From Randy Thomas’s blog (bold emphasis mine)
When Alan Chambers made his apology to the gay community, I couldn’t have been more supportive. I am so proud of my friend and fully agree with what he shared.
I, too, have been taking a personal moral inventory. So many eye-opening experiences have occurred in the past twenty-four months – including the suicide of a beloved friend and former partner this past January. The loss of Michael forced me to face some issues I had not been willing to deal with until that time. And it’s through this process that I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to apologize to the gay community.
My understanding of public policy at that time was limited to the talking points I was given to tailor my testimony around. I did not do much research beyond these talking points – and as a result, my perspective was limited and nearsighted. I am very sorry that my uncritical perspective contributed to the hurt that many LGBT persons were already feeling.
I participated in the hurtful echo chamber of condemnation. I gave lip service to the gay community, but really did not exemplify compassion for them. I placed the battle over policy above my concern for real people. I sometimes valued the shoulder pats I was given by religious leaders more than Jesus’ commandment to love and serve. That was wrong and I’m disappointed in myself. Please forgive me.
I directly empowered people to co-opt my testimony and use it against the gay community. There were a few times I almost worked up the nerve to confront them, only to hear them invoke my name at an opportune moment. “Of course I love gay people,” they would say. “Just look at my good friend Randy…” It was very selfish of me to back down in these situations. I apologize.
I was, in a sense, attracted to this kind of power and allowed my conscience to be numbed so I could have a seat at their table. In the name of trying to positively affect Christian leaders, I willingly became one of their pawns. Again, I was selfish and prideful. Please forgive me.
The only thing I don’t regret about my past public policy efforts are some of the friends I made during that time. These few trusted Christians are in the public policy realm for all the right reasons.
Keeping The Peace – Putting Out Fires at Exodus
In 1992, I was part of an Exodus affiliated ministry in Texas that believed being in relationship with Jesus alone was our goal. I never felt pressured to change my same sex orientation. I saw my life greatly improved by having the freedom to question my sexuality and identity. I assumed this was what happened at every Exodus group, and I ended up idealizing the entire ministry based on my singular experiences in Texas. However, after joining the Exodus staff, I was confronted with the reality that some methods used by some of our local ministries ended up bringing hurt and pain to the very people they were trying to comfort.
There are many good people in the broader Exodus movement that I didn’t want to hurt by sharing the bad we’d uncovered. Other staff members and I dealt with some of these ills privately. But by keeping quiet, and not even letting our own leaders know the depths of what concerned us, I contributed to the negative response surrounding Alan’s recent apology. To protect some leaders, which wasn’t totally inappropriate, others didn’t know how bad some things had gotten. Therefore, some have been shocked that Alan apologized and that I, among others, were supportive. In order to protect the reputation of some, I chose silence. I apologize for remaining silent and passive. Looking back on my time with Exodus, it seems I was always waiting for a convenient time to discuss some of my concerns publicly. But as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.”
When I look back at some of my old interviews, group meetings, and keynotes over the past twenty years, I realize there are many things I would communicate differently today. In the past I taught quite a mixture of performance-based accomplishment along with God’s grace. I taught that God is always present, but if we don’t manage our sin properly, it could negatively impact our relationship with Him.
That’s not grace. It doesn’t take seriously the finished work of the Cross.
I look back on my time as a Living Waters coordinator (eleven years ago) with the most remorse. Even though there is some good in this program, it often ripped open old wounds in the name of healing by attempting to manufacture an environment for the Lord to work in. I have to apologize for the times some people may have felt manipulated to bare their souls to a group full of strangers. I apologize for any pressure we, on the Living Waters team I led, might have placed on group participants as we tried to help them cultivate “authentic experiences.”
As a trained Living Waters coordinator, I used to hang on to every word Andrew Comiskey said. I even did some online consulting work for him. But today, over a year after leaving his employ as a consultant, I look back and recognize there were signs that something was wrong. In retrospect, I realize I helped build Andrew Comiskey’s online platforms – platforms which have increasingly gotten more vitriolic and stigmatizing toward the LGBT community. I regret that and I’m sorry.
I apologize to the gay community for idealizing and reinforcing the institutional groupthink of Exodus. I apologize for remaining publicly silent about the hurt caused by some of Exodus’ leaders and actions. I also apologize for my inexperienced participation in public policy, placing my personal ambition over truly serving the gay community as a Christian friend.
Moving forward, I pray the Lord helps keep me humble and reveals any issues/situations that require my consideration. I will keep an open heart and ear, and if and when action is necessary, I pray to find the grace and courage to quickly apologize and/or make amends.
|Randy Thomas & Anthony Venn-Brown hug after the final meeting of the final Exodus Conference June 2013|