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Change happens: new evidence on sexual orientation

October 5th, 2011

by Stanton L Jones and Mark Yarhouse

Groundbreaking research published this week shows successful change in religiously motivated men and women.

A chorus of voices in the professional world today proclaims that it is impossible to change sexual orientation, particularly homosexual orientation, and that the attempt to change sexual orientation is commonly and inherently harmful. For example, for many years the Public Affairs website of the American Psychological Association stated: “Can therapy change sexual orientation? No. . . . [H]omosexuality . . . does not require treatment and is not changeable.”[1]

Regarding harm, the American Psychiatric Association’s statement that the “potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior”[2] is often cited.

In tension with this supposed professional consensus are the final results of a longitudinal study we have conducted over a period of seven years, now published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, a respected, peer-reviewed scientific journal. This study involved a sample of men and women seeking religiously-mediated sexual orientation change through involvement in a variety of Christian ministries affiliated with Exodus International.

A scientifically rigorous study

This study meets high standards of empirical rigor. In other studies, in the words of the American Psychological Association, “treatment outcome is not followed and reported over time as would be the standard to test the validity of any mental health intervention.”[3] Prior research has been appropriately criticized for

* Failing to follow subjects over time (i.e., not longitudinal)
* Relying on memory rather than following change as it occurs (i.e., not prospective)
* Relying on therapist ratings rather than hearing directly from those seeking change
* Using idiosyncratic and unvalidated measures of sexual orientation

Our study was designed to address these empirical standards. It is a longitudinal and prospective quasi-experimental study of a respectably large sample of persons seeking to change their sexual orientation via religiously-mediated means through Exodus ministries groups.

Among those endorsing an earlier book [4] describing the study and its results at the 3-year mark was former president of the American Psychological Association Nicholas A. Cummings, Ph.D., Sc.D., who stated: “Research in the controversial area of homosexuality is fraught with ideology and plagued by a dearth of science. This study has broken new ground in its adherence to objectivity and a scientific precision that can be replicated and expanded, and it opens new horizons for investigation…. I have waited over thirty years for this refreshing, penetrating study of an imperative, though controversial human condition. This book is must reading for psychotherapists and counselors, as well as academic psychologists studying human behavior and sexuality.

This study assessed the sexual orientations and psychological distress levels of 98 individuals seeking sexual orientation change beginning early in the change process, and then followed them longitudinally with five additional independent assessments over a total span of 6 to 7 years. The researchers used standardized, respected measures of sexual orientation and of emotional distress to test the study’s hypotheses. This new report extends out to between 6-7 years the findings previously reported at the 3-year mark for the subjects in the study.

An earlier version of these results was presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association on August 9, 2009; that two former presidents of the APA, Dr. Nicholas Cummings and Dr. Frank Farley, discussed the findings in that presentation underscores the significance of the study.

The findings in brief

Of the original 98 subjects (72 men, 26 women), 61 subjects completed the key measures of sexual orientation and psychological distress at the conclusion of the study, and were successfully categorized for general outcome. Of these 61 subjects, 53 per cent were categorized as successful outcomes by the standards of Exodus Ministries.

Specifically, 23 per cent of the subjects reported success in the form of successful “conversion” to heterosexual orientation and functioning, while an additional 30 per cent reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation. On the other hand, 20 per cent of the subjects reported giving up on the change process and fully embracing gay identity.

On the measures of sexual orientation, statistically significant changes on average were reported across the entire sample for decreases in homosexual orientation; some statistically significant change, but of smaller magnitude, was reported in increase of heterosexual attraction. These changes were less substantial and generally statistically non-significant for the average changes of those subjects assessed earliest in the change process, though some of these subjects still figured as “Success: Conversion” cases.

The measure of psychological distress did not, on average, reflect increases in psychological distress associated with the attempt to change orientation; indeed, several small significant improvements in reported average psychological distress were associated with the interventions.

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  1. Vast Variety
    October 5th, 2011 at 14:11 | #1

    That study has all ready been debunked.

  2. Rob Tisinai
    October 5th, 2011 at 15:18 | #2

    Seriously?

    That 23% success figure is bogus.

    First, almost 37% of the participants dropped out and wanted nothing further to do with the study. We can’t call them “successes.”

    That means only 14 people “converted” (that’s 23% of the 61 remaining subjects). That’s a meager 14% success rate.

    Or is it? Let’s learn more about those 14 people.

    First, it’s probably not 14. The study cautions us that the 14 conversions and 18 celibates represent “likely overly optimistic projections of anticipated success.”

    In other words — less than 14 actual conversions.

    But wait. Check out what “conversion” means:

    “Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated.”

    You know what they call straight people who experience homosexual arousal, and whose orientation is at most equivocal? Bisexual. Most of the 14 heterosexual “conversions” seem to be bisexuals.

    This leaves us with at most — at most — 6 individuals who went from gay to straight (as of now, at least; who knows where they’ll be in another 7 years).

    6.

    And the authors aren’t willing to go even that far. Their single-sentence summary:

    “In short, the results do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone or anyone, but rather that meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.”

    Wow. Out of 98 highly-motivated subjects, the authors found that a small, unspecified number can use prayer and counseling to shut down their sexual feelings or become a bit more bi. And possibly none who turned straight.

    Frankly, I’m surprised they couldn’t find more. The authors claim their results:

    “…challenge the commonly expressed views of the mental health establishment that change of sexual orientation is impossible or very uncommon…”

    Actually, it looks more like the results confirm those views.

    ADDENDUM: When more than a third of the test subjects decide they want nothing more to do with the project and refuse to give any information about their emotional well-being, you probably shouldn’t be so confident that the therapy is not harmful.

  3. Sean
    October 5th, 2011 at 16:15 | #3

    Why change if you’re gay? Or if you’re straight? Why not be who you are?

  4. Sean
    October 5th, 2011 at 16:26 | #4

    And upon doing further reading, and going to the links, it’s the usual religion-fueled behavioral change, not changing feelings. There is way too much effort on the part of the religionists to prove that human sexuality is changeable. What’s the payoff for all this sham work?

  5. Roivas
    October 5th, 2011 at 19:46 | #5

    This is the study that once you drilled down into the numbers, revealed that only six people could be termed “cured.” And some were likely bisexual.

    Is this the best you can do?

  6. Ken
    October 6th, 2011 at 08:29 | #6

    “Cured” generally means going back into the closet. That’s not a cure and it’s certainly nothing new. Every major medical and mental health organization in the country rejects “conversion therapy”. That’s not going to change. There are a bunch of unethical scammers out there making a buck by preying on the vulnerable and confused. As long as they’re allowed to practice this junk psychotherapy, there’ll be studies like this to legitimize their money making schemes.

    The article goes in to say “that two former presidents of the APA, Dr. Nicholas Cummings and Dr. Frank Farley, discussed the findings in that presentation underscores the significance of the study.”

    No, it does not. These are not impartial outside experts looking in. Both Cummings and Farley are involved with “repetitive therapy”. Both have been keynote speakers and presenters at a Narth events. Simple Google searches, people: http://www.narth.com/docs/chairs.html 

    Instead of trying to legitimize the harmful “ex-gay” industry by pointing out that two former APA presidents (in 1979 and 1993) who specialize in the practice “discussed” the study, face the fact that the APA rejects so-called reparative therapy. In 2009 the APA’s governing council passed a resolution condemning ex-gay therapy vote of 125-4: http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/sexual-orientation.

    You’re not going to win this one. 

  7. Bob Barnes
    October 6th, 2011 at 09:55 | #7

    I know five, very religious gay men who are married and faking straight. These unhappy souls would rather live as miserable, unauthentic people following a man-made doctrine.

    Bottom line, that’s their business, but I would never choose to live that way.

    ———————————
    And a big observation here is that this study confirms that these people were born gay (and bi).

  8. Paul McMichael
    October 7th, 2011 at 07:14 | #8

    Hello Ruth,

    Hope you are well.

    You reported that ‘conversion’ was “less substantial and generally statistically non-significant for the average changes of those subjects assessed earliest in the change process, though some of these subjects still figured as “Success: Conversion” cases.”

    As an assessment of these so-called therapies, you could read this as saying the longer you stay, the less you’re gay.

    Another way to look at it is that the longer you stay, the more likely you are, by definition, to be invested in the self-deceiving vernacular of same-sex orientation change efforts where merely saying that you are not gay is a ‘success’. Adding to that the fact that the T3 assessments are self-reported, then the report of 6 ‘Successes’ is just not credible.
    The methodology might have met the standards for publication in quantitative style of journal, but would never get published in anything with a more profound consideration of the epistemology involved which would seem to strongly dis-favour firm conclusions of ‘conversion’. In other words, religiously mediated change efforts can be never be sufficiently objective to conclude anything other than ‘I’m not gay, because the bible tells me I’m not’.

    Where are these 1000s of ex-gays we keep hearing about?

    Laughable fail.

    Paul

  9. Paul McMichael
    October 7th, 2011 at 07:18 | #9

    P.S. Ruth…

    As far as I can tell there is no new data here compared to 2009 circulation of unpublished paper. i.e. assessments up to 6-7 years after entry into said programs. This is old news.

  10. Paul H
    October 7th, 2011 at 09:45 | #10

    Bob Barnes :
    I know five, very religious gay men who are married and faking straight. These unhappy souls would rather live as miserable, unauthentic people following a man-made doctrine.

    While I have doubts that marriage is the best path for most people with a homosexual orientation, still I have great admiration for these five men who you mentioned. They and their families will be in my prayers.

    Also, I wonder if these men have told you that they are miserable, or if you just assume that they are miserable because you think that you would be miserable in the same situation?

  11. October 7th, 2011 at 09:58 | #11

    Ken,

    I enjoyed our conversation over here:

    http://www.ruthblog.org/2011/09/19/no-standing-what-marriage-radicals-really-think-of-%E2%80%9Cthe-people%E2%80%9D/

    But the comments on that thread are now closed. If you have any desire to respond to my last replies to you, please feel free to come over to my blog and add a comment. You can find it by clicking on my name to the left of this comment. Perhaps an appropriate post for this type of discussion would be this one:

    http://catholic-video.blogspot.com/2011/09/dr-jennifer-roback-morse-on-attempt-to.html

    (And by the way, I apologize for being less charitable and more snarky than I should have been in my most recent replies to you. There are definitely a couple of things I would re-write if given the chance.)

  12. Paul McMichael
    October 8th, 2011 at 02:35 | #12

    @Paul H I wonder if it even matters that the situation referred to involves lying and inauthentic living. Aren’t those the core of a Christian life?

  13. Anne
    October 8th, 2011 at 05:17 | #13

    @Bob Barnes
    “I know five, very religious gay men who are married and faking straight. These unhappy souls would rather live as miserable, unauthentic people following a man-made doctrine.”

    How many perfectly situated married couples do you know? Marriage is challenging for everyone for different reasons. It involves self sacrifice in many forms. The sacrifices bring grace and strength to the marriage if you let them.

    I am the happiest married woman you will ever meet. There is no greater joy in my life than my marriage. But I didn’t get here by looking at what was wrong with my husband or my sex life.

    Life’s challenges serve great purpose in bringing us to who we are supposed to be. Walking away from them is simply a missed opportunity to grow in dignity, determination and grace.

  14. Sean
    October 9th, 2011 at 07:06 | #14

    Anne, if you think life is a journey meant to reveal who we are supposed to be, why not support the reality of gay and lesbian peoples’ love lives? If they’re gay or lesbian, isn’t that who they’re supposed to be? Are they something less than straight people?

  15. Paul H
    October 9th, 2011 at 19:12 | #15

    Paul McMichael :
    @Paul H I wonder if it even matters that the situation referred to involves lying and inauthentic living. Aren’t those the core of a Christian life?

    I don’t know if the men he mentioned are lying or not. I had assumed that they are not lying to their wives, as surely it would be very difficult to hide one’s sexual orientation from one’s spouse, but I really don’t know. As for hiding their orientation from anyone else, I’m not sure why it would be anyone else’s business anyway.

    As for your last sentence about the Christian life, I really don’t understand what you are getting at. You’re taking a swipe at Christianity from what I can tell, but I don’t really understand your point.

  16. Roivas
    October 10th, 2011 at 05:48 | #16

    ” I had assumed that they are not lying to their wives, as surely it would be very difficult to hide one’s sexual orientation from one’s spouse, but I really don’t know. ”

    Gay people have had to do so for centuries. And you’d be amazed at how willing people are at fooling themselves. Besides, how do you think that conversation went?

    “Heya honey, I’m gay. But I totally still want to get married and by in a relationship where touching you makes my skin crawl.”

    “Oh, that sounds soo romantic. Lets go to the altar now!”

  17. Anne
    October 10th, 2011 at 07:48 | #17

    @Sean
    “Anne, if you think life is a journey meant to reveal who we are supposed to be, why not support the reality of gay and lesbian peoples’ love lives? If they’re gay or lesbian, isn’t that who they’re supposed to be? Are they something less than straight people?”

    No person is more or less than any other person. Who we are supposed to be involves the people who’s lives we affect. I have no issue with “the reality of gay and lesbian peoples’ love lives”

    When that reality impacts the lives of children denied the natural procreative birth process and society at large by the dilution of the concept of the purpose of gender in nature and society, then it becomes an imposition on other peoples’ journeys to who they are supposed to be.

  18. Ken
    October 10th, 2011 at 09:09 | #18

    @Paul H
    Thank you for following up and for your apology. I will visit your blog. I attempted to respond to you in that earlier thread but the comments were closed shortly after your last post.

  19. Ken
    October 10th, 2011 at 09:10 | #19

    @Anne
    So Anne, does that mean you could have a successful marriage with another woman, given enough effort?

  20. Ken
    October 10th, 2011 at 09:50 | #20

    @Ken
    From Joe My God today: “So often people will say someone needs to ‘repent’ from homosexuality. It is something that actually cannot be repented of! People are, or they are not, homosexual. It is an intrinsic part of their being or personally, my being. One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable. I have gone through a tremendous amount of grief over the many years that I spoke of change, repentance, reorientation and such, when, barring some kind of miracle, none of this can occur with homosexuality.” – John Smid, former head of Exodus International, who adds that he never once met a truly “ex-gay” person.

  21. Rich
    October 10th, 2011 at 17:39 | #21

    @Anne
    “When that reality impacts the lives of children denied the natural procreative birth process and society at large by the dilution of the concept of the purpose of gender in nature and society, then it becomes an imposition on other peoples’ journeys to who they are supposed to be.”
    I just came across this Anne after I had asked for clarification from you on another post.

    What does this mean? Really. I told you I read your posts thoroughly and I try to discern the message you want to deliver. You prefaced it with: “Who we are supposed to be involves the people who’s lives we affect. I have no issue with ‘the reality of gay and lesbian peoples’ love lives’…okay, so I agree with the first part and take you at your word with the next. Now, how does this

    I have read your comment now, four or five times. Please don’t say it should be obvious because it’s not. Take another shot at it. Clarify your point, please.

  22. Rich
    October 10th, 2011 at 17:42 | #22

    I’ll finish my thought.
    Now, how does this logically follow through to your summation?

  23. Anne
    October 10th, 2011 at 18:52 | #23

    @Ken

    I don’t know what “that” refers to.

    Either way, the answer is no. There is no amount of effort that makes a cirlce a square, and there is no amount of effort that makes two women a marriage.

  24. Ken
    October 11th, 2011 at 07:43 | #24

    @Anne  
    Anne, I was referring to this part of your comment: “I am the happiest married woman you will ever meet. There is no greater joy in my life than my marriage. But I didn’t get here by looking at what was wrong with my husband or my sex life. Life’s challenges serve great purpose in bringing us to who we are supposed to be. Walking away from them is simply a missed opportunity to grow in dignity, determination and grace.” 

    You’re suggesting here that gay men (and presumably lesbians) are capable of having happy marriages with someone of the opposite sex if they’re simply strong enough to rise to the “challenge”. So I asked you to apply your logic to your own life (fair enough, right?) and asked if you believed that you could have a successful marriage with a woman if you just put in enough effort. You answered “no” revealing the inconsistency in your rationale. A gay man in a marriage with a woman is akin to you in a marriage with a woman. If you can admit that, even with heroic efforts, your marriage to a woman would fail, then you really can’t argue that gay people should be entering into marriages with opposite sex partners. It’s hypocritical and completely detached from reality. It also reveals that it’s you, not equality advocates, who want to force their agenda on the rest if us. In other words, nobody is claiming that YOU should be marrying a woman but you have no problem sitting there and insisting that gay men should be. 

  25. Sean
    October 11th, 2011 at 15:48 | #25

    “When that reality impacts the lives of children denied the natural procreative birth process and society at large by the dilution of the concept of the purpose of gender in nature and society, then it becomes an imposition on other peoples’ journeys to who they are supposed to be.”

    Huh? How are children being denied the natural procreative birth process, when same-sex couples marry? I’m not seeing the connection.

  26. Anne
    October 11th, 2011 at 18:53 | #26

    @Ken

    “So I asked you to apply your logic to your own life (fair enough, right?) and asked if you believed that you could have a successful marriage with a woman if you just put in enough effort. You answered “no” revealing the inconsistency in your rationale.”

    No Ken. This is you applying your logic to my rational. My rational is that marriage has a purpose in heterosexual reltaionships. That purpose does not exist in homosexual relationships and no amount of effort will change the purpose of marriage.

  27. Anne
    October 11th, 2011 at 19:25 | #27

    @Rich

    I have been posting here for several months now. I thought you were previously aware of what my issue is. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear. I’ll try to state it more plainly:

    I believe that children are entitled to be conceived and born through the natural procreative process. They are entitled to the gifts that each gendered parent naturally brings to the family. While this isn’t always possible, the purpose and gifts of both a mother and a father should be recognized and appreciated and valued within families, even if they are absent by circumstance. They should not be absent by design which is what “gay marriage” does. It denies the essential purpose that each gendered spouse brings to both the marriage and the children.

    Homosexuals have every right to enter into relationships with each other if they choose. They do not have the right to insist that society deny the essential and natural purpose of gender in marriage and family.

    Children have the right not to be manufactured and denied their biological parents in order to fulfill the desire of adults who’s relationship is sterile by design.

    “Gay marriage” is not innocuous to the heterosexual community. It has tremendous impact. We have the right as a society to hold the essential purpose of each gender in marriage and family as an ideal. They serve a purpose which should not be denied. Children have a right to know and live in the natural order which they are created by.

  28. Ken
    October 12th, 2011 at 06:47 | #28

    @Anne
    Well now you’re just being disingenuous. You were not simply arguing that “marriage has a purpose in heterosexual relationships”. Go back and read your exchange with Bob Barnes. It’s still there for all of us to see. His point was that he knew of several closeted men living miserable lives in heterosexual marriages. You responded that marriage is always challenging, basically claiming that sexual orientation is just like countless other challenges faced by married couples, and that those gay men just need to work at having successful marriages. I pointed out the blatant flaws of that argument by asking if you could do the same – have a successful marriage with a person of the gender you were not sexually and affectionally attracted to given enough effort. You said “no”, proving my point. Now you’re attempting to change your original argument to something entirely different. Obviously, you can see the seriously flawed logic in your response to Bob too. The next time you want to argue that gays and lesbians should marry people of the opposite sex and make it work through “self-sacrifice”, please remember this conversation and the fact that you admitted you would never be capable of making the equivalent “self-sacrifice” in your own life.

  29. Ken
    October 12th, 2011 at 06:52 | #29

    @Anne
    In a nutshell, Anne, many same-sex couples will continue to raise children in the absence of a legally recognized marriage and many legally married same-sex couples will choose not to raise children. In other words, stop conflating your beliefs about the perfect form for a family with marriage equality.

  30. Anne
    October 12th, 2011 at 11:22 | #30

    @Ken
    “I pointed out the blatant flaws of that argument by asking if you could do the same – have a successful marriage with a person of the gender you were not sexually and affectionally attracted to given enough effort. You said “no”,”

    What you pointed out were the ‘flaws’ you imposed on my answer.

    What I actually said was “no amount of effort makes two women a marriage”. (It’s post #22 if you want to double check.) That’s not the same concept as what effort it takes to make a marriage successful.

  31. October 12th, 2011 at 12:41 | #31

    “I believe that children are entitled to be conceived and born through the natural procreative process. ” -Anne

    Children are entitled to their parents having sex? I don’t know, call me a prude but somehow your phrasing creeps me out a little bit. Not that I have anything against sex, mind you, or children! I guess I just don’t think of kids being “entitled” to their parents’ sex, even if they are an outcome of that sex.

  32. Paul H
    October 12th, 2011 at 13:04 | #32

    Emma :
    “I believe that children are entitled to be conceived and born through the natural procreative process. ” -Anne
    Children are entitled to their parents having sex? I don’t know, call me a prude but somehow your phrasing creeps me out a little bit. Not that I have anything against sex, mind you, or children! I guess I just don’t think of kids being “entitled” to their parents’ sex, even if they are an outcome of that sex.

    Another way to put it is that every person has a right to be conceived through natural means, rather than created in a lab. To create a child in a lab is an offense against that child’s natural human dignity; it turns people into commodities or products.

  33. Ken
    October 12th, 2011 at 13:11 | #33

    @Anne
    ““no amount of effort makes two women a marriage” is simply not a true statement. You’re getting caught up in the whole “definition” argument again. If same-sex marriage is legal, then two people of the same sex who marry, have a marriage – it may or may not be successful. There are many same-sex couples who have far more successful marriages than many straight couples. That’s just fact. But that’s really getting away from the point that I was making. The fact is that it’s easy for you to sit there and say “look at me, my marriage had challenges but now it’s happy and successful because I made sacrifices and worked on it” when you’re with someone who is the gender that you’re physically/emotionally/romantically attracted to and compatible with. So while it may be true that no amount of effort would make a marriage successful between YOU and another woman, it’s also true that no amount of effort would make a marriage successful between a gay man and a woman.

  34. October 12th, 2011 at 13:27 | #34

    @Emma
    Well, people are entitled to be created equal. it literally means something, it isn’t just a slogan. Our whole system of rights and equality is based on everyone being here because a man and a woman had sex and being their offspring. That’s the equality, that we are all some couple’s offspring. If we start making people any other way, from gametes that don’t belong to an actual person or from cloning or DNA synthesis or any other way, then we are no longer created equal, and the phrase becomes an empty slogan that will no longer support the weight of human rights and dignity and civilization.

  35. Ken
    October 12th, 2011 at 19:26 | #35

    @John Howard
    What are you talking about? Seriously, this is completely irrelevant nonsense.

  36. Anne
    October 13th, 2011 at 05:58 | #36

    @Emma
    “Children are entitled to their parents having sex? I don’t know, call me a prude but somehow your phrasing creeps me out a little bit. Not that I have anything against sex, mind you, or children! I guess I just don’t think of kids being “entitled” to their parents’ sex, even if they are an outcome of that sex.”

    Of all of the things I’ve seen written on this blog, with the possible exception of nerdygirl referring to human fetuses as parasites, no other comment I’ve read here has more stunned or saddened me than this Emma.

    Have you never heard that in marriage two become one in love? Sex is not intended as a recreational activity. It is the marrital embrace. It is the ultimate expression of love between a man and a woman in marriage where they give themselves freely to each other out of love and are connected in such a powerful way that it bears life itself. The love that joins us to become one in marriage is personified in our children. Our children are my husban’s and my love for each other reflected as the new life it has the power and purpose to create.

    That the marrital embrace has been denegrated to “sex” as a form of entertainment and self gratification is an indication of how far our society has come from our true and beautiful purpose. And how far we are from the fulfillment God has designed and so desires for us.

    Sex is so much less than the awe filled reality that is the life breeding expression of the marital embrace.

    I pray Emma that one day you will experience for yourself the true essence of the marital embrace. You have no idea what you’re missing.

  37. Paul H
    October 13th, 2011 at 08:45 | #37

    John Howard :
    @Emma
    Well, people are entitled to be created equal. it literally means something, it isn’t just a slogan. Our whole system of rights and equality is based on everyone being here because a man and a woman had sex and being their offspring. That’s the equality, that we are all some couple’s offspring. If we start making people any other way, from gametes that don’t belong to an actual person or from cloning or DNA synthesis or any other way, then we are no longer created equal, and the phrase becomes an empty slogan that will no longer support the weight of human rights and dignity and civilization.

    “The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man.” – G. K. Chesterton, What I Saw in America, 1922

  38. October 13th, 2011 at 09:59 | #38

    I’m saying we need a Federal law preserving equality, to stop genetic engineering of human beings. It should be prohibited to conceive a child with someone of the same sex or as the other sex, because that is a form of genetic engineering and opens the door to other forms of genetic engineering.

    It’s not at all irrelevant, it is the core right of marriage to conceive offspring together, and same-sex couples shouldn’t have it.

  39. Ken
    October 13th, 2011 at 13:13 | #39

    @John Howard
    But you’re talking about something that doesn’t happen. Same-sex couples aren’t fusing their DNA in labs but it sounds like that’s what you’re suggesting. There is no “genetic engineering” taking place! Your comments are paranoid and delusional.

    Same-sex couples have just as much of a right to raise children as straight couples do – they can do so from a previous heterosexual relationship, adoption. It can happen through egg donation, sperm donation, surrogacy and often some combination. But that’s not genetic engineering. I think you may be lacking the facts you need to comment intelligently here, John.

  40. October 13th, 2011 at 15:03 | #40

    @Ken
    Nevertheless, people should not be allowed to make people by any means except by a man and a woman joining their unmodified gametes.

    We don’t need to wait for it to be done before we prohibit it.

    And I’m not the one saying that same-sex couples should have all the rights of marriage, including the right to reproduce offspring together.

    And I am not talking at all about anyone’s right to raise children, which is always trumped by the best interest of the child anyway and society’s interests in preserving morality. We take kids away from straight people all the time, there is no right to raise a child.

    And I’m also not talking about sperm donation and surrogacy, though I think those should be banned as well. But they aren’t a right of marriage anyhow, like reproducing offspring is and must remain.

  41. Ruth
    October 13th, 2011 at 18:40 | #41

    @John Howard
    I agree with you, John, and would add “a MARRIED man and woman…”
    If our society survives the current me-ocracy (feelings-ocracy?), I hope we will eventually come around to the practices that work for the majority of people.
    We will have seen plenty of fallout from the opposite course.

  42. October 13th, 2011 at 23:19 | #42

    @Ruth
    Yes I agree with that too. Except I don’t think we should start punishing unmarried conception right off the bat, when we prohibit non man-woman conception. There is also a distinction between intentional unmarried conception and unintentional unmarried conception that should have legal and moral significance, similar to how manslaughter and murder are different crimes, based on intent.

  43. Ken
    October 14th, 2011 at 07:08 | #43

    @Ruth
    Ruth, you may believe that only a married man and woman should reproduce under the sheets with the doors locked and the lights out… but you don’t have a right to enshrine that into the U.S. Constitution because adults in this country are free to control their own sex lives, adult relationships and offspring with or without Ruth’s consent.

  44. Anne
    October 14th, 2011 at 09:15 | #44

    @Ken
    “Same-sex couples have just as much of a right to raise children as straight couples do –”

    Do the children they deny a mother or father to have any rights or consideration?

  45. Roivas
    October 14th, 2011 at 11:51 | #45

    If I said “An uncle have just as much as much of a right to raise children as a straight couple does”

    would you say “Do the children they deny a mother or father to have any rights or consideration?

    Or does that only apply to people you don’t approve of?

  46. Anne
    October 14th, 2011 at 13:57 | #46

    @Roivas

    It applies to the people who deliberately create the situation where a child is denied their parent.

  47. Ruth
    October 14th, 2011 at 14:34 | #47

    @Ken
    I look forward to a society that values children more than the feelings de jour of adults.

  48. Ken
    October 14th, 2011 at 15:46 | #48

    @Anne
    Children don’t have a “right” to married heterosexual parents Anne. Children DESERVE to have loving, stable, competent, responsible parenting. There are many gays and lesbians who can provide those things. There are many heterosexuals who cannot.

  49. Ken
    October 14th, 2011 at 15:50 | #49

    @Ruth
    That’s fine Ruth. But neither denying the reality that sexual orientation is innate and unchangeable nor opposing marriage rights for gays and lesbians will bring you any closer to that world. And may I remind you that gay people have existed longer than Christianity so if anything is “du jour”, I’d say it’s the latter.

  50. Sean
    October 14th, 2011 at 15:51 | #50

    Anne, and what of the parent who creates a child and WANTS to be denied parental responsibility? Such as straight people who abandon their children to orphanages, or who act as surrogate mothers or sperm donors? Isn’t it better for two same-sex people to raise a children, than one person alone (because the other parent isn’t interested or capable)?

    Again, you’d be more credible if you railed against single parents and divorced couples, and not just gay people. Me thinks you just don’t like gay people. Am I right?

  51. Roivas
    October 14th, 2011 at 18:49 | #51

    “It applies to the people who deliberately create the situation where a child is denied their parent.”

    Like with adoptive couples? Cause they generally double the evil, denying not just one, but two parents to their children.

  52. Ruth
    October 14th, 2011 at 21:35 | #52

    @Ken
    But God’s relationship to man predated sin, and God’s kingdom comes in the end.
    I am being progressive, and embracing the future.

  53. Bob Barnes
    October 15th, 2011 at 13:35 | #53

    Ruth :
    @Ken
    But God’s relationship to man predated sin, and God’s kingdom comes in the end.
    I am being progressive, and embracing the future.

    And totally irrelevant.

  54. Anne
    October 15th, 2011 at 13:56 | #54

    @Ken

    “Children don’t have a “right” to married heterosexual parents Anne.”

    Yes they do Ken. Adults are just too selfish to realize it.

  55. Anne
    October 15th, 2011 at 13:59 | #55

    @Sean

    “Again, you’d be more credible if you railed against single parents and divorced couples, and not just gay people. Me thinks you just don’t like gay people. Am I right?”

    Move the needle Sean, your record player is skipping again.

  56. Rich
    October 16th, 2011 at 11:12 | #56

    @Anne
    Hi Anne, just finished College Recommendation #10 so I had some free time join in.

    “Children don’t have a “right” to married heterosexual parents Anne.”
    Yes they do Ken. Adults are just too selfish to realize it.

    First thought: Children have a right to parents who love them, nourish them and support them in school and the community; in general, meet the needs of kids in whatever ways that they can.

    Now, having said that, I agree with another post you wrote that a mom and a dad is a wonderful family construct. I don’t know of anyone who would disagree. I also know, however, that not all kids will have that opportunity to them but they can have other parenting opportunities that can be just as supportive, loving and nourishing. There are numerous ways this can happen because children come to be in need of families in all sorts of situations and we all know this. But if we remember that there are essential ingredients which must be provided for the child’s welfare, we still come back to love, nourishment and support. The total absence of a male or female parental presence is, in my estimation, painful for a child but I also think it’s very rare. My experience is that gay couples with children have plenty of both genders in the child’s life to afford cross gender support and love. As a teacher I have known quite a number of children of gay couples (37 years in small school settings) and I honestly can’t think of one who was not loved, supported and nourished, unlike others from broken homes, from poverty or a hope that lacked education.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the reality of life is that kids come to us in need of a loving family in so many different ways. We can’t always guarantee that they will get what some might deem the only appropriate family construct. And if a gay couple chooses to have a child of their own, I get it that you and others might find this selfish but I’d rather first, see them be married so that the child receives all the benefits of married parents and two, give them the opportunity to demonstrate a total commitment to the wellbeing of their child in whatever ways the deem right.

    Now, I’d like to share with you an example of my fervor in support of gay kids and the struggles they face.

    Just two weeks I had a senior young gentleman, “Chris”, come out to me through the sharing of his college essay. I taught “Chris” his junior year and, yes, I had my suspicions. He is also a member of our Gay-Straight Alliance. I am now an adult gay mentor to “Chris” and we have met a few times to check in over lunch. “Chris” is friendly with just about everyone in his class and has received no negative blow back to my knowledge so our conversations are not about how to cope with an antagonistic crowd. His mom and dad seem fine with his sexuality; I had to laugh when he said his mom’s response was something like this: “Oh, I’m okay dear, I’ve had suspicions for a long time.” I chuckled because most of us came to realize the same thing about our moms; they usually had it figured out even before we did. Mom’s intuition, I think they call it.

    Anyway, “Chris” and I talk about the future. What do I say to a kid, out, gay and comfortable with it when he asks: “What’s in store for me in the future? Where will my happiness come from? Will I ever be able to have a family? You might guess that I follow up with this: “Well, what do you think you want?”

    He responds with the very same things most kids wish for: respect from society, a solid education, a good job, a chance to travel and eventually, to settle down with someone to love and (maybe, maybe not) children if possible. (The American Dream?) This is the usual list from those I mentor but not always. I don’t see these hopes as selfish, even the hope for kids; I see them as universal.

    I am able to tell him that, with hard work, perseverance, due diligence and respect for one’s fellow man he should be able to accomplish anything he sets his mind to achieve. As regards marriage, he knows it’s available to him in some states but not federally. And he hopes that, in due time, this will change.

    More and more I get the sense from those who post on this site that, although many are opposed to marriage equality, many are of a mind that homosexuality is a fact of life. I get the sense that you are reconciled to its existence both in your own family and in society at large.

    So here’s my question: Anne, what would you say to “Chris” were he to ask you the same questions? Thanks for listening.

  57. Anne
    October 19th, 2011 at 07:41 | #57

    @Rich
    “I guess what I’m saying is that the reality of life is that kids come to us in need of a loving family in so many different ways. We can’t always guarantee that they will get what some might deem the only appropriate family construct.”

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone here deem that there is one (“only”) appropriate family construct. I think just about everyone here (from my observation) acknowledges the necessity and beauty in different family constructs. The discussion point, for me at least, is that there is a very essential, identifiable and meaningful purpose to the natural parental bond. While there are obviously many scenerios where the bond does not exist, its lack of presence is by no means innocuous or unimportant or irrelevant.

    The fact that we do and should make every effort to fill the voids with love and compassion when they occur, is absolutely no justification for creating the void in the first place.

    “And if a gay couple chooses to have a child of their own, I get it that you and others might find this selfish but I’d rather first, see them be married so that the child receives all the benefits of married parents and two, give them the opportunity to demonstrate a total commitment to the wellbeing of their child in whatever ways the deem right.”

    Rich, I don’t intend to sound facitious, but if a gay couple could have a child “of their own” we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The parental bond which is so essential to children would be present and unbroken and I would not be opposed in any way. But the concept of “homosexual parents” by definition means a deliberately broken biological parental bond for the child. I do see it as selfish. And I think the suggestion that homosexuals be allowed to “marry” in order to validate and somehow establish the family dynamic leaves the basic issue unaddressed which is that the bond to the child is placed secondary to the desire of the adults.

    I think that what your recommendation that homosexuals be allowed to “marry” actually suggests is that the rest of society should be willing to do what the couple themselves are not: put the child’s needs ahead of the adults desires.

  58. Anne
    October 19th, 2011 at 08:21 | #58

    @Rich
    “So here’s my question: Anne, what would you say to “Chris” were he to ask you the same questions? Thanks for listening.”

    Thanks for asking.

    First I would like to say that your compassion for these kids is obvious and beautiful and I don’t doubt your intention or commitment to them.

    As for what I would say to Chris,

    I would say to him what I would say to my own children if they were inclined to do something I felt deep in my heart would hurt them. I am not inclined to make specific public confessions here on the Ruthblog, but I will tell you that I have made some seriously bad choices in my life.

    Many of them were driven by passionate desires in and for relationships. Many even driven by compassion and empathy for other people. But ultimately, I have found that what I am inclined to do, no matter how passionately or compassionately I am driven to it, is not necessarily what I am supposed to do. I do not claim the strength to oppose my desires. I fall so often.

    But what I find instead is that when I drive myself to do what I am supposed to do, I am so much more fulfilled. And often, while I am occupied with what I am supposed to do, I am also distracted from what I am not supposed to do.

    I’m not sure what your faith belief is Rich, but I will assume you are familiar enough with the Person of Jesus Christ to appreciate this story:

    There is a rather recent Saint named Padre Pio (he lived during WWII). St. Pio was said to have had many mystical experiences throughout his life. Several of them are said to have involved physical battles with demons. During one particularly violent encounter, Jesus is said to have appeared to the Saint. St. Pio asked Him “Lord, you see me struggle. Why don’t you help me?” The Lord is said to have responded simply, “Why are you looking at him? Look at me.”

    Looking at Jesus will bring you all that you need. Look at Him. He will show you how to love. It is in giving of ourselves that we recieve. I know you must experience this when you minister to your students. That is Truth. That is Love. That is what leads to fulfillment.

    If we all spend our days looking to fill ourselves with what we think we need, who will fill us? The world would be a vacuum. We would be human black holes. If instead, we look to fill each others needs, there will be infinite goodness. There are no limits to the good we can do for each other and the beauty and love wich can fill the world.

    Rich, as I have said in several other posts, I believe that the struggles of people who are inclined to homosexuality are geniune. But ultimately, it is self oriented. It is opposed to nature. It is opposed to procreation. And I believe it puts desire ahead of righteousness (as in my example above regarding children). I do not believe gay people are selfish. No more or less than anyone else. But anything that puts desire ahead of selfless love will not bring a person to fulfillment.

    Jesus is the personification of that Truth. God designed us to be completely fulfilled when we live for others. It is a beautiful reality. As I said, one that I’m certain you experience when you minister to your students. But ultimately, if your ministry involves encouraging your students to pursue their own desires, then you are not helping them as much as empathizing with them. When you teach them to be selfless, you will truly point them to happiness and fulfillment. They will find it. It is there. The Master of the Universe designed it that way.

    That is what I truly believe. That is what I would say to Chris.

    Peace, Rich

  59. Ken
    October 19th, 2011 at 11:00 | #59

    @Ruth
    Those are your BELIEFS, Ruth. They are not facts and therefore we are under no obligation to accept them blindly and enshrine them into the law that ALL of live under, regardless of our particular beliefs our superstitions.

  60. Ken
    October 19th, 2011 at 11:02 | #60

    @Anne
    It will continue to be repeated until you can successfully prove that it’s not true.

  61. Ken
    October 19th, 2011 at 11:08 | #61

    Yet another sad and disturbing reminder that children are NOT always better off with their biological/heterosexual mom and dad. I can’t even begin to imagine what The Ruth Institute and its supporters would be saying had this been a family headed by a same-sex couple.

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