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09/20/2007

Why rationally analyze when you can irrationally demonize?

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 6-83Earlier this week, we briefly showed you how Focus on the Family was misusing the findings from a new "ex-gay" study to make it sound as if it definitively shows that 67% of participants were able to "change" their sexual orientation. Well now, the reliably deceptive Matt Barber has gotten into the misrepresentative game, with the Concerned Women For America spokesman saying this in a new article:

Ask any one of the untold thousands of men and women who have left the homosexual lifestyle, and they’ll say, “Tell us something we didn’t already know.” Nonetheless, psychologists Mark A. Yarhouse and Stanton L. Jones may have just hammered the final nail in the mythical “born ‘gay’ and stuck that way” coffin.

In a first of its kind comprehensive study, Yarhouse and Jones determined over a four year period that men and women suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions can re-“orient” themselves through Christian counseling and/or reparative therapy to their natural and God-given heterosexual state.
...
Homosexual activists continue to desperately perpetuate the myth that homosexuals are “born that way” and should therefore be treated as a bona fide minority class with special rights and benefits attached. This study represents a tremendous setback to the realization of that goal.

Okay, so first off: If there truly are "thousands of men and women who have left the homosexual lifestyle," why do these researchers always have SO much trouble finding even participants for their studies? Jones and Yarhouse have already revealed that they had hoped to find more than 300 participants for their research, but were able to only recruit 98 men and women. And this was after they expanded the criteria to include those who had already been involved in "ex-gay" ministries for 1-3 years. So when you factor their difficulty in with the troubles Robert Spitzer revealed that he had in recruiting "ex-gay" subjects for his own "groundbreaking" study, it's really hard to believe that there are thousands and thousands of "ex-gays" living among us.

Population sample aside, it's really quite funny/enraging that Mr. Barber would even think for a second that this study is a nail in anyone's coffin. Or screw a "nail" -- this study isn't even a thumbtack! That's because it seriously takes only a cursory look at this non-peer reviewed, Christian-based study to see just how inconclusive and short-sighted it truly is. Jim Burroway has posted a wonderful review of the study, which, coupled with Stanton Jones' non-clarifying response to Jim's assessment and the comments from Burroway's readers, points out the many reasons why the research needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For all of the nuances, we recommend you go read Jim's work; but basically, the main problem for us lies in what truly constitutes "change" for the study's participants. There is simply no way of knowing if the 11 participants who said they had "converted," the 17 who said they had adopted chastity, and the 21 who indicated they are still continuing their journeys towards becoming "ex-gay" have REALLY experienced anything. When religious persecution and threats of Hell are in play, people can and will suppress their true desires in order to please others. This is not "change."

But even if you are on the "pro-family" side and think the study DOES show a possibility for "change," you should still be bothered by the militant way Barber presents the findings as if they are lock-solid and conclusive. What's always so telling about studies like this is that while our side will take the time to rationally analyze the situation (as Jim Burroway has done), those who are so desperate to convince the world that gays are not born that way will just present the findings in the most base level, simplistic, or even duplcitious manner, expecting their followers to mindlessly accept what they say. As the vast majority of the gay community rejects the "ex-gay" idea, they are the ones with the burden of proof. Yet rather than take strides to squash or refute scrutiny, they will do as Matt Barber and Focus on the Family (for just two examples) have done and simply ignore the skepticism. The thing is, this is a Exodus International-funded study conducted by researchers with strong Christian ties. If the Human Rights Campaign commissioned the writers of The Advocate to conduct their own pro-gay research, then the anti-gays would fall over themselves attempting to point out any and every potential flaw. Yet when it's their own side using their own side to achieve findings that jibe with their own side's views, they have no problem presenting the findings as if they are above reproach. But then again, they think the same literal, non-open-for-interpretation outlook should be taken with a book in which a whale was said to have swallowed a man, so who's really all that surprised?

Groundbreaking Study Affirms “Gays” Can Change [CWA]

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Your thoughts

My question is why does anyone take Matt Barber seriously, as if he's "scientific"? He worked for AllState Insurance before joining CWFA!

Posted by: gayleftborg | Sep 20, 2007 11:08:59 AM

In this review is the sentence: "When religious persecution and threats of Hell are in play, people can and will suppress their true desires in order to please others."

I think you should read the new Alan Chambers book God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door, and then re-assess that statement. As far as behavior goes, all mankind is destined for hell, not just the threat of it. We go to heaven, not because of our behavior, but because Jesus' behavior is recorded in God's books under our name as a free gift, while our sin goes under his name and he went to hell for it. I am not saying that you need to agree with this approach, but it is the approach that this program uses. Behavior changes are for the good of humanity to be free from bondage to sin, not in order to escape hell.

If there is any religious persecution, it is that these people are being persecuted for their faith in God's ability to deliver them from homosexuality.

Also, see the several continua used to discuss "homosexuality". Changes on some scales are more prominent than changes on other scales. If there were that much pressure to "suppress", then a higher number than 11% would be either suppressing their desires or dropping out of the program. The fact that the number of substantially changed people is so low point to the fact that Exodus is encouraging the utmost of honesty and transparency in talking about where each person stands in regards to homosexuality, and not to coercion.

Posted by: Glenn Shrom | May 25, 2008 6:53:59 PM

Glenn: We have read Alan's (not all that new) book. More "ex-gay" propaganda from one of its most vocal proponents.

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 25, 2008 7:45:42 PM

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