(Photo: Christopher Yuan)
A notable Christian leader with same-sex attraction says that he holds "mixed feelings" about the recent shutting down of Exodus International and the apology issued to the LGBTQ community by its president.
Christopher Yuan, pastor and author of Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope, provided The Christian Post with a statement on Friday regarding the news.
"I have never experienced reparative therapy, re-orientation counseling or Exodus support groups. I cannot speak personally about the effectiveness or harm of such methodologies," said Yuan.
"However, I do know of Christ's atoning love that radically changed my life. I do know of a changed life living not according to my proclivities, but according to His standard. I do know of a changed life from a drug addict to someone who has been sober for over a decade."
Earlier this week, Exodus International's board of directors voted unanimously to shut down the 37-year-old ministry that has reached out to those struggling with same-sex attraction.
"We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard," said Exodus board member Tony Moore in a statement.
The decision came the day after Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, released an apology to the LGBTQ community for the pain his organization has caused them.
"I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma," said Chambers, who led Exodus since 2001. He specifically apologized for the "pain and hurt" many experienced and for promoting "sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories."
The married father of two – who openly admits to still having same-sex attraction but does not identify as gay – indicated that he still holds to the biblical belief that homosexuality is a sin, but he stressed in his apology that he will exercise his beliefs "with great care and respect for those who do not share them."
"You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours," he stated. "I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship."
Yuan told CP that he supported the fact that Exodus International "no longer promotes orientation change." Exodus distanced itself from reparative therapy last summer, announcing that the organization would no longer employ methods aimed at "curing" same-sex attraction and instead focus more on discipleship.
"Although God does not bless homosexual sex or same-sex romantic relations, heterosexuality should not be the goal," said Yuan.
"Holiness is our standard and we all are called to be holy whether we have heterosexual or homosexual feelings. Holiness with reference to our sexuality means one of two things. If you are married, complete faithfulness to your spouse of the opposite sex. Or if you are single, complete faithfulness through abstinence."
Exodus' latest announcement was hailed by LGBT advocacy organizations, which view reparative therapy for homosexuality as "junk science."
"We hope that this will be the first of many organizations to abandon this harmful practice," said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. "The fact is, conversion therapy is a fraud. The only things that need converting are the attitudes of those who continue to promote this junk science."
The National Association of Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, meanwhile, released a statement noting that the ministries that comprised Exodus International will remain in operation and that NARTH itself will still "meet with the many individuals seeking help for their desire to manage or diminish their unwanted homosexual attractions."
"NARTH continues to affirm that the experience of thousands of clients with unwanted homosexual attraction and the licensed therapists who serve them demonstrates that trained, experienced, and ethical professional clinicians play a vital role in successful treatment processes," reads the statement.
NARTH also noted that unlike Exodus International it is not a faith-based entity and looks toward scientific treatments for those with unwanted homosexual attraction.
Yuan believes that the ultimate message of this news should be that while human endeavors inevitably end Jesus Christ remains.
"Ministries will come and go. Local churches will come and go. People will come and go. But our hope should never be in any of these things," said Yuan.
"Our hope must be in the Rock, Jesus Christ. Something that will never change is the Good News of Jesus Christ. And it is this Good News which radically transforms death to life, darkness to light. It is this Good News that has and continues to transform me."
Here is a related video about Christopher Yuan: