Friday, November 01, 2013

Exodus Closes Down Part 2

(previously printed in the Christian Courier)

Exodus International was a non-profit, interdenominational, ex-gay Christian organization with the goal of helping people who wished to limit their homosexual desires. It was founded in 1976, but ceased activities in June 2013, issuing a statement which repudiated its aims and apologized for the harm their pursuit has caused to LGBT people. Last month, Kenny shared some of his initial thoughts on the closure of Exodus International, with reflections on how Exodus impacted his life as a “spiritual booster shot, which equipped him to go home to what can be a dry and weary land.” This month, he continues with thoughts about living under God’s sovereignty in the middle of a community of sinful people.

 I firmly believe that we worship a Sovereign God. We don’t often rejoice in God's sovereignty. Why? Because we are human and our minds cannot comprehend the vast expanse of God’s plan for all human-kind and our place in this plan. In this place we are called to live in a mess. The mess of uncertainty, pain and sorrow caused by the effects of sin. We are called to walk with others through the consequences of relational, emotional and sexual messes. Not a place for the faint of heart, but an actual calling for each member of the body of Christ to embrace.
  Through the devastating loss of three babies by miscarriage, I have learned to sit with people in grief, with no easy answer. To cry with them as they hurt, to serve them in a practical way. I’ve learned that we are not called to give an easy answer but to sit with our hurting family members and to sometimes just keep our mouth shut as we each struggle with God’s sovereignty over our lives, sometimes in painful ways.
  Exodus International attempted to help many people, walking with them in their messes, but now it has closed. Maybe Exodus International had become an idol to some. Maybe it was deemed the only place where people could find solace in their journey with their gender and sexuality. Maybe that was never God’s intention for his bride. Some people in the midst of the journey to closing Exodus were hurt by things said. They perceived and interpreted things and through that experience came to different conclusions. Does this mean we lay blame on the whole organization? Does this mean it has failed everyone?

Our God reigns
 For me personally, I am not distraught with the closure of Exodus International. I have received much, for which I will be forever grateful. I have met amazing people, who continue to encourage and inspire me. No matter the motive of those involved with the decisions, I hold to the truth that God is in control. I choose to not speak ill of my brothers and sisters, but to pray for them, to encourage them and to spur them on toward the prize set before us.
James 1:26-27 reads: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
  There are many people within the church that agrees with Exodus and the direction they are currently headed. Some would call those people heretics. There are people outside the church who are applauding and celebrating the closure. We may not agree with the decisions that were made, yet we can choose to recognize that God in his Sovereignty is in control. Regardless of what has happened with Exodus International, even if we don't understand or fully agree with the decisions made, we can agree that God is sovereign, he is in control, and he is calling us to do his will. His will is to seek the kingdom of God, to walk with others, and to always be ready to share the hope within us. To endure till the end, to hold fast to the Word of God and to pray that the Holy Spirit illuminate it within us and to pray that we not fall away to easy, watered-down theology. A theology that would appease our sinful desires. So, rejoice in the sovereignty of God over our messes, even the current mess caused by the closing of Exodus International.


Sarah-Jane Melnychuk said...

I enjoyed this read but had a few thoughts :)

"...Maybe Exodus International had become an idol to some. Maybe it was deemed the only place where people could find solace in their journey with their gender and sexuality. Maybe that was never God’s intention for his bride."

The sad reality is, that when Exodus first began there was no other place where people struggling with these issues could find some kind of support as they journeyed with Christ through the mess they found themselves in. Para-Church organizations generally develop because of a lack within the church and back then there was a real lack. I still see a lack because of the growing conflict and acceptance of gay marriage in the church.

I don't believe that God intended for Exodus International to be an Island separated from the rest of the body of Christ but for some that was the only place where people could really be themselves, authentic, open, and painfully honest ... this is in fact what the church should be like but it's not.

Exodus International much like Living Waters never intended to replace the church or the wider community. I never had the luxury of being able to withdraw from church community and develop for myself a community of only people from Exodus or only people from Living Waters.. one time I was a member of a forum that had mostly people struggling with ssa and I struggled more in that forum then outside that forum... strangely enough but I had to leave that forum because healthy women in that forum were few and far between. At the one Exodus conference I attended my social activity was in Oasis (for single women) I felt like I had entered a lesbian bar minus the alcohol. I probably would have had a much healthier experience socializing with the married couples. There was a need but I think some people did in fact replace their church community with Exodus and made Exodus International an idol and I also believe that people can make their desire for healing and change of their sexual orientation an idol and lose focus on the journey neglecting their relationship with Jesus.

Sarah-Jane Melnychuk said...

The more those of us who struggled with ssa and have experienced a level of healing share this with others around us the greater opportunity there is to grow a healthy church body but if we rely on para-church organizations to do this then we're not actually being a gift we're called to be in the church so just maybe the closer of Exodus International could turn out to be a good thing.

A ministry may close their doors and gay activists may rejoice but nobody can take away our personal story of healing in whatever way that has come to be... it's our story... our experience... you can't argue against that, so this could be the finest hour of the church yet :)