Is change possible for homosexuals? Trying to respond to this question, a study published in a scientific journal has claimed that sexual orientation change is definitely possible.
The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy contains the final results of a study on individuals seeking sexual orientation change from Christian ministries associated with Exodus International, released by Religion News Service Wednesday.
Psychologists Stanton L. Jones (Wheaton College, IL) and Mark A. Yarhouse (Regent University) conducted the research with 98 individuals seeking sexual orientation change. Levels of evolving sexual attractions and psychological distress were assessed at the beginning of the process and five times over a total span of six to seven years.
Of the original 98 subjects, 61 were successfully categorized for general outcome at the last assessment. The study found that 53 percent were classified as successful outcomes. Of those outcomes 23 percent reported success in the form of successful conversion to heterosexual orientation and 30 percent reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation. Just 20 percent reported to fully embracing a gay identity at the end of the study.
According to the release the results show statistically significant changes in homosexual orientation. However, the findings do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone; rather it shows that real changes are definitely possible for some.
The authors urge caution in projecting success rates from these results as they are likely overly optimistic estimates of anticipated success and that the conversion to heterosexual adaptation was a complex phenomenon.
The study’s results have not convinced critics.
Candace Chellew-Hodge, the founder of Whosoever, an Online Magazine for GLBT Christians, found firstly that the research was “suspect” as the researchers are from conservative Christian colleges. He showed his concern also for their conclusions being "overly optimistic."
“Even the researchers call their conclusions ‘overly optimistic,’” Chellew-Hodge said according to Religion Dispatches.
Chellew-Hodge criticized the methodology saying the sample size was small and claimed that the results came from fear of the subjects. He said, “The single greatest motivator for these 98 subjects however most certainly was a fear-based one. In short, they were all living under the threat of hell.”
However, Dr. Stanton Jones defended the methods, saying: “The more rigorous you get, the further removed you get from real life” and “all methodologies have drawbacks,” according to Citizenlink.
“We followed more of a real-life model than a hyper-controlled experimental model,” he added.
Jones responded to those, including the American Psychological Association (APA), who said that sexual orientation could not be changed, that no such research exists, and he wants to bring up that change is certainly possible.
“We think the results challenge the reigning mindset that change is impossible or is extraordinarily rare.”
“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.
Strong convictions about moral behavior of the subjects, who were all Christians, he found, played a key role in the successful orientation change.