Apparently, being criticized for your views—or even mocked for them, as the case may be—is enough to win you a “Daniel” award from the evangelical World magazine. The magazine has bestowed its annual honor on Alan Chambers, head of the “ex-gay” outfit Exodus.
The award, of course, is named for Daniel, who was protected by angels after being thrown in the lion’s den (recounted in Daniel 6). World apparently sees Chambers as a Daniel facing the lions of pro-gay and lesbian equality.
Critics have called him a bigot, a homophobe, and a spiritual terrorist. An online petition to ban an Exodus application from Apple’s iTunes store earlier this year drew more than 150,000 signatures. Apple dropped the Exodus app, saying it offended large groups of people.
Oh, my—those vicious lions! Trying keep homophobia off their iPhones! Here’s a thought: Perhaps the lions wouldn’t be so testy if they didn’t have to justify their very existence. Perhaps the lions would be more willing to lie down with the lamb (or the “Daniel”) if the lions weren’t being continually tossed into the political ring for a blood sport sideshow over their “right” to exist.
Of course, the article is quick to point out that Chambers and his crew have every reason to be afraid of the gay community. Their headquarters in Orlando does not have a sign and they keep their doors locked because of a “handful” of threats from opponents. Chambers also said he’s received a “handful” of threatening calls and at least one letter that said he ought to be killed for what he does. All of which is despicable. No matter how much one disagrees over an issue, threats and violence are never the answer.
What Exodus and their ilk do, however, is a form of spiritual violence on gay and lesbian people.
Chambers swears he’s not looking to “fix” gays and lesbians, or make them get married to opposite sex partners—as he has done. Instead Chambers insists his goal is “to point them to Jesus.” And, as he wrote in his 2009 book Leaving Homosexuality: “The opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality. It’s holiness.”
Which is a hefty dose of incitement to self-loathing—homosexuality depicted as unholy, filthy, and wretched. It also completely denies the existence of gay and lesbian people of faith who have found complete holiness in their relationships and have made peace with God.
But, Chambers continues his plea. He believes people should have a choice in their sexual orientation, plaintively asking: “Why shouldn’t that be out there for people who want it?”
And I agree—for those who, because of their religious beliefs, feel the need to remain celibate, there should be help out there for them—but that’s not Exodus’ message. By continuing to harp on the “sinfulness” and “unholiness” of homosexuality, Chambers perpetuates the stigmatization of an entire population and justifies political attempts to relegate them to second-class citizenship. I have no objection to people living their life as they want—but Chambers and the whole ex-gay industry simply continue to peddle the lie that God hates fags and they have no place in church and society.
I am glad that Chambers has found happiness. What I wish is that he could accept that the lions he says he’s so bravely fighting against have found their happiness as well—and will fight tooth and nail to keep it.