For the first time in a decade, a study showing sexual orientation change is possible for at least some homosexuals has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy contains a longitudinal study of Christians seeking help from ministries associated with Exodus International for what they identify as “their unwanted same-sex attractions.”
Of the 98 subjects, more than half were reported as successful; while 23 percent reported a complete change in orientation after six years. Also, 20 percent reported giving up the struggle to change.
This study’s not going to satisfy those on either side of this contentious and controversial debate.
For those who believe homosexuality is genetic, something you’re born with, what you are since birth or before, (for which there is no scientific evidence at all), this study makes their position even more untenable.
For those who believe homosexuality is a choice, something you can easily turn from if you simply decide to or want to, this study makes that position very difficult.
My guess is that the truth is somewhere in between.
Dr. Stanton Jones, a psychologist at Wheaton College in Illinois and the study’s lead author, told CitizenLink the opportunity to study sexual orientation change was too intriguing to pass up. Here is more on the study from CitizenLink:
“At the time, the American Psychological Association (APA) prominently on its web page said sexual orientation could not be changed,” Dr. Stanton Jones said. “Very few people were looking into it.”
In 2007, Jones and his colleague, Dr. Mark Yarhouse of Regent University, published their three-year findings of the group in a book (Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation).
The study was rejected by peer-reviewed scientific journals for not following subjects long enough or tracking changes as they occurred — valid concerns the authors say they have addressed in their latest work.
However, the APA also excoriated the authors for not using a laboratory model with a control group — and said in 2009 that the findings were “unpersuasive.” That, said Jones, is not a valid concern.
“All methodologies have drawbacks,” he responded. “The more rigorous you get, the further removed you get from real life. We followed more of a real-life model than a hyper-controlled experimental model. We think the results challenge the reigning mindset that change is impossible or is extraordinarily rare.”
“It is a bit frustrating to me to see APA saying research shows it is impossible or rarely happens when in my mind, no such research exists,” he continued. “When anecdotes that people have changed are treated with cynicism, it’s fueled by the anecdotes of people who’ve had the opposite experience. To say (change is) impossible is an overstatement of the facts, in our opinion.”
Jones said the fact that the subjects were all Christians with strong convictions about moral behavior most likely played a pivotal role in helping the successful ones change their orientation. “We were trying to address the basic question ‘Is change possible?’ The fact that anyone changed is what came out of this study,” he said.
Read more about Jones’ and Yarhouse’s study and previous work.
Related content at CitizenLink:
- Quick Guide: Homosexuality and Gender
- Therapy for Unwanted Homosexuality – Part 1
- Therapy for Unwanted Homosexuality – Part 2
- Therapy for Unwanted Homosexuality – Part 3
- Counselor helps people with unwanted homosexuality – Part 2