Prayers for Rev. Ted Haggard
As a gay man, the main thing I feel about Rev. Haggard is sadness. If the allegations are true, it means he led a tortured double-life, proclaiming to believe one thing (homosexuality is a sin) while secretly behaving in a totally different way. In psychological terms it’s called “cognitive dissonance.” I know what that’s like, because that’s how I lived from ages 20 to 32 – my closeted “zombie years.” It’s a hellish existence, filled with shame and self-hatred. It’s truly a miracle I didn’t end up schizophrenic. I could have very easily fallen into using dangerous drugs, like Haggard may have (he has admitted to buying crystal meth, a drug that is rampant in the gay community), and I’m very grateful I didn’t.
Turns out Rev. Haggard wasn’t quite the raving conservative that much of the press has made him out to be. The GetReligion blog has an entry by Terry Mattingly that makes some points about how “moderate” Haggard was, at least in evangelical terms. Mattingly references a statement on homosexuality adopted by the National Association of Evangelicals under Haggard’s leadership – defining same-sex relations a “sin” that, “if persisted in . . . excludes one from the Kingdom of God.” Mattingly makes much of that clause, “if persisted in,” which I guess implies a kinder, gentler form of homophobia. (???)
Yes, Rev. Ted Haggard is a hypocrite, as countless blog entries have stated and many news stories have implied. He preached against a “sin” (two sins, if you count illegal drug use) that he himself may have indulged in. Ironically, last Sunday, before this news story broke, Rev. Haggard prayed from his church’s pulpit, “Father, help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections. And, Lord, we pray for our country. We pray that lies will be exposed. We pray that deception will be exposed.”
But I choose not to respond to the news about Rev. Haggard with gloating or with self-righteous indignation. I remember the words of Jesus (“Let the one without sin cast the first stone”) and I choose to respond with prayer:
prayer that Rev. Ted Haggard will experience true healing in his life and learn to accept himself as God created him to be;
prayer that Rev. Haggard’s wife and 5 children will find love and support from their faith community, not exclusion;
prayer that others leading double lives will see the tragedy of this story and choose to come out of their own closets of self-hatred and shame.