sigh of relief and then continue ignoring him?

If someone came to me, years later after having done harm to me, after I've already rebuilt and moved on, it doesn't matter how heartfelt the apology is. I've moved on. They've got no place in my life anymore. If they want to become part of it again, an apology isn't going to cut it--they're going to actually have to start doing things to prove it, to reconnect, to rebuild that entire relationship; until I start seeing any of that, why should I lift a single finger?
posted by qcubed at 9:58 AM on June 20, 2013


You can't pray the gay away, but apparently you can pray the pray the gay away movement away.

The bee causing the car crash metaphor trivializes what he has done, but even so, I can't help but be amused at the idea that someone who is obviously messed up over his same sex attraction using some sort of "trying to avoid being stung" metaphor. In my head, he is played by Paul Lynde and the bee is played by George Maharis.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:11 AM on June 20, 2013


No one is asking you to be best buddies in the first place and I'm not sure where you or anyone else is getting that idea.

I think what happened here is waaaay upthread there were a couple of comments that were pretty prescriptive about the proper generous response to this news. Like, directly judgmental of the character of people who don't respond the right way.

There's a strong backlash to that stance, because this guy spent decades terribly hurting some folks here or their friends. You (general you) just don't get to tell someone how to respond to the conciliatory overtures of their abuser.

Of course, this seems to be a really good practical change in the world, and it will be great tactically if the response encourages other people to do likewise, and it will be great if this helps some people heal from his previous acts. Personally speaking, I also hope it brings the man himself some peace. But the slightest inflection of "your response reflects negatively on you" is really wrong-time-wrong-place here.
posted by jhc at 10:15 AM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry, Ruthless Bunny, if that seemed like nit-picking, but Chambers has done enough damage that we know happened (and that he has admitted happening) that we don't need to also assume that his marriage is a sham. I'm not convinced it's necessary to hang the man, but, if it is, then we ought to use the rope that he actually made.

Why say WIFE? Why not just say family.

It just seems to be stressing something that's kind of pointless.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2013


Why say WIFE? Why not just say family.

It just seems to be stressing something that's kind of pointless.


My take on it was that he's realized that homosexuality is innate can't be "cured," but that it's still morally wrong. Heterosexual marriage is the only "good;" he's telling us that he and his wife know there's no sexual attraction and never will be, but that their marriage is still the "right" way to live and he's still committed to it. In his mind I imagine it's no different than remaining a celibate heterosexual until marriage or abstaining from adultery despite wanting to have sex with more than one specific partner.

It's part of the whole "fallen world, fallen humanity" rhetoric that turns all desires that conflict with The Rules into something you consciously refuse in the name of being a good Christian. The theology is pretty simplistic and arguably un-Biblical, but it fits very well with a particular strain of American evangelicalism.
posted by kewb at 10:37 AM on June 20, 2013


My take on it was that he's realized that homosexuality is innate can't be "cured," but that it's still morally wrong. Heterosexual marriage is the only "good;" he's telling us that he and his wife know there's no sexual attraction and never will be, but that their marriage is still the "right" way to live and he's still committed to it. In his mind I imagine it's no different than remaining a celibate heterosexual until marriage or abstaining from adultery despite wanting to have sex with more than one specific partner.

This is reading a lot that we, random commenters on the internet, can't know about Chamber's personal life. There are a lot of possible scenarios where a man with attraction to other men could be in a heterosexual marriage where that attraction doesn't make everyone miserable all the time. Otherwise, we are pretty close to the "bisexuals can't be monogamous" meme, which...

Again, why attack the guy for imagined wrongs when he is very vulnerable on proven ones? Exodus and its philosophy has done terrible things to people, and that is plenty of evil,as well as, specifically, what he is apologizing for. Speculating on his home life is a distraction.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2013


I'm not reading his mind, I'm reading his words. It's pretty much spelled out in the full version of the apology, especially when he writes
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 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. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage.
In the new framing material, he also writes the following:
My desire is to completely align with Christ, his Good News for all and his offer of peace amidst the storms of life. My wife Leslie and my beliefs center around grace, the finished work of Christ on the cross and his offer of eternal relationship to any and all that believe. Our beliefs do not center on “sin” because “sin” isn’t at the center of our faith. Our journey hasn’t been about denying the power of Christ to do anything – obviously he is God and can do anything.
He seems to be saying very clearly that he is committed to his straight marriage and to the idea that homosexual behavior is sinful. He still implicitly celebrates the idea of "surrendering your sexuality to Him," for example.

Again, I'm not condemning the man, and in fact I feel bad that he is staying within a theological tradition that by definition will never let him accept that his innate sexual desires, and indeed his own sexuality, are anything other than sinful. I'm not speculating that he's miserable, merely that he's denying some of his sexual attractions. I don't think that heterosexual men who avoid cheating are miserable all the time either.
posted by kewb at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2013


I think what happened here is waaaay upthread there were a couple of comments that were pretty prescriptive about the proper generous response to this news. Like, directly judgmental of the character of people who don't respond the right way.

I hear you, and I also think that what happened was that the other comments they maybe were responding to came across as a rejection of that news, which doesn't seem to help either.

It comes down to the notion of forgiveness. Just because you've apologized for something doesn't mean forgiveness should be expected, or even forthcoming, right away. Some seem to hold to the notion that, after a heartfelt apology, it should be all about lovingkindness and generosity and celebration. Others seem to be more cautious.

I think the bulk of the scolding is being directed towards the people that have gone beyond being cautious and going right for outright rejection of the apology. "Glad you said that, but I'm still really pissed so leave me alone" is one thing, but "no, you're not sorry" or "your apology isn't worth anything" or "you're just saying that and you don't mean it" is something else again.

Also, "forgiveness" doesn't always mean you welcome the person back into your life with open arms. You say:

If someone came to me, years later after having done harm to me, after I've already rebuilt and moved on, it doesn't matter how heartfelt the apology is. I've moved on. They've got no place in my life anymore.

And actually, your moving on is forgiveness, or at least a form of it. You absolutely have the right to keep them out of your life, but you've let your anger go. That's forgiveness. To build on your example, if that person did express regret at what they'd done - even if you chose to not let them back into your life you'd still be somewhat appreciative that they'd owned up to what they'd done and accepted the responsibility for having hurt you in the first place, yes? I know I would. Still wouldn't let them back into my life, but my empiric opinion of them as a person would improve a bit knowing that they'd come to that self-realization. I think it's the people who wouldn't even accept that who were getting the scolding.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just happy they're shutting down. Not hurting people going forward is surely something we can all get behind?
posted by stoneweaver at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


For reference, a Q&A from the Atlantic.

Some selections:
So what changed for you that got you to this place?

Realizing that the deepest part of the Exodus narrative is really a religious church narrative has been the biggest change. We are a church that has mostly been about waging war and battle. But I believe God has called us to be a people of peace. I've realized he can love a gay person or a lesbian person the same as anyone. For me as a Christian, those aren't boundaries or barriers, and I don't believe they are barriers for God. We felt it was absolutely necessary to close the ministry of Exodus and do what people who have been hurt are asking us to do: make amends in a way that makes a difference.

....

Have you changed your theological position on homosexuality?

My belief about sexual expression remains the same. But that really matters little to anyone except for me. It only serves to govern my own life. This isn't something I'm going to make an issue or a barrier of in my relationship with anyone else.

I know I'm one of many people who has had others say to them: You can't be gay and a Christian! "Gay Christian" is an oxymoron!

When anyone has a relationship with Jesus Christ, they are Christian. They are Christ followers. They are believers. They are sons and daughters, joint heirs, irrespective of any other situation or reality, sexual or otherwise. Who is anyone to say that another person can't know Christ? That's not a biblical message.
That last bit is significant. If you've had experience with evangelicals lately you probably know there's a thing some of them refer to as being a "true christian." This guy is basically putting a stake in the ground to say: that's wrong, and it's not for us to define anyway.
How about on the legal level? Are you in favor of gay marriage?

I realize there will be people who will never cut me any slack because I haven't completely changed my position. I don't really know what to think, honestly, when it comes to gay marriage. But I also don't think anybody needs me to have a position. People have a right to live their lives as they see fit. If a friend or family member who is gay or lesbian invites me to be a part of their special day, I'm going to go and be a part of that because I love them. It doesn't matter if I endorse or condone something--that's not my right. I have plenty of friends who are gay and lesbian, loved ones in my family who are gay and lesbian. Their family will be my family, their friends will be my friends, and that's all that matters.
There's a lot more. Since it's his own words and in response to questions from an outsider, I think it contributes significantly to understanding his positions. What I'm seeing in this interview is a guy who's on a journey. If I'm speculating, it doesn't end with him still married to the same woman or with the same views on gay marriage, but that's a guess and anyway it's in the future.

Does this fix things? No. Would more be nice? Sure. But this is a significant step, and based on my experience with evangelicals, i think it will make a difference that his skeletons are out of the closet, so to speak.

This is a process. If you expect this guy to give you everything you want in one fell swoop, you're going to be disappointed.
posted by lodurr at 3:09 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


That last bit is significant. If you've had experience with evangelicals lately you probably know there's a thing some of them refer to as being a "true christian." This guy is basically putting a stake in the ground to say: that's wrong, and it's not for us to define anyway.

I left my church and my christian beliefs behind 20-odd years ago because the beginning of my coming-out process was going to the pastor and asking if there is a place for me in the congregation if I am gay. I was told point-blank "no". I dropped everything I was doing at the church (teaching a sunday school class, leading a youth group, directing the children's choir, singing in the adult choir, even preached from the pulpit twice [unheard-of for laypeople in the Presbyterian denomination]) and didn't set foot in the door again until earlier this year for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary weekend.

I think I'm a more well-rounded person for walking away, but I was lost and adrift and VERY ANGRY for a good decade after that incident. I'd likely have been better integrated into my hometown community if this hadn't happened to me, and my life could be significantly different if I had not been rejected by the organization I had devoted a good portion of my life to for the first 22 years of my life.
posted by hippybear at 4:46 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the apology letter, this stands out to me:

"Our journey hasn’t been about denying the power of Christ to do anything – obviously he is God and can do anything."


Except cure homosexuality, apparently, no matter how much you beg and plead and pray and fuck women and slander gay people and try to convert your brains. I'm not an atheist, but this sure as fuck makes me want to mutter comments about his all-powerful God there*.

*then again, this could be one of those "God says no" things too.

posted by jenfullmoon at 8:53 PM on June 20, 2013


Since most of us will never have any interactions with this guy, the discussion about forgiveness is pretty hypothetical. Can we maybe just agree on amazement?

What if I'd told you back in the year 2000 that in less than 15 years, societal acceptance of homosexuality will have increased so much that the biggest ex-gay ministry will shut it's doors and issue an abject apology for ever existing?
posted by straight at 11:33 PM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd have believed you, but I would have been wrong to do so. I.e., I'm with you on 'amazement.'
posted by lodurr at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2013


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