One of the most frequent questions I get asked on my post ex-gay roadshow is, “What sort of success rate do the ex-gay programs have? Do they have statistics?” Alan Chambers regularly boasts figures of thousand and thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people who have found freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.
In an e-mailed response to Daniel Gonzales at Ex-Gay Watch, Melissa Fryrear, a professional ex-gay at Focus on the Faggot*, provides some insight into the scientific method of data collection used by ex-gay and anti-gay ministries,
…organizations like Exodus International have been in existence for several decades. Currently, for example, there are over 125 member ministries throughout the world. Each of these individual ministries have participants ranging in number of a dozen to hundreds. Given the longevity of Exodus and its breadth of referral ministries, again, thousands of men and women have participated and overcome their struggle with homosexuality.
Ah, so entering and attending an ex-gay program counts as an ex-gay success story. Didn’t the legendary Christian singer Keith Green once say something like, Attending church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting a garage makes you a car? (Christine, surely you know the exact quote).
Fryrear goes on to assert that “…the three major monotheistic religions of the world all see homosexuality as outside of God’s design for human sexuality” The big three she mentions in the previous paragraph are Christianity, Judaism and Mormonism–sorry Islam, you’ve been bumped, and Mormons, you aren’t REAL Christians after all.
The post links to a study by Dr Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder called “Changing Sexual Orientation: a consumer’s report” that was published in a peer reviewed journal in 2001.
Here are some findings from the study:
Study subjects: 202
Number that were no longer struggling and were fully heterosexual: 8
Of those 8, number that were not employees or volunteers of ex-gay groups: 1
Number that felt they had failed: 176
Number who felt conversion had done long term harm: 155
Number who attempted suicide during therapy: 23
Number who attempted suicide after therapy: 11
Number who reported spiritual harm: 100
So, according to this study, 1 person (arguably 8) of 202 were turned straight through therapy–a result I’d imagine was the goal of the people that entered the ex-gay therapies. At the same time, 100 had their faith dramatically harmed by therapy (if you’re Christian, we’re talking about their salvation here). And nearly 4 times the number that turned straight tried to kill themselves during therapy.
The burden of proof for the success of ex-gay therapy falls on the folks who insist that it works and intimate that such change is God’s ideal path for man (and woman). But since the debate is as much political as it is “spiritual”, it’s unlikely that Exodus , NARTH and Focus on the Family will honestly assess the efficacy of their claims.
For all the Bible quoting that goes on, one would think they would consider the old time favorite “Thou shall not lie.” Rather they tangle themselves up with “Thou shall not lie with a man as a man lies with a woman.” How about I deal with my own lying with and these ex-gay proponents address their lying to.
(*You’ve got to admit that Focus on the Family spends an inordinate amount of time on us same-gender loving folks)
In somewhat related news…what is it like to be in an ex-gay program? Is it anything like being kidnapped by an urban terriorist organization? Read Hanging with Patty Hearst.