Amid confusion about his sexual identity, Exodus International President Alan Chambers has released statements over the last week, clarifying recent remarks that he is neither gay nor heterosexual.
"As I have said for more than a decade now, the opposite of homosexuality isn't heterosexuality (or vice-versa) it's holiness," he wrote in a blog. "The only label I want to wear when it comes to sexuality is Holy.
"The sex or lust based labels of gay or straight, homosexual or heterosexual, feel like cheap trophies to me that I don't want to put on my shelf for display. Long ago I abandoned the quest for heterosexuality. I am content with Holy-sexuality."
Chambers, whose ministry helps those who struggle with same-sex attraction, was responding to critics who were confused by his sexuality. The Exodus head had told journalist Lisa Ling in an interview last month that he still struggles with same-sex attraction, but at the same time is attracted to his wife.
"[A]m I heterosexual? I don't know. I'm not gay," he said. "I have Leslie attractions. I have opposite sex attractions towards my wife."
Christian radio host Janet Mefferd took issue with his comments. When she asked him about those specific comments on her radio program this month, he mentioned that orientation is ambiguous, which confused Mefferd even further.
"He (Chambers) made the remark at one point in the interview that orientation is ambiguous even as a professing Christian who has struggled in the past with homosexuality," Mefferd said on her show the following day. "He said orientation is a little ambiguous. I said what does that mean? I read Romans 1 ... and it talks very clearly how God created us. God created us as heterosexuals."
Following Mefferd's radio program, Chambers wrote a blog, stating, "People want my story to fit into a box they can deliver as proof to themselves or others that change is simple and formulaic; absolute in every way. For change to be authentic must it be absolute?"
"We love putting God and people in a box. When someone tries to communicate their own outside-of-the-box story or describe God in a way that doesn't fit into our neat and tidy understanding we immediately begin to judge them by a set of man-made religious standards and rules that aren't of God," he stated.
Chambers, a Christian who believes homosexual behavior is a sin, struggled with same-sex desires in the past. In a public letter this week, he decided to provide more details about that struggle.
"Recently, as I have heard from people who have questioned me about 'still struggling' or wondering what 'change' looks like I have felt compelled to share this story. It isn't one I've talked much about, but the Lord reminded me of its significance in my life," he said.
Chambers described having had two same-sex relationships – one during high school and another during his 20s – where he was emotionally dependent.
"Emotional Dependency," he explained, "is when one person latches on to another and becomes consumed with that person. The obsession, jealousy, and wanting to be a part of their entire world is excruciating."
At age 19, some nine years into his same-sex struggle, he visited Exodus, seeking relief as he found himself conflicted – fearing God and praying but giving in to temptations that he felt he had no power over.
Though he expected a magical cure to become straight, what he ended up receiving at Exodus were not promises for heterosexuality but comfort and encouragement. There, as he pursued Christ with others who shared the same struggles, he found his heart changing. A few years later after being prayed for at a Christian gathering, he felt freed of the emotional and sexual feelings he had for a man that he was in a relationship with for four years.
"Where I once would have spent my afternoon and evening waiting for 'him' to call me and make plans or simply let me know he was thinking of me, I spent it feeling like I'd been released from an overwhelming debt. It was unbelievable," Chambers recalled.
While he may still experience "visual attraction" today, Chambers stressed that there is no draw for him toward the same-sex.
"The deep unhealthy longing for male relationship that I once had has never returned," he stated.
He has been happily married to his wife, Leslie, for 15 years and has two children.
His orientation, he stressed, is toward Christ and his wife.
"I choose Christ. I choose Leslie. I encourage you to label yourself according to what is most important and in ways that God would choose to label you."