|Study claims homosexuality can be treated through faith|
|Written by Douglas Bridges-O’Connor, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 25 October 2011 16:06|
A study conducted by two professors from religiously affiliated universities claims that gay individuals can change their sexual orientation through participation in a ministry program.
“Mark Yarhouse and I found, in terms of the average changes on the measures we used of sexual orientation, that on average going through the Exodus Ministries process produced statistically significant change away from homosexual orientation and towards heterosexual orientation,” Stanton Jones, psychology professor at Wheaton College, said.
Jones and co-author Mark Yarhouse, mental health professor at Regent University, published their findings in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy on Sept. 26.
According to the study, 98 individuals originally agreed to take part in the study. However, 37 eventually dropped out of Exodus Ministries, a Christian affiliated program for individuals struggling to rectify the conflict between their sexual orientation and religious beliefs.
According to the study, another 43 percent either did not respond to the ministry’s treatment or embraced their homosexual orientation. The remaining four percent reported feelings of confusion in regard to their sexual orientation
Of the remaining 61 participants, consisting of both men and women, “53 [percent] were categorized as successful outcomes by the standards of Exodus Ministries. Specifically, 23 [percent] of the subjects reported success in the form of successful ‘conversion’ to heterosexual orientation and functioning, while an additional 30 [percent] reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation,” according to a media release posted on Sept. 27.
“[Those] were people who experienced no meaningful benefit from the experience or who found it to be a failure and had gone back to their gay identity and embraced various forms of what it means to live life as a homosexual person,” Jones said.
On Aug. 5, 2009, the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.
Since the publication of the Jones and Yarhouse study, psychology professionals have questioned the validity of their findings.
“There is overwhelming evidence that sexual orientation is a physiological issue and not a choice, so this study standing alone isn’t going to carry a whole lot of validity without replication. It is going against all previous studies [about sexual orientation] … I would want to see repetition in their findings before I put a whole lot of stock in [them],” Kathryn Tornquist, psychotherapist and psychiatric nurse, said.
Tornquist believes a longer study will contradict the Stanton and Yarhouse study’s findings and questions whether Exodus Ministries’ views of homosexuality affected participants.
“Our culture is so judgmental of homosexuality that there’s a lot of pressure [on gay individuals] to be heterosexual. So, if they already have the particular notion that [being gay] is a sin, there’s huge pressure to change that. We also have good evidence that the belief system of investigators affects participants, even in a double blind [study],” Tornquist said.
“This study raises some questions that need to be looked at. Why? Why are these individuals changing in a way that previous evidence states is not possible or likely to happen?”
The study followed participants over the course of six to seven years, according to the media release. From their findings, Jones and Yarhouse proposed that over time gay individuals can change their sexual orientation to heterosexual.