The president of Exodus International, an organization that formerly promoted the idea that a gay person could be cured of same-sex attraction through reparative therapy, will apologize to those who felt harmed by some of the group's practices in a special report set to air on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Thursday.
Alan Chambers' apology will be part of a special report titled "God & Gays" in OWN's "Our America with Lisa Ling" series. In a video clip of the report, Ling says she was "shocked" when the man who had openly discussed the ministry on her program just a few years earlier called and was prepared to make an apology.
"Change is possible," Chambers said in the 2010 report. "I stand by that phrase, and I live by it. The opposite of homosexuality isn't heterosexuality; it's holiness."
The apology was filmed in the basement of a Los Angeles church, and Chambers' wife, Leslie, sat by his side throughout the taping. Also present were several people who felt hurt by their reparative therapy experiences, according to an OWN article for The Huffington Post, including a Navy veteran who came out in support of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" after three tours of combat and a former pastor who revealed himself to be gay after being married for 26 years.
In the preview clip, at least one critic of Exodus declared the ministry should be shut down altogether.
Chambers lived as a gay teenager and young adult, the Exodus website says, before choosing to pursue Christ over his same-sex attraction (SSA). He is now married and has two children, but he told The Christian Post last year that he still struggles with SSA at times. He also said he doesn't think the idea of curing such attractions through therapy is a biblical message, which is why Exodus has "shied away from it."
"Christians in the body of Christ, we have overemphasized complete resolution and complete change for this issue but not for others ... and I don't think we're telling anybody else with any other type of struggle that they have to ... never be tempted in that area again in order to be a good Christian," he told CP at the time.
The organization teaches that SSA is not sinful, though acting on those attractions in the form of sexual expression is. So instead of promoting the idea that a person can be completely rid of SSA through reparative therapy, which consists of activities like prayer and counseling, Exodus now teaches that God's grace through Jesus Christ can help a person struggling with SSA to choose not to sin.
"Our America with Lisa Ling – Special Report: God & Gays" will air Thursday, June 20 at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.