All honest mistakes are forgivable

Rez and i were chatting about mistakes, he was mentioning business school classes which instead of focusing on the decision making process of successful business highlighted the critical mistakes made by companies which were otherwise well run and now no longer exist.  We agreed that this is where the most useful learning probably is.

My philosophy has long been to try lots of things and not fear mistakes.  Which has led me to the aphorism “All honest mistakes are forgivable.” Hoping that those negatively impacted by my choices will embrace a similar philosophy and let me off the hook while also pushing me towards being a more forgiving person.


I watch the google news.  It tracks what the mainstream media thinks is important and uses it’s artificial intelligence to connect related stories and rank them.  The story yesterday which did not make it “above the fold”  either in general news or US news was that the “ex-gay” ministry Exodus had closed and offered an apology to the LGBTQ community it had been attacking for 37 years.

The piece of the apology from Exodus leader Alan Chambers which spoke most loudly to me was:

I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me. 

hiding / solving a mistake with correcting fluid

I am unsure Exodus made an honest mistake, but i am glad they have changed their mind and hope for dominos to tumble.

Angie says- Pax asked me to chime in on this post and explain why it’s important, so I am. The remainder of the post is my own opinion, so don’t blame him (or do, if you agree with me).

“Conversion therapy” had been the name of the game in the religious community for years; it’s based around the idea that if we JUST TRIED HARD ENOUGH that we could change our desires (or at least our behaviors) and act straight.  Conversion therapy takes many forms including talk therapy to find the “root” of the issue, behavioral therapy to encourage more “gender appropriate” behavior, and negative reinforcement such as electric shocks, pubic shaming, starvation, nausea-inducing drugs.  It’s destroyed thousands of lives.  Thankfully conversion therapy (sometimes called reparative therapy) is no longer an acceptable mainstream treatment, and is gradually being seen as an unacceptable practice even in conservative circles.  It’s now even illegal to force minors into such “therapy” in some countries and states.

Exodus was a, more accurately THE, leader in the field of conversion therapy.  Alan Chambers is himself a man who is attracted to other men, and the harm his organization did other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer people is immeasurable.  For decades Exodus was the go to organization for churches and religious families to “fix” LGBQ people (they didn’t address trans issues much, I am using a more appropriate acronym).  Exodus’s apology is akin to the pope himself apologizing for their years of sweeping sexual abuse cases under the rug, then announcing that the Catholic Church would close it’s doors.  Yes, there are other organizations out there which will pick up the banner, but they do not have the history, deep pockets, or visibility that Exodus cultivated and enjoyed.

Chambers’ public, blunt apology is almost unheard of in the modern world; apologies usually involve weaselly phrases like “I’m sorry you were offended” or “well, that’s just what I believe.”  Chambers didn’t go the “being gay is AWESOME AND I’M GAY NOW” route; he remains married to his wife and committed to Christian ministry.  He also didn’t go the “I changed my mind, the bible says it’s ok to be gay” route; he is quite clear that he believes the scriptures are clear on what is and is not acceptable sexual behavior.  It’s not a complete 180, but it’s a huge step forward from a former leader in the “ex-gay” field.  And you know what?  This queer gal is okay with that (for now, at least).  Because this is the part of his apology that mattered the most to me:

I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today….

I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine….

But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.  

You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

4 responses to “All honest mistakes are forgivable”

  1. Rob says :

    Great blog. So glad to see homophobic organizations are folding. I still am amazed how some forms of hatred are accepted by our society because of the window dressing that is placed upon it. All forms of hatred should have zero tolerance. If all else fails, by grandmother use to say “Kill em with kindness” but I will just say show that we are not the threat, but we do matter. I have a lot of family members what have come around when I stand up to their acidic words. Little by little, we are gaining ground. Again, great post.

  2. Angie Tupelo says :

    Reblogged this on Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History and commented:

    I wrote the second half of this post on Exodus International shutting down, why Alan Chambers’ apology is important. It doesn’t magically fix all the wrong that Exodus did, but I’ll celebrate our small victories.

  3. tickledspirit says :

    Thanks for highlighting this — pretty awesome example of transformation. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies from my 20’s: “But I’m A Cheerleader”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch in honor of Exodus closing.

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