Friday, September 30, 2011

BREAKING: Major longitudinal (across-time) study showing spiritually motivated changes in sexual orientation

A September 26, 2011 press release, below, documents breakthrough long-term results on changes in sexual orientation; as published in the Journal, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Volume 37, pages 404-427.  [More detailed report on the study, here.] (HT: PT of ADF.)

Of course on such a politically incorrect result in such a contentious field, there are many objections etc. You may wish to look here for responses to common objections, in the site for the study. (In addition, the notes here -- warning, some pretty rough stuff! -- and online book here will prove helpful in assessing wider implications and issues.)

Press Release [re-paragraphed for ease of reading]:


>>Press Release; September 26, 2011
Groundbreaking Research on Sexual Orientation Change
Published in Respected Scientific Journal

Academic Citation:

Stanton L. Jones & Mark A. Yarhouse. (2011). “A longitudinal study of attempted religiously-mediated sexual orientation change.” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Volume 37, pages 404-427.

For more details, information about the authors, and responses to criticisms, go to

A chorus of voices in the professional world today proclaims that it is impossible to change sexual orientation, particularly homosexual orientation, and that the attempt to change sexual orientation is commonly and inherently harmful. 

For example, for many years the Public Affairs website of the American Psychological Association stated: “Can therapy change sexual orientation? No. . . . [H]omosexuality . . . does not require treatment and is not changeable.”[1]  Regarding harm, the American Psychiatric Association’s statement that the “potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior”[2] is often cited.

Psychologists Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College (IL) and Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University have just published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, a respected, peer-reviewed scientific journal, the final results of their longitudinal study of a sample of men and women seeking religiously-mediated sexual orientation change through involvement in a variety of Christian ministries affiliated with Exodus International. The results stand in tension with the supposed professional consensus.

This study meets high standards of empirical rigor. In other studies, in the words of the APA, “treatment outcome is not followed and reported over time as would be the standard to test the validity of any mental health intervention.”[3]  Prior research has been appropriately criticized for

  • Failing to follow subjects over time (i.e., not longitudinal)
  • Relying on memory rather than following change as it occurs (i.e., not prospective)
  • Relying on therapist ratings rather than hearing directly from those seeking change
  • Using idiosyncratic and unvalidated measures of sexual orientation

The Jones and Yarhouse study was designed to address these empirical standards.  The study is a longitudinal and prospective quasi-experimental study of a respectably large sample of persons seeking to change their sexual orientation via religiously-mediated means through Exodus ministries groups.  

Among those endorsing the earlier book[4] describing the study and its results at the 3-year mark was Former President of the American Psychological Association Nicholas A. Cummings, Ph.D., Sc.D., who stated 
Research in the controversial area of homosexuality is fraught with ideology and plagued by a dearth of science. This study has broken new ground in its adherence to objectivity and a scientific precision that can be replicated and expanded, and it opens new horizons for investigation…. I have waited over thirty years for this refreshing, penetrating study of an imperative, though controversial human condition. This book is must reading for psychotherapists and counselors, as well as academic psychologists studying human behavior and sexuality.

This study assessed the sexual orientations and psychological distress levels of 98 individuals seeking sexual orientation change beginning early in the change process, and then followed them longitudinally with five additional independent assessments over a total span of 6 to 7 years. The researchers used standardized, respected measures of sexual orientation and of emotional distress to test the study’s hypotheses. 

This new report extends out to between 6-7 years the findings previously reported at the 3-year mark for the subjects in the study. 

An earlier version of these results were presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association on August 9, 2009; that two former presidents of the APA, Dr. Nicholas Cummings and Dr. Frank Farley, discussed the findings in that presentation underscores the significance of the study.

The findings in brief:  Of the original 98 subjects (72 men, 26 women), 61 subjects completed the key measures of sexual orientation and psychological distress at the conclusion of the study, and were successfully categorized for general outcome. Of these 61 subjects, 53% were categorized as successful outcomes by the standards of Exodus Ministries. 

Specifically, 23% of the subjects reported success in the form of successful “conversion” to heterosexual orientation and functioning, while an additional 30% reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation. On the other hand, 20% of the subjects reported giving up on the change process and fully embracing gay identity. 

On the measures of sexual orientation, statistically significant changes on average were reported across the entire sample for decreases in homosexual orientation; some statistically significant change, but of smaller magnitude, was reported in increase of heterosexual attraction. These changes were less substantial and generally statistically non-significant for the average changes of those subjects assessed earliest in the change process, though some of these subjects still figured as “Success: Conversion” cases.

The measure of psychological distress did not, on average, reflect increases in psychological distress associated with the attempt to change orientation; indeed, several small significant improvements in reported average psychological distress were associated with the interventions.

In short, the results do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone or anyone, but rather that meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some. 

The results do not prove that no one is harmed by the attempt to change, but rather that the attempt to change does not appear to be harmful on average or inherently harmful. 

Several cautions are noted in the research report:  The authors urge caution in projecting success rates from these findings; the figures of 23% successful conversion to heterosexual orientation and 30% to successful chastity are likely overly optimistic projections of anticipated success for persons newly entering Exodus-related groups seeking change. Further, it was clear that “conversion” to heterosexual adaptation was a complex phenomenon; the authors explore a variety of possible explanations of the findings including religious healing and sexual identity change. 

Nevertheless, these findings challenge the commonly expressed views of the mental health establishment that change of sexual orientation is impossible or very uncommon, and that the attempt to change is highly likely to produce harm for those who make such an effort.

 In their 2007 book, Ex-Gays? (IVP), Jones and Yarhouse discussed the implications of the findings of this study, and those implications are still worthy of consideration. Most importantly, the study suggests that since change seems possible for some, then all should respect the integrity and autonomy of persons seeking to change their sexual orientation for moral, religious, or other reasons, just as we respect those who for similar reasons desire to affirm and embrace their sexual orientation.  

This requires that space be created in religious and professional circles for individuals to seek sexual orientation change or sexual identity change with full information offered about the options and their potential risks.  We would do well to put as much information as possible in the hands of consumers so that they are able to make informed decisions and wise choices among treatment options.  

The results also suggest that it would be premature for professional mental health organizations to invalidate efforts to change sexual orientation and unwanted same-sex erotic attractions.

More information can be found at  Representatives of the media seeking to schedule an interview with either author should contact Dr. Stanton L. Jones via LaTonya Taylor, Director of Media Relations, Wheaton College (email or call 630-752-5015) and Dr. Mark Yarhouse via Mindy L. Hughes, Director of Public Relations, Regent University (email or call 757-352-4095).

[1] American Psychological Association (2005). “Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.” Retrieved April 4, 2005, from  This statement was removed some time after 2007.
[2] American Psychiatric Association (1998). “Psychiatric treatment and sexual orientation position statement.” Retrieved from
[3] American Psychological Association (2005); ibid.
[4] Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse (2007). Ex-gays?  A longitudinal study of religiously-mediated change in sexual orientation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.>>

Boiling down, morally/spiritually driven efforts to change sexual orientation have significant, scientifically documented chances of success (as has been known since the days of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, 6:9 - 11, c. 57 AD); regardless of the many talking points and outright scare-mongering and demonisation to the contrary.  It is worth citing that classic report:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Amplified Bible (AMP)
9Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality,
    10Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.
    11And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.
 So, now, "whose report do we believe . . ." and, why?

Going further, this is highly significant regarding the push to embed "sexual orientation" as a constitutionally protected right. For, if sexual orientation is changeable, it is plainly significantly a matter of choice and effort in life. 

That is, it is a morally freighted matter. 

One properly subject to moral government at personal, familial and community level, and also properly subject to regulation by the state in the interests of the community, through law.

It is not an innate and unchangeable, genetically DETERMINED identity and charactersistic that is to be recognised, accepted and approved (even in law), censuring those who object; rather than a habitual pattern of behaviour that some may develop (perhaps due to unfortunate influences and responses in early life, of various sorts . . . ), and which is subject to management, regulation in the interests of the community, and even change -- all, based on the well-warranted conclusion that it is inherently disordered, unnatural, significantly subject to choice and moral suasion, unhealthy, and damaging to family life and to the wider community. 

And so, the moral call that has long gone out that sexual behaviour must be regulated in light of Creation Order mandates for sexuality, marriage, family and community, still stands.

This, whatever the fashionable views of the day may think otherwise. (In this regard, it is important to read the ebook here, for a broader view.) END

No comments: