Yesterday, Alan Chambers of Exodus International, an evangelical "ministry" that claimed to "cure" homosexuality, issued what to all appearances was a sincere and heartfelt apology to the gay and lesbian community (via Rachel Held Evans):
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.
I was particularly struck by his recognition, which seems to be exceptionally rare in the Christian anti-gay world, that gay and lesbian relationships are real and loving relationships, the end of which (for the sake of being "cured" of homosexuality) is as devastaing for those abandoned as the end of any heterosexual relationship. Additionally, there is this:
More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.
This, I think, is the central realization that must ultimately bring about the end of bigotry against the LGBTQ community within the Church. A Christianity that truly believes in the grace of God to the entirety of the human family must embrace that human family in all of its diversity. While it does not seem to me that Chambers has changed his understanding of homosexuality as a theological more moral matter, he does seem to have made the crucial shift of recognizing that, as grace is God's and is extended to everyone, irrespective of their personal failures, the church must necessarily be open to all.
For my part, I'd like to see him take the next step, that of fully embracing the idea that there's nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and that loving and committed relationships among all of those communities can and should be celebrated by the church.