If you doubt whether Alan Chambers has abandoned the biblical view of sex, homosexuality, and marriage, then read this interview. Here are a few excerpts, but you can read the whole thing (which is rather short) for context and more.
“As a man who has same-sex attractions who has an orientation that is gay…”
“I do not think changing your orientation is something anyone experiences.”
“If your biblical understanding of sexuality is such that gay is not something that you can reconcile, I don’t think that straight is better.”
“I do believe that same-sex relationship [sic] can be holy.”
“I think same-sex marriages can reflect, and often do, God’s image.”
This post is not a refutation of his views. I’ve made my concerns about this kind of thinking clear in this and thisSolid Ground. My point here is to make believers aware of his views as media attention will increase now that his book is out.
Can sexual orientation change? Many people say no. They believe homosexuals are born that way and, consequently, sexual attractions can’t change. In fact, someone at a recent event this month asked me whether the closing of Exodus International proves this very point.
Exodus was an umbrella network that connected many organizations that sought to help those with unwanted same-sex attraction. Alan Chambers, its President, closed the organization after 35+ years, citing a change in his views on the effectiveness of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).
That’s proof, I’m told, that SOCE don't work. Chambers, after all, could not overcome his own same-sex attraction. He was also in the best position to witness the effectiveness of ministries involved in SOCE. Why would he close Exodus if he knew reorientation therapies were successful?
I don’t know Alan, nor am I criticizing him (in fact, I really like his name), but his closing Exodus doesn’t prove SOCE don’t work.
Even if it were true that Alan attempted to change his same-sex attraction and it didn’t work, that would only prove one thing: Alan didn’t experience any change. That’s all. It’s just his experience. It doesn’t prove that no one can change or that no one has ever changed.
Imagine the President of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) shuts down that organization, goes on Oprah Winfrey’s network, and confesses he’s still an alcoholic and hasn’t experienced any measurable change in his addictions. What would that prove? It wouldn’t prove that AA never helped anyone overcome their addiction. It wouldn’t prove that no one has ever overcome alcoholism, either on their own, through AA, or through another program. It wouldn’t prove that ex-alcoholics have faked their success stories.
In the same way, Alan Chambers’ decision to close Exodus doesn’t – and can’t – change reality: There are thousands of men and women who have overcome homosexuality (and yes, even had their attractions change). This can be known through at least three lines of evidence: an ancient report of change in the Bible (from the city of Corinth), the testimonies of thousands and men and women who have experienced change, and secular scientific research that found sexual orientation/attractions can change.
I’m not saying that sexual orientation change is easy, usually successful, or that we should force people to change. What I am saying is that change is possible and nothing that Alan Chambers or Exodus International does can change that.
Egyptian Christians are typically pro-life. Many, however, struggle with being consistent, especially in the case of rape. This is a vexing problem in any part of the world, but it becomes more complex in Egypt. Part of the problem is the unique circumstances created by Islam, particularly in some rural areas of Upper Egypt (far south of Cairo).
For example, if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, she is faced with a dilemma. Adoption is not allowed in Islam, so she can’t carry the child to term and then ask a loving couple to raise her son or daughter. Orphanages exist in Egypt, but my contacts there tell me the conditions are horrendous. The other option – to parent the child – is also problematic because both a raped woman and her child are treated like trash. Many times people try to kill her if she doesn’t have an abortion. If they succeed, both mother and child lose their life.
It’s this situation that troubles many pro-life, Arab Christians. Shouldn’t a pregnant woman have an abortion when her life and the life of her unborn child is in jeopardy? If she doesn’t have an abortion, both she and her child die. If she has an abortion, then only the child loses his life. It’s a greater good that one lives than two die.
In the past (although I can’t find the specific post), I think I conceded that abortion could be allowed in such a scenario. I mistakenly compared this situation to an ectopic pregnancy. In this life-threatening condition, the child is growing in a location (e.g. fallopian tube) not suitable to gestate a child. If the pregnancy is not stopped, the growing child will rupture the fallopian tube, cause bleeding, infection, and the death of the mother. Both mother and child lose their life. The alternative is to terminate the pregnancy (resulting in the death of the child) to save the life of the mother.
Typically, pro-lifers agree that medical action is morally appropriate in an ectopic pregnancy. The reasoning is based on the greater good. It’s better that one person should live (the mother) than two persons should die (both mother and child). The child is going to die no matter what course of action is taken (indeed, the child often dies even before medical action is taken because its life can't be sustained without implanting in the endometrial lining). There’s currently no medical procedure where we can transplant a child from the fallopian tube to the uterus. Therefore, it’s a greater good to preserve one life when it’s impossible to preserve two.
While I agree with the moral reasoning of taking medical action in an ectopic pregnancy, I think I was wrong to compare it to the situation women face in Egypt when they are raped and become pregnant. Admittedly, there is some similarity. In both cases, having an abortion would result in one person surviving, and doing nothing likely results in two persons dying. That’s where the parallels end, though.
There are some key differences. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the child is going to die as a result of a medical problem. His or her death is certain. The child conceived through rape, though, has the possibility of living. Although wicked people might attempt to kill the mother and child, this is not an inevitable outcome. The would-be killers might not find out about the pregnancy, may not care enough to kill, or the mother might run to seek help from people who would care for her and her child.
There’s a second difference. No one is morally culpable when a child dies as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. However, intentionally killing a healthy child (albeit under dire circumstances) is morally problematic.
Consider the following hypothetical situation (this is the “Trot Out the Toddler” tactic for those familiar with this approach). A terrorist breaks into your home and demands you murder a two-year-old child sitting on your sofa. If you don’t, he will kill you and the child. Would you do it? Are you justified in murdering an innocent child to save your life? I submit it would be immoral to use a child as a shield to protect yourself.
The woman facing pressure from Muslim culture to abort or be killed faces a similar moral dilemma. I don’t think abortion would be the right thing to do.
I’m not saying I would come down hard on a woman who chose abortion under such a circumstance. I think I would understand if a woman made that choice. But I believe the consistent pro-life view would be to not abort. Perhaps she could flee and seek Christians who would take her in and provide her with shelter. That would give her and the child a chance to live.
Besides, trying to preserve your life at all costs (especially by killing an innocent child) doesn't reflect a Christian worldview. It presumes that this life (this side of the grave) is the only life that matters and that the afterlife is not real. The Christian worldview, though, rejects that notion. Yes, our earthly lives matter, but they are merely a precursor of more significant things to come.
Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). After all, Jesus reminds us 10 verses later, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). Difficult words, to be sure, but true nonetheless.