For years, Exodus International has been involved in a war of sorts, against a culture of change promoted by homosexual activists. These homosexuals believe that being queer is as normal as apple pie or baseball.
But though the group has also been effective in also ministering to people practicing homosexuality, they will be shuttering their doors. President Alan Chambers is also issuing an apology "to gays and lesbians for how the group treated them over the past 37 years..." Exodus International will rise as another group - Reduce Fear - (reducefear.org; not yet live). The focus, vision, and goal of this new group will be completely different from those of Exodus International.
Executive Vice President Randy Thomas notes that instead of joining a culture war, the new organization will be "Something that’s more relational, talking with people and not at people." The new organization will not be focused on policy issues, but will instead be focused on areas within the context of faith and life. That could be a good thing.
Unfortunately, to my way of thinking, Thomas' responses to many questions leaves him sounding as if he is compromising with the world and I hope this is not the case. For instance, when asked if churches should have known homosexuals in leadership positions, his response was "this decision is up to each house of worship, but that it should be applied across the board and that the rules should be presented clearly and uniformly." To bolster the argument, he created a bit of a straw man by asking "Are they allowing heterosexual couples who aren’t married, but who are in leadership and living together?" No church I've been connected with has allowed such a situation and had it done so, I would have exited quickly because of that compromise.
In reality, the decision should not be left up to each house of worship when God's Word is very clear on the subject. If he really believes what he said, then he is compromising with the world.
In another example, when asked if a person who is actively engaged in a homosexual relationship can be a true Christian or not, Thomas' response was "If someone claims to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and [that] He raised from the dead, who am I to judge whether they truly know them or not?" That wasn't really the question and I'm sensing another compromise here as well.
While this type of response appears to be humble and Christlike, Jesus did say that we would know His followers by their fruit. He gave us permission to judge the exteriors of a person's life, not their motives or intentions.
A person proclaiming Christ who willfully remains in an active homosexual relationship is no different from a heterosexual who lives with another heterosexual outside of marriage. Both situations are wrong and in neither case should those people be in leadership positions. Moreover, Paul outlined in 1 Corinthians 5-7 the way to handle situations where professing Christians are living sinfully.
In these chapters, Paul does not deal with how to determine whether a person is an actual believer. He assumes the person is a believer because of their union with a local church body. Because of that, the leaders have a biblical responsibility to lovingly discipline those who live outside the parameters of Christianity while proclaiming Christ as Lord and Savior.
If someone comes to a church, does not proclaim Christ and simply wants to sit in the pew week after week and listen to the sermons, that's fine too. However, that person should never be given a leadership role or even be allowed to help out in various ministries until it is clear where they stand as far as Jesus is concerned.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul notes the Christian in question has his father's wife and the people in the congregation thought that was great. While it sounds loving and non-judgmental to openly accept all people who come into the local church, it is clear that wisdom and biblical judgment must be used. The man was actually in a relationship with his step-mother and that was 100% wrong. It needed to be dealt with or it would affect the entire body of believers in Corinth. Paul's concern for the Corinthian believers was that the "leaven" of sinfulness by this one man would eventually infiltrate the entire body. If this man was allowed to slide, how then could anything be considered wrong?
By the same token, homosexuals who are part of the church and who are actively engaged in homosexual relationships should be taught that they need to move away from that lifestyle. At no point should that particular local body simply ignore the behavior and treat it as if nothing is wrong. The church should not tolerate two heterosexuals living together either. Why? Because the church is the Body of Christ.
In one church we used to attend, one young woman was engaged to a young man. She sang in the choir and was actively involved in working with youth. She was also apparently having sex with her boyfriend and got pregnant. As soon as this was discovered, leadership asked her to withdraw from the choir and youth work. The marriage date was moved up and the two are now married. Imagine how the youth must feel when they heard her talk about her commitment to Christ and bringing Him glory only to learn that while she was telling them this, she and her fiance were engaged in fornication.
We're not supposed to condemn her. We not to ostracize her or make her feel less than. However, the leaders needed to take steps to repair damage that her lack of integrity created. Not doing that would have sent the wrong message to everyone, including the youth.
The church has an obligation. We must preach the truth, not merely in words, but with our lives. Certainly, we must love everyone but loving people does not mean blanket acceptance of what they do and how they live. We need to understand that we are being recreated into the image of Christ because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. That means moving away from things that God labels sin.
If we look at Sodom and Gomorrah, it is clear that this particular sin was such an affront to God that He resolved to destroy those twin cities and all the people who dwelt in them. Why would God do that? Certainly evil existed prior to Sodom and Gomorrah as evidenced by the flood during Noah's time and has continued afterward as well.
Homosexuality is also discussed by the apostle Paul in the first chapter of Romans. If we look at that chapter, we see a steadily progressive downward trend. It starts off by simply suppressing the truth with unrighteous lives. Instead of recognizing the clear testimony of Creation itself, people reject it, becoming darkened in their thinking. This pushes them further from God. Then, they begin to worship creatures and idols, mixed with sexual sins. Because of this, though they think they are wise, they become absolute fools.
It is not long before they begin acting worse than the animals, enjoying every perverted and base thing imaginable. Soon, the "women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error," (Romans 1:26-27). God finally gives them over to their own desires. He "throws" them away from Him in a violent manner so that they can enjoy the trappings of their sexually perverse sin.
Homosexuality is a sin that often occurs because of how far a person has lowered themselves and how far away from God they have moved. This is not to say that we use this information as a hammer to beat people over the head. It is there so that we will realize just how reprehensible it is to God and do everything possible to encourage people to move away from it.
There are really two issues at hand here with respect to homosexuality and Exodus International. First, it is alive and well in society at large and seeks to overthrow traditional values. Exodus International says they no longer wish to be part of that dialogue. Second, homosexuality exists within the church as well and like any other sexual sin, it should not be tolerated. Exodus International now sees itself as simply being part of that discussion. The problem is that they may wind up appearing to give a blanket acceptance of homosexuality because of their refusal to reflect God's written Word on the subject.
I'm hopeful that the group known as Exodus International is simply modifying the way they minister to homosexuals. Unfortunately, it sounds more like they are encouraging "discussion" and "debate" about the issue which is very clear in God's Word. In doing so, they may be inadvertently giving into the homosexual community, giving up on society, and compromising with the world.
We Christians need to stand in the gap, proclaiming the whole truth of God's Word. If society rejects it, they reject it. There will always be some however, that will receive it as has been the case with Exodus International for the past 37 years. Going forward, they may be leaving people like that behind.Don't forget to Like Freedom Outpost on Facebook, Google Plus, & Twitter. You can also get Freedom Outpost delivered to your Amazon Kindle device here.