They failed miserably.
However, unlike others in the field, Exodus International was genuine: They really believed God and science sat on their side, that same sex orientation was both spiritually and psychologically harmful, and that it was possible the treat some people with same sex orientation so that they could have opposite sex relationships.
To the extent they got people with same sex orientation to expand their range of interests to include opposite sex relations, or people who were bisexual to focus on just the opposite sex, they had a very limited degree of success. They never “cured” anybody of same sex desires, but they did teach some people coping mechanisms to help pass for straight in a homophobic world.
But to the extent that they added to the personal despair of thousands of people, took their money and hope and provided no benefit but rather drove them deeper and deeper into self-loathing and depression and away from the body of Christ, no, not so successful…
But as I said, they were genuine.
When they realized their techniques weren’t working, instead of blaming their clients for not
wishing praying working hard enough to be cured, they began asking actual bona fide emotionally well balanced gay people why reparative therapy wasn’t effective.
And even more shockingly, they listened to the answers.
The result was a long time coming, but Exodus International does have a core of integrity: When it became obvious that their whole approach to the matter was wrong…
…they dropped their approach.
Of course, there are still plenty of hucksters and charlatans out there denouncing Exodus International’s capitulation to spiritual and scientific truth, claiming they sold out to special interest groups leaving only the hucksters to maintain the fight to “pray the gay away”.
Repeatedly in the Bible the prophets tell us that if we pray sincerely the Lord will answer and help us, that if we pray for Him to save us from sin He will do so, that if we pray for Him to help us change to be more righteous and holy He will do so.
God never answered a “pray the gay away” request, it seems.
Okay -- why?!?!?
An atheist would be quick to say there is no God to listen to any prayer.
The hardline fundamentalist would say it’s because none of those desperate, frightened, needy people who subjected themselves to reparative therapy were ever really truly sincere about “praying the gaying awaying”.*
A rational follower of Christ, however, has to ask: “Is it even right to ‘pray the gay away’ in God’s eyes?”
‘Cuz y’know, maybe this is something that God just doesn’t care about.
Oh, God is plenty concerned about rape and child molesting and adultery and betrayal and the pursuit of things of the flesh as opposed to things of the spirit.
But He really doesn’t seem to care about which set of consenting uglies bump another set of consenting uglies, if (as Joe Bob Briggs would say), you know what I mean and I think you do.
I think God is far more concerned that we pro-actively love one another, seek justice and protection for one another, that we treat one another the way we want to be treated, and that we don’t judge one another because that’s an open invitation to be judged exactly the same in return.
I’m reminded of Christ’s Parable Of The Talents, how two servants took a chance and pro-actively used their Master’s talents that were entrusted to them.
They did this out of love of their Master, not fear. They wanted to show him an enriched bounty when he returned.
The third servant acted out of fear of failing. Like a miser, he buried his talent, so that there was nothing to show his Master upon his return.
Too many people who support the reparative therapy movement are spiritual cowards and misers. Obsessed only with their own salvation, they are convinced that to get into heaven they have to say the right
magic words prayers, do the right magic church rituals.
And not only must they do these things, they have to prevent others from doing anything contrary, because if somewhere somebody else does anything one iota different, then God will blame them for the actions of a third party!
That’s fear, not love.
And in the end, love wins.
It always does…
* Really, fundies? Really? You wanna play that card, that you are so God-blessed all-knowing and smug and powerful that you get to decide who does / does not make a sincere plea in their hearts to God? Really???