A Father’s Story

by Larry Forkner

Is it any different for any of us when it happens?  When you are told or when you find out in some other way, isn’t the initial feeling the same for all of us?  The bottom simply drops out from under us.  It is unreal.  That was my initial feeling when my 24 year old son, John, told me over 2 years ago that he was struggling with same sex attraction (SSA).  I was in the garage doing some chores when he said he needed to talk to me.  I listened as he poured his heart out about the struggle he had been in since junior high school.  When I could finally feel the ground under my feet again, I put my arms around John, gave him a big hug and told him how much I loved him.  We both shed a few tears.  I praised God.  Wait a minute, praised God???  Yes.  You see, John realized that the lifestyle he was in was NOT pleasing to God and was seeking help.  He had found a group in Dallas called Living Hope Ministries through Exodus International.  He was attending small group meetings and counseling sessions.

So how did John get into this lifestyle?  What happened to cause this?  After all, my wife and I are happily married and raised John, his twin sister and older brother as Christians.  We attended church, went to Sunday school and Wednesday night programs.  I teach adult Bible study classes.  All three of our children were summer interns at the church.  How could this happen?

We visited with the pastor who started Living Hope to try to gain some insights.  He, too, struggled with SSA, and although he is now happily married, he has “been there, done that.”  What did we find out?  We already knew that of all our children John was the most sensitive.  Very much into the arts.  Didn’t care much for sports.  Very bright.  Shortly before John went through puberty, I retired from the Air Force and landed a wonderful job in San Antonio.  My wife was still in the Air Force and was transferred to Alaska.  We decided it was best for the family for her to go to Alaska and for me to stay in San Antonio.  The kids were given a choice, either they could all stay in San Antonio or all go to Alaska.  Their choice was immediate – Alaska!

Unfortunately, at the time John needed a father the most, when he was really trying to establish his male identity while going through puberty, I was thousands of miles away.  He did not have another man to affirm him as a man.  He became attracted to other boys of his age in an attempt to discover who he was.  Over the subsequent years his attractions to men became more and more sexual.  His best friends, however, were girls.  His role model was his mother since I was not there for him.  In college he majored in theater where his lifestyle was not only accepted but celebrated.  Since he was going to college out of town, we did not know about his lifestyle.  It was after college, while he was living in Dallas, that he came to the realization that his lifestyle was not what God intended for him and he began to struggle to get out of it.

When I say “struggle” it is important to understand that is exactly what it is and it is something more difficult than any of us who are “ever-straight” can comprehend.  It is hand to hand combat with a mighty foe.  But God is stronger than any foe.  Probably one of the hardest things John did was to finally tell me and then his mother about his struggle.  When he did, I finally understood what Paul meant about his command to “pray without ceasing!”  My wife and I, individually and together, pray for him every day.  Prayer is a wonderful thing.  John is now committed to staying out of the lifestyle.

But it is still a struggle.  He needs support not only from family but also from support groups and friends who are willing to help.  He has stumbled from time to time, but each time he comes out of it stronger.  I don’t think I have ever been closer to John than I am right now despite the fact that I am in Texas and he is in New York City trying to make it on Broadway.

Probably the next hardest thing John did was to stand up in front of over a thousand people and give his testimony – to openly discuss his struggle and the cause of it.  He was open and honest. Bluntly honest.  I was incredibly proud of John.  For those of you who are struggling with SSA, please hear what I am saying.  John talked in some detail about me being absent at a very important time in his life.  But his willingness to be open and to use what had happened in his life to help others understand what the struggle is all about gave me great happiness.

And to those of you who find yourself wondering what you did “wrong,” please don’t beat yourself up.  There is a great difference between “cause” and “blame.”  If we understand the cause we can move forward and help our loved ones.  Blame hurts everyone.  I refuse to look back unless it helps John move forward.

John’s struggle, with me by his side, will continue.  The road is not an easy one, but it is getting easier.  It can only be done with God’s help.  We are simply too weak without His strength.  The world says a person who is in the homosexual lifestyle can’t change.  The world also says no one can be crucified, dead and buried and yet be raised from the dead and sit at God’s right hand.  The world is wrong. God is right.