Ann Mobley’s story is one of pain and triumph as told in her book “If I tell You I’m Gay Will You Still Love Me? One Mother’s Journey to Truth and Grace.” The book is as much about Ann as it is about her youngest son Danny, who is gay. And she tackles this subject with poise, dignity and grace.
Ann and her husband Jerry met at Cedarville College (now Cedarville University), a Bible college, in 1953 and later made their way to South Florida. The Mobleys attended Calvary Church in Miami and were always involved in ministry. It was later that they felt the Lord calling them to open up their home to “all whom He would send for Bible study and discussion.” Of those years opening the Mobley home to young people who were searching for answers, Ann recalls it as a time of open discussion and honesty. “No topic was off the table for Jerry,” she said.
Their sons Nathan and Danny were a big part of the Mobley’s home ministry. Following God’s direction, the ministry flourished and the Mobleys were blessed with provision and God’s grace.
It was later that Ann would experience some of the most trying times in her life. Jerry died after a brief and unexpected illness on Easter Sunday 1979, and three and a half years later her son Nathan was killed in a motorcycle accident the day after Christmas in 1982.
Eventually Danny moved out of the home and moved in with a roommate. Ann said, “I didn’t think anything of it. But when I look back I should have suspected something. I was naive.” She assumed his roommate was just a good friend and never thought about the possibility that there might be a sexual relationship between the two of them.
Danny’s unexpected news came one Easter Sunday in 1992 after church. The day seemed normal and Ann and Danny went back to Ann’s house for a special Easter dinner. They began a conversation that day that would change their lives forever.
“I have something to tell you mom. . . I’m gay.” He said he had wanted to tell her for so long but was afraid. Afraid Ann wouldn’t love him anymore.
It’s then when Ann said the Holy Spirit took over and God began to work. Without hesitation she went over to him and put her arms around him. “You’re my son and I love you,” she said, “And I will always love you.”
Those words became the foundation for an open dialogue and conversation between Ann and Danny. Instantaneously, Danny started pouring out his heart to Ann, sharing with her and telling her things that he had never revealed to her before.
“If I hadn’t hugged him and told him I loved him that very first day, I don’t think we’d have this open dialogue as we do today,” she reflected.
Honest about her faith
But Ann was honest as well. She told Danny that she loved him but that all their love couldn’t call “wrong right.”
Ann was firm in her belief that God’s intended creative order for sexual relationships was between a man and a woman and not to be engaged in outside of marriage. Ann’s study of the scriptures and research on the subject verified to her that what God condemned was the behavior and that people are not born gay.
“God’s original design and intent for man, as portrayed by Adam and Eve, was that man and woman would live together and become ‘one flesh’ in their relationship. God’s instructions for them were to be fruitful and multiply — to bear children. His creative intent was clearly for sexual intimacy between a man and a woman within the relationship of marriage. (Genesis 1:28a and 2:24). God also made it clear in Leviticus 18:22 that the sexual relationship with the same sex (man with man and woman with woman) was an abomination before the Lord. That truth is stated strongly in the New Testament in Romans 1:26-27.”
Ann said she has reminded him that “God created us and He had the right to determine what was right and wrong, normal and abnormal behavior.” Just because he had the attractions and desires, she said it didn’t make it right to act on those. “If he had been engaging in sex with a girl outside of marriage, that was also a sin and outside of God’s creative order.” She said she also stressed that God loves us, and the order he has laid down for us is for our good.
“One of the important things I had to learn was that Danny (and other gay people) did not choose to have the attractions for their same sex. The attractions were just there, and he did not want to have them, but believed he was born gay, could not change. That was just who he was,” Ann said. “What I struggled with was how did my son become gay? Was he really born gay as he believed?”
While homosexuality is a very complex condition, Ann said “there are some common ‘contributing roots’ that seem to be in the lives of many gay men and women, and many of them are outside the control or even the awareness of a parent as their child is growing up.”
She said she also struggled with guilt as a parent wondering what had she done or not done that might have played a role in Danny developing same sex attractions? But she learned there are usually many factors involved, and there are no perfect parents. “We can’t change the past. We can only learn from it. The Lord does not want us to carry that load of guilt,” she said.
Ann studied books on homosexuality and Christianity. In Elizabeth Elliott’s, “A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship between God’s Mercy and Our Pain,” Ann learned God uses suffering and pain to show us deeper spiritual truth, and discovering that gave Ann peace.
She knew she had to release Danny into the arms of her Heavenly Father, trusting God to love him with a perfect agape love. And God was faithful, sending Ann scripture that set her mind at ease. It was in Revelation 2:10 that she heard God’s voice say, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.”
For the most part, Ann said people at the church where she was involved at that time treated her with concern and compassion although a few seemed a little awkward around her. “Initially, I was concerned about how people might react and respond, but thankfully, those concerns did not materialize for the most part.”
Crediting the gospels as the thing that showed her what it looked like to love, Ann noticed, “Jesus reached out to sinners, but never condoned their sin. Jesus walked full of truth, compassion and grace.” Ann soon learned to distinguish the sin from the person and started to see that everyone is a sinner in need of a savior.
She even read John 3:16 differently.
“I realized that the world was made up of individual people including gay people. So when the Bible says, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, he was talking about gay people too. He was talking about everyone.’”
Advice for parents
Ann’s advice for parents of children participating in a homosexual lifestyle is simple: “Love your son or your daughter; that is the most important thing and always keep the doors of communication open. Rejection by parents can make them more vulnerable to look for acceptance within the gay community.”
It’s important to be honest and share with them that you can’t accept the behavior but that rejection of their behavior does not mean rejection of them. “You instill a mutual love and respect among you, not allowing their lifestyle to destroy your relationship.”
Today Ann and Danny have a healthy, loving relationship. Danny respects his mother’s Christian beliefs, and Ann continues to love and pray for her son. She trusts God with Danny and has become involved in speaking on the subject of homosexuality from a Christian perspective. She also acts as a mentor to parents faced with children living a homesexual lifestyle.
When Danny visits, he attends church with her, and Ann expressed it is her prayer that the seed that was planted in him so very long ago will grow and flourish in Christ.
Melissa Zelniker-Presser is an attorney who is following her God-sized dream of becoming a full time writer. Melissa currently runs a blog workforthecausenottheapplause.com and is also working on a non-fiction book detailing her journey to Christ as a Jewish believer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org