Exodus International president’s new book offers brutal honesty and hard-earned insights that can help all Christians lead lives of holiness.
Alan Chambers’ new book is titled Leaving Homosexuality – but it’s about a lot more than that. Yes, it is filled with revealing details of his story – now almost 20 years in the making – of struggling away from his unwanted same-sex attractions. And there’s no disputing that men and women who share those struggles will find great hope and healing in Chambers’ brutal and insightful honesty.
But even those who have never had a single sexualized thought about someone of the same sex will find enormous takeaway in the slim volume’s 151 straightforward pages. More than anything, Chambers has written a sort of how-to manual for pursuing God’s holiness – regardless of the temptations you struggle with.
“There is no such thing as a struggle-free life,” he writes. “To have the expectation of life free from conflict is unrealistic. What is realistic is to expect to find new ways to deal with those struggles.
“For those of us who take this walk out of homosexuality, we see our same-sex attractions as the vehicle – the need in our lives – that brought us to faith in Christ. We need to go on from there and embrace a destiny that’s far beyond merely dealing with our sexual issues.”
CitizenLink chatted with Chambers – a speaker at Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conferences – about his book and how he hopes it is, and isn’t, used.
1. The title of the book is telling. It’s called Leaving Homosexuality, not Entering Heterosexuality. Why is that? What’s the difference?
The key thought here is the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality. It’s holiness. There are people who are conflicted with their sexuality, involved with homosexuality, and there is a way out for those who want it. But it doesn’t say that they’re going into heterosexuality, because that’s not the point. The point is that people can leave whatever it is that God calls less than His best and move into something that is His best, becoming more like He is.
2. Now, I’ve heard it, and you’ve heard it: Gay activists are going to read that and say, again, “Alan Chambers is living a lie. He’s suppressing who he really is.” You make a great point in the book that is very applicable to anyone who struggles with any temptation — and that is, self-denial isn’t a bad thing. How do you respond to those who say you’re just living a lie?
For so long I’ve heard gay activists say to me, “You’re just in denial. You’re not grasping the reality of the situation. You’re just denying who you really are.” The truth is, I am in denial, but it is self-denial. I’m not in denial of who I used to be. I’m not in denial of the temptations that I could still experience. I am denying the power that sin has over me.
Sin does not have any power that we don’t give it, and what I’ve found is that my freedom – and the freedom of others I’ve known who’ve left homosexuality — was centered around denying what might come naturally to us regardless of how it got there. And once you deny sin’s power, you can live a free life.
The most authentic part of my life is first and foremost my relationship with Christ, but sitting here where I’m doing this interview in my back yard — with my kids and with my wife — this is who I am. This is who I want to be. This is the truth of my life. This is who I was created to be. And this is what brings me happiness.
3. One of the things that really struck me about the book is there’s a lot of insight about how to pursue God’s holiness, God’s best for you, that has nothing to do with homosexuality. Is it fair to say that a great part of the struggle out of homosexuality is similar to the struggle out of any sin?
It’s very fair. I think people who struggle with homosexuality think they’re terminally unique. Everything about their lives is different than everyone else’s life. But over the course of the last 18 years that I’ve been on this journey, what I’ve found is this is not specific to one type of person or one specific sin struggle. This is our struggle as human beings — to leave those things that come naturally to us through our sin nature behind and strive toward a closer and deeper relationship with Christ. It’s about maturing in Christ, not about leaving a specific issue behind.
That’s the beauty of where we all are on our road to the Cross, is that we’re all in this together. We all struggle. We all have a sin nature, and we all need to pursue holiness.
4. Some parents and friends of those who identify as homosexual are going to see this book and think, “I’m going to just drop this off for so-and-so.” But I know that’s not the ideal way you see this kind of resource being used. How should those who have a loved one living homosexually use the book? Why is it a bad idea to go just drop this off if someone may not be in the place where they can receive it?
Certainly parents or family and friends are well-meaning in their desire to help their loved ones dealing with these issues. But it goes back to the premise that leaving homosexuality isn’t the point. If they have a loved one who doesn’t know the Lord, homosexuality should be a very back-burner issue. The most important thing for someone who doesn’t know the Lord is that they know Christ, not that they leave homosexuality.
So for a parent or a loved one who sees this as, “This is so good; I’m going to send this to my kid,” you may alienate them, turn them off. If they pray about it, if there’s a conversation about it, if it’s done in a respectful way, maybe that could be the right thing. But we have to really respect, regardless of whether we like it or not, where our kids are at in their journey. And if they’re not in a place where they’re looking to leave homosexuality, it might just send them further away or alienate them more if we continually make this a priority issue in our relationship.
5. There are some remarkably honest passages in this book — from the details of your childhood to the details of your sexual addictions to the details of your wedding night and your honeymoon. This book is not going to go under the radar when it comes to the attention of gay activists. A lot of them read CitizenLink. They’re going to see this story. What would you say to them as they learn about some of the details of your story they may not have known before?
This is me being honest. I have nothing to hide. There is absolutely no reason for me to be anything other than candid about the truth of my life, because I think it really speaks to the bigger issue. And that is, who do I trust? Who is my hope in? Who is my security found in? Who do I look to for every answer? And that is Jesus Christ.
When someone is critical, they’re going to be critical whether I share some of the things I’ve shared or not. I’m looking first and foremost to help people who want help to realize this is what it looks like to leave homosexuality. This is a really good picture of what this life that I love so much looks like. If people look at that, no matter whether they’re fans or critics, and say, “This guy is brutally honest about how hard this road is but at the same time how much he loves the journey he’s on,” then I think that speaks volumes.
And honestly, as a Christian leader, I think that that’s something we have to do more often. Christians really need to be honest about their struggles, because secrecy is worse than lies, and I don’t have any desire to go back to where I once was. I have every desire to move forward. I have the life I love, and it gets better every single day. And I’m going to be honest about that — the good, bad and the ugly. And at the end of the day, I choose this life. This is who I am.
FOR MORE INFORMATIONTo learn more about Alan Chambers’ book, Leaving Homosexuality, visit the Exodus International Web site.
Also, discover more about Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference.