By Stephanie Simon, Lost Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 18, 2007
Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation's largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group's Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won't celebrate successful "ex-gays."
Truth is, he's not sure he's ever met one.
With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he's a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he's come to resent the term "ex-gay": It's too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. "By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete," Chambers said.
His personal denunciation of the term "ex-gay" — his organization has yet to follow suit — is just one example of shifting ground in the polarizing debate on homosexuality.
Despite the fundamental gulf that divides them, gay-rights activists and those who see homosexuality as a sinful disorder are starting to reach agreement on some practical points.
Chambers and other Exodus leaders talk deliberately about a possible biological basis for homosexuality, in part to explain that no one can turn a switch and flip from gay to straight, no matter how hard they pray.
A leading conservative theologian outside the ex-gay movement recently echoed the view that homosexuality may not be a choice, but a matter of DNA. To the shock and anger of many of his constituents, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote that "we should not be surprised" to find a genetic basis for sexual orientation.
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