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When Your Child Struggles With Their Sexual Identity (Part 2 of 2)

Air Date 08/30/2016

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Ann Mobley offers guidance and encouragement to parents who are struggling with their child's homosexuality. (Part 2 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Teaser:

Mrs. Ann Mobley: He said, "Mom, there's something I have to tell you" and he was kind of talking really fast. He said, "I'm gay. I'm tired of lying to you and deceiving you, but I was so afraid you wouldn't love me anymore."

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Those are reflections from Ann Mobley and she's our guest again today on "Focus on the Family." Your host is Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and for a second day now, we're coming back now to a sensitive topic that affects more and more people it seems in the Christian community in particular.

Jim Daly: It does, John and that's the issue of same-sex attraction and you know, the legal gauntlet that we're going through in this nation is formidable. And it, on the one hand, creates the necessity for conversation. We've gotta kind of face these things and start talking about them openly. And it's one of the things I try to do with my own sons, and I'm not going to allow the enemy of our souls to get the upper hand in that discussion about their sexuality and I want them to hear a good Christian perspective.

And that's one of the reasons that it motivates me to do the same here at Focus on the Family, to invite people to have conversation about this very sensitive area, because more and more of our kids are comin' home from school saying, "Mom, dad, this is what was said today. This is what was expressed." How do we manage that? What does the Bible talk about in this area?

John: Yeah, or what's the big deal, dad? Come on.

Body:

Jim: (Chuckling) Right, that's typically more so. And so, you'll see that we are covering this topic from time to time and trying to open up the communication. I think in some cases, you know, we're getting very strong affirmation for the discussion and we're also getting some negative feedback that we shouldn't be talking about these things. And let me just circumvent that person who is motivated to tell us where we're wrong. I get it. I understand it, but I'm tellin' you, if we are not talking about it, your kids will be.

Ann: Exactly.

Jim: And if you hide under, you know, a bushel, the light of God is not gonna be able to shine through. And so, today I'm excited to talk once again, with Ann Mobley, her book, If I Tell You I'm Gay, Will You Still Love Me? We started that discussion last time. There were some profound statements made in there. If you didn't hear it, get the CD or get the download. They're both there for you and that will help inform you for today's discussion. Ann, let me welcome you back to "Focus."

Ann: Thank you. It's good to be back.

Jim: We left off last time. You were describing the fact that your son, Dan, came to you many years ago and said that he was gay. He was worried because of how you would respond. You had already suffered tragedy in your life. You had lost your husband when Dan was just 12-years-old. You lost your older son to an accident and he passed away. I mean, you have had your share of difficulty in life.

But there was Dan comin' to you, worried that you would reject him and you didn't. And we talked about the importance of that moment being critical in the long-term relationship. At the end of our last discussion, you also expressed that Dan is with a partner. He has not turned away from his same-sex attraction and you talked about how you engage with him and his partner, fully expressing truth, but what I love, too, is fully expressing the love of God. They're not separate.

And you also have had some maybe not so good experiences with previous people that he's been with. Talk about those situations.

Ann: Well, I think Dan told his partners, this is his fourth partner in all this time, "That my mom will accept you and she will love you, probably invite you to dinner, but she does not believe our relationship is right." So, he kinda sets the stage for me and the relationship that I would have with them.

And the first young man, Danny really felt that, I mean, he modeled on his parents' marriage, he felt like he and his partner would be forever together. I mean, that's just what he thought. Well, that lasted about two years and it crumbled.

And so, then he was with someone else, and very nice-looking young man, very personable, but not honest, and ends up taking some of Danny's things. And so, and Danny finally confronted him and he confessed. Yeah, he had taken his camera and hocked it, and taken some of his other stuff.

Jim: But talk about that tension that we left with last time, that you want to love your son. You want to show respect to the people he's with, but at the same time, be able to express truth. And I think most people hearing you, it's more of a switch. It's either on or off. We struggle as Christians, to live in a fallen world. And again, I talked about how some temperaments I think, struggle even more greatly in that regard because they can live in their more tidy environment and things are buttoned down and they've got control of the household, the kids. They don't do cable TV. I'm startin' to describe my own home (Laughter).

But you know what I mean. You can control to a degree your environment. Then your kids get a little older and they start making decisions and again, it's not simply in the area of sexuality. It's in every area, what they consume, what they look at. You can't control them. The Lord doesn't even choose to control them. That's the irony. So, how do you relax in that and not become overbearing, over-parent, if I could say it that way? How do you say, "Lord, I don't know how, but I'm gonna trust You?"

Ann: That's the basic—where you were right there-- was my basic place that I landed on, because I said, "Lord, I need wisdom. I need information about homosexuality, the condition of homosexuality." So, I began to do a whole lot of research so I would be more accurately informed about it, because it was just a word to me. And so, that was one thing; I wanted the information.

But the other thing was, to remain very firm on my original statement to him, that I loved him and that would not change, but his behavior was not what God wanted for him. It was wrong and I couldn't change on that position either.

And so, that kind of set the groundwork for us and one time he said to me and I had never used this expression with him. He said, "I know you love me unconditionally and I appreciate that, but I've gotta live my own life and make my own decisions and make my own choices," I think was the word he used.

And so, I said to him, I said, "Son, I understand that, and I respect that, but decisions have consequences, and you have to be able to face the consequences your decisions may bring." And so, we had some very honest exchange in that way, and I think he was … by this time, he was respecting me. At the same time, I was trying to show respect for him as far as his … he could live his own life, but that didn't have to mean that I had to agree with it, or say it was all right.

I really had to seek the Lord in this whole issue. I went back to the Scriptures in so many different ways, and I just prayed, "Lord, give me Your heart in this matter, that my son can see." And one of the things, though, that after I had established a loving relationship with my son, at one point early on, I just had to say, "Lord, I need You to love Danny through me with Your love, because my mother love is not strong enough—

Jim: Wow.

Ann: --at this point. It's faltering." And God did that. I feel like the reason our relation[ship] stayed strong is, He kept my confidence in Him strong and in the Lord, but also that I was trying to keep the Lord first in my life.

Jim: Well, and Ann, that points to the common emotion, desire, reality of hope. This has not been a short run for you. I mean—

Ann: No.

Jim: --Danny's been in this situation for--

Ann: Almost 20 years.

Jim: --20 years and he still hasn't said, "Mom, I'm sorry; you're right, and I've changed." And I'm sure you long to hear that—

Ann: Yeah.

Jim: --but you have to continue to hope in Christ.

Ann: Exactly.

Jim: Can you do it?

Ann: I have, and I'm serious about that. I don't take any credit for myself at all, because what the Lord did was take me back to Scripture. And one of the things I would encourage parents in when they are facing this situation, is really begin to stay in the Word, because that's gonna be your source of strength. It's gonna be your source of hope.

It's amazing how many times in the Scriptures the word "hope" is used. And especially in the Psalms. But as I stayed in the Word, the Lord invariably would just encourage me with the verse I was reading. And so many times I began to come across verses with hope in it, and then, some verses say that our hope is in Christ. It's our hope is in the character of God, who He is and what He is. It's not in the circumstances of life.

And when I think about the Prodigal Son and the father and how he let his son go and go his own way, even knowing he would probably squander the money and live a wild life, which he did, but when he came back and I think that parable is so powerful of the father watching, 'cause he saw him coming, which meant the father had to be daily watching and hoping his son would return. He let his son go. When the son said, "I want to leave," he gave him his inheritance and let him go, and knowing he would probably squander it.

But when he came back, the father was there waiting on him and was anxious to put the robe on him and give him the ring and restore him to "sonhood" in his family. And at the time I said, "Lord, I want to be like that father. I want to never give up hope of what you're gonna do in Danny's life, and I want to be watching and waiting for him to return, because I believe the Lord is gonna keep working in his life. And I can't put my faith and confidence in whether I see any evidence of that, but I've gotta put my faith and confidence in who He is, that He's a faithful God. And He loves Danny far deeper than I could ever be capable of loving him. And so, I just want to say, I keep holding onto hope.

Jim: Let me ask you this, Ann, 'cause so often witnessing to our families can be the most difficult thing that we do, 'cause they know us. And we may talk a lot about the Lord and want to express all these things to them. But they knew us when we were teenagers and they knew us when we were just who we were back then.

And it's hard. I've seen that with my wife's family. I mean, she has gone out and held a family conference and wanted to beautifully express the Gospel of Christ to them and she said family members said, "Hey, I just don't believe this. So, I'm sorry; I love you, but I don't believe it." How have you been able to "witness," that great Christian word, witness and testify to the truth of God in this context with Danny and with his partners? Has that been received?

Ann: It was actually Dan's fourth partner the Lord gave me the best opportunity to really witness to him. And he, that's interesting; the interesting thing is, he initiated that contact. I would go over to their house for dinner. His partner, John Michael was a[n] excellent cook. He was a Martha Stewart kind of cook, you know, with everything had to be not only cooked good, but arranged good. And it was a joy to go over there and eat dinner and he started asking me questions. He would be finishing up dinner and I would be sitting at the counter, facing the kitchen part. And he would start asking me questions about the Bible.

And you know, my son had told him, "My mom's a Christian. She believes the Bible and all that." And so, he started asking me questions about the Bible. And every time I went over, that was the pattern. I would sit down and he would start asking me questions.

"What does the Bible say about this?" "What does the Bible say about that?" He wasn't asking me questions about homosexuality and so, I started takin' my Bible with me when I went over there and just had the Bible open on the counter.

And then they broke up and I asked Danny, I said, "I just sensed a strong spiritual hunger in John Michael." And I said to Danny, "I would really like to stay in touch with John Michael. Do you mind?" He said, "No, I'll give you his phone number."

So, I called John Michael and I said, "Could we stay in touch? I'd just like to continue to see you every once in a while." He said, "I would love that." He said, "Let's start meeting for dinner. So, we did that, every two or three months, maybe not that long, we would meet for dinner at Friday's and sit in the same booth every time, no matter who greeted us at the door, they took us to the same booth.

And we would talk for several hours. And the interesting thing, the topic of homosexuality never came up, but I would just share with him. I shared my relationship with the Lord, my experiences with the Lord, the Lord's faithfulness over the years. And he would ask questions, but just the whole two hours was really spent talking about spiritual things.

And then when I got ready to move to Missouri and I told him, well, it was before that, for Christmas I had given him a Bible with his name on the front. And he actually had tears in his eyes when I gave it to him and he said, "Oh, this is wonderful. I'll treasure this." And so, after that, I would send him things to read, Scriptures he could read in the Scriptures and he would write back and told me he had read them.

But when I moved to Missouri, he just said, "We've gotta stay in touch, Ann. I don't want to lose touch with you." And by this time, he's calling me his "spiritual mom." And there was just a relationship God put between us.

But I had never said to him directly, "John Michael, have you accepted Christ as your Savior." And so, one of the last meetings we had together before I was moving, I just told him. I said, "I'm gonna ask you a very personal question. I've never asked you this directly before, but have you trusted or not? Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior?" And he said, "If you asked me if I know if I'm going to heaven when I die, the answer's yes, because I believe Jesus died on the cross for me, and I trust Him for that."

And I just kind of breathed a sigh of relief, because you can talk a lot of words and maybe never get down to the main issue that I felt was important to him, that he really did understand that it was a personal relationship with Jesus involved of him coming to Christ to trust Him.

But anyhow, I moved back to Missouri and we continued our contact and relationship, e-mails and phone calls. And then he let me know, he had cancer real badly, colon cancer and ended up in the hospital, very sick, very extreme chemo treatments and was a very sick young man.

But he pulled through and the doctors felt like we've got it. You're gonna be okay. And the opportunity came for me to make a trip to West Virginia and he lived in Ohio with his mom at that time. And he said, "Can you possibly come up here while you're this close to Ohio? I would really love to see you."

And so, I made that arrangement to go on up there and I spent the night at his mom's house. After his mom had gone to bed kinda early, he said to me, he said, "The doctors tell me that I've got this cancer beat," but he said, "I'm not sure." He said, "I'm afraid it's gonna come back." And he said, "And I'm afraid of dying. Can you talk to me about death."

And I mean, it was hard to think that I might lose him, but it was such a privilege to know that I could share with him the hope we have in Christ as a Christian when it comes to death. To be absent from the body is present with the Lord.

And we looked at Scripture and everything and then we prayed together that night. And then I continued relationship as far as e-mails and so forth for a good time. And I guess it was the next year, I began to not hear from him. He wasn't answering my phone calls. He wasn't answering my e-mails and I thought, what's going on.

And so, finally I contacted my son and said, "Do you remember John Michael's mother's last name?" Because I thought maybe I could contact her. I had John Michael's phone number, but not hers. And so, just a couple days later, maybe the next morning, Danny sent me an obituary of John Michael that he had found online.

And he said, "Mom, I'm so sorry, but this is what I found." And I just wept. I wept. I felt I'd lost a spiritual son. But as I was sitting on the couch just was crying and the Lord, I felt like the Lord said to me, "You know where he is. He's with me. It's okay."

And then the next thing the Lord said to me, and this is like really pierced me. He said, "What if you hadn't been obedient when I told you to love Danny's partners?" And I was like, "What if I hadn't been obedient. Would that have meant John Michael would not be with You right now?" And I put in the book, that obedience to God has eternal consequences.

But when I saw, I mean, what God did in the life of John Michael, it was just such an encouragement to me. He can do that with my son. He can do it with his other partners.

Jim: Well, and what you're expressing there is God's desire for us to be obedient, to try. We don't own the outcome.

Ann: Exactly.

Jim: But showing His love and showing His truth doesn't come back void.

Ann: That's right.

Jim: I mean, it doesn't and people will think about it. They'll either reject it or they'll embrace it.

Ann: And that's one of the messages I would like for parents to hear, as Christian parents, is to pray about their relationship with their child's partner, because you may be the only person that they have any contact with that knows the Lord. And for you to be able to demonstrate God's love to them, how are they gonna know God loves them if His child, His children don't love the unsaved?

And so, I would really encourage parents to have a good relationship, if possible. And you know, I realized I had been very blessed to have the kind of son I've had. So many people have said to me, "You have an amazing son." And so many people that are amazed that he has allowed me to write this book and supported me in the effort.

From the very beginning when I began to have some speaking times and share my story and I called it, "Our Story." And I would always ask his permission first. "Is this okay, if I go speak to this group?" And he would always have the same response. "Yes, you can help people."

One time in my church, our pastor had done a series of messages on cultural events and then, like abortion and homosexuality. And then he would ask different people in his congregation that he knew had some experience with that to give like a 10-minute testimony in the middle of his sermon. And so, at that time, not a lot of people in my church knew about my son. And I kinda kept … I said, Danny came out of his closet, and I went into mine for a while. There was shame, or there was all those kind of things associated with it.

Jim: So, he came out and you went in.

Ann: (Laughing) Yes, that's right. And so, but gradually the Lord began to impress upon me, you need to begin to share your story. There's a lot of people dealing with this same issue and you can help them.

And so, I asked Danny if I could share like the pastor had asked me to in church. And he said, "Mom, you need to do this. I can almost guarantee you, there are people in your congregation that are struggling with same-sex attraction or they may even be involved in a homosexual relationship. You need to do this."

Jim: Talking about going in and out of the close, the proverbial closet, I mean, you described that. Danny coming out; you going in because of that shock and embarrassment. We had a gentleman on a while back, Caleb Kaltenbach, who was being raised by his biological mom and lesbian partner. And he said when he was 16, he became a born-again Christian. And over the course of a couple of weeks, he finally came to his lesbian mothers to say, "I've got news to share with you and this is it."

Ann: In reverse.

Jim: And what was so amazing is, he said the moms that he grew up with always talked about tolerance and loving other people. But he said, "When they spoke to me, they spoke to me exactly how I felt they used to tell me a Christian parent would speak to their gay son"—

Ann: Oh, okay.

Jim: --which was, "How could you turn out this way? We raised you differently than to be like this." And it kinda stunned him and it is quite shocking that it doesn't matter who you are or what side of this debate you're coming from, because it's not what you want, you become rigid in what your son or daughter is doing. And it's an interesting human behavior perspective that his gay parents were upset that he was going straight and Christian.

Ann: Yes.

Jim: And that, that was not what they preferred and it's the same thing true with a gay son or daughter who comes out to their Christian parents. Ann, let me ask you, another program that we had with Dr. Al Mohler, we talked extensively about the issue of "the wedding." And now in this country, more and more, you know, states have to recognize the federal law and gay marriage is the law of the land.

And I just want to ask you, with Dr. Mohler, he was saying, the marriage vows are a moment of confirmation and for Christian parents, be at the reception, but he strongly encourage Christian parents not to participate in that public ceremony.

And I understand that, but I also raised the issue with him about the mom or dad. It's not just a friend or a family member, a cousin or a sister or brother. But what if it's your son or daughter? What do you do as that mom or dad to certainly be honest and truthful, but to also be loving and supportive? What would you do? And I don't know if Dan's ever come to you. I don't know if he's married—

Ann: No—

Jim: --to his partner.

Ann: --we've never discussed it. I thought sure the issue would come up when the Supreme Court made the decision they did, because now in Florida he can legally get married. I think he probably considers himself married to his partner. They have that kind of relationship. And let me just stick in here, too, is that one of the things I had to come to realize, there was not just a sexual affection and rela … relationship between Dan and his present partner, they had a very caring, loving, individual relationship, and I had to accept that and admit that. It wasn't just a sexual relationship. The bond is deep there and I think that's why they've been together this long.

Jim: Nineteen years.

Ann: Yeah, about 20 years actually. And so, I thought sure the subject would come up, but we've never discussed it when the law changed. But Danny never raised the issue. He's never said anything to me about it.

Jim: What'd you do?

Ann: Well, I decided before it ever came up how I would answer that. And I had actually read something Joe Dallas had said in one of his books, When Homosexuality Hits Home. I felt the same way that when you go to a wedding, you are celebrating with that couple their union. It's a time of affirmation, a time of agreeing or supporting what they're doing. And I didn't feel in all good faith I could do that, because all these years I've maintained the position that I did not agree with the relationship he had.

And so, I think maybe the reason, and I don't know and Danny will probably listen to this broadcast, that maybe one of the reasons it's not come up is, he already knows what my view would be, 'cause I've been pretty consistent all these years.

Jim: Well, and it's a real difficult issue—

Ann: It is.

Jim: --within the Christian community when a son or daughter, you know, is hopeful that mom or dad will be there, both of them. But that's fair. I appreciate that response. I agree with Dr. Mohler. It sounds like you do, as well. And I think that public affirmation is the issue and hopefully, there's enough love and respect in all directions, that they would understand that and hopefully, welcome you in a different setting, to be engaged with them.

Ann: Can I say one more thing about that, too, because I really want to respect other parents, Christian parents' position on this, because I have a very accepting relationship with my son on both sides.

Jim: Right.

Ann: And yet, not all parents have that with their children. And I had one mom say to me, "I felt like if I didn't go to their reception they had or to their wedding ceremony, that it would destroy what fragile relationship I had left with my child and I didn't want to take that risk." And you know, I can understand that and I respect them for doin' what they feel is right. And so, I think parents need to really pray about it and want to be obedient.

Jim: Oh, without a doubt.This time has flown by, and I think these have been really a good exchange. And I am hoping that it has been helpful to those who are living in this place, that may not have a lot of answers. They have a lot of questions and this is the reason that we wanted to talk about this. And I know that we're gonna have disagreements. Some people are gonna say, "How could you even talk about this? This is 'Focus on the Family.'" But you know what? This is focusing on the family--

Ann: Yeah, that's right.

Jim: --'cause more families are living in this place today than ever before and they're having to grapple with this issue in a way that's godly. And I think, Ann, you have described so many elements of God's nature as you have loved your son, both with the grace of God, as well as the truth of God.

People have heard what we've talked about, this time and last time and they're saying, "I hear it, but I don't know what to do. My son or daughter, they're right there." And I'd like to end the program with you speaking to that parent's heart. What are one, two, three things to remember as they hit this very important issue within their own family?

Ann: Well, first I would say, with God's enabling, love your child regardless of what their attitude is. I was blessed with a son that respected me to start with, so that made it easier for us to maintain a relationship. But regardless of where your son or daughter is, your child is, to really express your love and acceptance of them as a person. It doesn't mean you have to accept what they're doing, but let them know they're still loved by you.

The other thing I would really encourage them to do is to learn everything they can about the condition of homosexuality. How does same-sex attraction develop and form? There[have] been some really excellent books by experts on this subject and that was what helped me so much, was to get information about homosexuality.

And I think that the third thing I would tell 'em is to not give up hope, to hold onto hope of what God can do in the life of your child. Pray for 'em. Recruit others to pray for 'em. I've had so many people that say, "I'm praying for your son." And so, hold onto hope to not only what God can do in your son's life, but how He can give you the grace and the support in your own life to continue on.

Jim: Yeah, maintain that hope.

Ann: That's right.

Jim: I so appreciate that. Those are good words from Ann Mobley, author of the book, If I Tell You I'm Gay, Will You Still Love Me? Thanks for being with us.

Ann: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

Closing:

John: Well, Ann has certainly shared her heart these past couple of days and we trust that you've been encouraged and that you'll look for her book and that you'll get the CD or download of our conversation both days, to help your family find answers to tough questions. And you might get it to share with somebody so they can learn how to experience God's love and peace in the midst of a very challenging situation. Call Focus on the Family for those resources. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or visit us online at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .

Now this ministry is a not-for-profit organization and when you support us with your financial gift, you're helping us bring great programs like this one to offer encouragement and hope and also to provide counseling services for folks who are struggling with their sexual identity. Your gift helps families who are working through touch issues and we're so grateful for your kindness. And today, when you make a generous donation of any amount, we'll send a copy of Ann's book as our way of saying thanks. So, please call today and contribute to the work here of Focus on the Family. Our number once more, 800-A-FAMILY.

Our program today was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow when we'll hear from Christian comedian Tim Hawkins.

Excerpt:

Tim Hawkins: She used to give me good advice too late. (Laughter) Think about it, good advice too late. Like when I was a kid, I hit my head on the corner of the table. (Sound of boom) (Laughter) "Careful!" (Laughter)

End of Excerpt

John: Tim Hawkins on the next "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly, as we take a break, have some fun and help your family thrive.

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Guest

Ann Mobley

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Ann Mobley is author of the book If I Tell You I'm Gay, Will You Still Love Me? which is based on her experience of having a son who is homosexual. She has taught workshops and training sessions to help Christians understand the issue of homosexuality from a biblical point of view and to learn how to respond to homosexuals with truth, love and grace. Ann has served on the board of Worthy Creations in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., a ministry reaching out to those struggling with homosexuality. Her husband, Jerry, passed away unexpectedly at age 43. Ann resides in Jefferson City, Mo.