About four years ago, I had to stop my ceaseless quarreling with religious forces in America. Not because I felt it wasn’t a worthy fight, but because it was taking a toll on me. I found myself tossing and turning at night, and felt my efforts were an exercise in futility. To quote my own blog post, “… I learned that many Christians do not think that intelligence is a virtue. They eschew logic as flawed. For them, science is suspect, and facts lead to deception. For them, the only way to find knowledge is to embrace ignorance. Their choice to remain blissfully attached to a cancerous, iron-age philosophy is not the result of a lack of intelligence, but merely a fearful abandonment of intellectual courage.”
While that statement is often true, it isn’t always. Enter Alan Chambers, stage left. He’s the guy who just shut down his “gay conversion” ministry Exodus International.
It’s quite possible that I’ve never seen this kind of courage in a faithful Christian during the course of my entire life. People who are bold enough to take a harsh stance against a minority of people are usually galvanized by their own hatred. They feed on the controversy. They successfully bifurcate their mind into two parts: the reasonable part that deals with most elements of day-to-day life, and the completely insane part where their irrational beliefs live. Normally, all they have to do to defeat detractors is to rely on the latter.
This is why I stopped arguing, but Alan Chambers has reminded me that people can be good, that they can listen to reason, and that they will sometimes do the right thing even at great risk to themselves. The reason Chambers was persuaded to shut down his ministry was because a lot of people hadn’t stopped arguing. He listened with his brain to scientific research, he listened with his heart to the impassioned pleas of those whom his ministry had hurt. He also embarked upon the rarest of all journeys: he examined his desire to be good, and measured that against the real and actual outcome of his actions, and found that he was failing. Then he decided to publicly apologize and change his actions.
Amazing. Amazingly good. His reasonable approach hasn’t led him to perfect alignment with my beliefs, but that’s okay. He is a hero in my book.
Thank you Mr. Chambers.