Sunday, November 05, 2006

Deceiver and a Liar

From ABCNews:



By Carol McGraw and The Associated Press

In a letter that was read to the congregation of New Life Church this morning, ousted Pastor Ted Haggard said he was guilty of sexual immorality, and he apologized for his acts and requested forgiveness.

"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," he stated. He said he had confused the situation by giving inconsistent remarks to reporters denying the scandal.

"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.

"The accusations made against me are not all true but enough of them are that I was appropriately removed" from my church leadership position, Haggard also wrote.

He did not give details on which accusations were true.

The sanctuary was full at New Life Church as congregants gathered for their first Sunday service without the leadership of the beloved Haggard.

I really don't know to what extent Haggard personally is a true believer who couldn't live up to his own beliefs or if he's just a garden variety "do as I say not as I do" hypocrite, and frankly I don't really care. Whatever his motives he's spent quite a lot of his life creating miserable people and trying to encourage a culture which drives more people into misery. Saying that gay sexual desire is a sin, and something to be fought against, not only hurts gay people but often their wives and children who are brought on board to perpetuate the self-denial.

Balkin writes:

Viewed from Ted Haggard's perspective-- a man who, despite his shame and guilt, is attracted to other men-- gay marriage and the gay lifestyle really are a threat to heterosexual relationships and heterosexual marriage. That is because they are a threat to his heterosexual identity and his heterosexual marriage. He knows the Devil is always tracking him, waiting for him to slip up. That is because he conceptualizes his sexual desires as sin and as alienation from God, and not as the expressions of something that might actually become valuable to him if accepted them as part of himself. If Haggard accepted that he was bi-sexual or even gay, and that it was morally permissible to be either of these things, he would have to change his understandings of his own desires and what they mean. He would have to view himself and his relationship to God very differently. But he has not been able to accept these things, because he is closeted from himself. That is why he has been a vocal opponent of people he has a great deal in common with.

I don't know how many of the fiercest opponents of gay rights in the religious community have some same-sex desires. I only know that it makes perfect sense that among the very religious those with same-sex desires will be among the most vehement denouncers of gays. It is not simply hypocrisy-- it is also lack of self-knowledge.

The Haggard story is a story not only about Haggard, but about America itself. We are a country with many gay and bi-sexual people who won't accept that it is morally ok to be gay or bi-sexual. Therefore we as a nation hate ourselves, fear ourselves, fight ourselves and try to banish ourselves from the face of the earth. It should be obvious enough that such a strategy is doomed to failure, but the real tragedy is how long-- and at what cost in human suffering-- it will take us to recognize it.