... is certainly clearer about what it has to offer. Early hopes for instant healing have given way to belief that transformation occurs through a lifetime of discipleship.The companion article at CT makes it clear that this research cannot be dismissed as simple advocacy research, precisely because the results were relatively modest and in some ways cut against whatever biased interests the researchers may have.
Alan Chambers, the low-key opening-night speaker, emphasizes that there is no step-by-step formula for overcoming homosexuality. "Hear me loud and clear: You're not going to get cured this week. … We don't choose our feelings, but we do choose how we are going to live. I choose every day to deny what comes naturally to me. … I have to rely on Jesus Christ every day."
Jones and Yarhouse emphasize the imperfections of their research, carefully noting points at which their method could be criticized. For example, they had hoped for 300 or more participants, but found many Exodus ministries mysteriously uncooperative. In the end, they settled for 98 people in their initial sample.Here's the relevant breakdown, in my opinion, from a more-laudatory Baptist Press article (the source of the pie chart up top):
As Jones and Yarhouse themselves note, both skeptics and true believers will find evidence for their arguments.
They found that 38 percent could be described as "Success: Conversion" or "Success: Chastity," with another 29 percent continuing hopefully, even though they could not yet demonstrate convincing change. They compare this "success rate" to results shown in a recent, reputable study of drug therapy for depression.
Jones and Yarhouse found, contrary to professional consensus, that change is possible. But they did not find that change is possible for everyone. They write, "The fact that some human beings can break the four-minute-mile barrier establishes that running a four-minute mile is not impossible, but that same fact does not establish that anyone (every human being) can break the four-minute-mile barrier."
At the end of the study, the subjects were placed in six categories, in order from success to failure:Understand that these are the success rates that *already presuppose* the strongest factor disposing toward success -- a religiously-motivated desire to be rid of same-sex attractions. That applied to everybody in this study. And still, the chances of little or no change were acknowledged to be greater than the chances of satisfactory change (29+15>23+15). Also, the chances were only 1 in 6 of "substantial" conversion. And note the word is "substantial," i.e., not "total."
-- 15 percent reported their conversion was successful and that they had had "substantial reduction" in homosexual attraction and "substantial conversion" to heterosexual attraction. They were categorized as "success: conversion."
-- 23 percent said their conversion was successful and that homosexual attraction was either missing or "present only incidentally or in a way that does not seem to bring about distress." They were labeled "success: chastity."
-- 29 percent had experienced "modest decreases" in homosexual attraction and were not satisfied with their change, but pledged to continue trying. This category was labeled "continuing."
-- 15 percent had not changed and were conflicted about what to do next.
-- 4 percent had not changed and had quit the change process, but had not embraced the "gay identity."
-- 8 percent had not changed, had quit the process and had embraced the "gay identity."
To be sure, these subjects were not broken down by age and (the Baptist Press notes) they tended to be well-experienced sexually. It simply makes sense that the more ingrained a habit or pattern of behavior is, the harder it will be to unlearn.
I've generally been critical of ex-gay therapy, largely because I think it gets oversold and misses the ultimate point, which is not becoming "straight" but living chastely (whatever that means according to our state of life). But this is a well-designed study within the limits the subject matter inherently imposes, if not a very large one. And its modest conclusions give it credibility and show what scheisse the sniping against it really is.