Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ted Haggard's Apology

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.
What I wonder is if Rev. Haggard can correctly identify what the "repulsive and dark" part of his life is. I would imagine that he would come to the wrong conclusion that it's his same sex attraction which is the "repulsive and dark" part. In his world, the "temptation" of gay sex is, if you listen to the leaders of the political religious evangelical right, is among the MOST heinous of "sins." If Haggard had been with a woman, I guarantee you that they would still put him on some kind of leave, but he'd eventually be invited back.

But now that they know he was having -- horrors -- gay sex, there will be no return to this pulpit. If he chooses to continue in a heterosexual lifestyle, he will probably run off for awhile, start preaching in a tiny congregation somewhere and try to rebuild what he had before. But it will never approach what he had before. The evangelical right has no pity nor love for "homosexuals." Even in the Exodus International organization, the leaders are, inevitably, males who are married to females. The stories of the celibates are hidden away. Even Randy Thomas, who achieved some modicum of attention as a lobbyist, who dedicated his life to celibacy, has suddenly turn up with what he refers to as "the girlfriend." (I have no problem with Randy having a girlfriend. I just notice that his pledge to celibacy went out the window rather easily once he got tired of having no intimate relationship in his life.)

No. Rev. Haggard will probably jump to the exact wrong conclusion about what, in his life, is "repulsive and dark." But, just in case he wants my opinion, I can help him with this. What's repulsive and dark is when someone is a hypocrite, who is same sex attracted, engages in impersonal sex which he bought and paid for, and then turns around and tells the world how "evil" homosexuality is. Who betrays his fellow same sex attracted human beings by using his weekly meetings with the White House to push for anti-gay legislation. Who appears before children and young people, telling them that God hates their same sex attraction.
Sign in front of Haggard's church.

What repulsive and dark is the theology that convinced him he needed to convince everyone he was a heterosexual. Who married a woman, had five kids, and has now humiliated them because he didn't know that there is absolutely nothing spiritually wrong with being a gay man.

Who knows what's going to happen? Frankly, I think he should admit that he's gay, confess that he did his fellow gay people wrong, work for legal equality, and also work with his wife to decide how they're going to deal with the fact that he's not just gay, but a liar and a cheat. He could choose to stay with the family, for instance and raise his kids, holding off on any other personal relationships until they are out of the house. He could go into "change therapy," which doesn't work but, hey, it'll give him a chance to tell the truth to someone.

I look at his story and realize that I could very easily have been in his same position. When I was young and going to Baptist College, I was looking for a wife. I dated girls. I tried fooling myself and praying to God and doing all the right things. Luckily, I had more personal integrity than that. I didn't know what "gay" meant, and I knew no other gay people, but I knew I couldn't marry someone I wasn't attracted to, or couldn't love.

Looking past all the politics and lies, I have been trying to just put myself in Rev. Haggard's shoes and see him as a human being caught in a terrible situation. I think that's the most compassionate position and it's the one that I'm most comfortable with. Others will unleash venom. Others will laugh and jeer (as I have already done, I'm sad to confess). But, beneath all the betrayals and political opinions and cultural disconnects, he and his wife and his kids are nothing less and nothing more than human beings. I cannot imagine how much pain they must be in. Probably almost as much pain as all the gay kids who heard his words telling them how much God hated who they were. Probably as much pain as any gay partner barred from his or her lover's hospital room because of the laws established by, and encouraged by the political power of the Ted Haggards of the world.

There's a lot of pain to go around. And Rev. Haggard's personal pain is probably the least of it all. I'm glad he apologized to his church.

Now, when does he apologize to the rest of us?
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For my birthday, also St. Francis of Assisi Day,

here is "Rescue" the song I sang to Erika Amato 's Buddy the dog. Imagine if we loved humans as much as we love our animals...