In a matter of a couple days in 2006 Ted Haggard went from being the founder and pastor of Colorado’s New Life Church and president of the Association for Evangelicals – a man with a hotline to the President of the United States – to the biggest pariah on both sides of the gay equality question.
Haggard’s community of evangelicals – his whole world – dropped him faster than a lead balloon. A common tactic when one of their so called “ex-gays” comes to their senses regarding their own homosexuality or bisexuality. So much for love the sinner, hate the sin!
The gay community wasn’t very keen on picking him up either because while his evangelical buddies were claiming gays were responsible for everything from the decline of heterosexual marriage and, even, Hurricane Katrina, Haggard sat back smugly and said nothing. In addition, he condemned homosexuality at the same time he was hooking up with a male prostitute and seeking methamphetamine.
As a caring compassionate human being, I don’t like to watch people implode. However, I must admit to experiencing some mild pleasure from the events that transpired that November of 2006. Hypocrisy was on display for the world to see and was a reminder for any others who sought to live their life under a similar cloak.
Now, Haggard’s talking publicly about his big secret and answering new allegations that he took advantage of a young church volunteer who was questioning his sexuality. I don’t question his intentions, although many do.
I watched his appearances today on CNN’s Larry King and ABC programs Nightline and World News on Wednesday. In each he apologizes to the gay community. He basically says that he thinks being gay is a sin “for me” and that he doesn’t think being gay is any more a sin than other sins. His wife Gail told Larry King that if they had a gay child they would talk it through.
Until Haggard comes the realization that being gay or “mostly straight with complications” is not only NOT a sin, but a blessing from the creator, than he is not truly free to be who God intended. Furthermore, I refuse to accept his apology until it comes without conditions.
I couldn’t care less if Haggard chooses to remain in his marriage. I think he’s on the right track by cutting back on the lies he once told to himself about his feelings. I am concerned that he may have surrounded himself by spiritual advisors and counselors who adhere to the view that homosexuality can be cured or is a disease like Alcoholism which only abstinence can cure.
In 2005, I attended the Focus on the Family “Love Won Out” conference at the Northshore Baptist Church in Bothell aimed at helping gays to leave their “lifestyle.” The speakers talked about parental attachment disorders and the power of God to heal one’s “sexual brokenness.” All I saw was a lot of scared kids being misled by unqualified and discredited “counselors” who knew more about fundraising than the practice of counseling. Everyone was hawking a book, a self-help system or retreat/treatment center.
The truth is that life is only worth living when we have the ability to just be who we are, who God intended us to be. So my advice to Haggard and anyone wrestling with their sexuality is to lose the cloak, forget the money-grubbing “ex-gay” folks, and hire yourself some real spiritual advisors who will help you get closer to God and a licensed therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist who will help you understand yourself.
If you haven't heard enough from Haggard, he is the focus of a new HBO documentary that airs this month titled, "The Trials of Ted Haggard." If you've seen it, let us know what you think?