Alan Chambers

He shut down Exodus International and then apologized for the ex-gay ministry he ran. Why?

"Change is possible!”

That was Exodus International’s slogan, an unapologetic answer to the dicey “are people born gay?” question. Often described as the largest “ex-gay” ministry in the U.S., Exodus worked with Christians who dealt with same-sex attraction for 37 years. That all changed in June, when Exodus International’s president Alan Chambers stunned the world by apologizing for his ministry and shutting its doors for good.

Chambers sat down with RELEVANT Podcast castmember Eddie Kaufholz (who happens to also be a pastor) to discuss that apology, tell his stories and give his vision for the future.

EK: You first got involved at Exodus when you were 19. What was your background before that?

AC: I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. Looking back, I think I only knew part of the truth about who Jesus is. I knew Jesus, but not the full truth that in the midst of everything, before the creation of the world, God knew every single thing that was going to happen in my life, and He wasn’t up in heaven wringing his hands, wondering what He was going to do.

But at 19 years old, I was wringing my hands, wondering what I was going to do and thinking that’s who God was—that He didn’t have a perfect plan unless I followed His perfect will. And so for me, I was a devastated, afraid, lonely kid who was desperate for someone to give me some hope.

The first thing I woke up thinking in the morning and the last thing I went to bed thinking was, “I’m gay. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t choose it. I don’t want it. God hates this. Therefore, God might hate me, and I have to get rid of it by morning.” And that was my entire day, every day, for years and years. And I think the overwhelming part of that and what really caused me so much anxiety was that I grew up in the Church and this was how the Church treated homosexuality.

EK: What do you believe brought you to a point at that age where there was already same-sex attraction?