Focus on Family: Sexual orientation can change
By Electa Draper Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 09/18/2007 06:15:17 AM MDT
Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based Christian media ministry, on Monday endorsed a recent study finding that it is possible, through religious mediation, to change one's sexual orientation.
"This study bolsters our position of advocating for people's right to self-determination," said Melissa Fryrear, director of Focus' Gender Issues Department, in a statement.
Focus on the Family is a worldwide media ministry broadcasting in 26 languages.
The results were more promising than expected, with 67 percent of study participants reporting "a change toward heterosexual orientation or ... successfully continuing to work towards that goal," Fryrear said.
Study findings were first released last week in a book, "Ex—Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation."
The researchers Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University tracked men and women who had undergone a program of group discussions, counseling, journal writing, Scripture reading and prayer to change their gender orientation.
Study results are comparable with the success rates for dealing with "other difficult issues," such as depression, Fryrear said.
The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association state that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, but a normal variant of human sexual behavior.
The associations recommend against any practitioners' attempts to change the behavior.
The study disputes this, said Fryrear, who previously self-identified as a homosexual.
"This study was very biased and very slanted," said Ryan Acker, director of the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Colorado Springs.
"People should be very skeptical about this study," he said.
Acker said he found it frustrating that Focus on the Family does not accept and respect people for who they are regardless of their sexual orientation.
"If someone has unwanted same-sex attraction, it is their right to seek alternatives to change," Fryrear said.