The man behind the organization synonymous with the “ex-gay movement” is finally sharing his life story in the book My Exodus: From Fear to Grace (Zondervan, Sept.). Alan Chambers shut down Exodus International—a Christian ministry dedicated to helping gay or lesbian Christians live celibate or heterosexual lives— in June 2013, and for the first time since the closing, he addresses, in his book, questions about his public life as both the leader of Exodus and one of its success stories: a man attracted to the same sex who lives a heterosexual lifestyle.
After receiving offers from a number of publishers, Chambers and his wife of 18 years, Leslie, decided to go with Zondervan. Together, the pair wrote a first draft of the book, but the publisher wanted more background information. “They said, ‘You’ve been on the stage for 12 years sharing your opinions,’” said Alan Chambers. “’People would like to hear your story.’”
So this husband/wife team, whose life has been the subject of scrutiny from both Christian and secular media, set out to write their life story together. “Leslie and I are a team in every sense of the word,” said Chambers, who rejects the term “ex-gay” but has spoken publicly about his efforts to overcome an attraction to men. ”I love that [Leslie] gets to tell her story,” he said. “The entire book was a collaboration for us.”
My Exodus: From Fear to Grace reveals for the first time the details of Chambers’ childhood, his and Leslie’s courtship, the closing of Exodus, and the many facets of their relationship together and as parents of two adopted children. Leslie Chambers contributed three chapters, though “when we went back and read the manuscript, it was hard for us to remember who had written what part,” said Alan Chambers.
The message of the book is grace—God’s grace. “For so long we preached a message of condition where we told people God will be happy when you behave in a certain way and if you don’t, God is mad,” said Chambers. “We found that not to be true. As we relaxed and gained peace and rest in our relationship with Christ, we found a miraculous transformation in our lives and wanted to share that with others.”
After closing Exodus, the Chambers thought of starting a new organization, but realized quickly that they wanted off the public stage. “We wanted to be Alan and Leslie Chambers for a time,” he said.
Around the same time, the couple apologized to the LGBT community on national TV for any hurt Exodus may have caused with their assertion that reorientation of same-sex attraction is possible. “We wanted people to know we had a sincere change of heart,” said Chambers.
Today, the Chambers have jumped back into the public eye with the release of My Exodus. They hope their story helps dial down the fear that is so much a part of the conversation about homosexuality and Christianity.
“There is no agenda in the book, which has been criticized by both sides of the issue,” said Chambers. “Our agenda is only that we have a really amazing God who has transformed every part of us. We feel confident that we’re doing the right thing. We’re eager to see what the next season brings with this very public book.”