Change in Same-sex Desires: An Update

The falsehood prevails that sexual desires may not change, or be changed. In our day, people are set for life by some immutable thing called an “orientation” that forever consigns them to one way—and one way only—to feel pleasure. And this damaging demiurge controls the ensuing debate about identity and whether individuals should be allowed to define themselves differently than how they currently feel.

 

The first rather bald contradiction, for Christians at least, comes with the Bible promising exactly such change. For any desire that runs counter to God’s good commands (in this case, the marriage covenant), the Scriptures hold forth change to be not only possible, but something of a birthright (think, for example, of 1Corinthians 6:9-14 or 2Corinthians 5:15-17 or Colossians 3:5-10 or 1John 2:3 or 1John 5:18). To leave believers without such a hope is to deny the reality of sanctification in Christian experience. It is to deny what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us.

 

In addition, consider several lines of evidence that even non-Christians should be able to appreciate, that give the lie to a forever-fixed “orientation.” Listen to contradicting stories of conversion, of which there are many. Discover networks of people providing valuable guiding resources, such as the California based Changed ministry. But besides these, face two simple clinical research truths which refute this account of things. These facts get buried under the dust of denials, while people stand, coughing and sneezing from the dust, unable to see them. But they remain:

 

First, there has been no good longitudinal study demonstrating harm in attempts to change one’s sexual desires or fetishes. To redefine oneself away from desires which currently feel most natural yet which you do not wish to have constitutes most of the foot traffic through therapists’ doorways. Such efforts do not increase depression or risk of suicide. If someone tells you that there is such a study, be sure to ask for the reference. When you are met with sputtering, be assured of this: no sound study has ever found that directive therapy or counsel harms people with same sex attraction.

 

Second, as I have reviewed previously here before, rigorous sociological studies stretching back for decades show significant change in same sex attraction for those walking a route of self-redefinition, especially when religiously motivated. As we would expect, change varies and depends on many factors, such as the length of time one has lived in one’s desires and the health of one’s relationships. But transformation is quite real.

 

Unfortunately, now these studies are ignored or, if they cannot be, are actually erased. The superb July 23, 2018 Linacre Quarterly study, “Effects of Therapy on Religious Men Who Have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction,” by Paul L. Santero, Neil E. Whitehead, and Dolores Ballesteros, cited in my previous review linked above, suffered this fate. When Sage Publishing got too much heat for the article, they caved and retracted it, with incomprehensible reasoning given for the retraction. Fortunately, Brandon Showalter’s helpful summary in the Christian Post remains….for the time being.

 

On the bright side, the un-erased list continues to grow. In, the March, 2019 piece, Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council updates of the 2007 study by Jones & Yarhouse in summarizing 4 large data sets. Significant change becomes apparent. In one survey of same-sex attracted respondents, up to 38% of men and 53% of women “changed to heterosexuality” in only a 6-year period.

 

Future posts here will explore the work by Lisa Diamond on sexual fluidity and the relationships needed for transforming. But compassion dictates being honest with those wanting change. Let’s keep the record straight for them.

4 Comments

  1. Melissa

    In the summer of 2021 my son told me he was transgender. He was 18. After much prayer and continued love despite a good season of him putting up walls, our relationship began to heal. I know he’s still involved with the LGBT group on campus and I think he may use they/them pronouns. However, he is no longer dressing like a woman. Two weeks ago he proposed to a sweet biological woman who does use they/them. They have been going to counseling together for a few months and have known each other for 19 months. She’s been here twice with him on several day visits. He graduates it his spring and they plan a civil wedding in early summer with a bigger celebration in the fall for extended family and some friends. He and I are in regular contact and he even sought my advice about this young woman. They were both raised in Christian homes and I know that Christ is not finished with either of them yet. May their hearts continue to become more and more open to the Truth.

    1. Melissa, thank you for sharing some of your story. I am thankful that it is–all things considered–a happy one. It is painful when our children take up ideas that we recognize as harmful to them, but it is God’s mercy when those ideas do not rise to the level of irreversible consequences in their decisions. I am glad for you that your communication remains open with your son, that he is able to graduate, and, most of all, that gender is working in his life. However he is interpreting this marriage, God’s good gift is in play. That’s a reason to rejoice.

  2. Steve Goble

    Sam, thank you for exposing false beliefs! Many followers of Jesus are being misled into believing “sexual orientation” and “gender minority identity” constructs are fixed and not changeable. False teaching and lies surrounding gender and sexuality seduce vulnerable persons to stay stuck spiritually and developmentally. They are not being encouraged to repent of deceitful desires and sin patterns from the heart, to grapple with underlying, contributing factors such as wounds and deficits, and, thus, to increase capacity for healthy relating (truly mortifying the sin).
    Some strugglers seek therapy or counseling, but do not receive real and effective help. This may be due to timidity, lack of expectations and false beliefs of supposed professionals. Some strugglers tire of the sanctification/transformation process and give in to the pull of the world, the flesh and the devil, when they do not see progress according to their specifications, expectations or timetable. Granted, following Jesus is not an easy path, but those who persevere in hope find life (Matt. 7:13-14, Luke 9:23-24, John 10:10, Eph. 4:22-24).
    You and I know many men and women who have struggled with same-sex attraction, gender confusion, or homosexuality, and who have surrendered to Jesus, put off the gay aspect, put on Jesus Christ, and are persevering in being sanctified and transformed with Him. These persons, including me, have increased our capacity for healthy relating by discovering and embracing our essential manhood or womanhood, and have experienced significant life change. By ignoring or dismissing the many voices who have experienced change, influencers in corporate evangelical circles are diluting the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and denying the fact Holy Spirit has the power to change us at our core. Thank you, Sam, for standing strong for the truth about change!

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