Monday, November 06, 2006

The Best of Men ...


As the tragic saga of the secret life of Ted Haggard unfolds, I'm reminded of the words of the Scottish Preacher Robert Murray McCheyne: "The best of men, are men at best!"

Justin Taylor of the blog Between Two Worlds has several posts following the affair as it unfolded.

Two things come to my mind:

(1) Ted Haggard has tragically soiled his testimony before the world.

(2) How Christians respond to Haggard's failure may itself become a witness to God's grace and forgiveness embodied in the community that confesses his name.

3 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I pass on the statement of Soulforce, whose perspective I largely share:

Soulforce Urges Compassion for Haggard and
Accountability for the National Association of Evangelicals
(Austin, TX) -- In response to the news that Rev. Ted Haggard has been dismissed by New Life Church and resigned as President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes urged the gay community to be compassionate and simultaneously called on the leaders of the NAE to claim responsibility for their role in the crisis.

"Rev. Haggard is just one more tragic example of how lives are destroyed by the lies about gay and lesbian people perpetuated by the NAE, the Religious Right, and both the Protestant and Roman Catholic Church. Taught by the church to hate himself, the only option from his point of view was to lead a psychologically and spiritually damaging double life marked by denial and self-destructive behavior. Rev. Haggard is a victim of religion-based bigotry that regularly demeans and demoralizes gay and lesbian people and refuses to acknowledge that we are part of the American fabric, and that many of us form loving families and practice a deep faith in God."

The NAE holds that "homosexuality is a deviation from the Creator's plan for human sexuality." In a 2004 policy statement, the organization opposes legislation that would protect gays and lesbians from hate crimes or employment discrimination on the grounds that "such legislation inevitably is perceived as legitimatizing [sic] the practice of homosexuality and elevates that practice to a level of an accepted moral standard."

Haggard submitted his resignation as President of the NAE on Thursday, shortly after allegations of homosexual activity were aired on Denver talk radio. On Saturday, Haggard was removed as pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. In a letter to his congregation, Haggard wrote "there's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all my adult life." He also wrote that the church's overseers have required him to "submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family."

In reaction to the unfolding events, Lutes said "Our community's anger at Rev. Haggard's hypocrisy is completely understandable. However, my hope is that our community will take the high road and extend an olive branch of friendship and support when he is ready to fully come out as a gay man. Dobson and the others will counsel him to bury, deny, and repress his sexuality even deeper than before. They will wound his spirit, and he is going to need our prayers and our compassionate message that God loves him, affirms him, and calls him to live his life openly with honesty and integrity."


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The goal of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.


Dobson will not be able to "help" Haggard since he shares his homophobia and has unscientific views of "curing" gays of their sexual orientation.

Michael F. Bird said...

Michael,

While I enjoy many of your comments, even though they are sometimes leftward of myself, here I have no say: no way dude! For a start the Bible has alot to say about homosexuality as I'm sure you're aware, and none of it is affirming. Read Rob Gagnon's excellent book! And I ain't falling for any of those gynmastics that the probhitions that only pederasty is proscribed, or that its only homosexual promiscuity that's condemned. Either you accept the moral prohibitions of Scripture or else you say, "Paul was a homophobic bigot and the Old Testament is a perverse and achaic book!"

I don't think Haggard should "out" himself and leave his wife and embrace a gay lifestyle. I don't assume he's gay, he may be bi-sexual (hence having kids) or suffer from sexual addiction. Let's wait and see.

I have met people and have friends who once lived the gay lifestyle and due to the transforming power of the gospel now live happy and fulfilled heterosexual lives. Should we tell these people to go back to the old lifestyle? I also know of others who continue to struggle with their sexuality but through God's grace and the loving encouragment they get by.

Everybody is invited to my church: gays, tax-evaders, adulterers, whores, and even people who vote Republican. And come as you are! But nobody is allowed to stay as they are!! And if you've got to do business with God about sexuality (no matter what it might be) well so be it.

Thank God for Exodus International who many on Theological left would like to eradicate from the landscape. I have seen their work first hand and they do a cracking good job.

BTW, I'm no homophobe and I don't approve of hate crimes against gays. When I was in the Army I once physically restrained one of my superiors from attacking a gay couple who were walking by while we were on a social outing.

Peace

David Shedden said...

Why have all the major US evangelical blogs that I read posted on this issue? It's just astounding that sites like Ref21 and Mark Driscoll's Resurgence have published the nonsense that they have.

Why the massive sense of insecurity? Why the panic, knee jerk reactions? If we live by the media, we will die by the media. If evangelicals insist on playing pwoer politics, they've got to take the wrap when it comes their way. How have we ended up so far from the New Testament way of Christian communal life?