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Ex-Gay Watch Analyzes the Jones & Yarhouse Study

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2007

Last September, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse released the results of their ex-gay study at the meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors. That study later appeared in the book, Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, published by InterVarsity Press. At the time, I published a preliminary review of that study, followed by a rejoinder by Stanton Jones.

Ex-Gay Watch asked Patrick M. Chapman to review Ex-Gays? Dr. Chapman is the author of the forthcoming book, Thou Shalt Not Love: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays. Ex-Gay Watch published his review in three parts (Read parts one, two and three). XGW expects to publish a reply by Stanton Jones in the next few days. All of this makes excellent reading.

Meanwhile, Exodus, which has been mostly silent about the study since the initial clamor over its release, has added Ex-Gays? to their online bookstore.

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quo mark II
November 27th, 2007 | LINK

I personally find it wearying to see Patrick M. Chapman repeat two of the weak arguments often used to try to show that homosexuality is inborn.

Toward the end of the third part of his review of the Jones/Yarhouse book, Mr. Chapman seems to imply that, because people find it difficult or impossible to change their sexual orientation, they must have been born with it. This is a non-sequitur; the effects of early childhood experience could be just as deep and irreversible as biology.

Mr. Chapman also seems to be implying that the alleged fact that scientific studies have not identified any postnatal causal factor also shows that homosexuality must be inborn. Whether science has shown that postnatal factors are involved may depend upon what assumptions one interprets it with.

Some studies have shown a rough and inexact correlation between homosexuality and particular family structures. One can argue that, because the correlation is imperfect, parental behaviour cannot possibly influence the development of homosexuality, but this would be equally as unreasonable as arguing that, because there is only an imperfect correlation between homosexuality and any gene or group of genes, genetic factors are unimportant.

The evidence of prenatal influences may perhaps be stronger than the evidence of postnatal influences, but only in relative terms.

Dr Patrick Chapman
November 27th, 2007 | LINK

QuoMark, I think you misunderstand.

I am not saying that because people find it difficult or impossible to change their sexual orientation, they “must” have been born with it. You are correct in that argument being a non-sequitur, in that early postnatal factors are one possibility – although I don’t think the evidence supports them. Instead, I believe people are born with it and that is why it is difficult or impossible to change it. Has it been “proven” that people are born homosexual or heterosexual? No, and I don’t think it ever will be proven that people are born gay, or straight for that matter. But, my bias is that one is born with one’s sexual orientation.

Regarding your second point, I do not suggest that because no postnatal factor has been identified it is “therefore” prenatal. I raise that point because Exodus and various evangelical groups argue it “is” postnatal, yet they have no evidence to identify any specific cause, even though they explicitly mention quite a few. In other words, I raise the issue because they are inconsistent in their treatment of the evidence. They explicitly and confidently state certain postnatal factors “are” the cause of homosexuality, yet there is no good evidence. Meanwhile, they are extremely particular in how they treat any and all evidence suggesting a prenatal cause. If they were consistent in their standards they would have to relinquish their claims for postnatal causes. That is my motivation for my comment. I certainly take responsibility for not being as explicit as I should have been.
Regards,
Patrick

quo mark II
November 28th, 2007 | LINK

Patrick,

OK, I misunderstood you. Thank you for clarifying.

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