I find the end of Exodus International sad to some degree. It feels as if it represents the end of a cultural moment in modern Christianity when those that sought to honour Biblical ideas on homosexuality were ascendant.
Now it feels splintered. There are many groups and organisations that claim to be Christian and all of them have a significant following and respect. There will always be groups that seek to honour Biblical truth on this issue acting as cities on hills in a dark world, but I feel that they will find further marginalisation as ‘cultural christians’ shift their support to active same-sex Christians giving the impression that that movement has the weight of numbers.
In some ways it was nice to have an organisation with some sort of international organisational clout on this issue. When the troubled teen or shocked parent went googling finding their website must have offered some comfort and give an impression that there was some organisational weight behind this view. I also think a large gathering of people provided an opportunity for many to find some level of freedom. I personally had intended to go one day if it matched with my winter school holidays here.
The end of Exodus is in some ways inconsequential; perhaps even positive. Organic, grass root groups started by passionate individuals seeking to do mission within their local culture will thrive as they lose the burden of an umbrella organisation often using methods and messages they find unacceptable. Hopefully groups focused on Biblical truth, gospel hope and real world reality will gain the ascendency.
It is a good reminder that the local church should be the place where people dealing with same-sex attraction can turn and find support although perhaps Exodus could have served a purpose if they had have shifted their mission to equipping churches to take strong Biblical stands on this issue in a fast changing culture.
Positively, we were also spared watching Exodus careen on for another couple of years and perhaps recounting all the Biblical truth they once held.
To be cynical I imagine that Exodus was losing significant financial support as it shifted on previously held beliefs. (Obviously some of those needed recanting as many of us know personally they didn’t quite work in reality and perhaps what we needed was a more theologically rich hope along the lines of Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting.) People who give money want to support a strong horse that has confidence in its beliefs and actions and, despite the merit in some of Exodus’ shifts, it doesn’t promote confidence. I also would speculate, although have no evidence, that Exodus was losing organisational support at the local level and volunteers and conference attendees at a national level. The fact they were able to die with dignity is impressive and probably deserves a place in PR textbooks of how to avoid an embarrassing end for a non-profit in a shifting culture.