Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; Prov. Do not discard something valuable in your eagerness to get rid of some useless thing associated with it.
This saying kept running through my head as I read the apology that Alan Chambers wrote for Exodus International, a group seeking to mobilize “the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.” He was apologizing for all of pain, doubt, and self-hate that he had helped cause through Exodus International, especially through “sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation.” (I want to say that I have no issue with Exodus International. I think they are good people doing the best they can to help others. For some reason as I re-read this, the quotation marks I use seem somehow…sarcastic? The point is, I don’t want them to be. they are just quotes from the website.)
Chambers says that he thinks that reparative therapy is harmful and does not work. Frankly, I agree. I know friends who have gone through it and it has only seemed to worsen their guilt and often to deepen the rift they felt between themselves and God. But If reparative therapy doesn’t work, does that mean that it is impossible to change? Again, hold onto the baby…
I once had a conversation with someone who is LDS and who said that I should be wary of anyone or anything that says I can change. All I could think was, “So you are telling me to be wary of Jesus?” I decided to take his words with a few grains of salt, ’cause if I learned anything from Norman Greenbaum, it’s that “I got a friend in Jesus!”
But in all seriousness, I was shocked to have someone say that I should be wary of change. Isn’t the gospel of Jesus Christ a gospel of change? Isn’t that what repentance is about? Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches us that
“The gospel ofchallenges us to change. “Repent” is its most frequent message, and repenting means giving up all of our practices—personal, , ethnic, and national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.”
It was with this quote in mind that I kept hoping that Alan Chambers wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because reparative therapy wasn’t the answer, I don’t think it means that change is impossible or bad! And he seems to agree. While he apologized for the pain he caused, he explicitly states that he would not apologize for what he believes. He will support and help anyone no matter their beliefs, but he is happily married to a woman and will not take it back.
It was so refreshing to hear! It rang true with me and what I believe. The issue that I see with reparative therapy is that we are using man’s methods and man’s timetable to bring change in sexual orientation, and I just can’t see that working. But through the Savior, all things are possible, because his is a gospel of change, and he asks us to change while simultaneously helping us to do so.
On the website Mormons and Gays, Church leaders and members come together and teach that change is possible. For some it may come earlier that others. Some may find their attractions diminishing and that marriage is more and more a possibility, while others seem to have no change in their orientation at all. We are all different. The point is, that through Christ, ALL things can change. And it we want them to change, we must endure to the end. Not to the end of the therapy session, not to the end of our year’s goal, but till Christ welcomes us into his arms and says “well done thou good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:21)
Over the past five years, I have seen major changes in myself. Things I thought I would never understand or accept are things that are now some of my core beliefs. What was the secret? I endured. I kept going. Just because I didn’t understand doesn’t mean that it was wrong. I trusted in my Redeemer and I found that I can change and become like him. I can live the commandments and live worthy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and be happy while doing so.
In short, I threw out the bathwater and kept the baby. Worth it.