On Wednesday, The United States Senate voted, via the “The Respect for Marriage” Act, to make monogendered marriage law. Sixty-two senators affirmed moving the act to the floor. Their action all but ensures that the act will thus pass, probably after Thanksgiving. President Biden stands ready, eager with pen in hand, to sign it. Even the Mormons have now decided to acquiesce to the cultural wave, as evidenced by Mitt Romney supporting the legislative move. So it is almost certainly a done deal. It will soon be illegal to oppose monogendered marriage in any way in the United States.
Unhinging gender from marriage, while ultimately destructive to both, often rides emotionally on a belief that sexual desire is immutable. This act argues that monogendered unions, like mixed-race ones with their immutable ethnicity, would be unjust to deny. Two men should be allowed to marry because their sexual desires are who they are. Sadly lawmakers, or the constituency they seek to please, believe this. We have been schooled in this idea now for a long time, that sexual desire is a fixed part of a person. But it is not true.
I now know decades of ministry to men and women with same-sex attraction (SSA), including experience at Higher Ground. I have witnessed how motivated people, through Christ, can determine themselves differently from their most naturally felt desires. More prominently, ministries like Harvest, USA, Mastering Life Ministries and Desert Stream routinely enable change. But even if you do not know these folks or me, you can know this same thing from research. Are there studies on this topic? Yes, there certainly are. If you are surprised by that, I hope that a brief review would be helpful.
In fact, a substantial body of research demonstrates change happening. Researchers published several dozen studies on change in so-called “orientation” in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Nearly every one found some evidence of transformation. Many of these had methodological problems by today’s standards, but still, wouldn’t you want to entertain the notion these studies suggest? Instead, serious research disappeared. Nicholas Cummings introduced the resolution to the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality as a disorder from the DSM in1973. And such research became taboo.
Then, in 2007, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse published the most rigorous study ever done, called Ex-gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation. The work has withstood all of the (rather weak, honestly) criticism leveled against it. Cummings, himself, praised the study. Using every measure of “sexual orientation” change found in the literature, proceeding upon a careful methodology, the researchers found:
- HS “orientation” can be significantly changed.
- no evidence that spiritual or psychological harm directly results from attempting such change.
Specifically, of their cohort:
45% experienced positive change.
38% were considered unequivocal success (conversion or chastity). Subjects consider themselves changed, a percentage higher than that, say, of any treatment of depression.
15% experienced dramatic change in lessening their homosexual “orientation” and strengthening their heterosexual “orientation.” Remarkably, Jones and Yarhouse found the strongest results of change among those who had previously been the “most gay.”
Following this Lisa Diamond published Sexual Fluidity (2009), which won that year’s “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues Distinguished Book Award.” Diamond had the usual difficulty encountered in maintaining a consistent cohort of lesbian sexuality because half of the women in her sample changed their sexual desire identification during the study. Kinda proves the point.
In July, 2018, “The Linacre Quarterly,” published “The Effects of Therapy on Religious Men Who Have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction.” The Christian post did a good summary: “Over 80 percent reported they had some degree of depression and suicidality at the beginning of therapy. Nearly 70 percent of respondents self-reported “some to much” reduction in their same-sex attraction and their behavior and an increase in their opposite-sex attraction and behavior.”
But we live in a new time. The Journal received so much flack they retracted the article they had already published, giving the reason of “unresolved statistical differences.” I read the original study. The reason is bogus.
Most recently, one can look to the Journal of Human Sexuality which, because they belong to the previous generation, were willing to publish Carolyn Pela & Philip Sutton’s study: “Sexual attraction fluidity and well-being in men: A therapeutic outcome study” (2021). I will simply quote them directly: “The present longitudinal study examined the sexual attraction fluidity and wellbeing of psychotherapy clients while participating in sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy…. Results …revealed a clinically and statistically significant improvement in well-being,…obtained at baseline, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months, with results showing statistically significant fluidity of all three factors. Same sex attraction experiences decreased, opposite-sex attraction experiences increased, and SAI moved toward heterosexual identity.”
And as I wrote earlier this year, neuroscience pretty much guarantees this possibility.
Nonetheless lawmakers are ignoring all of it. I have commented on the reality of change here on this website in (2017). In 2018, I noted how the powers, sensing they were winning the culture wars on this front, started to allow the mantra, Born This Way, to be challenged. But now, as the principle that gay is great feels vulnerable, activists and legislators are taking up the immutability fallacy once again.
But I hope you don’t. Experience and Experiment just demonstrate what the Bible has promised to those in Christ all along: “Such were some of you” (1Corinthians 6:9-11). You must help those in your life that want change in this area to see that they can be determined differently than their desires. Because they won’t be getting any help from the United States law.
Very well said!