According to the published study, after an average of 16 years in mixed-orientation marriage, the same-sex oriented spouse is still same-sex oriented. On the basis of self-reports there’s no shift toward heterosexual orientation on the part of the same-sex oriented spouse, even though there’s some participation in sex acts within the marriage. These findings, involving 106 husbands and 161 wives, are from evangelical psychologist Mark Yarhouse and his research team at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Their study, ‘Characteristics of Mixed Orientation Couples’ is published in Edification, a journal from the evangelical Society for Christian Psychology.
Given the evangelical identity of the researchers, their base of operation and publisher, together with the corroborating evidence from studies by another evangelical psychologist, Warren Throckmorton (see below), very serious and sobering questions are raised over the “pastoral” recommendations for mixed-orientation marriage made by Jonathan Mills, “ex-gay” advocates and other church leaders who are against same-orientation marriage.
On a similar note, in another study involving in depth interviews with over 300 same-sex
attracted people who married heterosexually, it was found that over all married gay people assess themselves as growing more same-sex attracted over time. This finding of intensified homosexual longing within and after their mixed-orientation marriages is from evangelical psychologist, Warren Throckmorton. Says Throckmorton, “On the whole, the group assessed themselves as more gay in their attractions and fantasies than when they were 18.” While some therapists and other ex-gay advocates continue to say that it is possible to change orientation, the evangelical psychologist reports, “Saying this is not consistent with research and clinical experience.” His summary statement may be found here.
Statistics suggest that up to two million gay men and lesbians in the United States have married heterosexually in the belief that the only way to achieve a loving, committed relationship and a family is to enter the traditional form of marriage espoused by their family, community or church. In doing so, most gay people deny, ignore, or leave unquestioned their same-sex attractions. As the heterosexual spouses who have lived through a mixed-orientation marriage have indicated time and again, eventually those feelings can no longer be suppressed. After a painful struggle between fidelity and truth, love and deception, many come to terms with their supressed orientations. In the majority of cases, the couples divorce, leaving broken families and single parents across the country. Thus, the gay or lesbian spouses’ attempt to commit to a heterosexual marriage endorsed by society or their churches ends up hurting not only themselves, but also their wives or husbands and, most importantly, their children.
Of course, this is not news. As a former leader of a so-called ex-gay ministry — during which time I also gave my testimony as an ex-gay on Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club — I’ve had the opportunity to know literally hundreds of “ex-gays” personally. Though these people were among the most dedicated Christians I have ever met, they are now almost all “ex-ex-gays.” Pastors and church leaders haven’t the remotest idea how callous it is to encourage gay men to marry striaght women with no consideration of the severe trauma this is likely to mean for their heterosexual spouses in the long term. When church leaders encourage mixed-orientation marriages in this way, they reveal a shameful indifference to the long-term outcome for everyone involved. How many church leaders would be as happy for their own daughters to marry professing “ex-gay” men? Would they be so convinced that “healing” and “change” has taken place?
As I’ve said many times, if you pray with gay Christians, you will see God perform any number of miracles. These often include the expunging of self-loathing, of bitterness toward family and wider society, and relief from previously harmful or unhealthy patterns of sexual behavior. You will not, however, see God reorient these seekers to heterosexuality in either their arousal or their fantasy patterns. That may eventually prompt you to understand that God does not consider their homosexual orientation a disorder.