Successful Therapy and Counseling for Dissatisfied Homosexuals
by James R. Aist
(Note: the numbers in parentheses refer to specific references listed at the end of the article)
“Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at success rates of around 25%-30%, which is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for treatment of psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism.”
Same-sex attractions are powerful temptations, but biblically speaking, they are not sins. To have such attractions is akin to a married heterosexual man having opposite-sex attractions to women other than his wife. These attractions are, in effect, temptations to sin and nothing more; they are not sin, although they would lead to sin if acted upon. Apparently, same-sex attractions are not something that most homosexuals choose initially. Rather, they usually seem to occur initially in homosexual persons without their volition or intent. This is an important distinction that Christians need to be aware of. The Bible condemns homosexual sex acts, but it does not condemn the initial experience of being tempted by same-sex attractions. If the Bible did condemn the experience of being tempted, then Jesus would not have been without sin, would He?
Furthermore, Jesus said “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28). Thus, “acting” on either opposite-sex or same-sex attractions includes “looking lustfully” as well as the physical, sexual act itself; both are sin, and, as such, they are to be renounced, resisted and repented.
And finally, same-sex attractions are not of God; they are of the devil and are evil, as are all temptations to sin (click HERE). There is nothing good about either same-sex attractions or the practice of homosexuality in any context.
Homosexuality and Choice
There seems to be some consensus that homosexual people do not choose to have the initial same-sex attractions and sexual feelings that they experience, but that doesn’t mean that living a homosexual life-style does not involve choices. Once that first same-sex attraction is encountered, homosexual people have a choice as to whether or not to act on their same-sex attractions and sexual feelings every time they experience them. Bi-sexual people make a choice every time they choose to engage in homosexual sex rather than heterosexual sex. Heterosexual people who are married with children and then forsake their marriage and children for a homosexual relationship have made a choice to do so. The fluidity in sexual orientation found especially in lesbians, but also in gays, speaks to the choice of sexual orientation available to many, if not most, homosexual people. And where there is choice there is also the potential for change.
The Bad News
Someone once said, “Without bad news, we would not be able to recognize good news when we hear it!” In this series of articles on homosexuality, I have bad news and good news to share. My previous posts on homosexuality focused mainly on the bad news for homosexual people. Namely, that homosexual behavior is wrong in the eyes of God and, if not given up, will disqualify from heaven those who persist in it . The same bad news is just as real, of course, for all sinners, not just those practicing homosexuality.
The Best Good News
The best good news for all of us, whether we are homosexual people or heterosexual people, is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God that brings salvation to all who will believe in Him (Romans 1:16; John 3:16), confess their sins and repent of them (I John 1:9; Matthew 4:17), and accept Him as their Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31), trusting in His finished work on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) to qualify them for heaven. This is God’s one and only plan to reconcile mankind to Himself — there is no other path to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) — and He is the only one who can establish the ground rules, because “Salvation belongs to our God…” (Revelation 7:10). God wants to save you (Matthew 18:14)! So, if you have not yet allowed God to save you, then you may want to re-think that; right now would be a good time.
Change in Sexual Orientation
At least for many dissatisfied homosexual people, it is possible to make a substantial and meaningful change in sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Change in sexual orientation can be measured in terms of sexual behavior, same-sex attraction (SSA) and/or sexual fantasies. Homosexuality advocates claim that, unless such change includes the complete elimination of same-sex attractions, the homosexual person is still homosexual and the efforts to change were completely unsuccessful. That is an unwarranted claim that defies logic and reason (click HERE). While examples of such a complete change — from homosexual to heterosexual — are in the minority, they do exist (4). More commonly, successful efforts to change one’s sexual orientation result in a major shift from homosexual to heterosexual in one or more of the indicators of sexual orientation. Many studies have reported that people have been able to achieve a complete conversion from exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual behavior. Some studies have reported a major shift as well in SSA and/or sexual fantasies (4). While most of these individuals have not experienced a 100% reversal in all aspects of sexual orientation, they have achieved substantial and meaningful changes in their sexual orientation that enable them to live celibate or exclusively heterosexual lifestyles that satisfy their personal goals. For the originally dissatisfied homosexual person, that is real, substantial and meaningful change, the unwarranted objections of homosexuality advocates notwithstanding.
For the most part, sexual orientation research has relied on questionnaires, surveys and reviews of selected published results, all of which have been widely used and accepted research approaches, despite the fact that they rely on an “honor system” of honesty and objectivity in reporting by both the professional clinicians and researchers on the one hand and by the clients or subjects on the other (4). While such information cannot be as scientifically rigorous and definitive as one might prefer, it remains the best kind of information available for this area of study. For homosexuality advocates to selectively and summarily dismiss the entire body of evidence concerning sexual orientation change, because of this potential for subjective bias (i.e., wholesale lying on the part of those conducting and/or participating in the studies), is slanderous, hypocritical and contrary to the professional standards currently in use for research of this nature (4). That said, let’s have a look now at some of the substantial body of evidence indicating that sexual orientation can change from homosexual to heterosexual.
Spontaneous or Adventitious Change
This kind of change in sexual orientation comes about without any intervention being necessary; it just happens. A huge amount of information on this topic has been reviewed and summarized by Whitehead and Whitehead (1) as follows: Large studies now show that…
• About half of those with exclusive same-sex attraction move towards heterosexuality over a lifetime. Put another way, 3% of the practicing heterosexual population (both men and women) claim to have once been either bisexual or homosexual.
• These changes are not therapeutically induced, but happen “naturally” in life, some very quickly.
• Most changes in sexual orientation are towards exclusive heterosexuality.
• Numbers of people who have changed towards exclusive opposite sex attraction are greater than current numbers of bisexuals and exclusive same-sex attraction people combined. In other words, “Ex-gays outnumber actual gays.”
• Exclusive opposite sex attraction is 17 times as stable as exclusive same-sex attraction for men, and 30 times as stable as exclusive same-sex attraction for women. (Women move about more in their sexual orientation than men.)
Additionally, Sorba (17) has documented numerous examples of adult celebrities and homosexuality advocates who have spontaneously changed from homosexual to heterosexual. These include celebrities such as pop star Sinead O’Connor, actress Ann Heche, gay activist/author Jan Clausen and gay activist Williams (Bro) Broberg. Furthermore, at least six specific examples of adults who changed sexual orientation spontaneously, without therapy or counseling, have been documented by NARTH (2). These documented examples of spontaneous changes demonstrate the considerable fluidity that exists in sexual orientation for many individuals, even in adulthood.
The following points were derived by Whitehead and Whitehead (1) from the data published by Savin-Willians and Ream (21).
• Most teenagers will change from same-sex attraction. In fact, in the 16 to 17 year age group, 98% who identify initially as homosexual or bi-sexual will move towards heterosexuality.
• 16 year olds saying they are same-sex attracted or bi-sex attracted are 25 times more likely to say they are opposite sex attracted at the age of 17 than those with a heterosexual orientation are likely to identify themselves as bi-sexual or homosexual.
• 16-year olds who claim they are opposite sex attracted will overwhelmingly remain that way.
Religiously Mediated Change
The God of the Bible wants to change homosexual people Himself, through the “name” (i.e., the power and authority) of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Bible (I Corinthians 6:9-11)! Interestingly, this is probably the first-ever published report of homosexual transformations. Now, Paul was well aware that the condition of homosexuality has two aspects: 1) same-sex attractions (SSA), which he referred to as “shameful lusts” and “inflamed with lust for one another” (Romans 1:26-27); and 2) the practice of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9). Thus, when Paul states “…that is what some of you were”. But you were washed…” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), he is not just speaking about the abandoning of homosexual practice (celibacy), but also the cessation of SSA. On the other hand, Paul did not say whether or not these particular transformed homosexual people became heterosexual. Moreover, Jesus himself wants homosexual people to be changed, else why would these Corinthian homosexual people have been changed through His power and authority? Jesus did not come to save us and our sins, but to save us from our sins.
More recent examples exist of religiously mediated change from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation (3, 4). Here are some specifics of one of these studies. Pattison and Pattison (5) studied 11 men who changed from exclusive and active homosexuality to exclusive or almost exclusive heterosexuality after converting to Christianity in a Pentecostal church fellowship. On the Kinsey 7-point sexual orientation scale, all subjects manifested major before-after changes. Eight of the 11 subjects became exclusively heterosexual. Although the men participated in prayer groups with heterosexual men and women, no effort was made to effect the change of sexual orientation. NARTH (6) has listed 24 autobiographies and 14 case histories of homosexual people who have undergone religiously mediated change from homosexual to heterosexual. Jones and Yarhouse (7) conducted a study that was designed to meet high standards of empirical vigor and is perhaps the best publication to date in this regard. They studied 61 subjects who completed the study, which included six independent assessments over a total time span of 6-7 years. Standardized, respected measures of sexual orientation were used. Of the 61 subjects, 23% reported successful conversion to heterosexual orientation and functioning, while another 30% reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation. Moreover, there was a statistically significant increase of heterosexual attraction. The authors concluded that their results demonstrate meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes for some of the subjects. (See also “Combined Surveys of Religiously and Secularly Mediated Change“, below.)
For comparison, a success rate of around 25%-30% is generally achieved by therapists and counselors for psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism (1, 18, 19).
Restored Hope Network is a membership-governed network dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, especially those impacted by homosexuality. They proclaim that Jesus Christ has life changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord; they also seek to equip the church to impart that transformation. Their website (click HERE) is able to connect many with a nearby ministry that will offer help in overcoming homosexuality. Also, P.A.T.H. (click HERE) has a list of religious and secular organizations and ministries offering help for dissatisfied homosexuals seeking change (NOTE: I do not recommend Exodus International). I can also recommend two online resources that will enable almost anyone, anywhere, to obtain Christ-centered help in overcoming unwanted homosexuality: Taking Back Ground (click HERE) and Reach Truth (click HERE).
Secularly Mediated Change
A comprehensive history of this topic was published by Phelan, et al. (4). Many professional therapists have reported the clinical results of their own efforts to help dissatisfied homosexuals to change. The results presented by Socarides (18) seem to be representative of successful treatment therapy. Out of around 1,000 dissatisfied male homosexuals, about 35% became heterosexual (able to have complete, satisfactory sex with a woman and develop the capacity to really love her). Another 31% were able to control previously uncontrollable impulses toward same-sex sex (abstinence). The remaining 34% discontinued treatment for various reasons.
Satinover (19) compiled the results of nine outcome studies of clinical results reported in the 1950s through the 1980s. Out of a total of 341 dissatisfied homosexuals treated, success rates varied from 27% to 100%, where success was defined “as considerable to complete change.” In these reports, the average success rate was 52%. A range of reported success rates often reflects varying degrees of success with different therapy approaches; some approaches are more effective than others.
Individual therapists have also reported long-term success in homosexual to heterosexual changes. Masters and Johnson (8) reported that 71.6% of their transformed homosexual subjects were still heterosexual after five years (when the study was terminated), indicating that these sexual orientation transformations represented long-term changes. Mayerson and Lief (20) found that 47% of their patients were functioning heterosexually after a mean follow-up period of four and a half years. And some transformed homosexuals were reported to have remained exclusively heterosexual for as long as 20 years (9)!
Surveys and meta-analyses also show the reality of secularly mediated change. Bieber et al. (10) is a good example. Out of 106 homosexual men in the studies they reviewed, 35 (33%) changed to exclusively heterosexual. And in a follow-up study conducted three years later on 15 of these formerly exclusively homosexual men (all those for whom data could be reclaimed), Socarides (18) found that 12 (80%) had remained exclusively heterosexual. Clippinger (11) reported similar results from 12 independent studies. Of 785 patients, 307 (38%) were “cured” (i.e., changed from homosexual to heterosexual). Goetze (12) conducted a carefully designed meta-analysis of the results of 17 studies. He determined Kinsey ratings before and after therapy and obtained follow-up information. Of 396 subjects who were exclusively or predominately homosexual, 283 (71.5%) experienced a partial shift in sexual orientation, 69 (17.4%) acquired heterosexual behavior and 44 (11.1%) experienced a full shift to heterosexual orientation. Thus, 28.5% (17.4% + 11.1%) became exclusively or predominately heterosexual.
Again, a success rate of around 25%-30% is generally achieved by therapists and counselors for psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism (1, 18, 19).
The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (click HERE)) is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. They have extensive published resources available and can provide referrals to treatment programs and professional, experienced therapists who also can provide compassionate guidance and support to help dissatisfied homosexual people in their journey out of homosexuality.
Combined Surveys of Religiously and Secularly Mediated Change
Nicolosi et al. (13) published an analysis of 882 subjects who were dissatisfied with their homosexuality, 726 of whom had received therapy from professional therapists or pastoral counselors, while the other 156 underwent “self help.” Of the total of 882, 45.4% of the exclusively homosexual subjects reported major changes in their sexual orientation, whereas, 35.1% of all participants were unsuccessful in making significant progress. The subjects who were successful reported statistically significant reductions in the frequency of homosexual thoughts and fantasies, indicating that for many, the conversion was comprehensive in nature, not just in sexual behavior.
Three years later, Spitzer (14) published the results of a questionnaire survey by telephone of 200 self-volunteering individuals who reported at least some minimal change from homosexual to heterosexual that lasted at least 5 years (thus, this is a quasi-5-year longitudinal study; his phone interviews were a kind of 5-year follow-up). He looked at not only homosexual behavior, but also same-sex attraction, sexual fantasy and same-sex yearning. The majority of participants gave reports of change from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominately or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year (i.e., 4-5 years later). Reports of complete change (including all measures of homosexuality) did occur, but they were uncommon (4). Female participants reported significantly more change than did male participants. For many stated reasons, it was concluded that the participants self reports were largely credible and that few of the participants elaborated self-deceptive narratives or lied.
N.B.– Nine years after this study was published, Spitzer reassessed his conclusions (15), stating that there was no convincing way to judge the credibility of the subject reports (Note that the New York State Psychiatric Institutional Review Board had reviewed and approved the study protocol in advance). Armelli et al. (16) responded to Spitzer’s disclaimer, pointing out that every other psychology study using self-report measures has the same limitation, yet those authors do not disavow their findings, but simply state the limitation as part of the data. This response goes on to suggest that Spitzer may have published his disclaimer because he had become convinced that his results may have caused some homosexual people to feel hurt by them. They conclude by pointing out that “One can apologize for the consequences of a study, but one cannot undo the evidentiary data. Well intentioned sentiments cannot undo facts.” In other words, Spitzer’s 2003 study stands on its own merit, which, based on the generally accepted standards for this kind of research, remains intact.
For Parents of Children Who Say They Are Gay
Christian parents who find themselves in this situation should be aware of the following encouraging facts: 1) the vast majority of teens up to 16 years of age who have identified themselves as homosexual will self-identify as heterosexual by the age of 17; 2) God is still in the transformation business, and that includes transforming homosexuals into heterosexuals; and 3) Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at success rates of around 25%-30%, which is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for treatment of psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism. I highly recommend the following article on how to respond when your child says he’s gay (click HERE).
Summary and Conclusions
The first recorded account of homosexual people being changed is found in the Bible: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified,you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-12, with Romans 1:26-27). From these verses we can see that both God the Father and His Son, Jesus, want to change the sexual orientation of homosexual people, and that they can do it (click HERE) ). So, if you are a born-again, homosexual Christian, do not hesitate to seek God’s help to change your sexual orientation; He is still in the healing business.
A spontaneous shift in sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual is by far the most common change that occurs in sexual orientation. Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at a rate that is at least comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for other behavioral problems. And many studies have found that, for the most part, these are long-range, stable shifts in sexual orientation.
On the other hand, these intervention approaches are unsuccessful in about one-third of individuals who attempt to change their sexual orientation. Moreover, some who have achieved an initial change in sexual orientation eventually slip back into homosexual behaviors. These failures should not discourage dissatisfied homosexuals from seeking help to change, because, for many, this has clearly been a viable option to giving up and giving in to homosexual desires. The degree of change that has been achieved ranges from complete reversal of homosexual orientation, to reversal of sexual behavior from homosexual to heterosexual, to freedom from compulsive homosexual behavior (celibacy). These changes represent real, meaningful and stable changes in the lives of thousands of former dissatisfied homosexuals. Don’t let homosexuality advocates fool you into believing that change is impossible; the facts of the matter prove otherwise.
(For more of my articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)
1. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. My Genes Made Me Do It! – Homosexuality and the Scientific Evidence. Chapter 12. Can sexual orientation change? (click HERE)
2. NARTH, 2012. 7) Spontaneous or Adventitious Change of Sexual Orientation. (click HERE)
3. NARTH, 2012. 6) Religiously Mediated Change. (click HERE)
4. Phelan, J.E., N. Whitehead and P.M. Sutton. 2009. What Research Shows: NARTH’S Response to the APA Claims on Homosexuality. Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 1, Pages 9-39. (click HERE)
5. Pattison, E.M. and M.L. Pattison. 1980. “Ex-Gays”: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals. American Journal of Psychiatry 137:1553-1562.
6. NARTH. 2012. Autobiographies of Religiously Mediated Change. (click HERE)
7. Jones, S. L. and M.A. Yarhouse. 2011. A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Sexual Orientation Change. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 37:404-427.
8. Masters, W. H. and V. E. Johnson. 1979. Homosexuality in Perspective. Little, Brown & Co., Boston.
9. Bieber, I. and T.B. Bieber. 1979. Male Homosexuality. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 24: 409-421.
10. Bieber, I., et al. 1962. Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study of Male Homosexuals. Basic Books, New York.
11. Clippinger, J. 1974. Homosexuality can be cured. Corrective and Social Psychiatry and Journal of Behavior Technology Methods and Therapy. 21:15-28.
12. Goetze, R. 1997. Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change: A Review of 17 Published Studies. Toronto Canada: New Directions for Life.
13. Nicolosi, J., A.D. Byrd, and R.W. Potts. 2000. Retrospective Self-Reports of Change in Homosexual Orientation: A consumer Survey of Conversion Therapy Clients. Psychological Reports 86:1071-1088.
14. Spitzer, R.L. 2003. Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior 32:403-417.
15. Spitzer, R.L. 2012. Spitzer Reassesses His 2003 Study of reparative Therapy of Homosexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior 41:757.
16. Armelli, J.A., E.L. Moose, A. Paulk and J.E. Phelan. 2012. A Response to Spitzer’s (2012) Reassessment of His 2003 Study of reparative Therapy of Homosexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior 41 (19 October).
17. Sorba, R. 2007. The Born Gay Hoax. (click HERE)
18. Socarides, C.W. 1995. Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far. Adam Margrave Books, Phoenix AZ.
19. Satinover, J. 1996. Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. Hamewith Books/Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.
20. Mayerson, P., and Lief, H. 1965. Psychotherapy of homosexuals: a follow-up study. In, Sexual Inversion: The Multiple Roots of Homosexuality, ed. J. Marmor. New York: Basic Books.
21. Savin-Williams, R., and G. Ream. 2007. Prevalence and Stability of Sexual Orientation Components During Adolescence and Young Adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior 36:385-394.