Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book Review: Ex-gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation by Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse

Review from

The Book:
Ex-gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation by Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse

:10 -- The Gist: Psychology professors Stanton and Yarhouse present and defend their results on a longitudinal study that examines the possibility of change of homosexuality orientation via religiously mediated means.

:20 -- The Quote: "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. So also our findings firmly refute any notion that change of sexual orientation is impossible. Saying that change is not impossible in general is not the same thing as saying that everyone can change, that anyone can change or that change is necessarily possible for any given individual. " (p. 372).

:30 -- The Good: Presents the most solidly researched and conclusive study affirming that reparative therapy can affect homosexual orientations.

:40 -- The Not-So-Good: In pointing out the shortcoming and imperfections in their own study, the authors concede too much to their critics and downplay the significant results of their findings.

:50 -- The Verdict: By maintaining the politically correct lie that homosexuality is immutable, mental health professionals harm patients who desperately want to leave a destructive lifestyle. Yarhouse and Jones provide a valuable service in exposing how the professional counseling community chooses to cling to an illogical and anti-science position on reparative therapy rather than address actual research. They show that, despite the claims made by the professional psychological and psychiatric associations, there is no evidence that participation in ex-gay ministries is harmful. And while the outcomes of such therapy are modest (it rarely leads to a complete eradication of homosexual attraction) in any other area such treatment would be considered "respectable in the mental health field."

Despite its shortcomings the study is valuable in countering the anti-religious bias against ex-gay therapies and for showing the need to respect the "autonomy and right of self-determination" of individuals who seek to be free of a homosexual orientation.

:60 -- The Recommendation: Both supporters and critics of "ex-gay" ministries would gain from carefully considering the arguments and implications of Jones and Yarhouse's research.

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