Are Religiously Motivated People Able To Change Their Sexual Orientation?

Are Religiously Motivated People Able To Change Their Sexual Orientation?

Historically and even today, many religious groups and organizations have promoted the view that any sexual activity outside the context of heterosexual marriage is immoral and harmful. One of the most vocal such groups in recent years has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormon). Not only have they spoken out against masturbation (e.g., consider this recent PSA likening a guy who doesn’t stop his college roommate from masturbating to leaving a wounded soldier on the battlefield), but they have also repeatedly communicated their belief that homosexuality is wrong (e.g., consider that they were one of the biggest financial backers of California’s 2008 same-sex marriage ban, Prop 8). In light of their views, it is perhaps not surprising that the LDS church has also been a big proponent of the idea that sexual orientation change is possible, and they have encouraged gay, lesbian, and bisexual members to seek treatment designed to alter their sexuality. So what happens to LDS church members who follow these directives to “convert” their sexual orientation? Are religiously motivated individuals able to successfully eliminate their feelings of attraction to members of the same sex?

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