Nov 21 2011
Study: Gays can change sexual orientation [Excerpts]
A major seven-year study published in a mainstream journal is challenging the secular notion that gays and lesbians cannot change their sexual orientation.
The longitudinal study followed 61 subjects for between six and seven years and found that 23 percent of them reported successful conversion to heterosexual orientation and function and another 30 percent reported stable behavioral chastity with a significant dis-identification with gay orientation. Twenty percent of the subjects had given up and embraced a gay identity.
It is believed to be the first study of its kind -- that is, one that followed people over a series of years and monitored success or failure. The study followed subjects who voluntarily were taking part in Christian ministries affiliated with Exodus International, the nation's largest ministry devoted exclusively to reaching out to homosexuals.
Partial results of the study were released in 2007 and 2009 but now are being published in a peer-reviewed journal, which its authors hope gives it more credibility to those who had criticized it. The study is published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Volume 37.
"The results that we report in our study suggest that change is definitely not impossible, and it's probably not uncommon, either," coauthor Stanton L. Jones, a psychologist at Wheaton College, told Baptist Press. "That doesn't mean that change is easy. We think that these results need to be taken into account as a way of respecting the religious freedom of individuals."
A statement on the American Psychological Association's website says that promotion of change therapy "contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons."
Changing attitudes on the subject isn't easy, Jones said. Stories about gay people who tried but didn't change tend to get more media attention, he said. Also, he noted, the issue has become political. When Attorney General Eric Holder announced in February that the Justice Department would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, part of Holder's reasoning was that there's "a growing scientific consensus ... that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable." The study by Jones and coauthor Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University directly challenges that argument.
"To admit that the study has any validity is to draw into question ... the change in [public] policies," Jones said.
(Foust, "Study: Gays can change sexual orientation," Baptist Press Online, Oct 25, 2011)