LDS Church revisits position on homosexuality

Interesting article today from the Salt Lake City Tribune regarding the LDS church and its position on homosexuality. Not sure if Evergreen is really as at odds with this stance as the article portrays. I know Dave Pruden (Exec. Director) is not a reparative therapist, nor does he think many of their referral therapists are such. Also, Jeffrey Robinson, popular in LDS circles, takes a more contextual view.

Jones and Yarhouse release Exodus longitudinal study

Today at 2:15pm in Nashville, Stan Jones and Mark Yarhouse presented the results of their study of religiously mediated change of sexual orientation. To a packed house, the researchers outlined the methods of sampling, the measures used and the results. Following the presentation, Intervarsity Press hosted a brief press conference.

Key points and findings:

The study sought to address two questions: Is change of sexual orientation, specifically homosexual orientation, possible? And, is the attempt intrinsically harmful? The authors were careful to point out that the participants were not engaged in professional therapy and so the variable of interest was participation in Exodus. Jones and Yarhouse began with 98 subjects and at time 3 assessment had 73. The retention rate of 74.5% is respectable as compared with other longitudinal studies.

Using several measures of sexual orientation (including Kinsey scale, Klein scales, Shively and Dececco and self-report of categorical change), the authors report change in several different ways. I’ll note three here. First of all, when simply asked how the participants thought of themselves, the results were as follows from Time 1 to Time 3 (over 4 years).

– 33 people reported change in the desired manner (from gay at time 1 in the heterosexual direction at time 3)

– 29 reported no change

– 8 reported change in the undesired direction

– 3 were unsure how to describe their experience of change

Jones and Yarhouse segmented a subgroup they called “Truly Gay.” This group was expected to show less change since they had more settled homosexual attractions, a gay identity and past homosexual activity. However, this group demonstrated a larger degree of change. Since multiple measures were used, it is difficult to summarize the degree of change they reported. However, I will report one example dimension here. For the entire population, a Kinsey self-rating was developed with one item used to inform the rating. For the whole population, an average rating of 5.07 was reported at Time 1 (the beginning). At time three, the average was 4.08, or almost one point decline which is a significant result. Some people reported lots of change, others not so much as noted above. On average, the changes were statistically significant. However, observers might wonder if these changes are of a sufficient practical different to warrant optimism about claims of change. My response is that even some change with little evidence of harm is of great importance to people who are seeking great congruence with their values and beliefs. The authors were quite careful to note that the changes reported were modest for most. They also noted that diminishment of homosexual attractions were more pronounced than acquisition of heterosexual attractions.

Other categories reported were:

– Success: Conversion – There were subjects who reported that they felt their change to be successful and reported substantial reduction in homosexual desire and addition of heterosexual attraction and functioning at Time 3. 15% met these criteria.

– Success: Chastity – These people experienced satisfactory reductions in homosexual desire and were living chaste lives. 23% were in this category.

– Continuing – These persons experienced only modest change in the desired direction but expressed commitment to continue. 29% were in this category.

– No-response – These people experienced no change and were conflicted about the future even though they had not given up. 15% were here.

– Failure (from their perspective): Confused – No change reported and had given up but did not label themselves gay. 4% were in this group

– Failure: Gay identity – No change, no pursuit and had come as gay. 8% were in this category.

Regarding harm, results of the Symptom Check List – 90 – Revised (SCL-90) were changed little from Time 1 to Time 3. The entire sample was in better mental health shape than outpatient averages at Time 1 and improved slightly by Time 3.

The authors are to be commended for their candor and the tentative way of describing their results. They clearly noted the limitations and the strength and made appropriate qualifications. They were careful to acknowledge the reality of harm that can occur from poor practices and made no attempt to minimize the harm that has been reported (e.g., the ex-ex-gays).

More information is available at the IVPress website, e.g., this video of Stan Jones talking about the study. Christianity Today also has an article as does Citizen Link.

Music city conference report: Day One

In Nashville and spent the afternoon and much of the evening getting ready for the Pre-conference workshop on Sexual Identity Therapy tomorrow morning. Musicians and microphones are everywhere here — even the airport — which in my mind is a good thing.

I was initially scheduled to be on the Mike and Juliet Morning Show thursday morning but was replaced by ex-gay therapist Jayson Graves. Although I think Jayson is a thoughtful guy, I was deemed a bit too measured for the event. And besides, he is younger and has more hair. I think that was the real reason. I was somewhat disappointed though because I wanted to tell my Juliet Huddy story. So y’all get to read it. Quite awhile back, I was interviewing a young man who was in distress over his homosexual attractions. In the interview, as is customary, I did a full assessment of sexuality and in so doing asked if he had any opposite sex attractions. He thought for a bit and said, he generally didn’t but there was one woman on TV he was attracted to “in that way.” When I asked who it was, he said, Juliet Huddy. I wonder if she would have blushed?

In honor of my surroundings, here is a bunch of country music talent all in one place…

InterVarsity Press to Publish Research on Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation

Here is the official announcement of the release of research regarding religiously mediated changes in aspects of sexual orientation. Conducted by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, this study will likely influence the discussion of this topic for quite some time. Next week will be a big week in Nashville with the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference, the Exodus Regional Conference and several other events around town. Watch the blog for more information and events.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

InterVarsity Press to Publish Controversial Research

Westmont, IL — In September, InterVarsity Press will publish the results of a longitudinal study conducted by researchers Stanton L. Jones (Wheaton College) and Mark A. Yarhouse (Regent University). Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation directly addresses two of the most contentious and disputed questions of our day—Is change of sexual orientation possible? and Is the attempt to change harmful?—and the findings of the study appear to contradict the commonly expressed views of the mental health establishment. InterVarsity Press will hold a press conference at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) World Conference on September 13, 2007, in Nashville, Tennessee, to announce the results of this study.

In a joint statement, Jones and Yarhouse explain the reasoning for their research: “We are evangelical Christians committed to the truth-seeking activity of science. In conducting and reporting this study, we took seriously the words of one of our heroes, C. S. Lewis, who said that science produced by Christian persons would have to be ‘perfectly honest. Science twisted in the interests of apologetics would be sin and folly.’ ”

Stanton Jones is provost and professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and served on the Council of Representatives, the central governing body of the APA, representing the Psychology of Religion division from 1999-2001. He has published many other professional and popular articles and books, including Modern Psychotherapies, coauthored with Richard E. Butman.

Mark Yarhouse is professor of psychology and director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (www.sexualidentityinstitute.org) at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he has taught since 1998. He has written extensively for professional publications and has authored several books, including Modern Psychopathologies, coauthored with Richard E. Butman and Barrett W. McRay, and Sexual Identity Synthesis, coauthored with Erica S. N. Tan.

The InterVarsity Press book, scheduled to be published in September 2007, is the most scientifically rigorous study of its kind to date, and uses multiple measures regarded as “industry standards.” Knowing their results would generate controversy, Jones and Yarhouse have thoroughly described the rationale for their procedures. George A. Rekers, Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science Emeritus at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, states that the study “meets the high research standards set by the American Psychological Association that individuals be validly assessed, followed and reported over time with a prospective, longitudinal outcome research design.” The study will set the standard for all future work in this field and demands a serious reading from social scientists. Publisher Bob Fryling comments, “In a highly politicized environment, this book is another ‘inconvenient truth’ of scientific research data countering prejudice and ignorance.”

Founded in 1947 as an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing thoughtful Christian books that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of life.

PRESS CONFERENCE INFORMATION

American Association of Christian Counselors Conference

September 13, 2007

Opryland Hotel

2800 Opryland Drive

Nashville, TN 37214

Room: Jackson E/F 3:30 p.m. Central Standard Time

MEDIA CONTACTS

PRINT: Heather Mascarello, 630.734.4012, hmascarello@ivpress.com

ELECTRONIC: Heather Mascarello, 630.734.4013, kkcarnet@ivpress.com

Although results of the research are embargoed until the press conference, my endorsement of the book is as follows:

Can some motivated people alter aspects of their sexuality through religious ministry? With the publication of Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse have produced the most rigorous study to date to address this question. Knowing their results would generate controversy, the authors have thoroughly described the rationale for their procedures. While the authors fully acknowledge that change in sexual attractions did not occur for some individuals, they offer cogent and compelling reasons to believe that participation in religious ministry resulted in durable changes for others. The Jones and Yarhouse study will set the standard for all future work in this field and demands a serious reading from social scientists. For anyone interested in the study of sexuality, values and human change, this book is a must read.

Former graduate student suing Purdue over religious views

Jeffrey Ford, now a graduate of Purdue University Calumet, is suing his alma mater with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund. The school’s news service has this report.

Mike Adams, Townhall.com columnist and criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has a six part series on this story as well. Read them in order: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part V, and today’s installment, Part 6.

Some readers here might question the facts and I certainly have no first hand knowledge of the events. I can say however, that I have observed just this kind of activity in graduate programs. I knew of one student in a grad programs who was told to keep his ex-gay status to himself lest he jeopardize his degree. I saw the email from an out of state professor with this threat. I would publish it but I do not have his permission. I have personally been the subject of namecalling and lies among colleagues who only had the barest knowledge of me or what I believed. So this sounds credible to me, although I should hasten to add that we have not yet heard all sides. If this goes to trial, no doubt we will hear from the professors and classmates of Mr. Ford.

All of which leads me to cheerlead again for the sexual identity therapy framework. If trainers had guidance from professional associations, we might not agree but we could co-exist.

UPDATE – 9/5/07 – Mike Adams concluding article is now available.