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Essentially all of the groups who advocate reparative therapy to "cure" homosexuality are from the most conservative wing of Protestant Christianity (i.e. Fundamentalists and other Evangelicals, Mormons, etc.) The only exceptions that we have found are:

bulletTransforming Congregations, a United Methodist Church ministry which is apparently composed of members from the conservative wing of that mainline denomination.
bulletCourage, a Roman Catholic group with beliefs about homosexuality which mirror Protestant Evangelical views.

Ex-gay groups generally believe that:

bulletthe Bible is inerrant (the original manuscripts were inspired by God and were without error)
bulletthe anti-homosexual verses (a.k.a. "clobber passages") in English translations of the Bible should be interpreted literally as indicating God's hatred of homosexual behavior.
bulletGod is omnipotent (all powerful)
bulletGod answers prayer

From these fundamentals, the following beliefs are logically derived:

bulletGod hates homosexual behavior.
bulletHomosexuality is unnatural and sinful.
bulletGod will help a repentant homosexual convert to a heterosexual orientation. To believe otherwise would put limits on God's abilities and on the power of prayer. That is unthinkable -- even blasphemy -- to an conservative Christian. To quote one Evangelical minister: "No sin is to big for God to forgive. The homosexual, like anyone else, simply needs to believe in the transforming power of Christ."

Their belief that God hates homosexuality is supported by their interpretation of the biblical verse 1 Corinthians 6:9, which they believe states that individuals who lead immoral lives, such as homosexuals, will "have no share in his kingdom." i.e. will go to Hell for eternal punishment without any hope of cessation or mercy. The following verse is believed by most conservative Christians to affirm that God will convert a repentant person with a homosexual orientation to heterosexuality: "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." (NIV) Many liberal theologians have a totally different interpretation of this passage.

Many ex-gay groups:

bulletBelieve that homosexuality is a matter of choice; they often use the term sexual preference rather than sexual orientation. When they talk about "homosexuality" they usually refer to behaviors, not feelings of sexual attraction.
bulletAgree with the beliefs of authors of the Bible: that everyone is basically heterosexual, but that some people engage in homosexual acts and often become addicted to them.
bulletBelieve that poor parenting skills by their parents or sexual molestation by a same-sex adult can greatly increase the likelihood that a person will experiment with homosexuality.
bulletView sexual orientation in simplistic terms and frequently ignore the phenomenon of bisexuality. They often believe that a person is either totally gay or completely straight.

Their views are difficult to change because they are rooted in fundamental religious beliefs. To change would first require them to believe that:

bulletthe Bible is in error, or
bulletthat certain passages should be interpreted differently than they have been in the past, or
bulletthat the Bible contains criticism of homosexuality which were valid only in ancient times, or
bulletthat certain sections of the Bible should be ignored.

In the past, conservative Christians have been able to make these types of transitions over the matter of slavery and racial segregation; some have begun the process of change with women's rights. But most have not yet begun the same process over homosexuality.

Some statements by various groups on sexual orientation:

bulletExodus International's statement of belief describes heterosexuality: "as God's creative intent for humanity, and subsequently views homosexual expression as outside God's will.....Exodus upholds redemption for the homosexual person as the process whereby sin's power is broken, and the individual is freed to know and experience true identity as discovered in Christ and His Church. That process entails the freedom to grow into heterosexuality".
bulletEvergreen International states that "homosexuality is an unintentionally acquired condition that may have biological, developmental, and psychological causes. It is not a predetermined or unchangeable condition, but one that can be altered. The speed and extent of your transition will, to a large degree, be determined by your individual set of challenges."
bullet"Chaplain Ray from Dallas TX has authored an article on "How Homosexuals Can Change." He says that gays should "Keep active. Work. Exercise. Involve yourself in as much wholesome group activities as possible." He believes that gays would have been "healthier emotionally and psychologically if they had been involved in the rough and tumble games and fights of the children on the playgrounds." 11
bulletKenneth Gangel, of Dallas Theological Seminary, claims that the "propensity [towards homosexuality] can be changed by the power of Jesus Christ." He criticizes those Evangelicals who do not promote a total change of the gay or lesbian to full heterosexuality. To do so is to "stop short of the real power of the gospel."
bulletLeanne Payne, of Pastoral Care Ministries, calls all homosexuality "a sexual neurosis...a condition for God to heal." She says that a cure "is (in spite of the widespread belief to the contrary) remarkably simple." Homosexuality, according to Ms. Payne, is a condition to be repented of, forgiven and healed through prayer to Jesus. (See book list)
bulletKent Philpott, leader of the ministry: Love in Action, wrote a book "The Third Sex?" It describes individuals that he said were able to change their sexual orientation. The people mentioned in his book later denied that they had been able to change; they sued the publisher and won their case. However, the book is still being distributed in the UK.
bulletRobert Kronemeyer wrote: "Buried under the 'gay' exterior of the homosexual is the hurt and rage that crippled his or her capacity for true maturation, for healthy growth and love. After a quarter-century of clinical experience, I firmly believe that homosexuality is a learned response to early painful experiences and that it can be unlearned." 16

Early psychoanalytic theories held that male homosexuality was "caused" by an emotionally distant father and an aggressive mother. These theories had long been discredited and abandoned by the most mental health practitioners and by human sexuality researchers. However, Dr. Elizabeth Moberly revisited this concept in the early 1980's. It is her belief that homosexuality is caused by a defective bonding between a child and their same-sex parent. This "defensive detachment" in turn causes the child (and later the adult) to seek reattachment to a member of the same sex. Homosexuality is "cured" by having the adult enter into a close, intimate, but non-sexual relationship with an adult of the same gender - perhaps a therapist or counselor. The client can then go on to overcome the deficiencies in their childhood. In essence, they develop a close bond to a temporary replacement parent and repeat the maturing process. Changing from homosexual orientation to heterosexual naturally follows; the patient becomes  attracted to members of the opposite sex.

Similar views have been promoted more recently. by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino CA . He is one of the founders of NARTH. His proposes a model in which "due to incomplete development of aspects of his masculine identity, the homosexual seeks to 'repair' his deficits through erotic contact with an idealized other." Treatment then involves the "full development of the client's masculine gender identity" - a task that they had not completed while they were children. He believes that this model fits most of his male clients, but is not necessarily the sole cause of homosexuality. He describes the concept of a "non-gay homosexual," a person who is driven by his very conservative (usually Christian) beliefs to regard heterosexuality as the only acceptable "pattern of life," yet has a homosexual orientation.  Dr. Nocolosi feels that the non-gay homosexual has been neglected by therapists. 18

Most of the specialists in human sexuality who are not Evangelical Christians believe that sexual orientation is determined before school age by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors that are only vaguely known at this time. And they have reached a consensus that sexual orientation in an adult cannot be changed. Gays and Lesbians have only two options -- to:

bulletbecome celibate or
bulletenter into relationship with members of the same gender.

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Related essays on this web site:

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bulletWhat do Professional Groups, Researchers and Studies say about Homosexuality?"
bulletReparative therapy and other methods of "curing" homosexuality
bulletStudies of the safety and effectiveness of reparative therapy
bulletMedia advertisements by ex-gay groups


  1. "Open Hands" (Vol. 2, Nbr 2, 1986-FALL) Available at http://abacus.oxy.edu/qrd/religion/anti/exgay/
  2. Robert Kronemeyer, "Overcoming Homosexuality," (1980)
  3. Dr. J. Nicolosi, "Healing Homosexuality," Jason Aronson, (1993)
  4. The Family Research Council publishes a list of ex-gay ministries. You can order a copy from (800) 225-4008.

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Copyright © 1996 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Latest update: 2006-APR-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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