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Still Skeptical?

Joe Dallas writes, “I’ve found, without exception, that when the [homosexual] fulfills his responsibility to abstain from homosexual actions and is ready to look at the nonsexual parts of his life needing correction, unfinished business with others invariably shows up.” Once the emotional deficit that caused the homosexuality is identified and allowed to surface, nonneurotic affirmation from one’s parents, peers, or surrogates can be properly internalized.

Some in the gay community have tried to discredit professionals who offer help to those desiring to change their sexual orientation by suggesting that such therapy is provoking their clientele to commit suicide. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. According to Dr. Nicolosi, “I’ve been doing this work for almost twenty years, treating men and women with unwanted homosexuality. For all twenty years, I’ve been accused of causing my clients to commit suicide, yet I’ve never once had a client commit suicide or even attempt suicide.”

Others have criticized reparative therapy and other change methods by claiming that any study that has ever been done to measure their rate of success is “outdated” and has since been “debunked.” Former homosexual Ben Newman wrote this in his rebuttal to a recent book called Anything but Straight, which denigrates orientational change:

For as many times as [Wayne] Besen [attacks sexual reorientation] throughout his book, you would think he would provide some evidence. He repeatedly labels reparative therapy principles and research as “old, outdated ideas.” … Yet Besen offers virtually nothing in the way of evidence that the research and principles supporting reparative therapy have actually been disproved or discredited.

He claims that findings from Dr. Irving Bieber’s 1962 study of 106 homosexual clients (which found, for instance, that all 106 men experienced profound disturbance in their relationship with their fathers) “could not be replicated and were disproved by more diligent researchers.” But Besen doesn’t offer so much as a footnote to support this claim…

In contrast, in his seminal work, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach (1991), Dr. Joseph Nicolosi references no fewer than 300 books, academic studies and journal articles as he lays out the core principles of reparative therapy.

Newman concludes, “Reparative therapy has not been discredited. It has simply fallen out of favor since the 1973 vote by the board of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its official encyclopedia of mental disorders… The research hasn’t been disproved; it has simply been disenfranchised by the political correctness of the times.”

Psychological journals have published peer-reviewed scientific studies in the past few years that report significant success among individuals wishing to change from gay to straight. In fact, more than fifty years of research on the subject has produced data and published accounts documenting easily more than three thousand cases of change from homosexual to heterosexual attraction and functioning.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist who led the charge to take homosexuality out of the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, conducted a study to find out if homosexuals really could change their orientation. Many of the participants in Dr. Spitzer’s study experienced a marked increase in both the frequency and satisfaction of heterosexual activity, while those in marital relationships noted more emotional fulfillment between their spouses and themselves. Respondents were required to have experienced such benefits for a period of five years or more.

Spitzer still believes that homosexuality is not technically a mental illness, and I agree, but he also believes that gays can change. Spitzer said that his study “clearly goes beyond anecdotal information and provides evidence that reparative therapy is sometimes successful.” Dr. Spitzer’s study was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. In addition, Dr. Warren Throckmorton has published ex-gay research in the APA’s prestigious journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. This is just a sampling of the scientific evidence that is available to support the effectiveness of sexual reorientation.

One of the most common questions I am asked is, “Do ex-gays really change their orientation, or is it just behavior modification?” The answer is, “Both.” Just like many aspects of life, if you change the behavior first, the feelings will follow. This requires the homosexual struggler to discipline himself or herself to view their same-sex counterparts as friends, rather than lovers.

After just one year of therapy, a client of Dr. Nicolosi’s reported, “What my homosexual feelings used to be, they aren’t now. They’re still around, they’re still there, but they’re not as upsetting. The improvement is in how they affect me emotionally… how much I am preoccupied by them.”

There is a distinction between God’s kind of love (the Greek term is “agape” love) and the world’s kind of love. God’s love begins with our will and ends with our emotions, while the world’s love begins with the emotions and ends with the will.

Another common question, though usually framed as an accusation from those looking to discount my message, is, “How do I know I’m not just bisexual and have chosen to enjoy my other side for a while?”

A scientific survey published in the journal Psychological Reports found that of 318 subjects who described themselves as exclusively homosexual (not bisexual), 45.4 percent reported having made major shifts in their sexual orientation. (These individuals also reported significant improvements in their psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual well-being.)

Furthermore, if ex-gays really are all bisexuals choosing to “enjoy our other side,” why did so many of us spend decades of our lives attracted exclusively to our own sex and didn’t experience any opposite-sex attractions until we engaged in an intentional effort to change our sexual orientation? Maybe it is only coincidence. Or maybe all of us ex-gays are just playing mental gymnastics to convince ourselves that we changed. When the rubber meets the road, opponents of change will always find a reason to believe that people like me are fakes if that’s what they really want to believe. And that is their right.

But not all gay activists fit this mold. Camille Paglia, a self-identified lesbian and atheist, writes, “Is gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? … Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refratory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition — a phenomenon obvious in the struggle with obesity, smoking, alcoholism, or drug addiction… Helping gays learn how to function hetersexually, if they so wish, is a perfectly worthy aim.”

Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would (2004) Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, Michigan

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