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Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog and Commentary

NARTH's new paper about sexual orientation is not a new study

  • Dr. Warren Throckmorton
    Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu.
  • 2009 Jul 07
  • Comments

Seeing some of the press out on the recent NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) monograph, one might think the paper is a new study which demonstrates something that was once unclear.

Not so. The first issue of the journal is actually a three part paper which reviews a variety of research studies mixed in with website postings and newspaper articles. There is no new research in the 121 page monograph. The three parts correspond to three claims the NARTH authors, James Phelan, Neil Whitehead, and Philip Sutton, attribute to the American Psychological Association. The claims are:

1. There has been no conclusive or convincing evidence that sexual orientation may be changed through reorientation therapy.

2. Efforts to change sexual orientation are harmful and can lead to greater self-hatred, depression, and other self-destructive behaviors.

3. There is no greater pathology in the homosexual population than in the general population.

To achieve the stated purpose, one would need to limit the review to the highest quality research which directly address each of the points. Particularly on the first two points, the paper does not do this, but rather includes any paper, or even opinion piece which supports the claims. In a subsequent article, I will review the paper in a bit more detail. Suffice to say for now, that there is nothing new in this paper.

I will note one problem that jumped out at me immediately. The NARTH report begins with the claim that scientific evidence leads to

a singular conclusion: Homosexuality is not innate, immutable or without significant risk to medical, psychological, and relational health. (Emphasis in the original)

However, one aspect of this “singular conclusion” – the claim homosexuality is not innate – is not covered in the body of the paper. Despite the fact that NARTH concludes that homosexuality develops after a person is born, they provide no review of the evidence which addresses that topic. From this statement and others, one could get the impression that the conclusion was decided before the review took place.