November 6, 2006

More on Ted

I guess the initial denials are done, and his church removed him from office.

I have not listened to Haggard much. He has come up in conversations as one of the most powerful evangelicals at the head of a huge church in Colorado Springs (which has become "Jesusland"). I know he reiterated most of the talking points of the religious right--including the oft-invoked "activist judges" and of course the stance opposing gay marriage.

Now we know that he has been tortured everytime he spoke. I know how it is to speak in front of a group, and I always have this running conversation in the back of my head as I am blathering in front. "Better check that date. That was an over-simplification. Why is she sleeping in class?"

Imagine the conversation in the back of Ted's head everytime he addressed homosexuality. There is nothing to suggest that he is some kind of Elmer Gantry, so we have to believe he is a true believer. He had to have been completely devastated everytime he visited that man. I can only imagine the prayers to take away that temptation.

I really feel for the man when I think of how tortured he must feel. And, as others have written, I can only imagine the horror of being taken down this way; gone from national evangelical figure to pariah over a weekend; the impact on his wife and kids.

What troubles me, besides the hypocrisy from the pulpit, is how the Christian right will respond. On two points. First, as Dobson has already shown, there is no mercy extended to sexual sins, especially gay ones. Second, I assume they will try to "fix him" and make him not gay.

It is that last part that is most painful. All those gay kids in junior high and high schools struggling with their sexuality--struggling to mask their attractions and knowing that coming out could be painful in more than one way. I read that the suicide rate of gay teens is 2-3 times higher than heterosexuals. If they try to "fix" Ted, it won't help any of those kids, because I don't think you can "fix" that attraction, any more than you can stop a straight man from responding to a lingerie model.

It seems to me that the Christian right could learn from the Haggard experience. Here is a man devoted to his church, to his God, to his ministry. A man, by all accounts, who tried to love his wife and certainly his kids. If any person on the planet could have prayed this away, don't you think it would have been him? Don't you think he would have given anything to not be gay?

I don't think our sexuality works that way, and I don't think the conservative church is well served by this. And I think that Ted Haggard is in pain and I feel for him and his kids.

1 comment:

JMG said...

I would hope that this incident would show the conservative church that the problem is not with being homosexual; rather it is with the church's painting of all homosexual desire as evil. Surely the church will realize that they need to change their methods and instead of castigating all who would sin in such a way, the church would instead "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Suppressing the topic, either personally, or collectively as a church, will do nothing to embrace with love those who struggle.