Among the general public: During the week of 1998-JUL-17, the McLaughlin Group 1 conducted a public opinion poll via the Internet on the effectiveness of
"love, understanding and the word of God" in converting
a gay or lesbian to heterosexuality. The results are somewhat unreliable,
because only those individuals who were sufficiently motivated to take
part in the survey responded. The results were:
Less than 21
21 to 35
36 to 64
We expected that persons 65 and older would consider sexual orientation
to be unchangeable. Many in that age range reached that conclusion many
decades ago before findings of human sexuality researchers about sexual orientation were widely
disseminated. We were surprised by the relatively high belief in the
changeability of sexual orientation among young people, until we found a
survey of beliefs among conservative Christians.
Among conservative Christians: Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian group centered in
Colorado, conducted a survey of visitors to their web site. The vast
majority of their visitors are believed to be fundamentalist or other
evangelical Christians. During 2003-APR, Focus asked their visitors
an unusually precise question for such an informal survey: "Is it possible to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual? 2
On 2010-JAN-29, Bryan Fischer wrote on the American Family Association website -- a fundamentalist Christian advocacy group -- that homosexuals should be forced by the government to enter reparative therapy programs. Within two weeks, eight readers of his article posted comments; the vast majority were negative.3
Beliefs among conservative Christians appear to be directly opposite of
those among the general population. Obviously, one group's beliefs do not correspond to reality.
A common belief among conservative Christians is that God will answer
all reasonable prayers from born-again believers. They feel that God
frequently answers prayers that ask
to cure an illness or disability. These beliefs
are supported by passages from the Bible, and with verified
claims of cures.
However, we have been unable to find a case where God has answered a
prayer to convert a person from one race to another, from one gender to
another or from one sexual orientation to another. Some secularists who try to show the ineffectiveness of prayer point out that there has never been a person who has successfully prayed to God to have an amputated limb restored.
Prayer and religious beliefs can apparently help a person:
homosexual orientation to remain celibate, even as they remain attracted to members of the same sex.
bisexual orientation to confine their relationships to members of the
Ex-gay ministries report a very high percentage of success in these areas. But the percentage of persons with a homosexual orientation
who have successfully changed their orientation appears to be much less than 1%, and may be zero. We personally know many
devout gay and lesbian Christians who for decades have begged God to make
them heterosexual. Their prayers have never been answered -- at least not
in the affirmative.
Some reasons for this answer might be:
God lacks the power to change a person's sexual orientation. This,
of course, is incompatible with the general Christian belief that God is
omnipotent and can perform any task.
God sees diversity as beneficial. God may value different sexual orientations,
just as he does different races, languages, genders, and
perhaps even religions. He expects that heterosexuals, gays, and
lesbians will enter into committed, monogamous and supportive same-sex relationships. This belief
is held by a growing number of religious liberals.
God makes a certain percentage of people with a homosexual
orientation and then expects them to struggle for their entire adult
life to remain celibate - longing for love, remaining lonely, and not permitted to
achieve personal growth in a committed relationship. This point of
view is sometimes called "ambush theology, and is also incompatible with God's generally accepted attributes of love and kindness.
God said no because the prayers were not sincere or because the gay
or lesbian had not genuinely accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Thus,
she/he was not a born-again Christian. We have seen many
references to this belief among conservative Christians.