Thursday, June 20, 2013

Christian Apologizes to LGBTQ Community

A Christian Apologizes to LGBTQ Community: 
Are Public Apologies Helpful?
Geoff W. Sutton

Alan Chambers of Exodus International issued a detailed apology to the LGBTQ community. Exodus International offered a “cure” for homosexuality. Chambers admitted that a lot of people were hurt by their “reparative therapy” interventions. In a detailed text, Chambers accepted responsibility. In his statement and in response to others (e.g., The Atlantic) he repeated, “I’m Sorry” for the hurt and pain.

Here’s a quote from his apology,

Please know that I am deeply sorry. 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 stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 
You can find the full text at

So how do people respond?
Some have told me "Wow" and "Incredible!" Others are skeptical.
You can find a lot of reaction to an online interview Chambers gave to The Atlantic – there were more than 300 comments when I checked in.
Many news sources are covering the story but you will find a special report on God and Gays at the Oprah Winfrey Network site, OWN.

Questions abound
We probably won’t know the lasting effects of the apology for some time.
           Will this apology help some people heal?
 Will it change attitudes and reduce hostility toward sexual minorities?
 Will this apology promote forgiveness and reconciliation?
       Will the apology help Christians love those with different sexual orientations? 
 Will the apology help Christians voice disagreements in respectful ways?

     More to come
      I will have more comments about apologies in the near future. Ironically, one of my students, Kayla Jordan completed two studies on the effects of an apology by a Christian toward members of the LGBTQ community. These were completed in 2012 and the article is scheduled for publication this summer.

Read more about sexuality, morality, and Christian cultures in A House Divided available from the publisher PICKWICK and other stores e.g., AMAZON


  1. I find it interesting that just a few days after the apology the announcement of Exodus' closing was released. Although I appreciate his apology I'm curious as to the timing.

  2. Yes. The timing is interesting. Hard to know what to make of it.

  3. I didn't realize Exodus was closing down.

    I am still trying to understand this apology. I think he adds to the myth (?) that those who are "anti-gay" are denying something within themselves. It isn't going to change most Christians attitudes, maybe it will open the dialogue. One can hope.

  4. Lillian, I see a variety of responses online. Some are favorable and some are not. It seems some are personal- people who underwent the therapy offered by the program. Given other changes in the culture, it would be hard to measure the impact of his apology.