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In a recent feature in The Atlantic (June 20, 2012), Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, said of “gay Christians” in same-sex marriages: “Some of us choose very different lives than others. But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God.” When The Atlantic asked whether that means “a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,” Chambers said his “personal belief is that . . . while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.”

Robert Gagnon (in a 34-page response) writes:

I have agonized for months about whether I should go public with my concerns about Alan’s leadership with Exodus. I have written to Alan a half dozen times since January 2012 when Alan made similar statements at a meeting of the “Gay Christian Network.” Our exchange was cordial but Alan has made clear to me that his views are fixed and will not change. Still, I had hoped that he would at least refrain from public comments of this sort. With his Atlantic interview it has become evident that he has no intention of keeping his aberrant views to himself. In fact, these views will define Exodus (even when Alan couches them as “his opinion,” which he only partly does in the Atlantic interview). There are, to be sure, many good parts to his interview. But the bad parts, which involve convictions at Alan’s theological center, are so bad that they fairly nullify the good.

As the opening to this article suggests, my main concern is that Alan’s comments to those living a homosexual life are ultimately unloving and ungracious. I don’t doubt that Alan intended his comments to “gay Christians” to be otherwise. Yet the actual result is to leave such persons deceived by giving them a message of “peace and security” when instead danger hangs over them (1 Thess 5:1-11). Who is gracious and loving? The parent that assures a child that crossing a busy intersection without looking both ways will produce no harm or the parent that does everything in his or her power to warn the child about the potential harm? Obviously the latter, for the warning is part of the makeup of a loving parent. In fact, state social services agencies count the former as abuse.

We saw above how Alan’s assurances to “gay Christians” are the antithesis of how Paul operated with regard to a case of sexual immorality in the church at Corinth.

You can read the whole thing here.

Here is a letter from Chambers on the new direction and emphasis.

This situation requires our careful analysis and prayers.

Update: Denny Burk’s brief suggestion seems plausible to me:

It appears that this has less to do with Chambers’ views on homosexuality than it does with his views on salvation. Chambers still affirms a biblical sexual ethic. He simply argues that Christians can ignore that ethic and still be considered Christians. It sounds like the non-lordship view of salvation that was made popular by Zane Hodges. This so-called “free grace” view teaches that an ungodly lifestyle need not trouble the assurance of a true “Christian.” The website of Chambers’ church in Orlando seems to confirm this view as well.

If you are unfamiliar with this controversy, I encourage you to read John MacArthur’s The Gospel according to Jesus and John Piper’s “Letter to a Friend concerning So-called ‘Lordship Salvation.’” The letter from Robert Gagnon calling for Chambers to resign also has extensive biblical and theological reflections on these themes.

 


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Comments:


58 thoughts on “Robert Gagnon’s Critique of Alan Chambers and the New Direction of Exodus International”

  1. Wesley says:

    I have not completed the whole article from Gagnon yet, but from what i’ve finished so far this is heartbreaking. What the world needs from the Christian community and those who profess to believe the gospel is not a further muddying of the waters but the same clarity with which the Scriptures speak. I can ALMOST see where Chambers is trying to go with pointing out how the church has made certain sins more important than others and also affirming that remaining sin in this life does not mean that someone is not a Christian (we all still have this remaining flesh).
    But, this line of argumentation is similar to those who, when confronted about a sin issue in their lives – rather than listening and repenting – cry back, ‘WHAT, so you don’t have any sin in your life?’ Of course, the remaining flesh is present in us all, but our attitude towards that flesh must continue to be one of repentance and adversarial, not acquiescence and support. Didn’t Luther say in the beginning of his 95 theses that all of the Christian life is to be one of repentance. In this i see Luther reminded us that those who are truly born again by the Spirit of God will have a very different attitude towards sin. Continued sanctification then is a real mark of whether one is truly regenerate or solely a ‘professing believer’. I find it frustrating and embarrassing that we still haven’t been able to settle on this issue of the sinfulness of ANY sexual act outside of covenant marriage between a man and a woman. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, just like sex with your girlfriend is sin, just like lust and pornography is sin. By all means, let’s level the playing field and call it all sin – but it IS all sin. Until we can settle on that throughout evangelicalism, this kind of cultural-bending and bowing will only continue to worsen. God help us.

  2. Annonymous says:

    I’m somewhat conflicted about this. On the one hand, I believe the correct approach to homosexuality is to treat it like any other sin, meaning the answer is conversion and discipleship, not psychology. On that point Chambers is correct. Several years ago I volunteered at a local Exodus ministry and I can tell you the men who made the most progress were those whose goal was to be holy, not heterosexual. Interestingly enough, the pursuit of the first often led to progress in the second.

    On the other hand, even though it’s true that most who deal with this issue continue to be tempted by it to some degree throughout life, if Chambers is saying one can be unrepentantly involved in homosexuality and still be a Christian, he is teaching contrary to scripture and is not being loving to those who are so deceived. I’ve not read anything where he says that directly but it is concerning when I read things from him about God being loving and not judgmental. God is both loving and just and those who pursue homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God meaning they are subject to his wrath.

    This is a difficult issue but one with which I am intimately familiar. I’m a former homosexual, married for over 20 years with three kids. I’m also an elder in my local church. I praise God for his saving grace that allows me to say no to my sin-nature, something I must do daily.

  3. Thank you for posting my letter, Justin. I appreciate you sharing both sides of this.

    1. Robert Davis says:

      Alan,

      You need to repent. If any homosexual has a quiet conscience about his homosexuality because of what you are teaching, you will have blood on your hands before the judgment throne of Christ.

      Repent.

    2. Robert Davis says:

      “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? DO NOT BE DECEIVED: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, NOR MEN WHO PRACTICE HOMOSEXUALITY, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

      It cannot be more clear. Such were (past tense), homosexuals must repent. No practicing homosexual will inherit the kingdom of God. There is no way around it, try as you will. If you have a problem with that assertion, your problem is with the God revealed in Scripture.

  4. Michael says:

    At the root of this is a bigger problem, “Exodus does not believe SSA is sinful.  However, sexual expression resulting from SSA is.” Many so-called conservative leaders are adopting this belief and it is inevitably going to lead to confusion at best, and outright damnation a worst. Cf. Hill’s book, Yuan’s book, and many recent Reformed sermons on gay marriage.

    1. Tim says:

      I’m a little unclear at what you are getting at…are you trying to say that SSA is sinful (in other words, to be tempted is a sin in itself?)

  5. Reality Check says:

    “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” 2 Tim 4:3

    Obviously, need I add, there would have to be “teachers” around to make this possible.

    Personally, I don’t find the situation this post is referring to any more complicated than that.

  6. Joe says:

    Why do we continue to deceive “remarried Christians” by giving them a message of “peace and security” when instead danger hangs over them? There are far more of them than “gay Christians”.

    Why does everyone ignore the unrepentant sin (adultery) of a person who has remarried after a ‘no fault’ divorce?

    Serious question. No sarcasm intended.

    1. Robert Davis says:

      Divorce, while grievous, is not a sexual abomination. Homosexuality is unnatural and perverse. The fact that this needs to be said is in itself troubling.

      1. Jay says:

        And the unlawful splitting of what God has joined into one flesh isn’t unnatural, perverse, or abominable?

        1. Robert Davis says:

          Not according to Scripture. God no where pronounces it an abomination, nor is it sexually perverse or sexually unnatural (like homosexuality). It’s the breaking of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman.

          1. Jay says:

            Just because the word “unnatural” doesn’t appear doesn’t mean it’s not unnatural. The imagery surrounding marriage is more than that of a covenant. It’s the joining of flesh. Therefore, to unlawfully break that bond is to separate flesh, and I can’t think of a word for that other than “unnatural.”

            How can an unlawful divorce be anything other than a perversion of God’s intent for marriage? And aren’t all sins abominable and worthy of damnation? What’s the point of making sinful divorcees feel better than sinful homosexuals? “Oh, at least I’m not as bad as that!” Please. Sexual sin is sexual sin.

          2. Jay says:

            To make my comment more clear, you never answered the initial question as was stated, which was why does everyone ignore the sin of remarriage after an unlawful divorce — or, in other words, adultery. You basically dodged that question by pointing out that homosexuality was more of an abomination. What’s your point, exactly? Do you feel the need to ease the guilty consciences of unrepentant adulterers in the same way that Alan Chambers is easing the guilty consciences of unrepentant homosexuals?

            Although I think the ranking of sexual sins is a pointless exercise at best, I’ll go ahead and grant your assertion that homosexuality is an abomination while unlawful divorce is simply “grievous” — whatever that distinction is supposed to accomplish. Now, you should probably go back to answering the original question: why do Christians ignore the sin of remarriage after an unlawful divorce? It’s much more commonplace than homosexuality, and yet almost every time I see someone bring it up, there’s always someone quick to say, “Yes, but homosexuals are worse!” That’s not the point.

            The point is that we’ve given a quarter in the defense of marriage and godly sexuality within the church, and now we’re surprised when homosexuals want to take a mile. If we want to be strong about condemning unrepentant homosexuality, we have to be just as strong about condemning the practice of remarriage after unlawful divorces.

            1. Robert Davis says:

              Everyone doesn’t ignore it, your assertion is an exaggeration because you think unlawful divorce and remarriage is downplayed while much is made of homosexuality. The problem is that you’re trying to make every sexual sin of the same level, but Scripture doesn’t. Is beastiality the same as unlawful divorce and remarriage? Is pedophilia the same as adultery? No. All sexual sins are sins indeed, and no one is to defend any of them. However, all are not the same. Some are more perverse, and therefore, God condemns them in harsher terms. What we need to avoid when confronting sexual sin in any form is self righteousness, whether it’s unlawful divorce and remarriage or homosexuality.

              1. Jay says:

                Unlawful divorce and remarriage is absolutely downplayed. Have you ever seen anyone disciplined in a church due to remarriage? I’ve seen people disciplined for homosexuality. I’ve also seen people disciplined for pornography, fornication, and adultery. This is absolutely appropriate and righteous, of course.

                However, I have never seen anyone disciplined for a remarriage after an unlawful divorce. In fact, while one can often find several articles and books about the evils of homosexuality, pornography, fornication, and adultery, I can’t think of a single prominent evangelical pastor, blogger, or thinker who has written about the evils of unlawful divorce and remarriage. If you think that the mainstream Christian response to remarriage is appropriate, then you are naive indeed.

                And I’m not trying to make every sexual sin the same level. I realize that some violate natural law. However, what does that change about how we deal with sinners? A homosexual and an adulterer need to be disciplined in equal measure. So does a person who divorces unlawfully and then plans to remarry. No Christian pastor should endorse that kind of behavior, yet it happens in churches all the time. In fact, it often happens in churches that claim to be tough on sin. They’ll discipline a homosexual, a fornicator, and an adulterer, but they won’t even speak the truth that divorce and remarriage is a sin. I’m not the one putting sins on the same level. You’re the one making light of divorce, because you have yet to say what should happen to those who engage in that sin.

                And still, your initial reply to Joe was inappropriate. You didn’t answer his question at all. He asked why people ignore divorce and remarriage. He asked why we continue to deceive remarried Christians. You deflected to a different issue. If you don’t think people ignore it, then you had better explain why. As it stands, you are doing exactly what Alan Chambers is doing. You are being light on the issue of divorce and remarriage, instead of condemning it as the evil that it is. You, sir, are the one who is being self-righteous.

              2. Robert Davis says:

                Unlawful divorce and remarriage is a sin. I never said otherwise. However, once a professing Christian has remarried, he or she can’t very easily divorce the second spouse and reconcile with the first. This particular sin can get messy and complicated, therefore it needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Jay Adams has a well balanced treatment of it. Once the sin has been confessed, the remarried Christian shouldn’t divorce his second spouse nor should he remain under church discipline indefinitely. You’re trying to compare apples and oranges. No church I have been a part of ignores divorce and remarriage, therefore you shouldn’t universalize your own experience.

                This post is about homosexuality, which btw doesn’t only violate natural law, it violates God’s law. I never inferred that you are self righteous. You should re-read my comments. Homosexuality is a perverted sin that needs to be repented of, the Word of God is clear about it. Only Scripture-twisting can make the Bible say otherwise, but the apostle Paul says, “Be not deceived…etc.” 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Practicing homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of heaven, period. Repentant ones will, not perfect…but repentant. And this cannot be relegated to, “well, is anyone really aware of all his sins? How do I know I’ve repented of all my sin.” or some such diversionary tactics. Can unrepentant murders go to heaven? Neither can unrepentant homosexuals.

    2. Chris Julien says:

      I have also wondered this; what is the next step if someone divorces improperly (ie. not because of adultery) and remarries? Yes, the Bible says they have then committed the sin of adultery, but what would the church have them do? Get another divorce and remarry their 1st spouse? It’s a very difficult situation…I’d also really appreciate a blog post or two about this.

      God bless.

    3. Bob says:

      I agree with Joe about this concern. It is almost never addressed in the church. when a Christian has an unbiblical divorce, say for “irreconcilable differences” and not for marital unfatihfulness or abandonment, and then remarries, that is adultery according to Jesus’ specific teaching in bible. Church discipline needs to be applied in these (many) cases.

  7. Bill G says:

    ^ +1 to Joe.

    Justin, could you do an article or two on Joe’s concerns?? I too have often wondered why the silence in the church regarding remarriage.

    Are the pastors afraid of losing their position (and their income)?

    1. Andy says:

      Agreed. I personally hold to the permanence view of marriage but am willing to cede a little ground given what could be perceived as a little ambiguity in a few verses. Yet, the lack of loving and sound Biblical warning from modern pulpits regarding those cases that are unequivocally sinful divorce/remarriage is a little unsettling. Some time devoted to addressing this sin would be appreciated.

  8. Open 24 Hours says:

    Galatians 5:16,19-21,24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God…. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

  9. SLIMJIM says:

    How sad. I think what we need to do is really pray on our end.

  10. Josh says:

    This is something I’ve struggled with. If we sin, and we repent, then we believe that Christ’s grace covers us. But if we fail to even realize that something is a sin, and therefore do not repent, does that mean that we do not have salvation? Or does the fact that we trust Christ and try to follow him mean that his grace covers our shortcomings of knowledge (failing to recognize that something is wrong) as well as of action?

    Were any of the Southern slaveholders in the pre-Civil War South Christians? Slavery as practiced in the pre-Civil War South was clearly sinful. Does this mean that churchgoing slaveholders were engaging in unrepentant sin and were condemned? Or does it mean that they had blind spots because they failed to overcome massive cultural pressures and God’s grace covers those blind spots?

    David Platt suggests in “Radical” that modern American Christians’ indifference to poverty is a blind spot on par with slaveholding in the pre-Civil War South. The Bible clearly commands care for the poor; does this mean that modern American Christians who aren’t concerned enough for the poor are engaged in unrepentant sin and are condemned?

    Homosexuals who try to follow Christ face pressures and temptations (both from their own desires and from an increasingly gay-tolerant culture) which would be difficult for us to imagine. If, as a result of these pressures and temptations, they fail to recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin, then are they condemned, even if they try to follow Christ in other areas of their lives?

    I suspect that all of us have areas in our lives where we have blind spots and haven’t repented of sins on those areas. I suspect that all of us, if we’re honest, would admit that we haven’t done as much to grow as we could (i.e., our blindness is to some extent willful). What makes our blindness and unrepentance different from that of practicing homosexuals who try to follow Christ?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions. I’d really appreciate any responses.

    1. Robert Davis says:

      Homosexuals know that their sexual practices are sinful. Don’t kid yourself. It’s clear in their conscience, in natural revelation, and in Scripture. Just like any other sin, if you live in it and practice it as a matter of the course of your life, you are unrepentent and lost. If you continue to steal, for example, shoplifting, embezzling money, etc. in a culture increasingly desensitized to thievery, does that get you off the hook with God? Can you still call yourself a Christian? Why would you? I’m not talking about struggling with the temptation, or falling into the sin in moments of weakness, but there MUST be repentance. This is rudimentary Christianity. You’re letting homosexuals who are nice, decent people and an increasingly decaying Western culture cloud your thinking.

    2. Michael says:

      Was owning of slaves sinful or the inhumane treatment of them?

      Everyone knows homosexuality is sinful due to natural law.

    3. Paul says:

      I agree with your concern over blindspots. Scripture teaches that we are self deceptive. We mold God, instead of Him molding us. We need to pray that He reveal ourselves to ourselves in all of our unrighteousness. To see it and repent. Allow Him to change us and our thinking so that it conforms to His good and perfect will in Christ Jesus.

    4. Chris Julien says:

      Our salvation is not contingent on our full and spotless repentance from sin, because we will never truly know, in this life, the depths of our sin. We look to Christ’s death on the cross, in faith, and know that he covered all of our sin, even those we cannot see. So I agree with you that Christ is sufficient to cover every sin we commit, even those we are unaware of and never get to repent of because we are blind to them. I’m not excluding the reality and necessity of repentance and turning from sin, I’m simply stating that it’s naive to think that we actually repent fully and completely of all of our sin. We are far more deceived and sinful than we think. And far more loved than we can imagine! :)

      But especially right now, I don’t think ignorance is the case for many practicing homosexuals. Even though they may not understand the basics of the gospel, they at least know that homosexuality did not used to be openly practiced in America, and they know that most Christians or the Christian God does not like homosexuality. They simply have little regard for what He thinks.

      We need to pray for clarity and winsomeness in this time; people never like to see their sin and be confronted about it, and this is especially true and difficult to talk about when our culture begins to lean in the direction opposite from us.

      God bless.

      1. Josh says:

        Thank you for your reply; this was helpful.

      2. JR says:

        I do agree with this; however, there is a difference between empirical facts and Holy Spirit conviction. Tradition and majority opinion are not pursuasive enough to convince a leper to change their spots. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can do this. And only a person who has been saved by God can experience the Holy Spirit working in such of way.

  11. Annonymous says:

    If Chambers advocates a so-called non-Lordship salvation, he is indeed in error and that saddens me greatly. Christ is either Lord AND Savior or He is neither. I talked with the other elders of my church recently about us joining the Exodus church association, something which they were very open to. If, however, this is the theological position of the organization I would not be comfortable with us doing so. I hope Mr. Chambers will clarify his position on this.

  12. Dave says:

    It’s sad how debauched he is succumbing to cultural norms in order to placate the gay community.

  13. Jay says:

    As far as I know, Alan Chambers’s theological view isn’t really new. The non-lordship view is common in Exodus circles, mainly due to the influence of the charismatic theology that has often been an undercurrent in the ex-gay movement, and which is also common in the Orlando-area churches where Exodus is based. This should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Exodus or their leadership.

    The genuinely surprising thing is Exodus’s movement away from the Freudian psychiatry and pseudo-science that has so long defined the organization. While the admission of Chambers’s theology is indeed troubling, I hope some people can at least recognize that this development is a positive thing. Relying on humanistic theories and therapies to deal with sin is, and always has been, a very bad idea.

    As someone mentioned above, the men and women who see the most healing are those who seek Christ and holiness in all areas of their lives, as opposed to those who focus on becoming heterosexual through psychiatric therapy. Heterosexuality isn’t the goal, for being a heterosexual will not save a soul.

    It should also go without saying that those who experience same-sex temptations, and especially those who once practiced homosexuality, might very well always struggle with residual temptations. Isn’t that true for everyone, regardless of the sins we struggle with? Is anyone truly free from temptation in this life? Are former homosexuals lesser Christians because they still may struggle in that direction? Chambers’s faults are indeed grievous, but I hope the orthodox backlash doesn’t swing too far the other way and hurt those homosexuals genuinely struggling with sin.

    1. Annonymous says:

      Thanks for that clarification Jay. I can see that based on my past experience with Exodus. They were heavily aligned with the Charismatic movement during the time I volunteered with them and that always troubled me, especially the re-parenting and inner healing approach of people like Leanne Payne. I had hoped Chambers move away from psychology meant a more orthodox theology as well but perhaps that’s not the case. Sad really. I think the moral of this story for me is that the church is the best place (or should be) for the discipleship of sinners, no matter the sin. There always seems to be issues with doctrinal faithfulness over time with para-church ministries that are not under the authority of a local church.

  14. Joe says:

    An exemplary initial post in its balance and respect. Some of the comments trouble me. Chambers really deserves nothing but respect. He has taken on a difficult task and handled it with dedication and grace. His own story is a testimony to his rock solid conviction that homosexuality as a lifestyle is sinful. All it really seems like he is saying is Exodus offers its help to those seeking to come out of a gay lifestyle, but is not going to go down the road of condemning to Hell those who claim to be Christians yet also homosexuals. In others words, we point the way, and let you choose as you please. Do we know that you cannot be gay and practicing and be somehow, as if by fire, saved? I don’t think so. Scripture seems against it, but we are dealing with final destinations, and we are not the judge. Chambers is NOT saying it is OK to be gay; he is simply saying he is not going to define where that boundary is where sin actually makes faith impossible. While this seems a little dicey, I for one cannot imagine being in his shoes, so think it just as dicey to issue a harsh judgement. For those who know people who are gay but otherwise show all the marks of sincere faith, and also know nominal Christians who say the right things but show little real spiritual life, the dilemma is genuine. Chambers approach manages to minister to homosexuals while not being overtly caustic to the very powerful gay community in which it must operate.

  15. Joe says:

    Having just finished Gagnon’s piece, I see there are deeper problems. Nonetheless, I think Chambers, even if wrong, deserves respect for his work.

  16. Kathy Baldock says:

    I read the entire paper, although I do not agree with the positions held by Gagnon or Chambers, I appreciate the tone coming from Exodus.
    I would imagine, If you laid my parenting style aside Gagnon’s, we would differ to the core. Wisdom is know by her children.
    Gagnon’s views, in my opinion, can be reduced to Law+Paul; I prefer Grace + Jesus. Gagnon is known for his massive responses. Massive does not equal correct.
    I think Alan is on the right track.

  17. JR says:

    We reformed seem to be such a confused lot. Regeneration preceeds faith preceeds repentence. Isn’t it possible that there is a lapse of time between those stages of soteriolgy making it possible for one to be saved for a period of time, but not yet fully convicted and convinced and repentent of even our most heinous sin??
    Actually, I’m not sure that we should think otherwise – soteriologically.

    1. Deb says:

      According to the WCF, Ch 10, Conversion (faith and repentance) instantly follows Regeneration. Although, I think your point matters in that Sanctification is a life-long process and that sin is revealed in great depth as we mature in the faith. I think it is possible for someone to be saved and still gay, but not ideally and not in long-term.

      I do think that Reformed people should have a different approach to this issue, because it does get at a distinctive feature in our theology. Here are a few quotes to that effect from Hodge:

      “Natural religion in all its forms presupposes holy character and conduct as the essential antecedent condition of God’s favor. Christianity in all its genuine forms presupposed the favor of God as the essential antecedent condition of holy character and conduct.”

      “The regeneration and faith upon which justification is conditioned begin in no sense causes, either meritorious or efficient, of the remission of sins and imputation of righteousness which ensue, but only conditions sine qua non, to which God has been graciously pleased to promise that remission and that imputation”

      “The second characteristic mark of Protestant soteriology is the principle that the change of relation to the law signalized by the term justification, involving remission of penalty and restoration to favor, necessarily precedes and renders possible the real moral change of character signalized by the terms regeneration and sanctification… We are pardoned in order that we may be good, never made good in order that we may be pardoned.”

      All of this to say that I think you’re on to something by pointing to Reformed Soteriology to show that our salvation is not contingent or conditioned upon our morality, but I’m not sure that allows for a prolonged period of unrepentent sin. The length of time plausible (or permissable) would need to be individually discerned (imo). Thanks!

  18. JR says:

    I do, however, agree with others that the statement about SSA not being a sin seems to be off. If it is a matter of Christian liberty, such as an attraction or inclination towards, say, chocolate or wine, sure. Such an inclination would only be sinful if indulged idolatrously. However, SSA (murder, stealing, lying, adultery, etc.) in and of itself is sinful and cannot be accepted in any wise, even in our thoughts, such that matters of Christian liberty may be safely considered.
    Thanks for letting me comment.

    1. Deb says:

      Agreed.

  19. Joe says:

    “I prefer Grace + Jesus.”

    But Paul, who met Jesus, spent his life following the Lord’s commands, and was called by him to found the Church, pretty much abused the ideas of Grace and Jesus. Then let’s just junk all of the NT except the Four Gospels! Also, as for what you “imagine,” I don’t think that has much to do with such a complex issue. You may not agree with Gagnon, but suggesting he is a ‘mean’ parent is not only bogus, it is an unfair and unflattering debate tactic. I “imagine” females typically feel their way through issues far more than they think through them, but hey, that’s only my imagination.

  20. Annonymous says:

    I think we’re confusing two things here: struggle with sin and recognition of sin. The first of these is continuous throughout the life of the Christian to varying degrees. It’s true we cannot necessarily say a person is unsaved based on their behavior but their attitude toward their behavior is another matter. It is one thing to continue to struggle with homosexuality after conversion, even giving in to the temptation still sometimes. It’s quite another to pursue homosexuality while believing it is not a sin. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8)

    Paul is clear that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9). So what does that mean? Does it mean anyone who’s ever been involved with homosexuality has no hope of salvation? Of course not, because just a few verses later he declares that some in the Corinthian church were homosexuals but now are not because they’ve been washed by the blood of Christ. What it must be talking about is people who continue to pursue homosexual behavior (key word there pursue). No one who continues unrepentantly in homosexuality, calling what God calls evil, good, has any grounds for assurance of their salvation. And pastors and ministry leaders who refuse to say that to people in that situation are are not loving them and are guilty of pastoral malpractice.

    1. JR says:

      I think a lot of the comments, including this one, assumes some sort of monolithic understanding about homosexuality and betrays a lack of personal experience. If any of you were homosexual at sometime, or even knew someone who was formerly homosexual, I think you would understand the soteriology question. Most people who come out of homosexuality are not convicted and convinced of their sin instantaneously. It comes from a process of sitting at the feet of Jesus, studying God’s Word in the fellowship of other -gracious- Christians and coming to understand by the work of the Holy Spirit what God’s will is for them. There are some who do get it suddenly, but more often it is a process. People’s core identity is being remolded and that usually takes time.

      Sorry, but I think Chambers is trying to address this fact, even if he is perhaps mucking it up a bit in the process. For people who are involved in this as a ministry (either as one who has been helped, or one who is trying to be helpful), Chambers’ position is more preferrable, from my standpoint.

      1. Annonymous says:

        Then you’d be wrong. I have personal experience with this issue, both in my own life and through past work as a volunteer with a local Exodus ministry for many years working with dozens of strugglers.

        1. JR says:

          Well, that is only your opinion – so please refrain from condemning the experience and research of others in such a way.

          While I have not worked directly with or for Exodus, I do have 20 years of experience out of the lifestyle, and I have worked with dozens of others – both Christian and non-Christian.

          If you would like to have a mature dialog, I’m up for that. But if I read your last comment correctly, you do not seem open to that.

        2. JR says:

          FYI, Annon, I’m in agreement with you on almost all that you’ve said. (ie, the 1 Cor. 6 quote, the lack of assurance for an unrepentant sinner, etc..) The only thing i’m pushing back on is the idea that somehow a person who is saved immediately understands and is convicted of the sinfulness of their homosexuality. Yes, sometimes it comes fairly quickly, or even instantaneously. But usually it is a process that comes over time, after sitting at the feet of Jesus, studying the Word of God with other gracious Christians. A total change in a person’s identity is something that only the Holy Spirit can make happen (can a leper change his spots??). And only a person who has been saved by the grace of God can experience the work of the Holy Spirit. As I said before, I think it is possible for a person to have been saved, but not yet convicted of their sin in this area. And think that may be the only area where we have a disagreement.

      2. Jay says:

        With all due respect, this is true of almost every sin. Pornography, fornication, divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, homosexuality, gossip, etc. They’re all sins that people struggle with and they’re all very difficult to overcome. However, that doesn’t mean we should be soft about them. A new Christian might not immediately understand the sin of fornication. They might not immediately put away the wine bottle or the marijuana. They might not immediately understand the sin of their gossip, or understand their need to put down the remote control and turn off the trashy reality shows.

        Still, should we be soft on sin? No! It is indeed true that some will be saved as though through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). But as fellow Christians, we should not take our chances. Alan Chambers is making a serious misstep by saying what he has said. The message that people will receive is not that a struggling, shaky, fledgling, newborn Christian might still possibly be saved, even if he or she doesn’t have everything right yet — that would be acceptable. Instead, the message that people will receive is that proudly practicing homosexuals and repentant ex-homosexuals will both be saved. That is a lie. He’s implying that obedience is optional. This is a very dangerous and godless view. It is not truly loving to sinners.

        1. JR says:

          “Instead, the message that people will receive is that proudly practicing homosexuals and repentant ex-homosexuals will both be saved. That is a lie. He’s implying that obedience is optional. This is a very dangerous and godless view.”
          I agree 100%. If this is what Chambers is in fact saying, then certainly I do not support him at all. My first impression was that (since he himself is a repentant ex-homosexual) he was making room for those with limited understanding and experience. However, it appears that he is going well beyond my initial reading of him.

          1. Jay says:

            Even if he is indeed simply making room for new or struggling Christians with limited understanding — which I think is being quite generous to him, by the way — he is being extremely unwise in the way he is presenting that view. He’s talking to a liberal journalist, and this is most likely to be read by both unrepentant homosexuals and unbelievers. It’s the message that they will receive that’s very dangerous and unloving towards them.

            Some genuine believers genuinely struggle, and go through years of weakness punctuated with moments of sobriety. That’s normal for addictive behavior, and that includes deeply ingrained sexual sin. Still, while being graceful towards them, we shouldn’t diminish the error of their sin. That’s the mistake that Chambers is making here, and he’s doing it to an audience who will use this as a justification to continue on in their sinful ways.

  21. Annonymous says:

    “Well, that is only your opinion – so please refrain from condemning the experience and research of others in such a way.”

    But it’s OK for you to do that with regard to my experience? Interesting.

    1. JR says:

      No, I’ve also quoted scripture and the reformed view of soteriology (see above).
      In addition, you are the only one to use your experience to condemn the experience of another. I have not done that. I have merely shown that there is another person who also has experience with this issue who has a different take. So do are we dialoging on this or is it just going to be a tit for tat?

      1. Robert Davis says:

        Anyone familiar with the work of Sy Rogers? You should check him out. He maintains a good balance, and understands the homosexual experience and struggle while being faithful to Scripture.

        My sister-in-law (formerly bisexual) was greatly helped by his preaching.

        1. Jay says:

          Sy Rogers is indeed a great leader on this subject. His testimony is also quite incredible. I’m glad that we agree about something!

          Still, I must object to your post up above. If a woman divorces unlawfully and then remarries, the second marriage is illegitimate as a Christian marriage. The Bible is clear that such remarriage is adultery (Matthew 19:9). It’s just as black-and-white as homosexuality, violating God’s law. If a homosexual had married — in a state where homosexual marriages are legal, of course — we would still require him or her to leave that relationship due to its illegitimacy. Yes, there might be complicating factors if children are involved, and the same is true for a remarried divorcee, but that doesn’t change what the Bible says. We wouldn’t let a sheet of paper validate a homosexual marriage within God’s house, so I don’t see why you argue that we should let one validate an unlawful remarriage.

          Also, you haven’t read my comments in this thread — particularly my response to “JR” — if you think I am approving of Alan Chambers’s coddling of sinners. He has indeed sinned grievously by saying what he has said, and like you noted: no one gets to use the ignorance excuse when it comes to sin. Not a homosexual, not an adulterer, not a divorcee, not a liar, not a gossiper, no one. My only point has been that the same excuses and justifications that Chambers is using for unrepentant homosexuals are also more commonly used for unrepentant divorcees. Despite the fact that that sin is more common than homosexuality, you don’t hear it condemned as much in churches or in Christian publications. Like I said, if you think you do, you’re being naive.

          A proud and unrepentant homosexual should not be deceived, they will not be saved. The same can be said for an unrepentant adulterer, and that includes those who unlawfully divorced and remarried. Like none of us, they can’t use ignorance as an excuse. Therefore, the most loving thing for their leaders and fellow Christians to do is to be honest and warn them about their destructive sin.

          1. Robert Davis says:

            Jay,

            The book by Jay Adams, Divorce and Remarriage, is well-argued and lays out a fairly standard and balanced position on it. Rather than enter into a long discussion here, I would recommend reading this book.

            Thanks for the interaction.

            Best,

            RD

            1. Jay says:

              Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely be looking up the book. I’ll admit that I’m wary of long academic texts that try to argue away what is plainly written as sinful in the Bible — the same has been done for homosexuality many times, as you know — but I’ll give anything a fair reading. Have a blessed Sunday, and thanks for the interaction as well.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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