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When Stanton Jones first began to study psychology, homosexuality was a malady, listed and described in the official "diagnostic Bible," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1973, that diagnosis was dropped. Now the American Psychological Association's official website states, "The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable." The website warns that "conversion therapy" is poorly documented and could cause potential harm. The American Psychiatric Association's website adds, "[T]here is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of 'reparative therapy' as a treatment to change one's sexual orientation. The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior."

What to make, then, of the apparently sincere personal testimonies of people claiming to be ex-gay? Longtime Wheaton College professor of psychology and provost Jones, working with Regent University professor Mark Yarhouse, found an anomalous situation. Professional opinion made unusually absolute statements of the impossibility of change, considering older studies of homosexuals under treatment that showed substantial evidence of change. Critics of the older research noted shortcomings but offered no better evidence in support of the contention that change is impossible, even dangerous.

Jones and Yarhouse address this lack of good evidence in their book, Ex-Gays?: A Continuing Study of Religiously Mediated Sexual Orientation Change in Exodus Participants. By taking a sample of people entering ex-gay programs under the Exodus umbrella and following them with detailed questionnaires over several years, Jones and Yarhouse ...

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In the Magazine

October 2007

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