It takes a lot of courage -- and honesty -- to admit you were wrong, and Alan Chambers has done just that. This week, he announced plans to shut down his controversial Christian ministry, Exodus International, which was the country's largest organization devoted to "curing" homosexuality, and he issued a public apology to the LGBT community for the harm he has done to them over the years.
"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," he said. "For quite some time we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."
I found his choice of words to be very interesting. To be "imprisoned" by a way of thinking -- especially when it stands in direct contradiction to the religious beliefs a person holds to be true -- is to be at odds with one's own heart. And that is what this is really all about -- following your heart, and allowing others to be who they truly are. It's the very idea that my friends and I hoped to instill in a new generation when we first released Free to Be...You and Me.
By issuing the statement and acknowledging his own sexual orientation, Chambers joins the ever-increasing chorus of voices in our nation calling for kindness, tolerance and decency. He said, "Today, I do not consider myself 'ex-gay,' and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people."
Sadly, there are still other organizations out there that perpetuate misguided beliefs about homosexuality, and use the same kind of narrow judgment to try to control others. But when the president of an organization as large as Exodus International publicly acknowledges a change of heart, it shows us all that minds can be changed and hearts can be opened.
Today, the majority of Americans now favor same-sex marriage, and in the days ahead the Supreme Court will be ruling on that very issue. I only hope that the upcoming ruling moves us all forward, into the light, as we strive to create a more perfect union.
The optimism of that kind of transformation reminds me of the wonderful words the late Bruce Hart wrote for Free to Be...You and Me," in his uplifting song, "Sisters and Brothers":
Ain't we happy, everybody, being everybody's sister?
Ain't we lucky, everybody, being everybody's brother?
Ain't we lucky, everybody, looking out for one another?